Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and ex-Head of State, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, joined a host of notable politicians and eminent personalities, today, to celebrate the virtues of the late NADECO and Afenifere Chieftain, Senator (Pa) Abraham Aderibigbe Adesanya.
Speakers at the event, including former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku; one-time Minister of Information, High Chief John Nwodo; retired General Zamani Lekwot, Prof Banji Akintoye and Dr Doyinsola Abiola, also x-rayed Nigeria’s body polity and prescribed restructuring as a balm that could heal the wounds of the nation and keep the country as one.
Anyaoku and Nwodo expressed fears that things might fall apart if those at the helms of affairs should fail to take the bitter pill of restructuring.
After leading the congregation to observe a minute silence in honour of Pa Adesanya, Gen Abubakar commended the organisers of the event for honouring a man that has been under-celebrated.
He said that he had a very good relationship with the late politician, “when destiny brought me to be Head of State”.
Obasanjo in his remarks said: “I want to congratulate the children and family of Pa Adesanya for doing this in his honour, because he is a man who deserves this honour.
“I did not know him in my early days or in his early days. I came to know him when I was going into politics. So, because of necessity, the paths of politicians do cross. I persuaded myself, as I had been persuaded to vie for the post of President. I decided to go consulting and meeting leaders all over the country, and one of the leaders I had to meet was Pa Abraham Adesanya. I remember I got the address of his home and I phoned him. I think the first day I called on him, it would be about 10 in the evening, and he received me very, very warmly. That was also the first day that I met the daughter, Dupe, who became one of my ministers.
“When I met Pa Adesanya, he did not mince words; straight, he said: ‘You’re not with us.’ I said, ‘Yes! I don’t know the ‘us’ you are talking about. You’re a politician. I am going into politics, and as a well-bred Yoruba man, I have to pay homage to you. I have to consult you.’
“He said, ‘Hum, but I will not support you. I said that was all right, but all the same it must be my responsibility and duty to inform you and let you know that I have been persuaded and I’m going into the race. So, we parted.
“As I went on the consultation, I decided to call on him a second time; again, Papa asked: ‘What are you here for this time?’ I said, ‘I have come to give you progress report.’ He said, ‘Well, how is it going? I said it’s not going too badly. He said again: ‘We will not support you.’
“Then, he said to me, ‘Why didn’t you join us?’ and I said, ‘Well, I think your group is in a cul-de-sac; it’s limited and it may collapse.’
“He said, ‘Well, whether you join or not, we are not going to support you.’ He was consistent.
“The third time again, and that was just before the election, and I said ‘Before the election, I think I should come to you; and again he said they won’t support me, and the Yoruba people didn’t support me in that 1999 election. You saw the result, but I won.
“But I must say this; Papa Adesanya did not know how Dupe Adelaja became a Minister. What happened was that on two of the occasions when I visited Papa, Dupe came to buy something at a shop outside the farm, and I saw her; and I said, ‘You are Papa’s daughter; you were the one who served us the day I came. She said, ‘Yes.’ I didn’t see her again after that.
“After the election, I said I was going to bring people from parties other than PDP. There were three parties then – APP, PDP, and AD. I decided to take Bola Ige and Dupe Adelaja to represent AD in my government. I never talked to Papa about it. Dupe played her role as a dutiful, diligent minister. I have no regret. My prayer is that the legacy of Pa Adesanya will continue to live and inspire all. People like him are not many, and we need more of Adesanyas.”
The late Pa Adesanya’s comrade, Chief Ayo Adebanjo described him as a leader who never used his position for personal gains and was honest and consistent.
He said, “Even our enemies say of us that we are principled people.”
Adebanjo canvassed for a united Nigeria under a true federation. He said that was what Pa Adesanya stood for, even when the military tried to kill him.
Anyaoku, who was the Chairman on the occasion, presented a proposal on how Nigeria should be restructured.
He said, “Taking into consideration the killings in the North Central zone of Nigeria, I am proposing the restructuring of Nigeria into a true federation of eight federating units comprising Midwest region and a newly created Middle Belt region. The present mostly non-viable 36 states, many of which can no longer pay the salaries of their workers should be retained in the new federating units, but as development zones…
“It will be left for each federating unit to decide whether to create additional zone or additional development zones.”
According to Anyaoku, the arrangement would reduce the overall burden of recurrent expenditure, can be better monitored with greater accountability, it will increase national productivity, end the era of sharing national cake, rekindle among citizens a sense of nationalism and unity in diversity, and also reduce the do or die politics of fighting to control the centre.
Other dignitaries at the event included NADECO Chieftain, Gen Alani Akinrinade; former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; former finance minister, Chief Olu Falae; former Lagos State governor, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, former Ogun State governors, Chief Olusegun Osoba and Otunba Gbenga Daniel; former Governor of Ondo State, Dr Olusegun Mimiko; former Minister of Industry, Chief Nike Akande; APC leader and former Governor of Osun State, former Governor Obong Attah of Akwa Ibom State; Chief Bisi Akande PDP leader, Chief Bode George; Chief Harry Akande; Otunba Kunle Ojora; Sen. Olorunnibe Mamora; Sen. Iyiola Omisore; Sen. Tokunbo Afikuyomi; Justice Teju Phillips; Chief (Mrs) Tokunbo Awolowo; Chief Lanre Rasaq; Mr Olisa Agbakoba SAN; Chief Yomi Finnih; Hajia Bola Sagaya; Erelu Abiola Dosunmu; Mr Yinka Odumakin; Mr Tony Uranta; Prof. Adebayo Williams; Chief Ayo Opadokun, Mr Jimi Agbaje, and AIG Tunji Alapini rtd.