Two days after the sudden death of Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, eulogies have continued to pour in on him over his exemplary virtues even as scores of sympathisers thronged his Teslim Elias Close residence in Victoria Island, Lagos on Tuesday.
Some of the visitors to the deceased residence who all spoke highly of him included Nigerian Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka; former Chief of Army Staff, General Alani Akinriande (rtd), Chief Amos Akingba, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni; two Afenifere stalwarts, Chiefs Olaniwun Ajayi and Ayo Adebanjo; founder of CODER, Chief Ayo Opadokun and Professor of International Law and Jurisprudence, Akin Oyebode.
Others were: Prof. Adebayo Ninalowo of Department of Sociology University of Lagos; President, Women Arise for Change Initiative and the Campaign for Democracy (CD), Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin; representatives of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Province 1, Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Bayo Akinde, Rt. Rev. James Odedeji, Nwosu Nkechi; Group Managing Director, Japol Plc. Mr. Jegede Paul and several others.
Meanwhile, former President Goodluck Jonathan has described him as a strong democracy advocate who made significant contributions to national growth and development.
Jonathan, who stated this in a condolence letter sent to the Braithwaite family, said he was one of the few courageous statesmen who stood in opposition during the military regime.
In the letter dispatched yesterday, the former president said: “I extend my deepest sympathy over the passage to eternal glory, of an elder statesman whose tremendous contributions has helped shape the progress and development of our nation.
“Braithwaite will continue to live in the memory of many Nigerians as a strong advocate of a truly democratic Nigeria and one of the very few who had the courage to stand in opposition during the military regime.
“I vividly recall our various encounters during which, as a strong believer in the unity of Nigeria, he ceaselessly clamoured for the national dialogue; seeing it as an avenue through which lasting unification of the country could be achieved. He never stopped advocating for policies that will improve the quality of life of all Nigerians.
“His family will be comforted by the fact that his legacies as a lawyer, author and a pro-democracy activist and contributions to national development and humanity will continue to endure.
“I pray that God Almighty grant his soul eternal repose and imbue you and the nation at large with the strength of spirit to bear his absence.”
During his visit to Braithwaite’s residence yesterday, Soyinka, who disagreed with those who called him as elder statesman, said he considered him a counter-statesman.
He said: “The word elder statesman meant he was retired but I will refer to him as a counter-statesman who always put government on its toes,” he stressed, saying “Braithwaite was always on the side of the people.”
When he spoke with journalists during the condolence visit to the Braithwaite family, Ajayi described him as someone with whom he shared the same political ideology, particularly as regards the issue of true federalism and the urgent need to restructure Nigeria, irrespective of the fact that he was never a member of Afenifere.
“If he contested election, I would support him. I believe he would have done same to me if I contested election.
Ajayi seized the occasion to harp on the urgent need for restructuring in Nigerian body polity in line with the tenets of true federalism.
“Look at what is happening in Nigeria at the moment where we have somebody we call president but truly he is a monarch or a dictator.
On the other hand, Adebanjo said Braithwaite was “A consistent, principled and patriotic man who has departed this world.”
According to him, “People like him are rare. We will miss him. He was particularly chosen. He is one politician that believed in the unity and re-structuring of Nigeria to have a truly federal constitution.”
The Chairman, Afenifere, Lagos branch, Chief Supo Sonibare, also commended the late lawyer as a Nigerian totally committed to true federalism.
Akinrinade simply described him as a “mentor everyone will miss.”
Opadokun on his part, described death of Braithwaite as “the vanishing end of the true fighters of the liberty of the masses,” stressing that “Unlike many of his types, he was an intellectual. He was not one of those who will speak against government policy in the day and go back to prostrate in the night.
Also, Oyebode said Braithwaite was an exemplary patriot who jettisoned his noble birth and gave his life to the common people.
According to him, the late politician was determined to see a Nigeria free of corruption and earnestly waited for a better nation till he died.
Sharing his perspective on Braithwaite, Ninalowo said it is not only his family that will miss his departure but Nigeria at large and the whole world.
According to Okei-Odumakin, the late self-styled politician was “a great revolutionist and the life wire of Human Rights in Nigeria.”
In the words of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Owoseni, who also represented the Inspector General of Police “Braithwaite actually lived his life for the people and for the development of the country.”
Also, Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, said Braithwaite’s death is a huge loss to the nation.
The governor in a statement by the Director, Bureau of Communication and Strategy, Office of the Governor, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, said the death depleted the rank of Nigeria’s committed fighters for just society.
He tagged the late legal luminary as a “patriot and die-in-the-wool believer of Nigeria and did everything to make sure the political ship of the nation gets back on the right track.”
According to him, the late presidential candidate of NAP would remain in the memory of Nigerians as one politician, whose primary constituency was his people – especially the downtrodden.
Another renowned Nigerian lawyer and human right lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), said Braithwaite was a consistent fighter for justice and fair play.
“As a man of strong principles,
His daughter, Omowunmi, said her late father inspired her about her late father was his cordial relationship with the media “most of whom he usually referred to as my son/daughter anytime he was with them.
“He was a very loving man who hardly joke with his family despite his busy legal and political schedules.”
Reliving how Braithwaite came about his unique style, his fashion designer, Mrs. Shade Thomas Fad, who has known him for well over 35 years, said: “He asked us to design a particular style of outfit that would identify or associate him with the masses. That was how we came about the Aso Oke and the style he used to wear until his exit.”