By Egbe Niyi
The recent passing on of elder statesman, politician and legal icon statesman, Dr Tunji Braithwaite at a time when the nation is in need of experienced men to guide it is indeed sad news.
The avid crusader for social justice and the liberation of our beleaguered nation from the manacles of socio-economic injustice and squalor would be well remembered for his many feats in the legal profession and politics.
Braithwaite had a knack for daring the establishment. He was brought into fame initially through his close collaboration with the legendary King of Afro Music, the music maestro Fela Anikulapo Kuti and later his own political activities.
Fela’s had a well-known difference with successive military regimes and tirelessly fought misrule through the instrumentality of music. Of course, such stance always had him at daggers drawn with different military juntas. He was thus a regular guest in some of the nation’s prison houses. It was the likes of Dr Braithwaite, Chief Alao Aka- Bashorun and Femi Falana that always rose to his defense in courts. Another notable associate of Dr Braithwaite was the Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Prof. Wole Soyinka.
Beyond politics, Braithwaite was a social crusader who was always in league with those advocating sanity and fairer deal for the populace. At an advanced age, he still managed to participate in the Occupy Lagos anti-fuel pump price increase protest of January 2012.
He was forefront in the struggle to achieve a saner Nigeria society denouncing with gusto, every appearance of evil. From his mean resources, he was founding the Nigeria Advance Party a progressive political party that was quite popular among youths and people desiring progress in national political leadership.
The party was the only new political organisation allowed to field candidates for the 1983 elections. The party was deemed an alternative amidst the corrupted political landscape promising the eradication of deep-rooted corruption. It endeared intellectuals through its advocacy of free education at the university level and also mandatory primary education.
For the Christian community, the passing on of Dr. Braithwaite is one of mixed feelings. Naturally, Christians will miss one of their own – a shinning light in amidst a darkening and debilitating nation. They found in the late Icon, a hero whose philosophy was in consonance with that of Christ. Christ always had the religious establishment in check – denouncing hypocrisy and attacking every appearance of evil.
However, Christians are consoled by the fact that he has joined the saints triumphant and is now taking a deserved rest after a lifetime of hard fight against social wrongs.
At Covenant Keepers Network, we will quite miss Dr. Tunji Braithwaite a close ally in our efforts to have the Nigerian society become better. He encouraged us greatly in our commitment to rid the nation of social vices and corruption – which he popularly described as “mosquitoes and cockroaches”.
We had Dr. Tunji Braithwaite as lead speaker at the Inaugural Symposium of the Covenant Keepers’ Network on September 20, 2014 that had “Beyond Knowledge; Unto Obedience” as theme. His presence at the event, which was chaired by the former Head of State General Yakubu Gowon, drew an instant crowd of admirers especially of his brethren of the same faith. Again, Dr. Braithwaite did not disappoint. He went on a long tour of the country’s checkered history, labouring not only to decipher the raison d’etre for the drift of the nation to it’s inglorious state but as well pointing panaceas to national redemption.
Dr. Braithwaite also encouraged us over our commitment to “galvanising remnant Christians who have remained uncompromising in their faith and belief, standing for the truth and truth alone as contained in the Holy Scriptures”. To demonstrate his belief in our course, he along with his dear wife, Mrs Grace Braithwaite joined and pledged a commitment to keeping the ten articles of the Nigerian Covenant, which was adopted by leaders of the Nigerian Christian leaders at the Congress on Christian Ethics in Nigeria held at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, November 3 – 6, 1997.
At Covenant Keepers’ Network, we are positive that there is now laid for him a crown of righteousness befitting of every faithful servant of the Most High.
We urge the family, especially his wife Grace, to take heart and see in his good life an instructive barometer for living. The family need, at least be comforted and remain proud of his legendary contribution to the law, national development and social justice.
We are positive that he is now taking a deserved rest in the bosom of the Lord who loves him so. Adieu, great patriot and quintessential son of Lagos.
May your gallant soul rest in perfect peace
– Niyi writes from Lagos, firstname.lastname@example.org.