Juliana Taiwo-Obanloye, Aidoghie Paulinus (Abuja) And Bamigbola Gbolagunte (Akure)
President Muhammadu Buhari led the tributes in honour of former Minister of Information, Chief Alex Akinyele who died on Thursday after an illness.
The President’s condolence was conveyed through a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Friday. He commiserated with the government and people of Ondo State, friends and professional colleagues of the departed, urging them to take solace in the lasting legacies of the former minister.
According to President Buhari, Akinyele’s virtues of scrupulousness, discipline and diligence were always obvious to those who worked closely with him. He especially lauded the late Akinyele’s love for the country, which he zealously demonstrated by providing exemplary leadership.
Chief Alex Akinyele, who hailed from Ondo in Ondo West Local Government Area of Ondo State, died at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in London on Thursday at 81 after an illness. A trained teacher and Public Relations specialist, he served as Minister of Information under the military administration of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and also served as Chairman of National Sports Commission. He was Chairman of National Reconciliation Committee in the regime of Gen. Sani Abacha.
His death has been described by Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu as a great loss to the state and the nation at large. Akeredolu who said he received the news of Akinyele’s death with shock said: “Late Alex Akinyele was a man of many parts who made sound and meaningful impacts in his active days of service to the nation. The urbane, quintessential personality and glamour which he blended with an alluring cultural carriage provided an enviably distinct style that was proudly Nigerian.”
Governor Akeredolu further noted: “His highly tasteful social life never diminished his love for the Yoruba culture; it rather attracted and exported admiration.
He also spoke fondly of his zeal for the Public Relations practice. “His was not just PR. His human relations exuded a perfectionist’s bend that took Information and Perception Management to a different pedestal in the country,” said Akeredolu who considered Akinyele’s death a personal loss to him.
“Aside from being a respected Nigerian elder and opinion leader of Ondo State origin, the late icon like I and many other Nigerian patriots, was a proud product of the Great Ife, the nation’s pride and excellence symbol. Great Ife will miss him greatly. Every Alumnus feels this vacuum. May the soul of High Chief Alex Akinyele rest in perfect peace,” he stated.
Chief Whip of the Senate and former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Kalu in his tribute described Akinyele as a patriotic and genuine statesman who played prominent roles at different times in nation-building.
Senator Kalu in a statement released by his media office on Friday avowed that Chief Akinyele will be remembered for his good deeds.
“The late Akinyele was indeed a rallying point for his peers and the younger generation. He will be greatly missed for his outstanding qualities,” said the former governor of Abia, who further described chief Akinyele as urbane, charismatic, vocal, forthright and decent and a man who excelled in all fields of endeavours.
Similarly, All Progressives Congress National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, also commiserated with the family and professional colleagues of the late former Information Minister.
Asiwaju Tinubu, in his condolence message released on Friday, said Chief Alex Akinyele was an elder statesman. He served the country to the best of his abilities. “He did his best as Minister of Information and later Chairman of the Nigerian Sports Commission,” he said. “He was also one leader who was very proud of his Yoruba, indeed Ondo heritage, and demonstrated this often in his appearance and conduct.”
Tinubu remembered Akinyele as someone who radiated warmth and tenderness. “To meet him is to like him. He was full of life. He was unmistakable with his sartorial elegance. The country he did his best for will sorely miss him,” he said.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, called the demise of the Public relations icon a monumental loss to his family, the people of Ondo State and Nigerians in general.
He said Chief Akinyele’s tenure as Minister of Information, and later as the Chairman of the National Sports Commission, was characterized by his uncommon passion for Nigeria, as well as his impressive erudition.
The family of the deceased, as well as his friends and associates, should be comforted by his legacy of service to humanity, Mohammed said.