•How mortuary attendant broke chilling news of my husband’s death — Widow of Kwara TUC Chairman
By Demola Akinyemi
The widow of the Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Kwara State, Comrade Akinsola Akinwunmi, killed in last Monday’s Abuja-Kaduna train attack, managed to say a few words as tears flowed uncontrollably from her eyes.
Mrs. Modupe Akinwunmi Akinsola said her man was the best hubby as she believed he is resting in the bosom of the Lord.
According to her, she spoke to him on phone before the train attack only to call his phone later and a mortuary attendant picked the call and told her, her husband was dead.
Akinwunmi was not the only TUC official killed in the attack.
Musa-Lawal Ozigi, Secretary General of the TUC, was another victim.
‘Nowhere is safe’
Confirming the death of the TUC officials, Quadri Olaleye, President of the union, said they were heading to Kaduna for an official assignment.
“Comrade Ozigi served in the capacity of General Secretary, Construction and Civil Engineering Senior Staff Association (CCESSA), an affiliate of TUC for almost two decades before he joined the Congress in 2012,” Olaleye said.
“Comrade Akinsola was a staff of Dangote Flour Mill under OLAM. They were both seasoned trade unionists.”
He called on governments at all levels, especially the Federal Government, to work towards securing the lives and property of Nigerians.
“As it stands, nowhere is safe now – we cannot travel by air, road is not safe and neither is the rail. Is Nigeria a failed state? It is unfortunate,” he said.
“The Congress condoles with the families and friends of our comrades and the good people of Kogi State for this irreparable loss.”
Sunday Vanguard gathered from one of the sympathizers, a member of the TUC, during a visit to the Akinwunmi family residence that he was hit by the stray bullets that were severally fired at the passengers by one of the bandits after the bomb attack.
“I spoke with him while inside the train some minutes earlier. He said he had left Abuja that he was inside the train on his way to Kaduna”, the widow told Sunday Vanguard.
“Moments later when I heard about the train attack, I immediately called him again, and his phone started ringing.
“I was initially happy expecting him to speak with me from the other end only for another voice to tell that he was a mortuary attendant, that the owner of the phone had died and that his body was with them.”
Meanwhile, Kwara State government has said that it would not leave the family alone in this trying period, and urged other stakeholders to rally round them.
Akinwunmi, in his forties, was a staff member of Dangote Group in Ilorin until the company was recently bought over and he was inaugurated as the TUC Chairman about two years ago.
Modupe, in her mid thirties, wept uncontrollably with her three children, two boys, one girl, as they sat on the sofa at their apartment at Ita-Elepa area of Ilorin on Wednesday as sympathizers thronged the place.
“I know that the almighty God has answered my prayers that wherever my husband is right now, he’s resting in the bosom of the Lord. My hubby was the best,” she said during the short interview with Sunday Vanguard.
Head of Service in Kwara State, Mrs. Modupe Susan Oluwole, who led a government delegation on a condolence visit, said the family will hear from Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on the support he would give to the family very soon and urged family and friends to provide immediate succor to the widow and children.
Oluwole said, “I want to join others in the call to Federal Government for better security in Nigeria. I know they are doing their best but God will help us to see the end of these crises in security.
“It is not easy for anybody, nobody is safe. It is not a question of I am safe, we are all in this together, so we must fight it together.
“I want to call on the family, especially those who will be here when all of us would have left, that they should provide succor to the immediate family. They should not leave this family alone.
“I know that His Excellency, the Governor of Kwara State, will recognize the role of labour and also recognize his own personal role as a labour leader.
“So, whatever it is that the governor can do to support, I am sure, we will convey the message by the grace of God. You will hear from us very soon.”
The late labour leader, from the aggregate of comments from stakeholders, including journalists, is generally seen as an exemplary good man, with kind heart and very generous too.
The Treasurer of TUC in Kwara State, Comrade Oyekale Rebecca Nike, said, “As you can see, I have not recovered from the shock of the news of his death.
We had lot of conversations few days before this rude shock came in.
“We had differences but we mended fences and moved on. Akinwumi was a friend and a boss.
“With this shock, I cannot describe what he was to me, but he was the Chairman and I am the Treasurer of the Trade Union Congress in Kwara. He was a very good man to me
The PRO of the state TUC, Comrade Raheem Wasiu Oladimeji, on his part, said, “We shared a very cordial relationship, very close indeed. Akinsola Akinwunmi was a man of integrity, a dogged fighter and always stuck to his beliefs.
“He was a very generous personality, not because he was financially inclined; he had that spirit of giving, not only to his immediate family but also to all that came his way.
“He also demonstrated capacity, both intellectual and ability, to rally round any member in need not only TUC but also at his own local chapter at Dangote Group. “One of his latest significant impacts is the negotiation for the minimum wage payment in Kwara.
“I cannot imagine him, who warned and advised us whenever we traveled to Kaduna to be careful not to be kidnapped, now turned out a victim and killed. So sad!
“The load and responsibility he left behind are enormous especially at a time like this. I pray that God in His infinite mercies consoles the family and all dependants left behind.”
Governor AbdulRazaq earlier commiserated with the labour unions and the Akinwunmi family in a statement by Rafiu Ajakaye, his Chief Press Secretary.
The immediate past Chairman of the TUC in Kwara State, Comrade Kola Olumoh, in his own remark, said that he and the deceased were supposed to be part of the TUC executive meeting in Ilorin on Tuesday.
“The death was so shocking. Such a vibrant young man. We lost him. In fact, I am sad and really down. He’s a person with prospect”, Olumoh said.
“He’s come to know his rights and wrongs. We had issues before he came on board, you know, and he came to me and we resolved the matter. Since his inauguration, he’s been very diligent and resourceful”.
In another condolence message, a pro-democracy group, Kwara Must Change, sympathized with the state chapter of nTUC over loss of Akinwunmi.
The group also called for improved security, through overhaul of security architecture in the country.
In a statement by Kwara Must Change Convener, Abdulrazaq Hamzat, the group said that the train attack was an unfortunate development that should not have been allowed to happen.