Eldest son of the late Lam Adesina, Hon. Dapo Lam Adesina receiving the remains of his father on arriver before the burial PHOTO BY FELIX ADEMOLA, IBADAN
Muhammad Bello, â€¨Dele Ogbodo, â€¨Tunde Sanni and â€¨Aisha Wamako
The remains of former Governor of Oyo State and a chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Alhaji Lamidi Adesina, who died Sunday, were interred a few hours after his demise at his Ibadan residence in accordance with Islamic rites.
Adesina, 73, was elected on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1999 and ruled Oyo State till 2003. He died at St. Nicholas’ Hospital, Lagos, where he was transferred some weeks ago from the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, as a result of ill health.
In his honour, the state government has declared a seven-day period of mourning during which all non-essential state activities will be suspended while the national flag will be flown at half-mast in the state.
Adesina’s body, which was brought to Ibadan for interment, was received by a horde of dignitaries, including Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, as well as some of his counterparts in the neighbouring states – Mr. Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Senator Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Mr. Rauf Aregbesola (Osun) and former Lagos State governor Bola Tinubu.
House of Representatives Speaker, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, was also around to bid the deceased, a former House of Representatives member in the Second Republic, goodbye.
Those at the funeral extolled the late Adesina for his political sagacity, forthrightness and for being an upright politician.
Other political leaders and organisations, such as President Goodluck Jonathan, Senate President David Mark, the Northern State Governors’ Forum (NSGF) and the ACN, paid glowing tributes to the deceased in their condolence messages sent to the family.
Adesina’s body was brought in an ambulance with registration number LA156A08, while the burial was preceded by a funeral prayer, led by the Chief Imam of Ibadanland, Sheikh Shuarau Haruna.
His son, Dapo, a commissioner in Ajimobi’s cabinet, received his late father’s political associates and sympathisers on behalf of his mother, Saratu, and his siblings.
In his sermon, Haruna urged the people to be of good cheer because the deceased lived a good life.
The imam reminded the people of a day like yesterday that must of necessity come in the life of every mortal, when all earthly activities would be dropped irrespective of one's position, achievements or attainments in life and one would be left to face his or her creator.
The former governor’s eternal journey started on September 19, when he was rushed to the UCH under an emergency.
He was relocated to the Lagos hospital four days later when his health deteriorated.
A prominent educationist and activist, Adesina, during the agitation for the actualisation of the June 12, 1993 annulled presidential poll believed to have been won by the late Chief M. K. O. Abiola, was imprisoned by the defunct military regime of General Sani Abacha.
He played a prominent role in the formation of AD on his release from jail by the General Abubakar Abdulsalami regime in 1998.
Jonathan, in his condolence message, expressed his deep sadness by the passing away of the former governor and joined others in mourning the renowned educationist and political leader who devoted his entire adult life to working for the progress of his people and the nation.
A statement by the presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, said the president “believes that Alhaji Adesina’s indefatigability in political struggles as well as his honesty, integrity, sincere commitment and dedication to the service of his people before and during his tenure as governor have ensured that he will be honoured and remembered by present and future generations as an exemplary leader who did his utmost best to improve the lives of his people.”
Mark described Adesina’s death as a great loss not only to the people of Oyo State, but to Nigeria, adding that the former governor was a progressive who stood on the side of the people at all times.
Mark, in a condolence message to the government and people of the state, said the deceased would be remembered for his passion, selfless service and love for the ordinary man.
He said in a statement that Adesina died at a time when his wealth of experience and administrative acumen were needed to navigate the country through the challenging political situation at the moment.
Tambuwal described Adesina’s death as a monumental loss to the country. He said the deceased lived an exemplary life whose hallmarks were dedication to duty and sacrifice for the common good.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mallam Imam Imam, in Abuja, Tambuwal urged all Nigerians to emulate the late Adesina's positive attitude to nation building.
The Oyo State Government, in a statement from the governor’s Special Adviser on Media, Dr. Festus Adedayo, declared a seven-day period of mourning for the deceased who was Ajimobi’s former teacher.
Adedayo quoted Ajimobi as describing Adesina as “a dedicated patriot, foremost defender of democracy and human rights, and political war horse who had always stood on the side of truth.”
The NSGF, on its part, said that the best tribute that Nigerians could pay to Adesina was to rededicate themselves to the ethos of nationalism, nation building, democracy and love for one another, adding that his death marked the end of a glorious era.
While paying tribute to the deceased, the chairman of the forum and Governor of Niger State, Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, said Adesina was a true nationalist who lived a purposeful life of dedication to the cause of Nigeria's unity and development as well as commitment to the upliftment of the citizenry.
Fayemi, in a statement, said Adesina’s death was a “big loss to Nigeria’s democracy.”
Fayemi, in the statement by his media aide, Mr. Yinka Oyebode, described Adesina as “one of the heroes who fought tooth and nail for the return of democracy in 1999.”
He further described him as a committed Awoist who practised and defended the ideals of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, till he (Adesina) breathed his last.
Aregbesola also described Adesina’s death as a great national loss.
The governor said in a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, that the death would create a huge political vacuum not only in the South-west but Nigeria.
According to him, late Adesina, during his life, was an astute politician of the progressive hue, an administrator, a teacher of teachers, a leader of men, a progressive and believer in the people’s government.
Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar said Adesina’s death had robbed Nigeria of a vibrant voice of democracy.
In a tribute to Adesina contained in a statement by his media office in Abuja, the former Peoples Democractic Party's (PDP) presidential aspirant noted that despite his age, the late former governor was actively engaged in the struggle to protect democracy from dictatorship.
According to him, Adesina, driven by a remarkable courage of conviction, was never hesitant to speak the truth to power, despite the potential dangers of official intimidation and harassment.
Tinubu, in a statement, said the former governor was a democratic warrior who never gave up in the face of intimidation, detention and manipulation.
“He led the democratic struggle against the military that led to the triumph of the people and the brightening of hope and opportunities for the mass of our people,” Tinubu added.
In his remarks, the ACN National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, described the late Adesina as “one of the most courageous leaders Nigeria has ever produced. He died too early; his contributions in the circuit of the progressives will be greatly missed.”
Also, former Ogun State Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, said he was a forthright and outspoken politician.
The ACN also mourned the passage of Adesina, which it said was a devastating blow to the party in particular and a big loss to the nation in general.
The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said with the demise of the former governor, Nigeria has lost an irrepressible voice of conscience.