Former Anambra State governor and now Labour and Employment Minister, Senator Dr Chris Ngige, has described the death of Pa Senator Ayo Fasanmi as the fall of a big Iroko tree in Yoruba land and the exit of a nationalist and patriot from Nigeria’s political firmament.
Ngige in a statement recalled his first meeting with the then UPN senator in the National Assembly Clinics 1004 Victoria Island where he (Ngige) was serving as an NYSC doctor in 1980.
Ngige said that he never knew that the late Fasanmi was a pharmacist and after the consultation he wanted to know the contents of some of the drugs, pharmacokinetics and possible side effects.
“After that discussion he discovered that the senator usually would ring him up to book appointment to see him irrespective of the fact that he was a very young doctor. Pa Fasanmi was soft-spoken, not boisterous like many UPN senators, but was a goal scorer. No wonder he managed Afenifere dexteriously. He was an unrepentant Awoist and loved his people greatly,” he said.
Ngige also commiserated with the Momah clan and the government and people of Anambra State on the death of former Minister of Science and Technology in the Babangida Military regime, Major General Sam Momah.
Ngige expressed sadness at the demise of the man he described as a savvy military officer, scientist and educationist.
“The General will be remembered as one of the very few Igbo men who saw tomorrow and joined us in the crusade to make the Buhari presidency a reality, especially in 2015 when it was a taboo for any Igbo man to support Gen. Buhari against their ‘brother’ Azikiwe Ebele Jonathan. He said he knew Gen. Buhari as a man who will give Nigeria infrastructure,” he said.
Similarly, the National Leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in his tribute said that Papa Fasanmi’s long sojourn on earth was for the good of all.
His words: “He walked at the vanguard of all democrats, freedom fighters and believers in true federalism. To have lived to the age of 94 was God’s gift not only to him and his family, but to this nation he loved so deeply.
“Senator Fasanmi was an eminent politician, elder statesman and the beloved leader of Afenifere. A colourful personality, Papa was principled, courageous and honest. He was a loyal and dependable ally of the indomitable Chief Obafemi Awolowo. For all his life, Pa Fasanmi practiced and advanced the virtues he learned at the feet of his leader. He never betrayed those values.
“Like the American civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis, who was recently buried, Papa Fasanmi remained faithful to the truth for which he suffered greatly. Yet, no matter the cost, he never strayed from his principles. A brave man, he never flinched at the prospect of speaking truth to power.”
Tinubu disclosed that he had a close relationship with Fasanmi, which dated back many years.
“He was a mentor and role model to me, and many others who believe in progressive politics as a means to uplift our society and its people. When Papa was recently admitted to the hospital for age-related sickness, I spoke to him and followed up with his close aide to monitor his situation,” the former governor of Lagos State said.