Abaribe begs death to ‘stop attacking Senate’, honours Senator Oko

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Members of the Senate and friends gathered at the Abuja home of the late Cross River North lawmaker, Senator Rose Oko, on Friday to pay tribute to her.

Oko, who was the Chairman, Senate Committee on Trades and Investment, died on March 23, 2020 at the age of 63.

Speaking at the event, the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, eulogised the deceased, describing her as a diligent, caring and intelligent lawmaker.

Abaribe lamented that within just one year in the life of the 9th Senate, four lawmakers out of the 109 members had died.

Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu (Imo North), died on December 18, 2019; Senator Ignatius Longjan (Plateau South), died on February 10, 2020; while Lagos-East lawmaker, Senator Adebayo Osinowo, died of COVID-19 complications on June 15, 2020.

Abaribe, who represents Abia South, prayed that death would no longer visit the Senate.

He said, “Our Senate has lost four members in this current session. And one other name Igbos give is Onwuhara, which means death please don’t come again. We want to wish and pray to God to continue to hold the rest of us so that we will not have anything besetting the Senate again along this line.

“Onwuhara, Onwuhara, leave us alone so that we can stay the rest of our session and go back to our families in peace.”

The Minister of Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, who was at the event, described the deceased as a hardworking lawmaker who always put the interest of the nation first.

Former Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State said he was the one who brought Senator Oko into the Peoples Democratic Party.

Imoke said Oko was able to break the many barriers that women in politics face.

He said she always put the interests of her constituents ahead of hers and it was no surprise that she won elections easily.

A former member of the House of Representatives from Ondo State, Janet Adeyemi, described the deceased as greatness personified, having excelled in many areas of life.

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Adeyemi noted that Senator Oko started out as a secondary teacher and then became university lecturer, Commissioner for Education, National Commissioner at the defunct National Electoral Commission, Federal Commissioner at the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, member of the House of Representatives and then a senator.

Senator Betty Apiafi of Rivers West senatorial district, who spoke on behalf of all female senators, said it was unfortunate that Oko’s death had brought the low number of female lawmakers in the red chamber to seven.

In his written tribute, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said the deceased was the epitome of selflessness.

He recalled that it was Oko as chairman of the Committee on Trade and Investments that facilitated the passage of the Companies and Allied Matters Act.

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