• Burial postponed •Atiku, Saraki, Dogara, others mourn
By Tobi Soniyi in Lagos and Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo
Osogbo, the Osun State capital, was yesterday thrown into mourning when the news of the death of the senator representing Osun West senatorial district, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, spread round the town.
Adeleke, a former governor of the state, and better known in politics as ‘Serubawon,’ died yesterday at Bikets Hospital in Osogbo. He was aged 63.
THISDAY gathered from family sources that the senator died after suffering a heart attack.
The news of his demise spread like whirlwinds round every nook and cranny of the state with hundreds of his political associates and sympathisers milling round Bikets Hospital to ascertain the truth.
He was reported to have attended an All Progressives Congress (APC) senatorial meeting in Iwo, headquarters of Iwo Local Government Area of the state which turned out to be his last outing last Saturday where he exchanged pleasantries and banter with friends and political associates.
Adeleke, a 2018 governorship hopeful in the state, was the first civilian governor of the state on the platform of Social
Democratic Party (SDP) in 1992 before the halt of the Third Republic with the cancellation of June 12, 1993, election presumed to have been won by Bashorun Moshood Kasimawo Abiola.
He represented Osun West senatorial district election on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from 2007 to 2011 and was the Chairman of Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In 2014, he dumped the PDP and joined the APC. While leading thousands of his supporters to defect to APC, Adeleke noted that with the alleged assault on him by the then Minister of Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan, and candidate of the PDP, Iyiola Omisore, he and his followers were no longer safe in the party.
Adeleke, who claimed that he was called upon by the leaders of the PDP to contest the 2014 governorship election in the state because they realised that Omisore stood no chance against the Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, alleged that he was thereafter betrayed and hounded.
Adeleke was said to be preparing to run for the state governorship election in 2018 before his death yesterday morning.
Meanwhile, his supporters are threatening mayhem over his death which they suspected was a result of a foul play.
A resident of Ede, Adeleke’s hometown, who spoke with THISDAY on the telephone said the atmosphere in Ede was very charged.
He said the theory making the rounds in the town was that the former senator was poisoned.
There are reports that the remains of the politician were taken back to the Ladoke Akintola University Teaching Hospital, Osogbo, for an autopsy.
As a result of this, his burial which was supposed to take place in accordance with Islamic rites, had been postponed.
He was earlier brought home from the hospital amid wailing and weeping by supporters and family members.
While reacting to Adeleke’s demise, the state government has described it as shocking.
In a statement signed by the Director, Bureau of Communication and Strategy, Office of the Governor, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, the state government said the death of Adeleke is hard to accept.
Accordingly, it said: “The sad news of the death of the first civilian governor of our state, Adeleke, has struck us like a thunderbolt. The state Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, who is far away in China on state assignment is still speechless and in mourning.
“While the government awaits the reports of the autopsy which is being conducted, we can only calm our people to take this huge and incalculable loss with equanimity.
“Adeleke, no doubt, has served our dear state well. Firstly, as its civilian governor and a senator, he provided adequate representation for the people of his senatorial district and the state. He was a politician with towering dossier.
“We find this loss inexplicable, but we are restrained by the fact that we cannot query the verdicts of our Creator, the Almighty God!
“We commiserate with the people of the state over this sad loss. We are still in shock.”
Meanwhile, a cross-section of eminent Nigerians have poured eulogies on Adeleke.
Former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu former Senate President, David Mark, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and others have described the death of a two-term serving senator, Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke, as a sad personal loss.
Atiku in a statement issued by his media office, expressed shock at the demise of the two-time Osun senator.
He described Adeleke as a cosmopolitan politician, who had a good grasp of the dynamics of Nigeria having spent his early years in Enugu until the onset of the Nigerian Civil War before relocating to Ibadan to complete his secondary education.
Saraki, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, described Adeleke, the first elected Governor of Osun State, as an important figure in the eighth Senate.
“My heart goes out to the family of Adeleke, and the people of the great Osun State,” Saraki said.
Also, Dogara described the sudden death of Adeleke as shocking and a huge loss to the country.
In a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Turaki Hassan, the Speaker said he received with shock, the news of sudden death of Adeleke and said the former Osun State Governor was a distinguished gentleman.
“Adeleke was a leader who left giant footprints and lasting legacies as the first civilian governor of Osun State,” he stated.
Dogara also recalled that the late senator was credited for establishing tertiary educational institutions across Osun State when he was governor in the third republic, thereby laying the foundation for the development of the state.
“On behalf of all members of the House of Representatives, I condole with the Adeleke family, the Senate, government and people of Osun State over this big loss,” Dogara added.
Also, Ekweremadu expressed shock and a deep sense of personal loss over Adeleke’s demise.
In a statement, he said the loss is not only to the Senate and the people of Osun state, but to the entire nation.
“I am in rude shock over this sad development. It is like a rainstorm at the height of dry season.
“Adeleke was a brother and friend. He was cosmopolitan in nature and started his education in Enugu, my state. This nature showed in his broadminded approach to debates and national issues, which stood him out as a statesman and pan-Nigerian,” Ekweremadu said.
On his part, Mark has expressed shock over the death of the senator describing his demise as a painful exit.
In a statement issued by Paul Mumeh, Media Assistant to Mark, the former Senate President said: “I am shocked and saddened by the sudden demise of my colleague, Senator Isiaka Adeleke . It is just devastating that he is no more.
“Adeleke was a peace maker. He always craved for peace , equity, justice and national unity. Whenever we had challenges and tension in the Senate, Adeleke was always a ready hand to calm frayed nerves.
“A highly principled, focused and resourceful parliamentarian, he always identified with the ordinary people . He fought for the welfare of citizens without compromise . He practiced inclusive politics that provided the greatest benefit to largest number of his constituents.
“For him, politics is noble, a game and a call to serve without bitterness.”
Similarly, Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, condoled with the government and people of Osun State over the death Adeleke.
In a condolence statement issued in Asaba yesterday by his Chief Press Secretary, Charles Aniagwu, Okowa noted that the late Adeleke lived a life of service to humanity which was epitomized in the lives he impacted on while in active public service.
Okowa prayed God Almighty to grant the family and the people of Ede, the fortitude to bear the loss.
Former Lagos State Governor and national leader of the APC, Senator Bola Tinubu, on his part, said he received the news of Adeleke’s death with numbing shock, adding that the news was too much to bear coming barely a day after that of Dipo Famakinwa.
“The news of his death was both sudden and saddening for me and I am sure for most members of our political family.”
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, was not left of the condelences as he commiserated with the family of Adeleke.
In a condolence message signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr Yinka Oyebode, the minister described the news of the death of the former governor as shocking and saddening.
Fayemi described Adeleke as a highly resourceful and colourful politician; a grassroots mobiliser who related well with both the low and the mighty.
Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, also described the news of the death of Adeleke, as “a rude shock.”
The governor, in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Adejuwon Soyinka, described the death of Senator Adeleke as “a great loss not just to Osun State but to the entire nation.”
Amosun described the two-time senator and first elected Governor of Osun State as “an experienced politician and administrator who will be sorely missed by not just his immediate family but also his political family and the nation at large.”
He said Adeleke would be remembered for, among other things, his love for education.
Still among the sympathisers is former Osun State Deputy Governor, Iyiola Omisore who expressed grief over the sudden and sad demise of Adeleke, describing him as an accomplished politician, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
In a condolence message released by his media office in Ile-Ife yesterday, Omisore said the late senator would be missed for his philanthropy, diligence and humble lifestyle.
He said Adeleke would be remembered as one of the nation’s great men.
While praying Allah to grant the soul of the departed a place in Aljanah Firdaus, Omisore called on his family and associates to take solace in the fact that Adeleke lived a highly impactful life worthy of emulation.