National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Wednesday paid a special tribute to the former Chief of Defence Staff, General Alani Akinrinade (rtd), as he clocks 80 today, describing him as a fighter for democracy, rule of law and social justice with whom he was in the trenches during the military era.
He said Akinrinade as a true democrat, an unrelenting fighter for rule of law and social justice and a statesman extraordinary served and continues to serve his country with all that he has: “his intellect, energy, power, doggedness and commitment.”
Tinubu, in an emotional tribute, said: “Whether in the army or in retirement, General Akinrinade deployed all he is endowed with to accomplish whatever tasks he is given or to the goals he sets for himself. He served and continues to serve his country with all that he has: his intellect, energy, power, doggedness and commitment.
“He served the military meritoriously and faithfully. Given his brilliance and tenacity, he rose to the pinnacle of the military profession as Chief of Army Staff and later Chief of Defence Staff, appointed to help in stabilising the new civilian government then in 1979 during the Second Republic. He, however, quit barely a year after, retiring from the military, as it were, at just 38.”
According to him, “The circumstance of General Akinrinade’s retirement is a testament to his impeccable character and good qualities. Sensing that some in the then President Shehu Shagari government he was left behind by the military to assist feared there could be issues of trust in his position, General Akinrinade put in his resignation letter in order not to compromise himself and the principles he stood for. This was to the discomfiture of President Shagari and some top Yoruba functionaries in that NPN government who tried to prevail on him to change his mind. That is not in his character. Once he is convinced in a course of action and makes his decision, General Akinrinade I know does not look back.
“For close to 30 years that our paths have crossed in the field of struggle for the termination of military rule in Nigeria and political emancipation of Nigerians, General Akinrinade has not changed a bit. He is a true democrat, an unrelenting fighter for rule of law and social justice and a statesman extraordinary. He is very political, though not a politician. After the annulment of the June 12 election, General Akinrinade was among the few of us who formed NADECO to demand the de-annulment of that election.
“From the Egbe Ilosiwaju Yoruba which he belonged to and where he first espoused robust engagement with the military forces over the annulment, he later agreed that a bit of force was needed to actualise June 12 and correct the ills in the system. We were in the trenches together with General Akinrinade. Together, we were forced on exile from where we continued the struggle. A combatant soldier who is no stranger to battles, he provided direction and leadership for us in the push back against the annulment.”
Tinubu added: “General Akinrinade deserves all the accolades he is getting today. He deserves our gratitude. He is one of those who sacrificed for the democracy we enjoy in the country today. For democracy, he suffered untold deprivation. He was hounded endlessly by agents of the military dictator. His house was burnt down, his business crippled. We thank God that the General bounced back and he is living well to witness the democracy he fought for and to tell his story of conviction, courage and victory to the younger generations.
“General Akinrinade has remained who he is -humble, modest, firm and focused on changing our society for better. He lives a Spartan way of life, radiating simplicity, happiness and self-contentment. Indeed, the General has lived a good life. His patriotism, commitment to democracy, rule of law, social justice and worthy causes and his simple way of life deserves to be emulated.
“Though he is now gradually retiring to a life in the quietude of his ancestral home, Nigeria still needs his services, his wise counsel. We need his constant intervention in national politics. I wish General Akinriande a wonderful 80th birthday. My prayers for him is that God grant him more years, good health and renewed energy to continue to be who he is and continue to contribute to national development.”