Today is the 6th day of August, 2023. In exactly 2 days, ti would have been the 60th birthday of the man whose remains lie before us in this arena. If it were up to me, I would have preferred to be giving a toast at his 60th birthday, but here I am, standing here to speak about him in the past tense, giving this elegy for my friend and brother, Elder Sam Bassey!
There are things I like to talk about. There are speeches that I enjoy giving. But I do not like elegies. I do not like to speak about the dead, especially if they are people as close and as dear to me as the late Sam Bassey, whose remains lie here today and whom we are gathered to bid farewell. But life, like a river: eventually goes where it must, not where we want it to go.

Not too long ago, precisely in March of 2022, we converged on this same venue for the obsequies of his father, the Late Pastor Benjamin Bassey, who had passed on at the age of 92. While that event could have been termed a celebration of life, this untimely death can only be referred to as that of a star dimmed in its prime.

There are people here who have known Sam much longer than myself. There are definitely people who haven’t known him for as long as I have. But whether you met him briefly or you have known him for years, I am certain that we all will agree that Sam was a good man, a humble man, a gentleman, and we are all united in this deep sense of grief!

Sam and I met at the University of Lagos, two young men from the same part of the country, united by a common quest for the golden fleece. We became friends since then, braving the onerous task of university education in a land far from home. He studied Finance, and I, Accounting, and we met regularly, solidifying our bond of friendship in the process. We also worshipped in the same church, and were together in the Men’s fellowship of the United Evangelical Church, Surulere. I have been part of some important events in his life, and I have seen him in different moods. But whatever the event or circumstances were, he was always his firm and steady self. In the over 35 years of knowing Sam, I have not had cause to doubt his sincerity, forthrightness and friendliness. He was a brother in more ways than one, and was permanently disposed to doing good, and pursuing noble causes.

Be it in his private life, in his family life, in his service to the community and his church, Sam proved a dependable and reliable ally. He was an easy going fellow, who also took seriously any task he set about doing. This was evident ni his career and even his service to the church, as his 8-year tenure as our church committee chairman, and other roles he has played, would testify. It was in recognition of his diligence and work ethic that I found it easy to appoint him as my Special Representative in Lagos during my tour of duty as Governor, a responsibility he carried out with his usual aplomb and serenity.

Today, we have come here to say goodbye to a good man. A man who was full of life and active, and whose sudden death took everyone by surprise. At 59, I am sure he still had plans for the future, and dreams to be realised. But death came knocking rather early, and we have no choice but to obey. While we will say goodbye to his body, we can never say goodbye to his legacies, as those will certainly outlive him.
However, death ends a life, not a relationship, because to live in the memories of those who love you is not to die. We draw consolation from the word of God as recorded in 2 Corinthians, chapter 5,verse 1, which says “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands”.

Goodbyes are not for ever, as this is not the end. It simply means that we will miss you until we meet again.

Adieu Sam! May the Angels guide you home.

Rest in peace, my friend!

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