Ex-minister, Olanrewaju mourns Gen Femi Williams

Former Minister of Communication, Major-General Tajudeen Olanrewaju (rtd), who is also former GOC, Third Armoured Division of Nigerian Army, Jos, has mourned the passing of Brig- General Joseph Olufemi Williams (rtd), saying the retired military officer, who fought during the Civil War, served with distinction and honour, and would be well remembered wherever truth, honour, service and devotion to one’s country were treasured. 

General Olanrewaju, who is also the Trustee of Omo Eko Pataki, a pan Lagos group, said this on Sunday while paying tribute to the deceased, a pioneer member of Brigade of Guards, who died early last week at the age of 78.

The elder statesman, who recalled that himself and Femi were course mates at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) in Kaduna “where our friendship as young professionals and pioneering Lagosians in uniform deepened, gaining reciprocal respect and mutual admiration,” having joined the military same day in response to the national call to duty to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria, described the deceased as a patriot, a gentleman, a core professional whose focus and vision were predicated on the selfless service to his nation.

“I remember a cool breezy month of September 1967 when many youths of an average age between 22 and 24years responded to the national call to duty to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria. The Civil war had begun in July to quash the secession that had taken place in the Eastern Region.  The Federal  Military Government under the leadership of Gen Yakubu Gowon had mandated a police action to neutralize the rebellion. 

“The general mobilisation of personnel to fill the shortfall in depleted officers cadre in the Nigerian army made Femi and my humble self and few others to come together  to represent our newly created Lagos State. Out of hundreds called for the interview at the Arakan  Military Barracks  in Apapa, only five of us were successful.

“Femi and myself were course mates at the NDA in Kaduna where our friendship as young professionals and pioneering Lagosians in uniform deepened, gaining reciprocal respect and mutual admiration,” he recalled.

“Femi was a patriot, a gentleman, a core professional whose focus and vision were predicated on the selfless service to his nation. 

“He fought during the civil war with zeal and passion and with the noblest of dedication. He was a veteran who kept within the customs and discipline of his military constituency. His conduct in and out of service had been exemplary,” he added.

Olanrewaju further described the deceased as a natural role model and a thoroughbred professional with the added advantage of extra training at Mon’s Academy in Aldershot in the United Kingdom, adding that the various skills and knowledge he gained from various exposures helped to raise his quality of leadership and versatility.

While expressing shock at the passing of Brig- General Williams (rtd), who he said he spoke with about three weeks ago unknown that “that would be our last parting,” submitted that his attainments were imperishable and his course fulfilled.

“Who could predict the drifts  and turns of fate? I still spoke to Femi about three weeks ago unknown that would be our last parting. 

“Ultimately, Femi served with distinction and honour. His attainments are imperishable. He has fulfilled his course. His work is done. He will be well remembered wherever truth, honour, service and devotion to one’s country are treasured,” Olanrewaju stated.

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