The veil is lifted: Governor Yahaya Bello’s tribute at James Ocholi’s funeral

Death is the veil which those who live call life; They sleep, and it is lifted – Percy Bysshe Shelley

Life is a reality show none of us will get out of alive. We know every one of us will die one day. Mankind has made peace with this fact from the dawn of creation. The trouble, and the heartbreak, is when life, like an electric bulb short-circuiting, is extinguished suddenly, violently, and without apparent rhyme or reason.

The deaths on March 6, 2016 of James, the fearless advocate, Blessing, his inseparable soul mate and Joshua the first-fruit of their loving union is one of those sudden tragedies that try the hearts and faiths of men. I am yet to come to terms with it. I doubt I ever will.

My dear people, without doubt, this is one harvest of deaths too many for Kogi State. We have again lost an illustrious son, a loving wife/mother and one of our youthful prospects in the most horrible circumstances possible. Today, after barely any respite from a similar sorrow in the recent past, Kogi State mourns again, greatly.

James was a brother, in more ways than one, and a true Christian too. Though we squared off for our party’s ticket, and passions often ran wild, it was without bitterness. When James was made a minister while some of us were still in the trenches, he remained gracious. When I emerged governor, he immediately gave me the highest cooperation.

One thing was of paramount importance to James Ocholi, SAN – the Greatness and Unity of Kogi State. A statement by Walter H. Capps summarises the position of our late Learned Silk on Nigeria in general and Kogi in particular: “We are strongest as a people when we are directed by that which unites us – rather than giving in to the fears, suspicions, innuendoes and paranoia that divide.” This is the vision that we will continue to pursue.

We can only pray that God Himself will find unique ways to comfort the surviving children of the deceased, the extended Ocholi family and every friend mourning these tragic deaths with them. Nobody can claim to know what you are going through right now:

I cannot know the pain you feel

I cannot share your memories or your loss

My words of sympathy are beneath measure, yet know that my heart reaches out with love to your heart – Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Adieu esteemed brother. May your soul and those of your beloved wife and dear son find solace in the Bosom of the Lord Whom you served so well.

It is well.