Aaron James Ocholi, son of the late Minister of State for Labour and Employment, James Ocholi, said yesterday that the four children left behind by the late Minister will strive to fulfil their parents’ dream for them.
In a brief emotional remark when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, visited the family, Aaron said though they missed their parents greatly, they were not hopeless.
He said: “We are not hopeless; we are really proud of the man he was. We’ll continue to pray to God to comfort us. We will not feel dejected. We will strive to become in life what he always wanted us to be and taught us to be. The First Lady also came here yesterday and assured us we are not alone.”
He expressed the gratitude of the family, particularly his siblings, to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Vice President and the nation for their show of love since the death of their parents and brother.
Addressing the children, Prof. Osinbajo described the late Ocholi as a committed Christian and patriot who was always ready to make a sacrifice for the course he believed in.
The Vice President, who arrived at the No 4 Dagash Street residence of the late Minister at 4:45pm, said: “We have lost someone we held in high esteem who was well respected. It is unfortunate that this happened.”
Osinbajo recalled the late Ocholi’s role in the formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC), accepting to take the position of Deputy National Legal Adviser even when the National Legal Adviser was not a lawyer.
He said such sacrifice and humility will not be in vain. “It is incredible that this happened. You really have to seek God’s comfort,” he told the family.
Signing the condolence register, the Vice President wrote: “My brother learned and spiritual, your memorial will live on and will be source of pride and joy to us all. May the Lord comfort these young children and give us cause to rejoice in them, Amen.”
The National Working Committee of the APC held a valedictory session in honor of the late Minister who was praised for his sacrifice towards the party’s formation.
Acting National Chairman Segun Oni who presided over the session directed that all flags at the party’s national secretariat be flown at half mast for the next three days in honour of the late Ocholi.
Oni said: “All we can do is to surrender to the will of God. Those who have come across James Ocholi should take one or two lesson from him. He was driven more by service. He took every opportunity for service without considering what will come out of it.
“He was the only member of Federal Executive Council who visited the secretariat frequently. Sometimes, he will meet us in a meeting and he will advise us on the legal implications of some of the decisions we were taking.
“He was always willing to give and was passionate about the party. If we can have a few more people to contribute like him, Nigeria will be much better for all of us. All we can do is to pray that God will console and condole the family he left behind.
“He gave a good example of what Christians should do generally. I Pray God stand in the gap for his family. I wish, as Nigerians, we will have no reason to sorrow over our stars again.
On behalf of the party, we send our condolences to the President, the Vice President and all members of the Federal Executive Council, the government and people of Kogi State through the governor and to his family. We pray God will abide with each of them and console all of us.”
Other members of the NWC took time to eulogise the late Ocholi, concluding that the party has lost one of the most accessible ministers.
National Vice Chairman, South, Prince Hilliard Etta described the late Ocholi as a “perfect gentleman”, saying “you could smell his humility miles away”. “He was one of the most approachable ministers in the cabinet,” he added.
APC National Secretary Mai Mala Buni said the late Ocholi lived a fulfilled life, describing him as a committed party member.
National Organising Secretary Osita Izunaso said most of the provisions in the party’s constitution were made possible by the late minister and recalled that he actually administered the oat of office on the NWC members.
The Deputy National Chairman, North, Senator Lawal Shuaibu, pointed out that even though he was not a member of the party’s executive, the late Ocholi was prepared to offer his legal services to ensure that the party was well represented in court.
“He was always prepared to accept any kind of challenge. He once told me that if he had time, he would tell me how he survived after his parents died. We never sat to discuss that. He was always full of energy. Always ready to go about doing assignments given to him.”
National Treasurer Bala Mohammed Gwagwarwa said: “The late Ocholi was a great party man and a frontline agent of change. We lost a friend at a time he was needed most.”
National Woman Leader Hajiya Ramatu Tijani Aliyu said: “We lost an illustrious son who always stood for progressive ideas.”
Ocholi’s last word at Kaduna church
Minister of State for Labour and Employment, James Ocholi, who died along with his wife and son in an accident on the Abuja -Kaduna highway last Sunday, attended a church service in Kaduna where he made some spiritual and political statements.
He was invited by the General Overseer of Restoration Bible Church, Bishop Tunde Bolanta, to partake in the final day of a week-long activities of the church in Kaduna.
During the service, according to some of the members, who pleaded not to be named, when it was Ocholi’s turn to speak, he advised the worshippers to beware of the end of time because of high rate of abnormalities in the society.
Ocholi was also quoted to have urged Nigerians to be patient with the President Buhari administration, adding that the hardship being experienced would soon end.
The late Minister was quoted to have advised that the people must put God first in whatever they are doing and added that Nigerians should always pray for the APC government to succeed.