Fidelis David in Akure and Segun James
Ondo State Governor, Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), yesterday described the death of a former military governor of Ondo State, Maj.-Gen. Ekundayo Opaleye (rtd), as a huge loss to the state and the country.
Similarly, former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, has described the death of Opaleye as shocking.
Opaleye was said to have died of a heart attack in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, on Saturday morning.
Akeredolu in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde, said the late Opaleye would be remembered for his contributions to the development of the country and his selfless service in the Nigeria Army.
“We received the news of the death of one of our foremost leaders, a former military governor of our dear state, Maj.- Gen. Opaleye (rtd) with great sadness.
“This great man was governor of the old Ondo State comprising the present Ondo and Ekiti States from August 1986 to December 1987 during the military regime of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
“His death signalled a depletion in the array of resourceful and prominent figures that have nurtured our sunshine state to its present glory. We are saddened by his departure.
“Major-Gen. Opaleye (rtd) was a signpost of patriotism. His dedication and commitment to the service of the country were admirable. He served as Corps Commander of the Nigerian Army Engineers and Commander of the OAU Neutral Military Organisation Group (NMOG) in Rwanda, among others, culminating in his elevation to the rank of Major General,” it said.
According to the statement, Opaleye‘s time as governor of the Old Ondo State was marked by development and distinction, adding that he left an indelible mark on the state through his commitment to public service and dedication to national development.
Akeredolu commiserated with the family of the deceased, while praying to God to give them the fortitude to bear the irreplaceable loss.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, children, grandchildren, and the entire family he left behind. May God grant the family the fortitude to bear the loss and grant the deceased eternal rest,” he said.
Opaleye took over from Admiral Mike Akhigbe of blessed memory before handing over to Commodore Olabode George and until his death, was the Balogun Erunmu of Owu, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Meanwhile, Bode George, who said death is the end of all mortals, however, declared that Opaleye’s demise, at this period, was unforeseen, unexpected and shocking.
“This time around, death has really dealt a heavy blow, snatching a patriotic military officer who gave his all to this country.I knew him as far back as 1964 during our School Certificate Examinations. I sat for my School Cert exams in Ijebu Ode Grammar School while he did his own in Baptist Academy, Lagos.
“He was a brilliant student who passed all his papers. He also distinguished himself when he joined the Nigerian Army. Our boss, General Ibrahim Babangida, posted him to Old Ondo State in 1986 to take over from Admiral Akhigbe.
“In 1987, General Babangida sent me to Ondo to take over from him and everything was seamless.
“I was shocked today when I heard that he died suddenly. A dedicated, disciplined and patriotic officer is gone and we are really going to miss him.
“Even after his retirement, he was involved in community service. That was why he was given the chieftaincy title of Balogun of Erunmu, Owu, Abeokuta.
“His death is a great loss to Nigeria and the military. He was so passionate about good governance. He was also an excellent administrator.
“His dedication and service to the people of old Ondo State will forever be remembered and cherished. His sudden death is one too many. It is a great loss to Nigeria and Nigerians. I pray for members of his family. May God console them, Amen.