FROM Laide Raheem, Abeokuta; Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure,JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has joined other Nigerians to mourn the passage of one of the oldest surviving members of Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-political group,
The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement, said President Buhari in a condolence message to his family and Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, described the late Ajayi as an illustrious son, author, legal practitioner, elderstatesman and nationalist.
He paid tribute to Pa Ajayi’s inspirational and dedicated work to entrench and strengthen democracy in Nigeria through his passionate engagements in Afenifere, the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and the Patriots.
“Guided by Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s principle, the President believes that the late revered Yoruba leader effectively combined his sharp commentary on the state of affairs in Nigeria with uncommon patriotism while working tenaciously to further unity, development and prosperity in the nation.
“President Buhari urges all who mourn Pa Ajayi to emulate his lifelong commitment to dialogue, democracy and development, which are key ingredients for national growth.
“He prays that God will comfort Pa Ajayi’s family and grant the soul of the departed eternal rest”, the statement read.
In the same vein, the the Pan Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere has described the death of Ajayi as a colossal loss to the Yoruba nation.
Leader of the organization, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, while reacting to the death of Ajayi said, “the Yoruba nation has lost a foremost leader, a dogged fighter and a committed democrat.”
He said the news of the death of Ajayi was a shock to him and other leaders of Afenifere, stressing that Sir Ajayi lived better path of his life for the emancipation and development of Yoruba race.
He said, the vacuum created by the death of sir Ajayi will be difficult to fill, adding that, “we will miss his progressive contribution and good counsels.”
Also former Abia State governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has sympathised with the Yoruba race over the demise of Chief Ajayi.
According to the former governor, Chief Ajayi was a patriotic Nigerian, who believed in a fair and just society and, as such his counsel on national issues will be greatly missed.
In a statement signed by his Special Adviser, Kunle Oyewumi, Kalu said, “the demise of Chief Ajayi is not only a huge loss to the Yoruba race, but the nation at large.
“He was a philanthropist, a statesman and a democrat, who championed the cause of national well-being in different capacities.
“His contribution to the social and political development of Nigeria was remarkable.
“Chief Ajayi was a rallying and reference point to many in the society including the younger generation.
“Above all, he lived a purposeful life ”.
The ex-governor urged the Ajayi family to emulate the virtues of their late patriarch, noting that he left behind a good legacy anchored on honesty and fair play.
While commiserating with the government and people of Ogun State, Kalu prayed God to grant the deceased eternal rest and also give the Ajayi family the fortitude to bear the irreplaceable loss.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has mourned and described him, as a forthright leader with a very rare generous spirit.
Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has expressed mixed feelings over the passage of the Afenifere chieftain.
He said: “Although he will be sorely missed, we cannot but thank the Almighty for the eventful and highly impactful life that the late Sir Olaniwun Ajayi lived”.
The governor described him, as an associate of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, as one of the icons of Ogun State and architect of modern day Nigeria.
He added that the fact that the late elder statesman lived a long, fulfilled life in good health and made it to the gracious old age of 91, is something to be grateful to God for.
Fayemi said the death of Chief Ajayi came to him as a surprise, because the late Afenifere leader was full of life during their recent meeting, in spite of his old age.
The Minister, in a condolence message signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Yinka Oyebode, described the late Chief Ajayi, as a distinguished leader, nationalist, foremost Awoist and a thorough bred professional who brought a unique touch of excellence to whatever he did.
The Senator representing Lagos West Senatorial District, Senator Solomon Adeola has described the demise of Pa Ajayi, as the end of a great and principled man, whose contributions to progressive politics in Nigeria over the years remain unparalleled.
In a condolence message Senator Adeola said Yorubaland and indeed Nigeria will miss a man noted for his consistency in fighting for the emancipation of the people through advocacy of good governance and a progressive politics.
Former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, described the late Afenifere chieftain as a democrat of repute and an elder statesman who dedicated his life to the service of his people and the country.
Daniel, who expressed shock over the Olaniwun’s demise, further described him as few remaining titans who ended another glorious chapter and created a deep void in Nigeria’s politics.
Also, the former Senator representing Ogun East Senatorial District, Adegbenga Kaka, in his condolence message said, “Sir Olaniwun Ajayi was consummate Awoist, political mentor to uncountable, legal icon, epitome of good morals, neatness personified, educationist, a communicator per excellence, spiritual developer in his area of influence, passionate upholder of our cultural values, peace maker with no boundary, outstanding lover of his family, community and nation”.
Meanwhile, scores of residents of Isara-Remo in Remo North Local Government Area of Ogun State, yesterday, trooped to his country home to register their condolences over his death.
Sir Ajayi was reported to have complained of chest pain on Thursday afternoon and was taken to Lagos by his eldest son, Dr. Konyin, before he gave up the ghost at the early hours of Friday, at an undisclosed hospital
When our correspondent visited the home of the late politician, canopies were erected for visitors who besieged his residence to sign condolence register and commiserate with the family.
Speaking with our correspondent, one of the nephews of late Olaniwun, Mr. Adebari Ajayi, described his death as a great loss, not only to his family, but Israra and the entire Remoland.
He said,”Papa was a great catalyst to the development of his hometown, Isara and the entire Remoland. It will be difficult to fill the vacuum he has left behind here in Isara and Nigeria. He will be greatly missed”.
Late Sir Olaniwun Ajayi LP was born in Isara Remo on April 8, 1925 to Mr. Benjamin Awoyemi Ajayi, a farmer and Marian Efundolamu Ajayi, who traded in the farm produce to sustain the family.