Angry reactions trail politicisation of ex-Senate President, Wayas burial


Increasing number of Nigerians are angry over the delay and politicisation of the burial of former Senate President, Joseph Wayas.

Wayas’s body has remained in a morgue in a London hospital where he died 14 months ago after a lingering illness, which the family adduced to poverty.

Gov Ben Ayade of Cross River State where Wayas hailed had reportedly formed a funeral committee and released N200m to facilitate the burial but controversies have stalled burial efforts.

The first son, Joseph Wayas jr, whom government and committee officials accused of tampering with the money, has vehemently denied the allegations, challenging them to come out with records of expenditures.

Lack of government push for the burial has angered members of the public, forcing them to ask questions.

Some of those that have expressed misgivings have described the long delay and controversies as sheer embarrassment to the country and state, given the status of late Wayas.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Mba Ukweni has disputed the reported release of N200 Million by Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State for the burial of Nigeria’s former number three citizen, Senator Joseph Wayas who died at 80 in London, 14 months ago.

The funeral committee inaugurated in December 2021 is headed by Nigeria’s former attorney general of the federation and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi.

There have been controversies over the undue delay in the burial of the former Senate President.

Government sources have confirmed that Governor Ben Ayade had actually released N200 Million for the burial but some members of the committee are quoted to have alleged that the first son, Joseph Wayas Jr should explain what happened to the money.

The younger Wayas has vehemently denied that he had access to the fund, expressing dismay that the committee was unduly denting his image. He has challenged the committee to explain how they have applied the money.

In an interview, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mba Ukweni described the development as sheer embarrassment to the entire country, doubting that the controversial money was even released.

“I doubt very much that Gov Ayade released any money to the funeral committee. First, my former boss and very respected former attorney general heads the committee which comprises other eminent personalities.

“I doubt that even N10m was released and they didn’t do anything. Note that this governor has a penchant for promises and would execute little or none at all.

“I can say that there’s no way that money was released to the committee and they would not kickstart the planning. Check well and you see that what I’m saying is not far from the truth. I would be very surprised if what I’m saying is the opposite.

“The governor that I know very well will find it difficult to release money when in the end he will not benefit from it as a person. This is a governor that finds it difficult to pay workers and even his personal debts,” he alleged.

He also disputed the position of certain persons who claimed that the first son had squandered the fund, asking whether money would have been released to the son or the funeral committee.

Also doubting the sincerity of the government, a senior citizen and good governance advocate, Sir Nandi Peter Bette said it is extremely embarrassing and outrageously shameful that the government had allowed such development.

He said he found it difficult to believe anything from Ayade’s government.

“From the litany of deceits we’ve had over the years, one has difficulty in just believing some stories that emanate from this administration.

“Unless there’s evidence to verify that funds were released to the committee, it will be preemptive to claim that the corpse is still in the morgue in the UK because of controversies existing between the committee and the family over the funds.

“It must be stated clearly that it is extremely embarrassing and outrageously shameful that the government allows this kind of fate to befall a once illustrious citizen of Cross River State, who was in fact a No 3 citizen of this country.

“My prayer is that sanity should prevail for the mortal remains of this great man to be committed to earth, so that, at least, his spirit may find rest and his soul rests in peace,” he noted.

Another lawyer, Justice Osai Ahiakwo said the development is not only disgraceful but totally unacceptable.

“I believe that the late former Senate President will not be happy over this disgraceful act of avarice.

“Until the government adopts policies that will elevate the people from poverty, this show of shame will continue to play out where the country is exposed to global ridicule,” he lamented.

A social activist and online newspaper publisher, Agbá Jalingo who hails from the same Cross River North district as late Wayas said that Gov Ayade himself wasn’t serious about burying Wayas in the first place.

“He politicised the illness of the statesman when he sent a former aide to go and take pictures of Wayas in a vegetative state on his sick bed in London to come and impress the social media audience. All the confusion that has trailed his demise also came because the issue of his burial was allowed to linger for too long before commencement.

“I do not want to dabble into the divisive family issues but I will only advise that the family members should sheath their swords in honour of the memory of their father. The government should be firm and show leadership so that quick decisions can be taken and Wayas can be given a befitting burial,” he advised.

A human rights activist and environmentalist, Prince Odey Oyama called on all the serving and former Senators of Cross River State origin to step in quickly and avert further embarrassment on the state, saying Wayas was a 2-term President of the Senate.

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