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Tinubu, Peter Obi Eulogise Afenifere Leader, Ayo Adebanjo, at 95

He’s been consistent in fight for social justice, the president-elect said; he has no bone of bigotry in him, LP presidential candidate attests.

Chief Ayo Adebanjo, acting Leader of Afenifere

President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, have congratulated the leader of Yoruba’s foremost socio-political group, Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, on his 95th birthday and paid glowing tributes to him.

While Tinubu noted with admiration Adebanjo’s consistency over the years in the fight for good governance and social justice in Nigeria, Obi said at 95, the nonagenarian had no bone of bigotry in him.

In a statement Monday by Mr. Tunde Rahman, Tinubu commended Adebanjo for his contributions to progressive politics and good governance in the country.

The president-elect particularly commended Adebanjo for his leading role in the fight against military dictatorship, his pro-democracy struggles in the then National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), and his remarkable leadership within the Afenifere fold.

He stated in the birthday message, “I congratulate Baba Ayo Adebanjo on attaining 95 in good health. Baba is one of the few remaining disciples of our late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Papa Adebanjo has remained consistent in sustaining the ideals of progressive good governance and social justice.

“I salute his courage over the years and the useful role he has played in ensuring that Nigeria remains a strong, united and prosperous country.”

Tinubu prayed Almighty Allah to grant Adebanjo more years so he could witness the dawn of a new era, where the hopes of the people for a better, stronger, more secure and more prosperous Nigeria would not only be renewed but also come to full realisation.

Obi, in a statement he personally signed, stated that at a time like this, when Nigeria was in dire need of statesmen, Adebanjo occupied a pride of place in the country.

According to him, the birth and upbringing of the Afenifere leader prepared him for a balanced view of issues affecting the country, especially given that his father, Joel, was a Christian, while his mother, Salawatu, was a Muslim.

The former Anambra State governor recalled that Adebanjo grew up in the deep knowledge and love of the two dominant religions such that bigotry had no place in him.

Obi added, “Born on the 10th of April 1928 and lived his early life on Lagos Island, he was caught in the frenzy of nationalism, becoming a follower of  Nnamdi Azikiwe as a young Zikist. But in 1951, when the great Awo formed the Action Group (AG) with its philosophy of federalism, it attracted young Adebanjo as one of the founders. He had, thus, learned at the feet of the greatest nationalists in our clime.”

The LP presidential candidate described Adebanjo as a renowned journalist, who later, since 1961, became a great legal practitioner, a combination of which made him an activist and politician.

He said regarding Adebanjo, “He has ever remained unwavering in the service of our country. So much committed is he to the cause of Awoism and Nigeria that he is today the only surviving disciple of Awolowo with whom the sage was charged in the infamous treasonable felony in 1962. With other leaders, he was in the frontline in the formation of NADECO, which forced the military out of our nation’s politics.

“So effective is Afenifere in this endeavour that there is hardly any notable politician, particularly, in the South-west who is not a product or beneficiary of its activism and activities.”

Obi described Adebanjo as a foremost delegate to the 2014 National Conference, explaining that when Adebanjo and other leaders initiated the “handshake across the Niger and Benue”, it was geared towards the needed unity of the country, with Adebanjo still crisscrossing the Nigerian landscape.

Obi added that the history of the 2023 elections would be incomplete without the records of the incomparable sacrifice of Adebanjo for the unity and progress of the nation, which he continued to pursue beyond any shadow of doubt.

“As we celebrate this great nationalist, a gift of God to our country and humanity, we pray for his greater service to the nation in good health and long life, far longer than his father, who joined his Creator at the age of only 105 years,” Obi said.

Adedayo Akinwale and Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

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