Olaniwun Ajayi, a true believer in democratic Nigeria —Anyaoku

FORMER Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, has mourned the passage of a foremost chieftain of the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi.

Anyaoku, in a tribute made available to Sunday Tribune, said: “Sir Olaniwun Ajayi’s death represents a loss in the ranks of the original and consistent loyalists to the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s political philosophy and leadership principles in Nigeria.”

Describing Ajayi as a true believer in a democratic Nigeria whose unity is built on the recognition of the reality of its diverse component ethnic groups,” Anyaoku praised that the deceased’s long standing dedication to Afenifere and active role in NADECO, which made a seminal contribution to the restoration of democracy in Nigeria.

“The articulation of his views in his book, Nigeria, Africa’s Failed Asset, published in 2009, is a confirmation of his patriotism and faith in the future of a suitably structured and governed Nigeria.

“I received the news of the death of Sir Olaniwun Ajayi with shock, because only five days ago, we were together at Ikenne at a meeting of the Selection Committee of the Awolowo Leadership Award, which I chair and of which he was an ardent member. He, as usual, had contributed eloquently to our deliberations and shown no sign whatever of an impending end to his sojourn on earth.

“I express my deepest sympathy to his family, and to the people of Ogun State and indeed of Nigeria, for the loss of an illustrious principled national political actor whose life must remain a source of inspiration to our youth. May his soul rest in peace.”


His death evokes concern at shrinking number of original Nigerian nationalists —Prof Akinyemi

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, on Saturday, joined other Nigerians to mourn the passing of Sir Olaniwun Ajayi.

He said his death, beside evoking a feeling of gratitude to God for the gift of longevity he gave the deceased who died at age 91, also evoked concern, regret and sadness at the shrinking number of original nationalists Nigeria had once boasted of.

Akinyemi, in a statement made available to Sunday Tribune in Lagos, said: “The death of Papa Olaniwun Ajayi at the ripe old age of 91 evokes mixed reactions from one and all.

“That he lived to a grand old age evokes a feeling of gratitude to God for the gift of longevity. But the death also evokes concern and regret and sadness at the shrinking number of original nationalists who were active participants in the early life of this nation.

“They were either active participants or/and eye witness to monumental events that shaped the political landscape of this nation. And in this age of make-believe historians, their narratives were the most valuable. And now, their rank has diminished by the death of Papa Ajayi,” Akinyemi said.

Akinyemi recalled that Sir Olaniwun was an active participant at the 2014 National Conference till his health made it impossible for him to carry on, noting that the late Afenifere chieftain, however, returned to the fray, providing guidance and words of wisdom during the 2015 elections and after.

“He fought the good fight, he ran the race and he was faithful to the end,” Prof. Akinyemi said, even as he prayed God to grant the soul of the deceased the deserved peaceful rest.


A good man, forthright leader is gone, says Fayemi

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has mourned the death of Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, who passed on at the age of 91, on Friday, describing him as a forthright leader with a very rare generous spirit.

Fayemi said the death of Sir Olaniwun came to him as a surprise, because the late Afenifere leader was full of life during their recent meeting, in spite of his old age.

The minister, in a condolence message signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr Yinka Oyebode, described the late Chief Ajayi as a distinguished leader, nationalist, foremost Awoist and a thoroughbred professional who brought a unique touch of excellence to whatever he did.

Recalling his relationship with the late leader, whom he described as a man of wisdom and leader with a huge sense of history, Dr Fayemi said every encounter with the late Chief Ajayi revealed his good nature as well as passion for the unity of the Yoruba in particular and Nigeria’s greatness in general.


Saraki mourns

Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has described the demise of Sir Olaniwun Ajayi as a sad  loss of one of the surviving nationalists “whose counsel is needed at this point to solidify the nation’s democracy.”

Saraki, in a condolence message signed by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, lauded the late Ajayi for his immense contributions to the stability and sociopolitical development of the country.

According to him, “Nigeria is blessed to have had the like of the late elder statesman and passionate Awoist as one of its leading political elite. It is really sad that we have again lost a progressive  and a leader of repute who spent the most productive part of his earthly life working for the common good.”

Saraki commiserated with the immediate family of the deceased, Afenifere, the government and people of Ogun State, the entire Yoruba race and the country in general, over the death of Pa Ajayi, while praying God to grant the soul of the departed eternal rest.


His death, immense loss to Yoruba race, Nigeria —Ladoja

former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, has described the death of Sir Olaniwun Ajayi as an immense loss not only to the Yoruba race, but also the entire country.

This was contained in  a statement signed by his media aide, Alhaji Lanre Latinwo and made available to newsmen in Ibadan, on Saturday.

He noted that the demise of the astute politician at a time when the Yoruba race needed  the sagacity of his leadership “is most unfortunate,” adding that Sir Olaniwun lived his life for the greatness of the Yoruba race and a better Nigeria

The former governor also stressed that Pa Ajayi gave his all to the emancipation of the Yoruba cause through his tireless contributions to the progress and sustenance of Afenifere.

He said that “Pa Ajayi is one of the few left who are sold out to the Awoist school of thought and did all he could to keep the Awo political philosophy alive.”

Senator Ladoja however thanked God that Pa Ajayi lived a fulfilled life and left a legacy worthy of emulation.


His death, a colossal loss to the church —Methodist Prelate

The Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria (MCN), Most Reverend S.C.K. Uche, has described Pa Olaniwun Ajayi as a very committed Methodist Christian, saying his death was a colossal loss to the church.

The prelate, while speaking with Sunday Tribune, said: “He was a philanthropist and a generous supporter of the church. He helped the church in no small way with regard to infrastructural development. In fact, he is known for building a church in his homeland, that is, the Methodist Church, Isara. He built so many structures for the church and in Sagamu including where we train our ministers.

“His death is a colossal loss to the MCN and I am deeply pained by his departure. He is a rare gem and a leader of note. He is a man of many parts. I enjoin his family and the MCN to bear the loss with Christian fortitude, aware of the fact that one day it will be our turn. We resign everything to God in total surrender,” Prelate Uche stated.


Olaniwun Ajayi, a patriot, nationalist, says Olusola Oke

The gubernatorial candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in Ondo State, Chief Olusola Oke, has described Chief Olaniwun Ajayi, as a patriot and nationalist par excellence, saying “with his passage, another of our bright stars has been dimmed.”

Chief Oke, in a condolence message issued by the chairman of his campaign organisation’s media and publicity committee, Mr. Kolawole Olabisi, noted that the late Ajayi, who he described as one of the last titans of the Awolowo ideals, “was a patriot whose progressivism was never tainted till he breathed his last.”

The statement reads in part, “Chief Olaniwun Ajayi was an epitome of steadfastness whose titanic fight and support for the struggle for the emancipation of the Yoruba race was unparalleled. He was a nationalist, a pan-Africanist and a democrat of no mean repute.”


A rare advocate of Yoruba unity has fallen —Gani Adams

The national coordinator of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Chief Gani Adams, has described Sir Olaniwun Ajayi as a rare advocate of Yoruba unity, lamenting the exit of the nationalist.

Adams, who stated this on Saturday, said: “Baba Olaniwun is a prodigy of immeasurable value both to the Yoruba race and the stability of Nigeria as a nation. He was a man who has a cosmopolitan outlook of Nigerian politics in relation to the unity of the Yoruba within a true federalist state.”

He further described Ajayi’s death as an irreplaceable loss to the nation.