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State funeral costs $5M to $10M

Wednesday, April 30 2014

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Solemn salute: Members of the Defence Force raise their swords in salute to former President and Prime Minister Arthur NR Robinson as his body lay in ...
Solemn salute: Members of the Defence Force raise their swords in salute to former President and Prime Minister Arthur NR Robinson as his body lay in ...

The five-day State funeral of former President and Prime Minister ANR Robinson is expected to cost $5 million to $10 million or even more.

“I am looking at anything between $5 million to $10 million,” National Security Minister Gary Griffith told Newsday yesterday morning during the lying-in-State of Robinson’s remains at Parliament, Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port-of-Spain.

“It could be more than $10 million, it could be less,” he said noting that “a lot of the expenses have to do with the logistics of moving across to Tobago, including the transportation of military personnel to Tobago and other logistical matters.”

The costs will also include the transformation of the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) in Port-of-Spain for the ecumenical service, he said as well as “the whole of the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Tobago where another ecumenical service will be held.”

Other costs will include funeral arrangements, transportation, security costs, medical facilities, traffic control, layout, lying-in-State, and transportation for some international delegations as well as accommodation for some.

The final figure, he said, will not be known until everything is compiled. “At present everything is still in motion. However, I can assure you,” Griffith said, “that every single cent that we are spending will be well spent.”

It is a mark of respect, he said, “that all the protocols of a State funeral will be observed for someone as great as His Excellency.”

Asked about reports that the national flag was draped over the casket on the wrong side after it had left Clark and Battoo Funeral Home on Tragarete Road at the head of a military procession to the Parliament Griffith said, “I am not aware that the flag was draped on the wrong side. No one brought that to my attention.”

Asked whether four Yoruba Chiefs will visit TT to attend the State funeral, and perform a funeral ceremony for Robinson who was made Chief of Ile Ife by the Ooni of Ife during a State visit to Nigeria in 1991 and was given the official title Chief Olokun Igbaro, Griffith said he was due to have a meeting last evening on the issue after which he was expected to confirm that aspect of the funeral with the Nigerian chiefs. The chiefs were still in Nigeria.

The interests of the Nigerian Chiefs, he said, were discussed with the family members and they have given their approval.

“We have to see if they are now available to come here,” he said.

Patrick Edwards, Ambassador to Uganda, in an email correspondence to Robinson’s friend Napier Pillai had said that the Ooni of Ife was interested in sending four high chiefs for the funeral to perform certain rituals usually conducted on the death of a chief.

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