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Prof. Payosi Adesanmi, fairwell



Sir: Since the news of the tragic death of Prof. Adesanmi hit the media, there has been an extraordinary outburst of emotions, surprisingly widespread across our so badly fractured and divided nation, across lines of regions and religions, ethnicity and political diversities. This is not just because of our hypocritical penchant to say all kinds of sweet nothings about the dead, nor is it because of the tragic circumstances of his death, in a brutal air crash.

I believe this widespread outburst of positive emotions is because of who Pius was to many people: a man of strong heart, clear mind and a pure soul. These are attributes so rare in our sorely dysfunctional society – and yet so much admired by all of us. We live in a society of tragic contradictions. We want a flourishing nation. We know how to get there. But we do the wrong things – and start praying for miracles for a good outcome. This is tempting God. It is a dangerous and foolish course of action.

Pius has a firm faith in the nation’s destiny for greatness. Like the prophet crying in the wilderness, he kept proclaiming it, till his last breath. We must not allow that voice to perish, with the scattered ruins of Flight ET 301. From his vantage position in the diaspora, he refused to join the loud chorus of Nigerian pessimists, believing and telling all who care to listen abroad that they are lucky refugees from a failed state beyond remedy. No! He raised his head high; a proud first class product of his home of origin. May his tribe increase?


Payosi – as we fondly call him at home is like a son to me. My first posting as a young ordained Catholic priest, almost 50 years ago in 1969 was to Isanlu, his home town. That was about three years before he was born. There I received and enjoyed a warm welcome from his family, which was a small Catholic island in a sea of predominantly ECWA community. His Catholic home upbringing was with him till the end. I can say of him what St. Paul once said of himself, that “he has fought the good fight, he has run the race to the end, and he has kept the faith.” He has gone to receive the crown of glory, which the Lord Almighty has prepared for him and for all those who seek the truth, serve humanity and sincerely love God.

May the Lord console all of us mourning him, but especially his family, his aged mother, his wife, and young children. May his soul rest in perfect peace. Amen.

John Cardinal Onaiyekan wrote from Abuja.

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Prof. Adesanmi
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