Sunday, January 18, 2015

Awoniyi’s Rites of Passage

David Olajide Awoniyi

"The final is not final", said the officiating minister shortly after the burial ceremony. "After death comes resurrection and judgment day". Shortly thereafter there was the traditional gun salute to bid David Olajide Awoniyi, former deputy director-general (Technical) of the State Security Services, now Department of State Services, DSS, farewell. He died November 14, 2014. It was a sombre moment for the congregation assembled in front of his country house in Oro Ago, Ifelodun Local Government area, Kwara State, January 9, 2014.

But just like the pastor had said the final obsequies was not actually final. There was more to come. There was a funeral and thanksgiving service at the First Evangelical Church of West Africa [now known as Evangelical Church Winning All] ECWA, Oro Ago, followed by a reception back in the country house. Again, that was not final. The family hosted friends, relations, guests and other well-wishers to another grand reception in Ilorin, same day. Indeed it was an elaborate farewell programme. 

The rites of passage was a one week affair spanning Abuja, Ilorin and Oro Ago with service of songs in Abuja, wake-keep service in Ilorin and burial in Oro Ago, his hometown, where he was born on January 3, 1943. He attended Titcombe College, Egbe, and had his Higher School Certificate at the Government Secondary School, Okene, Kogi State. He later graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, with a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering, a course which earned him his first job as an engineer with the Broadcasting Corporation of Northern Nigeria, BCNN, Kaduna, from where he moved to Ilorin, Kwara State, in 1977 to help establish the Kwara State Television Network under the aegis of the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA.  Awoniyi's string of successes in the engineering department of NTA soon caught the attention of the powers that be who had him transferred to the State House Annex of the then Nigerian Security Organisation, NSO, as director of technical services. He was later promoted deputy national security adviser, a position he held until he voluntarily retired in 1999. In a tribute to his memory, Umaru Ali Shinkafi, former head of the NSO described him as “an accomplished scientist, brilliant, accommodating and innovative”. Ekpeyong E. Ita, present boss of the DSS echoed similar sentiments in equally glowing epithets. He referred to him as “this brilliant and accomplished Nigerian”. 

It was indeed tributes galore for Awoniyi, described by one of his daughters, Funmilola Oteri, as “a man who taught his children the value of living life with purpose, courage, integrity and faith”. The first daughter, Bukola Oderinde, sees her father as a man who fought  “for a better Nigeria, a better Kwara State and a better Oro Ago”. 

Awoniyi is survived by six daughters, all of whom are described by one of their fathers-in-law as “professionals, extraordinary mothers, wives and humble, spiritual children of God”.

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