CJN, NBA, Aiyedatiwa extol Akeredolu

There were two activities yesterday in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, held in honour of the late Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.

The major events will culminate in Thursday’s interment of the ex-governor’s body in his Owo hometown.

Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, Attorney-General/Minister of Justice  Lateef Fagbemi, and Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) President Yakubu Maikyau were at the Special Court Session held at the High Court Complex in the Oyo State capital.

The second activity, a night of tributes, was held at the Jogor Centre in the ancient city, where Akeredolu lived and practiced law before his foray into politics.

Ondo State Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa and former Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi also attended the events.

The court session was organised by the NBA, which Akeredolu led between 2008 and 2010.

The deceased was Chairman of NBA, Ibadan branch, between 1992 and 1993 and Patron of the branch from 2017 to 2023.

He died in a German hospital where he was receiving treatment for leukemia and prostate cancer in December last year.

Ariwoola described Akeredolu as someone who loved life, urging Nigerians to learn from his  life of meritorious service to humanity.

Fagbemi highlighted Akeredolu’s doggedness, love, and fight for justice, saying that he would be deeply missed.

The Oyo State Chief Judge, Justice Iyabo Yerima, acknowledged Akeredolu’s indelible impact on humanity, stressing that his legacy would be impossible to fully quantify.

Also, a legal luminary, Olusola Oke (SAN) described the late governor as an advocate of justice who was straight forward, frank, and daring.

NBA: He was courageous

NBA President Maikyau, Chairman of Council of Legal Education (CLE), Mr Emeka Ngige and Oyo State Attorney-General, Mr Abiodun Aikomo, also paid tribute to the legal icon.

Maikyau said Akeredolu was a courageous, diligent, fearless and truthful leader, who served the bar, humanity and the country diligently.

“He was ready to lay down his life to defend anyone; a great achiever and legend who will continue to live in the minds of all of us,” he added.

Ngige, SAN, said Akeredolu impacted positively in all sectors of the national economy, aside the judiciary.

“He contributed immensely to the development of the entire country; his mourning is coming at a time we need him most.

“But, we celebrate the life that he lived and pray God grants him eternal rest,” he added.

Aikomo said that the deceased lived a glorious and fulfilled life.

“We too should think of how we can be courageous and always stand for the truth.

“We all are proud of him and know that his memory will be a blessing”.

Chairman of NBA, Ibadan branch, Mrs Folasade Aladeniyi, said that Akeredolu would be remembered as a man who lived a selfless and impactful life, adding he was without bias of any kind.

“He was a friend, father and lots more to all of us. His last benevolence to NBA Ibadan, even on sick bed, was in September 2023.

“He was the single highest donor to the extension of the ongoing Bar building project; his keen interest was that the building be completed in record time.

“To honour Akeredolu, who was a proponent of state policing, President Bola Tinubu, on Feb. 15, gave a tacit approval to the establishment of state police in Nigeria, which, hopefully, would be followed by necessary constitutional amendments to bring it to reality.

“I pray God spares our lives to live well as he did; his death is indeed a big loss to NBA Ibadan,” Aladeniyi said.

Akeredolu left worthy legacies, says Fayemi

In his tribute titled: “Timeless Aketi,” at the night of tribute, Fayemi, former Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), said Akeredolu left worthy legacies.

He said: “In the vast tapestry of life, there are individuals who leave an indelible mark, whose presence echoes in the corridors of our memories long after they have departed.

“Arakunrin OluwaRotimi Odunayo Akeredolu was one such radiant presence. As I render this tribute, my heart is filled with sadness on his demise, yet grateful to God for the gift of his friendship.

“Aketi was a man of many parts. Comfortable in his own skin, confident in the elite ranks and relatable among the plebeians in society. One minute, he was at All Saints Church singing at a high octave in the choir, the next he was in the Kegites’ shrine dishing out unforgettable lyrics as the World Songito.

“As he danced to Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s Water no get enemy, you will find him  gyrating to the melodious tunes of Orlando Owoh. Serious yet playful, his ideology, at all times, was the promotion of the common good and giving joy to the greatest number of the people.

“In the realm of politics, where alliances are forged and battles fought, there are those rare individuals who transcend the political arena to become cherished friends and trusted confidants, whose presence graced our political journey with wisdom, camaraderie, and unwavering commitment to the good of the people.

“Having been deeply involved in his political journey, particularly his gubernatorial quest right from his unsuccessful 2012 bid to his tortuous but eventually successful bid in 2016 and his second term journey in 2020, I was a close witness to his trials and triumphs and cane to appreciate how his altruistic Christian instincts led him to a fulfilled life of public service.

“Arakunrin was more than a political associate; he was a dear friend, a trusted advisor, a source of inspiration, and a pillar of support through the highs and lows of our shared endeavours. A true friend for all seasons.

“As a lawyer and politician, he was accomplished and successful, but his greatest legacy lies not in his many professional or political achievements, but in the countless lives he touched and the friendships he forged along the way. Many will fondly remember him as an irrepressible defender of the defenceless  and a loud, often undiplomatic voice of the voiceless.

“As Chairman of the South West Governors Forum, he was the Field Marshal and Commander in Chief of the defenceless  people of the territory and he led from the front in the establishment of the Western  Security Network – popularly known as Amotekun.

“Today, his relentless campaign for multi-level policing popularly called “state police” is one that has received the support and almost total endorsement of the then naysayers.  He went on to drive the Southern Governors Forum with the same sincerety of purpose, passionate consistency and courage of conviction when the situation in the political arena demanded same.

“He insisted, alongside his colleague Governors that the rotation of the presidency to the south was incontestable even when this position ran against the grain of certain powerful elements in his political party.

“For Aketi, it didn’t matter much what side of the political divide you belonged; neither did he obsess about the part of the country from which a person hailed. As a patriot and a nationalist, he never lost sight of our common goal – the quest for public good and the building of a prosperous, united, safe and secure nation.

“Far was it from him to play the politics of bitterness, but he was also not apologetic for his stance on any issue because he’s always ready to speak truth to power in his consistent display of courage of conviction – even if that earned him some professional and political enemies. Indeed, there are many who never agreed with his approach. Some found him too abrasive and uncompromising.

“ Others accused him of lack of tact and diplomacy. They are all entitled to their views. What is not in doubt is that he achieved results, timeless, tangible, enduring results that generations yet unborn will not forget.

“As we reflect on his life and times during  this evening of Tributes and on our shared experiences and the countless battles we fought, numerous challenges encountered and our many triumphs, we are reminded of the profound impact Arakunrin had on our lives and our society.

“His unwavering dedication to the greater good, his incredible zest for life, his tireless advocacy for justice and equity, and his unyielding commitment to serving others set an exemplary standard for us all to continue to follow.

“As we navigate the void left by the passing of our beloved brother and friend, of course we are asking the unanswered question: how can death snatch such a person, so full of life from the uncompleted work of national rebirth and renewal? I’ve asked myself the same question repeatedly as we all have in this gathering because every death diminishes us.”

Akeredolu’s daughter, Yejide Runsewe, thanked the dignitaries, saying that their commendations will further strengthen the family.

“We all wish Aketi were here with us, but we take solace in the memories we shared, the laughter we enjoyed, and the lessons he imparted. He may no longer walk among us, but his spirit lives on in the necessary battles he fought on behalf of a better Nigeria, the service he rendered to the good people of Ondo State, the kindness he showed his compatriots, the wisdom he shared with all and sundry, and the lives he touched in his boundless peregrinations.

“His legacy transcends the confines of his professional and/or political life; it lives on in the hearts of all who had the privilege of knowing him. The duty we all owe him is to continue to fight on behalf of the people,  not necessarily in his inimitable manner but in our own ineluctable way in the collective quest for a Better Nigeria, a Nigeria that works for all her citizens.

“On behalf of my wife, Bisi and the rest of our family, my prayer is that Almighty God will grant his soul a sweet repose and provide the family with immense fortitude to bear his irreplaceable demise. Nigeria has lost a good man. A very good man. May he rest in peace. Amen!”


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