Tinubu: Akeredolu’s Death Leaves Vacuum Difficult to Fill

•Declares he’s working hard to ease pains of Nigerians 

•Widow thanks southern governors, says Sanwo-Olu singlehandedly brought back husband’s remains to Nigeria 

•Afenifere seeks true federalism, implementation of 2014 CONFAB

Deji Elumoye in Abuja and Fidelis David in Akure

President Bola Tinubu, yesterday, in Owo, Ondo State, said the void left by the departed governor of the state, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, would be difficult to fill. Tinubu stated this when he went to condole with the family of Akeredolu, who died on December 27, 2023 after a protracted illness.

Accompanied by the incumbent governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, Chief Bisi Akande, and Elder Pius Akinyelure, Tinubu was received by the widow of the late governor, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu.

The president, who had a closed-door meeting with Mrs. Akeredolu, also visited the place where the former governor was laid to rest. He said it was honourable to depart the world when the ovation was loudest.

Tinubu stated, “This sentiment should inspire us to live each day with purpose, to pursue our goals with determination, and to leave behind a legacy that will be remembered fondly by those whose lives we have touched.”

He acknowledged the courage and fearless nature of the late governor, especially his passion for good governance.

“He truly embodied courage and fearlessness, especially in his relentless pursuit for good governance,” the president said. “I can only describe him as a fearless fighter, his unwavering commitment to the welfare of his people and his courageous nature will always be remembered,” he added.

In a release by his media adviser, Ajuri Ngelale, Tinubu eulogised late Akeredolu as a statesman and a distinguished legal luminary, who served his people with unwavering dedication.

Mrs. Akeredolu, who spoke after the visit, appreciated the president for the condolence visit.

She said, “On behalf of my family, I appreciate Mr. President. We understood he couldn’t attend the burial ceremony due to the dictates of Yoruba culture. He couldn’t have attended the burial of his younger brother.

“Coming today is a big deal because we are in a better atmosphere. I also express my profound gratitude to the southern governors for their immense financial contributions to the burial.

“Most especially, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who singlehandedly brought Aketi’s remains back to Nigeria. We appreciate this huge show of love and we are grateful and forever indebted to him.

“I requested that Mr. President see where Aketi has been laid to rest and he followed me. We are deeply grateful to Mr. President for coming. He’s, indeed, Aketi’s brother and friend. 

“I told Mr. President, yes, Aketi has left but he lives because he left behind legacies. It is our wish that those legacies continue and are built upon where necessary.”

The president also visited the palace of the Olowo of Owo Kingdom, Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye III.

Speaking at the palace of the Olowo of Owo Kingdom, the president said, “We lost an illustrious son. Akeredolu was very close to me and an ally. He was a son of the soil, and I have come to pay homage.”

Tinubu prayed for the good health, progress, and prosperity of the traditional ruler and the community and thanked the people of Owo for their support to the bereaved family.

The president, who equally visited the leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, at his residence in Akure, said his government was aware of the challenges confronting Nigerians. He promised that the policies of his administration would bring succour to the people.

Tinubu called on Nigerians to grow and eat home foods, stating that doing so would wean the country off dependence on foods from foreign sources.

Responding, Fasoranti called on the president to restructure the country and move it to true federalism, as it was originally entrenched in the 1960 and 1963 constitutions. He said this would help bring an end to many problems Nigeria was grappling with, including double-digit inflation, foreign currency shortages, a weak naira, and widespread insecurity.

Fasoranti told Tinubu, “You know that since the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, the Yoruba people, led by Afenifere, have been in the forefront of the campaign for the restructuring of Nigeria.

“It is now incumbent on you to address this issue of constitutional reforms with courage, fairness and determination. We know we cannot return to the past, but we have to seek a future where regional competitions would bring out the best in our country as it did during the First Republic.

“We seek, therefore, a true federal republic that would reflect fiscal federalism. If derivation principle is good for oil, why is it not good for Value Added Tax, for example?”

The elder statesman stressed that Afenifere believed that a review of the 2014 national constitutional conference report would help the president in charting the course.

Fasoranti said, “For the people of the South-eest, restructuring also has a more pressing meaning. Today, Nigeria has a population of 200 million, which would double in the next 25 years to 400 million.

“However, the South-west is facing an avalanche of migration from the other zones of the country to the extent that in 25 years’ time, if the current trend continues, the South-west would be home to 50 percent of the population of Nigeria.

“By this time the states of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo would be home to at least 200 million people. We need to plan for this eventuality on a regional scale. We need to be prepared so that our region would not be overwhelmed by imported challenges.

“Mr President, please, also seek institutional reforms that would strengthen our federation and make Nigeria safer and more prosperous. Try and balance the budget and execute capital projects that would create more employments.

“We thank you for welcoming the idea of state policing.”

The Afenifere leader stated that the group wanted each of the geopolitical zones to have greater responsibilities for security, food production, and infrastructural development.

He stated, “Since the removal of fuel subsidy, which was costing Nigeria $10 billion yearly, the state governments have been receiving hefty allocations from the federation account. 

“Mr President should persuade the governors to allow this change of fortune for the states to reflect at the grassroots so that life can be better for our people. They should not just buy rice and yams for the people.”

Fasoranti also told Tinubu, “It is an act of courage and sagacity for you to adopt the Oronsanye Report as the basis to reform the public service. This is a welcome development.”

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