Family & Friends Gather to Bid Final Farewell For Dana Air Victims
In Lagos, service of songs holds for family killed in Dana crash.It was a gloomy evening at the UPDC Estate, Lekki, recently where a service of songs was held in honour of a family wiped out in the recent Dana air crash. The Anyene family lost six members to the incident, including Barrister Onyeka Collins Anyene, his wife, Maimuna and their four children.
Despite the morning downpour that lasted till the late hours of the afternoon, sympathisers, friends, well-wishers and family members gathered to bid the victims farewell. The event was organised by Lagos Business School (LBS) Alumni Association of the Executive MBA Class 6 of 2001-2002.
An air of sadness pervaded the venue just as the songs were carefully chosen to reflect the mood of the evening. Some sympathisers and family members could not hold back tears. To help calm their nerves, an Acapela group rendered two songs entitled, weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning and an Irish song of blessing.
In his exhortation, Revd. M. K. Obiora Anyika prayed God to comfort the family and use the occasion to win souls for His kingdom. Reading from 1 Corinthians 15:12-26, Psalm 39: 4 and Ecclesiastes 1, the cleric took the sober, sombre congregation through the essence of life. “The Bible says, vanity upon vanity. What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? David compared his life to a shadow and decided to live one day at a time,” he stated.
He urged them not to ask God questions and should not weep as those who do not have hope. Anyika blamed the incident on the decay and corruption in the nation saying: “We should not ask God questions because on a daily basis, standard is dropping. Corruption is high in the nation. Nobody is safe on the air or land. If we have served the nation so well, we wouldn’t be dragged into this mud.”
According to Anyika “If all of us have been doing the little in our own corner and resolved to change the nation positively, things wouldn’t have remained the same.” He, therefore, cried out: “Nigerians, we have kept silent for too long. Let’s resolve today to make a change. God is looking for a man who will deliver this nation. If you have been doing it right at your own little corner, this nation would not have come to this decay. The change we need can start from here. Nigerians, we have kept silent long enough. It is time for us to act.”
He extolled the virtues of the deceased, saying: “We have had testimonies from his friends about his goodwill. Onyeka was selfless in giving. He was a secret helper.” He ended the brief but inspiring message with: “An important question you ask yourself is, what must I do to go to heaven. The Bible says whoever believes in his only son, Jesus, will have eternal life. Therefore resist the devil and it will flee. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
As we bid Onyeka farewell, one day, it will be your turn, where would you be? It is appointed unto man to die once, after that it is judgment. Cleanse your hand you sinner and cleanse your heart you double minded.” For the Anyene clan, it was one tragedy too many as the entire Collins Onyeka Anyene family was wiped out. His wife, Maimuna, who hailed from Niger State, also lost her mother, Mrs. Bakisumaidi Mijindadi and two cousins, Ogechi Njoku and Oluchi Onyeyiri.
However, the grief-stricken family was comforted by glowing tributes from friends, business associates, politicians, organisations, alumni and town union members, among others, packaged in a book of tributes and distributed at the venue. In his tribute entitled, My Friend, the Quintessential Collins Is Gone, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal said: “ I have known Collins Onyeka Anyene, fondly referred to as Collins by friends and associates for over 10 years.
In fact, Collins has become more or less a part of my family.” He described him as a brilliant, industrious and forthright fellow, who exuded confidence and drive ceaselessly in all things that he did. “An incurable optimist and goal getter, compulsive workaholic, Collins would not go to sleep while his task remained unaccomplished. Indeed, Collins is a bundle of talent and promise gone with the wind. For me, it is still difficult to refer to him in the past tense.
Here was a determined and focused young man, who never had doubts about his objectives and goals. For many who knew him at close range, it was evident that he was a rising sun but alas, this rising sun set before noon.”
Mr. Emeka Etiaba, a former governorship aspirant in Anambra State, in his tribute said: “Much as we feel deep sadness on your demise, we recognise the fact that you were a young man who meant a lot to his friends, siblings, relatives and indeed all that came across you. We thank God that you left good impressions that will stand the test of time. You engraved your virtues in the hearts of many.”
“You were an Igbo man with great energy and vision, a man who kept searching until he died. You touched lives. In your village, you were the toast of the needy, in the church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, your presence was immense, in your family, you were a great giver and a defender and to friends, you were magnanimous and true to them.”
The late Anyene was an alumnus of the Lagos Business School (LBS). The Director of Alumni Relations, Henry Onukwuba, in his tribute said: “Onyeka was a very good alumnus and a member of the Governing Council of LBS Alumni Association and class president of his class, the Executive MBA Class 6 of 2001-2002. We remember how he laboured to ensure that his class members attended our alumni events, including single-handedly paying for many of his colleagues to attend the alumni dinner.”
Anyene’s friend and cousin, Mr. Emeka Nwankwo, lamented: “You were a quintessential solicitor. A legal craftsman par excellence. A consultant’s consultant. Your record keeping was excellent. You drafted so crisply and elegantly that I am yet to come across a lawyer, who drafts better than you. Your business acumen was savvy. You could smell opportunities from miles away. In all your business dealings, you were integrity personified. Your word was your bond. You never disappointed or told stories. You hated storytellers. You were a man of class and style. Always impeccably dressed on point.”
“You loathed failure like Okonkwo of Things Fall Apart. You were so hardworking and God blessed you tremendously. Despite all the outward façade of a tough and arrogant guy, you had a very humble, compassionate and generous heart.” Friends of his beautiful wife also eulogised her. An old girl of Queens College, Yaba, Lagos, Maimuna also attended the prestigious University of Ibadan (UI) where she bagged a degree in Economics. Ogo Nwokedi in her tribute said: “Beautiful Maimuna… beautiful inside and out… so sweet, so loving and filled with positive energy and light.
“It was impossible to be sad for long when you were around; with your gorgeous smile and genuine laughter, you made everyone forget their troubles. You loved to dance, sing and play. You were Miss Discipline, Maimu, Mijinmummu, Maidadi, Mona Lisa, our beautiful pomp queen, intelligent, creative, godly, articulate, personable, funny, charming, principled, stylish and so down to earth.”
Another friend and former classmate at Queens College, Ebun Onagoruwa, wrote: “Maimuna naturally fits into the role of wife and mother. I remember when we were much younger, Maimuna wanted to have six kids. Even though she had a very successful career with an MBA, she was the ultimate mum.”
Her sister, Aisha Mijindadi was not left out. In her tribute, she described Maimuna as a beautiful sister with trademark dimples, who was a true friend to her family, friends and associates including UI colleagues and Queen College girls. “You were brilliant and had a competitive streak that made you always want to be the best,” she added.
The late Onyeka Collins, a twin, was born on August 16, 1967. He studied law at the University of Jos and later bagged an LLB from the Nigerian Law School in 1990. He obtained his Executive MBA from the Lagos Business School in 2002 and did executive programme courses at Harvard Kennedy School and London School of Economics in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
After his national youth service, he had a stint with Ade Odofin Law Firm before setting up Jus Polis Law Firm. He supported philanthropic causes, provided scholarships to the needy and kept many widows and needy on his payroll. In his vote of thanks, the deceased’s elder brother, Dr. Ben Anyene, thanked God and everyone for supporting the deceased’s family.
According to Dr. Anyene, Onyeka left the United States on May 27, 2012 with his family to attend his brother in-law’s wedding, share some quiet moments and present his children to their grandmother, his mum, who is in her mid 80s. The remains of Anyene and his family will be laid to rest on Friday, July 13, in his home town Ndiowu in Anambra.
May their soul rest in perfect peace.