Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan
Prominent Nigerians Thursday converged at the International Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan, to celebrate with a NADECO chieftain and retired lieutenant general, Alani Akinrinade, who clocked 80 years.
The dignitaries amidst glowing tributes, recounted the uncommon bravery of the former Chief of Defence Staff and elder statesman in the task of keeping Nigerian nation as one indivisible entity..
Present at the event include Governors Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti State); Gboyega Oyetola ( Osun); Seyi Makinde (Oyo) represented by his deputy, Mr. Rauf Olaniyan; and a former Defence Minister, General. Theophilus Danjuma; Prof. Isaac Adewole and Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi.
Also at the event were a war veteran, General Alabi Isama (rtd.); the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka; Chief Segun Osoba; Senator Abiola Ajimobi; Chief Bisi Akande; and General Raji Rasaki (rtd),
Others were Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; Alake of Egbaland, Oba Aremu Gbadebo; Orangun of Oke-Ila and several other traditional rulers.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in his tribute printed with the programme, said as a junior officer to Akinrinade, he admired him; his exploits during the civil war and his post-war contributions to the “retooling of the Nigerian Army, and eventually, his emergence as Chief of Army Staff.”
He also hailed his contributions to the growth of democracy through the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO).
The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, who was represented by Chief Finni, described him as a man living a Spartan life marked by simplicity, happiness and self-contentment.
He said Akinrinade deployed his all to accomplish any task given to him or the goals he set for himself, saying, he served and continues to serve his country with all that he has: his intellect, energy, power, doggedness and commitment.”
Tinubu recalled that since their paths crossed 30 years ago “in the field of struggle for the termination of military rule in Nigeria and political emancipation of Nigerians, the retired general has remained the same.
Akinrinade has remained “a true democrat, an unrelenting fighter for rule of law and social justice and a statesman extraordinary,” adding that “he is very political though not a politician”, he said.
Tinubu emphasised that Akinrinade deserved all the accolades he gets today, pointing out that he was one of those who fought for the democracy that now thrives in Nigeria.
According to him, “for democracy, he suffered untold deprivation. He was hounded endlessly by agents of the military dictator. After the junta failed in the bid to track him down, his home was burnt, his business crippled.”
Governors Gboyega Oyetola (Osun) and Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) also paid glowing tributes to the celebrator.
While underscoring the enormous role the octogenarian played during the struggle, Fayemi said, though, people always credit the success of Radio Kudirat to him, it was the enormous contributions of Akinrinade that did the magic.
Fayemi said, “I’m always credited for being the founder of Radio Kudirat. But, let me say openly here that that he paid for the first set of the transmitter and some equipment”.
Akinyemi in his own remarks, said, “Gen Akinrinade gave us his office in London to use for NADECO. To actualise our mandate, Akinrinade paid for most of our travels.
“The retired general went beyond giving his resources, he put his life on the line. He knew he was provoking the Abacha regime. They put him in surveillance. His house was bombed in Ikeja. His son who was sleeping in the house managed to escape. Alani later joined us in London when we demonstrated.”
Oyetola spoke glowingly about the celebrant, saying, “he continues to render selfless service to the nation after a distinguished career and in retirement. He was a light and a pillar during the dark days of the military when his own primary constituency, the military, annulled the 1993 Presidential Election and supplanted the will of the people. At personal costs, Lt. General Akinrinade aligned with the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, to restore democracy and the dignity of the Nigerian nation.”
“ Lt. General Akinrinade is an encyclopaedia of Nigerian politics, having actively participated in the nation’s political evolution through the military days to the present democratic dispensation.”
“As a patriarch of the progressives family, gentleman Akinrinade continues to offer counsel behind the scenes to nurture our political family, strengthen our democracy and build a successor generation.”