The exit of Ayo Fasanmi

Human existence is substantially determined by decisions and the choice of relationships within the spiritual and the terrestrial terrains. In the still alluring words of  Martin Luther King Jnr, “Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying.” Ayo Fasanmi, elder statesman, politician and nation builder, chose his associations carefully based on his progressive political persuasions. His brand of politics and spiritual proclivities stood out. By the time he breathed his last, he had lived a life that many could only dream of, passionately committed to nation building and national rejuvenation even with the vagaries of age. His exit at age 94 on July 30 drew the curtains on yet another era. It was the exit of a great soldier of the progressive school. His was a life simply lived for God and humanity.

Born in 1925 in Iye Ekiti in present-day Ekiti State, Fasanmi lived the greater portion of his years on another terrain: many thought that he was an indigene of Osogbo, Osun State, where he settled and lived till he died. Fasanmi attended St. Paul’s Primary School, Ebute Meta, Lagos State and the renowned Government College, Ibadan, Oyo State where many great minds like the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, were nurtured. He later attended the Pharmacy School at Yaba, Lagos, where he obtained a diploma certificate in pharmacy, eventually becoming the president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) in 1977. He was in Osogbo for his internship in 1951 when he fell in love with the town which he called home till he drew his last breath. It was also in Osogbo that he got married to the late Madam Adejoke Fasanmi who died at age 82 in October 2014.

Fasanmi’s foray into politics was fuelled by his love for the downtrodden and hatred for any form of injustice. He joined the Chief Obafemi Awolowo-led Unity Party of Nigeria in 1978 and was elected into the Senate in 1979. He was a govenorship candidate in the old Ondo State. He lost to Chief Adekunle Ajasin at the primaries but, unlike the desperadoes who populate the political landscape today, he did not exit the party because of that temporary drawback. In 1983, he won election into the Federal House of Representatives to represent the then Ondo North Constituency. He was later to serve with distinction as a member of the Board of Directors of the old Western Nigerian Housing Corporation. At various times, Fasanmi was a councilor, a member of the House of Representatives, a senator and a governorship candidate. He later became the National Vice Chairman (South-West) of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). He was a voice to reckon with not just in the South-Western part of Nigerian but the country as a whole. As the country battled dictatorship, he sided with the progressive elements to oppose all forms of oppression. He was a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Fasanmi was the Executive Director of the Western Nigeria Housing Corporation but never acquired a plot of land for himself. As a matter of fact, a family member who used his name to acquire a plot of land in Akure was disowned and was not reunited with the family until he gave up the land. He started an anti-corruption crusade in the early 60s, busting unethical tendencies long before the anti-graft agencies of today came to the fore. He was noted for arresting policemen collecting bribes on the roads. That action put them on their toes. His death is certainly a great loss to the country. He was a great nationalist with massive contributions to the socio-political development of the country. Fasanmi was a visionary leader and a reservoir of information on Nigeria and he did not shirk from making his wealth of experience available to the younger generations of leaders in tackling socio-political challenges.

An advocate for national restructuring in line with the constitutional provisions for federalism, Fasanmi served as a member of the National Constitutional Conference Commision in 1994. Even in old age, he stood resolutely for good governance. The Baba Ijo of Saint John’s Anglican Church, Iye-Ekiti and elder of the Cathedral Church of All Saints, Osogbo, will be sorely missed. Fasanmi made his decisions, lived his life, and has shed mortality for immortality. May his soul rest in sweet repose.

 

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