By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA
The deluge of tributes, eulogies and well wishes that greeted the passage of Pastor Mrs. Emily Okheren Aig-Imoukhuede, the matriarch of the Aig-Imoukhuede family, are indeed a fitting testimony to the fact that an accomplished leader has gone home.
Tales of her virtues and accomplishments have continued to grip the nation unabated since the announcement of her death which occurred on June 8, 2021 at her Surrey, London, United Kingdom,England home was broken by her family.
Born on October 27, 1942, in Sabonggida-Ora, Owan West LGA, Edo State, the woman of substance, grace and vision would have turned 80 years on October 27, but quietly bowed out when preparations were in top gear to mark her birthday in great style.
Her passage, however, did not take away the shine and accolades she would have received. Even in death, encomiums have continued to pour in in appreciation of her innumerable contributions while alive
For the almost 80 years she breathed, she was an accomplished wife, mother, technocrat, philanthropist, God’s servant and a compassionate women leader.
Her imprints were everywhere. On the home front, she died a loving, devoted and a fulfilled mother who raised successful children, Erekpitan, Aigboje, Kemi and Aigbovbioise who have all made indelible marks in their personal and professional callings.
The first child of the family, Mrs. Erekpitan Ola-Adisa, is a university professor. Her first son, AigbojeAig-Imoukhuede, is the audacious banker, who, in consort with another bright fellow, Herbert Wigwe, in 2002, bought, toiled and transformed an hitherto small and stagnant bank, Access Bank, into the largest bank in the country (based on its customer base). Another daughter, Mrs. Oluwakemi Balogun, is an educationist and pastor while Aigbovbioise Aig-Imoukhuede, the second male child, is a wealth and portfolio management specialist.
Her children attested to her motherly care and attention, as well as her unconditional support for their chosen careers.
“If I had wanted to run for president of Nigeria, my mother would have supported me. That is the extent to which she supported and encouraged all of us in all our aspirations.
“She loved all of us to a fault; and for her there was no favourite child. She loved and supported us all in equal measure,” said her first child, Erekpitan Ola-Adisa.
Also in his book, Leaving the Tarmac: Buying a Bank in Africa’, Aigboje shared the fears and anxiety of his dotting mother when she was told of his decision to quit his plum job as an executive director at the Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) to set up his own bank.
“Why would you want to give up such a good job when you have worked so hard to get it?” she asked. “You are the youngest executive director in the country, why can’t you be happy with that? And how are you going to buy a bank anyway?
“If you have a godfather, you certainly have never told me about him. So how are you going to do it?
“How are you going to play the necessary political games to acquire a licence? Who will do the introductions for you?
“How are you going to survive in such a heavily regulated industry? Banks are not owned by professionals like you,” the worried but supportive matriarch had demanded from his determined son.
In her lifetime, Emily Aig-Aigboje witnessed her son overcoming the challenges of building a successful bank, Access Bank.
She was also a champion of women upliftment and empowerment while alive. Together with two other women, Mrs. Hilda Adefarasin and the late Mrs. Maryam Babangida, they teamed up to set up the now defunct Better Life for Rural Women, a pet project of the late former first lady.
Former President Ibrahim Babangida alluded to the role she played in the formation and running of the programme when he said in a condolence message to the Aig-Imoukhuede family: “I remember during the formative stage of the Better Life for Rural Women (programme), anchored by my late wife, Maryam, she (Emily) deployed her intellect to shape the growth strategy of the programme from scratch to success’’.
She also led Nigerian women on a journey of self-discovery, culminating in her emergence as the President of the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) from 1989 to 1983.
As a God’s soldier, the deceased worked to win souls for Christ. Though born into the Anglican fold, she moved on to the Living Faith Ministry (a.k.a Winners Chapel), where she was ordained a pastor.
She later founded a ministry, Believers Life in Christ Ministry. focusing on women’s welfare, proper child upbringing and family as the building block of society.
Born in Sabonggida-Ora, Owan West LGA, Edo State, she was educated at the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, Ibadan, 1959-1961, and University of Ibadan, 1961-1964.
She was a history teacher at St. Anne’s Secondary School, Ibadan, 1966.
She served as a member of the Healthcare Financial Committee, Federal Ministry of Health; board member, National Universities Commission (NUC), 1986; Director, Nigeria Cargo Handling Company, 1987.
She also served in the Refining and Petro-Chemical Company Limited, 1989-93; Kaafee Enterprises Limited and Controls Majestic Securities Limited, 1993; and was the Minister of Statefor States and Local Government Affairs in 1993.
She also authored a book,The Seven Maidens and other Stories.
She is survived by her husband, four children and grandchildren.