Buhari, Ambode, Daniel, Kalu, Afenifere mourn Olaniwun Ajayi
President Muhammadu Buhari has extendsed heartfelt condolences to the family of Ajayi and the entire Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, on the passage of one of its oldest surviving members, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi.
Ajayi, who died late on Thursday night, was aged 91.
The President also commiserated with the government and people of Ogun State on the demise of their illustrious son, author, legal practitioner, elder statesman and nationalist.
President Buhari 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 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 urged all who mourn Pa Ajayi to emulate his lifelong commitment to dialogue, democracy and development, which are key ingredients for national growth.
He prayed that God will comfort Pa Ajayi’s family and grant the soul of the departed eternal rest.
The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Friday also expressed sadness over the passage of Pa Ajayi.
The Governor in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Habib Aruna, said the late Ajayi was a frontline politician who was passionate about the progress of the Yoruba nation and Nigeria at large.
He said: “Papa was one of the few surviving close associates of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. After Chief Awolowo’s death, he was a consistent advocate for the struggle to see Nigeria achieve the dreams of her founding fathers.
“He was very passionate about the progress of Nigeria, he was an intellectual genius who had an enthusiasm for the development of his immediate community and the country at large.
“I recall my last meeting with him just about three months ago at the residence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. It was like a premonition. He had admonished all of us to give him a long lasting legacy and ensure that the Yoruba hegemony is not trampled upon and tarnished.
“This wish of his, as a great Nigerian statesman, and true son of Yoruba land, we are committed to uphold and to cherish.”
Governor Ambode recalled that Pa Ajayi’s law firm, which was established in 1962, grew from being a sole practitionership to one of the largest and open partnerships in sub-Saharan Africa and in its five decades of existence, held briefs for various corporate organisations and the government at both the federal and state levels.
“There was virtually no sector in Nigeria that Pa Ajayi’s law firm was not prominent. His law firm in no time became one of the most sought after full-service legal practices in Africa,” the Governor said.
He also prayed that Almighty God would grant the soul of the departed peaceful repose and for the family, the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
“I wish to convey my deepest condolences to the family of the deceased, on behalf of the people of Lagos State. Pa Ajayi will be sorely missed,” Governor Ambode said.
The immediate past Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, described Sir Ajayi as a democrat of repute and an elder statesman who dedicated his life to the service of his people and the country.
In a condolence message on the passing of the elder statesman, Daniel expressed his shock on the death of one of the few remaining titans, which ended another glorious chapter and created a deep void in Nigeria’s politics.
According to the former Governor, late Sir Ajayi was “a very strong force in Nigerian polity and well respected in the political landscape over the years as he improved on the democratic ideals of the founding fathers and played his roles in the service to the nation in various capacities.
“He was a courageous personality noted for his frank disposition to issues and policies. He remained principled when it mattered most and never compromised his stance even in the midst of challenges. His invaluable contributions to national development will be greatly missed.”
In the words of ex-governor Daniel, Sir Ajayi’s death is “a great loss to the country and particularly, Ogun State having served across borders during his distinguished career but we take solace in the solid legacies he left which will continue to inspire coming generations”.
Otunba Daniel then offered his heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the family, relatives and those who share in the grief of the loss of the great politician and asked God to grant him a peaceful rest and fortitude for his bereaved family to bear the loss.
Afenifere also on Friday mourned the passing away of Ajayi, its oldest surviving member.
A statement by its spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, said: “We received his passage with mixed feelings. We are joyful that in a country with life expectancy of 53, Papa made it to 91 aging graciously and in good health till the last 24 hours of life when he had to be hospitalised for some health complication.
“We are however sad that his exit has robbed the group of the wealth of experience of a philosopher, prolific writer and memory bag that is irreplaceable.
“One remarkable trait of his life was his consistency in the Awolowo political family where he put almost 70 years of dedicated service as a lieutenant of the sage and one of his worthy successors after his transition.
“He had a sense of history and lived his life deliberately to make impact on his environment.
“Either in Afenifere, the National Democratic Coalition, The Patriots and the Methodist Church where he was a Knight, he left his indelible footprints on the sand of time.
“The last days of his life were spent in worries over the state of affairs in Yorubaland in particular and in Nigeria at large. He was not just lamenting but he was taking practical steps to find verb for our noun in the syntax of human experience.
“It is hoped that all those involved in such intervention would keep those efforts on as a memorial for this worthy son of Oduduwa.
“The great man of sound intellect may not have much good news for AWO as they meet in yonder but the seeds he planted in the last moments of his life must grow to trees that would bear the fruits of freedom.
“While waiting for burial arrangements from the family for the good man of sartorial elegance, it is a promise that we shall pay his shade the right due.
“Our heartfelt condolences to the good family he has left behind and it is our prayer that the Lord will take his place in their lives.”
A former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Kalu, has sympathized with the Yoruba race over the demise of Pa 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 clan 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.