Friday, October 3, 2014

Tunji 'MIC' Okunsanya's Widow On Losing Her Son And Husband Same Day In Agagu Plane Crash

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It was one year ago that the ill-fated Associated Airlines conveying the body of the late former Governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Agagu crashed [read here] leading to the death of funeral company (MIC) boss Tunji Okusanya and his son Olatunji Okunsanya Jnr. The widow who lost her husband and son the same day is still grieving and plans a garden to commemorate her son. This report is from the Nation newspapers to whom she granted an interview.

Today is a sad day for Dame Mobola Erogbogbo, the mother of the late Olatunji Okunsanya Jnr who died with his father, Olatunji Okusanya, in the Associated Airline which crashed near the Lagos Airport terminal a year ago.

Erogbogbo had lived and showed her son motherly love until the cold hands of death snatched him away.

She told our reporter at her office situated in Shomolu, Lagos mainland that for the grace of God and support of people, losing her son has been a terrible experience that she is still fighting hard to cope with.

She explained that the late Olatunji Jnr on October 2, last year dropped her off at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on her way to London for an exhibition. Right after checking her in, Junior, fondly called Jay, insisted that the mother must take a photograph with him before departing.

“On October 2, last year, Tunji Junior was the one that took me to the airport. I was going to England for an exhibition. He took me to the airport and we checked in. As I was about to go in, he said: ‘Mummy come back. I want us to take photograph together’ and I jokingly said to him: ‘Jay, what do you mean by photograph? I hope you want me to get to this London safely because we have never taken photograph at the airport before’.  I asked him why he wanted the photo. He said: ‘Mummy, let’s just take it’ and an employee who accompanied us to the airport took the photograph and he immediately sent it to the sister in London, even before I got there.

“While we were on board, there was a little turbulence and my mind flashed back to the photograph and it created anxiety in me but I had no clue that it had nothing to do with me but was all about my dear son.

“When I arrived in the UK, I tried his father’s line to inform him that I had arrived safely but his line did not go through. I called his line and luckily it rang and we spoke extensively. I even told him about the turbulence we experienced on air and my fear about the picture. We laughed about it and he told me about the publication that Thisday did on him and he was so excited about it and wanted me to see it. I had no clue that it was going to be my last discussion with him.

“In the morning, I woke up and my grandson came to my room and appealed that I should put on the computer for him for 10 minutes because his parents won’t allow him to watch TV during the week, and when they all left home, I decided to go and sleep but I could not sleep. I tried to put on the TV but could not until my daughter came back and put the TV on Sky News and I saw the news highlight:  ‘Associated Airline crashed in Nigeria, two dead”. I shouted and informed my daughter that it was Junior’s plane because I was aware of the arrangement for the company to convey Agagu’s body to Akure before I left Nigeria.

“ It was about 9.45am and we called Junior’s phone and it rang but no response. We started calling Nigeria, but nobody was willing to tell us anything, and people I had not spoken to for a long time were all calling me and my daughter and it was at that time I knew something had gone wrong.

“All of them refused to tell us the true situation until a family friend called and I asked him not to lie to us about what had happened. He said ‘Mummy, it’s all about you’ and I know that the worst had happened.

“It was like a dream and it has not been an easy experience. I had to cancel my booking for the exhibition and come back to Nigeria.
“I was very fond of him. We were living together and he was supposed to get married this year, and each time I teased him about scattering things, he would say it was only for a while that when he got married, I would be the one missing and sending for him. I did not know that it was not going to be.”

She said the late Junior loved birds and the environment, adding that it was in preserving his memory that Jay’s Garden would be launched today to promote the preservation of garden birds and the environment.

“Jay’s Garden is basically a section of Merry Maid Water Garden. He was a bird lover, just like me, but he was more of a fanatic and these things just evolved while we were cleaning up this place. When the idea came, we decided to call it Jay Garden’s because apart from my son being called Jay, there is a bird also called Jay.

“He got the love for birds from me and his dad who was a bird lover too. They had some bird cages with all sort of birds in their office at MIC Funeral Undertakers. But he was more into it than us.

“On Saturday morning in the house, he would just sit down, even with his last kobo, he would buy food for birds.

“Jay’s Garden is far beyond this space. It is all encompassing; we are going to have competition and we will have talk for school children. It will be a foundation that will continually get young people involved in looking and respecting garden birds. Some children just stand on the road and they start stoning birds; part of what Jay’s  Garden stands for will be to discourage children from doing that and educating them that the birds that they don’t care about are very important in our lives because these birds eat up insects that could affect our food crop, bugs as well.”

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