FG, OGSG protocol officials clash at Awo’s funeral

By DAUD OLATUNJI, Abeokuta
The  funeral service held for  late Chairman of   Tribune titles, Chief Oluwole Awolowo  on Friday was almost disrupted following the clash between  protocol officials of the Federal Government   and their counterparts from  Ogun State  Government.

Confusion started   few minutes before the commencement of the programme which was held  at Our Saviour’s Anglican  Church  Ikenne, when one of the Protocol officials of the State government asked some members of the delegation of the Federal Government to vacate the front seats for the State governor Ibikunle  Amosun  and other governors.

The Federal Government  delegation  which comprises,  the President Spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashriru,  Minister of State ,Federal Capital Territory, Mrs. Olajumoke Akinjide and  Special Assistant to President Jonathan on Policy  and Strategies, Mr. Oronto Douglas  had already  occupied the front seats in the Church before the arrival of the state  government protocol officials.
The clash of interest between the two governments’  officials was hinged on who should sit on the first seats in the Church  that had already been  reserved for  dignitaries.

The  Protocol  officials  of the Federal Government  became infuriated over the action of their counterparts in the State government  who insisted that, only one person from the delegation of the Presidency  would be allowed to sit on the front seat.

The issue almost got out of  hand before a grand child in the  Awolowo family, Segun begged them not to disrupt his  uncle’s funeral service.

There was a pin-drop silence in the Church during the crisis which prompted a   quick adjustment to accommodate  Amosun  and his wife on the same seat and the issue  was put to rest for a while.

However, when the Minister of Information Mr Labaran Maku later arrived the Church after the first crisis  had been  resolved, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru  had to leave  the seat for him.

The crisis  later reared its ugly head when  another set of seats were arranged in the front   for the five Governors that  were at the service.

This  development did not go down well with the delegation of the President who resisted it but were ignored.

The crisis got  to its peak when   the moderator called the representative of the President to speak before the governor of the State contrary to the order of  protocol.

The Labaran Maku-led delegation ignored the call  and did not stand up to deliver the President speech. The gesture put the programme  on hold for a while before  one of the Awolowo daughters,  Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu quickly went to the moderator to correct him.

Governor  Ibikunle Amosun  while making his remarks publicly acknowledged the flop in the protocol, saying the Presidency would make the final speech  as the protocol demands. The President’s representative later spoke last.

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