Buhari, Akande, Afenifere, others mourn Akinfenwa
President Muhammadu Buhari has extended his condolences to the Akinfenwa family on the demise of Senator Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa, a former national chairman of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), who died last Thursday in Ibadan at the age of 89.
The President also commiserated with the government and people of Osun State on the loss of the elder statesman, who represented Osun East in the National Assembly from 1999 to 2003.
Buhari said that Akinfenwa as a professional teacher, labour activist, politician and community leader dedicated his life to the service of others, even as he worked tirelessly to promote unity and cooperation among Nigerians of different walks of life.
The President prayed to God to comfort all who mourn the late senator and grant his soul eternal rest.
Other prominent Nigerians have also sympathised with the family, with some of them visiting the Alafia Street, Basorun, Ibadan home of the deceased. Among them was a former deputy governor of Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore. He described the deceased as his father, leader, and mentor.
“Baba was my father, leader, and mentor. He lived for truth throughout his life. May his soul rest in peace. I’ll miss him and the entire progressives shall miss him,” Omisore said.
Also, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, described Akinfenwa as an Awoist.
In a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, the group said: “Senator Akinfenwa was an Awoist all through his lifetime. His contributions to progressive causes were laudable as a prominent leader in Afenifere. He was quite steadfast and dogged in defence of principles. His death has robbed the progressive family of one of its eloquent defenders.
We pray that God Almighty will be with the family he has left behind and may his memory remain sweet forever.”
Former Interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress and ex-Osun State governor, Chief Bisi Akande, has also commiserated with the Akinfenwa family, saying he felt deeply sad and shattered to learn of the sudden death of the late senator.
In an emotional tribute to Akinfenwa, Akande said he shared a deep personal relationship with him.
The former Osun State governor said: “I feel deeply sad and shattered to learn of the sudden death of Senator Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa, a long-time friend of mine since the formation of Chief Awolowo’s Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). Akinfenwa, among others, led the UPN into victory in Ijesaland.
“Akinfenwa and I first met as members of the old Oyo State Executive Committee of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in January 1979 and later, we became close friends within the cabinet of Chief Bola Ige’s government in Oyo State formed in October of that year. He was the most hard-working Commissioner for Education in the old Oyo State. Since then, the bond of our friendship has been very strong, at each other’s family level.
“Sometimes towards the end of February 1984, just a few weeks after my temporary release from Kirikiri Prisons, I went to check on Mr. Akinfenwa at No 33, Rotimi Williams Avenue, Bodija in Ibadan. I met him with some pains. He put one of his ankles in a bandage.
I was seated with him to share in his discomfort when some secret security agents came to invite him to report at the police headquarters. I suspected an arrest and subsequent military detention when they felt no concern about the pains in his ankle. I was sad. I did not immediately know that the other Oyo State Commissioners too were being fished out from their different homes for arrest.
“However, it was going to be for a short time like mine, I concluded. And I said so to Bola, his wife, for consolation. It was not until I was re-arrested in white safari suit, kept in a pond of dirt for three nights at the Army Barracks, Mokola and being taken for detention at the NSO Headquarters in Eleiyele on Monday, April 2, 1984 that I again saw Senator Akinfenwa among other commissioners detained in my old official quarters at No 754 Links Reservation. My captors drove there to parade me to them in wicked humiliation.
“When I later joined them in Agodi Prisons on Friday, April 27, 1984, Akinfenwa demonstrated very deep brotherly love for me throughout our stay together in the awaiting trial cells, particularly in August and September 1984 during my trial at the Ibadan Special Military Tribunal. He nearly became sick due to his sadness around October 16th when I was sentenced to 44 years imprisonment. He volunteered to give evidence on my behalf because the Tribunal Chairman, Brigadier Charles Ndiomu, was his old school friend. While I had been separated from him and transferred to convicted prisoners cell, he must have been released towards the end of 1985. He began doing his best to make life comfortable for me for the rest of my stay in prison.
“Unknown to him that I would be released on August 16, 1986, in his bid to cultivate Agodi Prisons’ friendship for my sake, he took the prison senior officers out for dinner on August 15, 1986. During the 30 days of Bola Ige’s release before my release, he was constantly picking quarrels openly with Uncle Bola and Sir Dele Ige, accusing them of complacency about getting me out of prison. He showed absolute friendship and love towards me and expressed disappointment that I was released to my lawyer instead of him, so he could drive me out of Agodi Prisons. We later became great family friends.
“He, among others, worked with me thereafter to build Afenifere, which metamorphosed into NADECO in Osun State during the dangerous Abacha military era. As the Osun State Chairman of Afenifere, I remember with admirable pleasure that only Senator Akinfenwa stood by me among the vice-chairmen of Afenifere in Osun State when the battle to form the Alliance for Democracy (AD) became the only practical option at Abuja on September 8, 1998. He later got elected as an AD Senator of the National Assembly in 1999.
“Senator Akinfenwa met me recently in my home at Ila-Orangun. He was looking healthy and radiant. We were happy together and reminisced about many aspects of our relationships – including our recent ugly duel over AD national chairmanship- and we joked and laughed at each other. I did not suspect it was going to be our last meeting.
“May Senator Akinfenwa’s soul find solace in the bosom of our Lord God as I pray that all of us – his friends, social and political colleagues and family – have the fortitude to bear his loss.
“Adieu, Senator Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa, my dear friend.”
The immediate-past Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, in his condolence message, described Akinfenwa as an unrepentant progressive.
In a statement made available to The Guardian in Ibadan yesterday by his media adviser, Mr. Tunji Bolaji, Ajimobi said: “He was an unrepentant progressive. He had been a steadfast progressive. He fought for all the ideals of the democratic government that we are enjoying today. He passed on at a time when his wealth of experience would have been useful to the coming generation. He will be sorely missed.”
The Southwest secretary of the APC, Chief Ayo Afolabi, on his part, said Akinfenwa’s death was painful.
“He was one of the leaders that emerged with the Chief Bola Ige administration in the old Oyo State from 1979 to 1983. He distinguished himself as a teacher and was one of our revered leaders in Osun State. We’ll surely miss him,” the APC scribe said.