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Afenifere leader, Fasanmi, dies at 94

Buhari, Gbajabiamila, Tinubu,Kalu, others mourn

Leader of Yoruba sociopolitical group, Afenifere, Pa Ayorinde Fasanmi, has died. Fasanmi died on Wednesday night at 94. Osun State government yesterday announced Fasanmi’s passage in a statement issued by the Commissioner for Information and Civic Duties, Mrs. Funke Egbemode. According to Egbemode, the frontline politician’s death was confirmed by his first son, Hon. Justice Obafemi Fasanmi.

The commissioner described Fasanmi as an epitome of humility, selflessness and integrity. She said: “He made enviable and remarkable contributions to his profession, to the socio-political development of Yorubaland, and to the nation at large.” Meanwhile, tributes have continued to pour for Fasanmi. Leading the dirge was President Muhammadu Buhari, who said Fasanmi’s demise was a big loss to the country.

The President also sent heartfelt condolences to the family of former Minister of Science and Technology, Maj. Gen. Sam Momah, yesterday. According to a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, the President condoled with the people and government of Osun and Ekiti states, family members, friends and associates of Fasanmi, who served as a legislator in both House of Representatives and Senate, and distinguished himself politically by always standing for the truth, especially on issues related to the uplifting of the downtrodden.

He affirmed that Fasanmi’s wise counsels, borne out of humility, deep reflection, diligent studies and experience, would be sorely missed by governments at different levels, as he regularly and willingly listened to leaders, and always had good advice on going forward.

As an ardent follower and prodigy of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the President believed that Fasanmi, fearless and consistent, lived to serve his people and the nation. He said the progressive ideals that Fasanmi “projected impacted greatly and provided a road map on development at state and federal levels”. Also, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has expressed sadness over Fasanmi’s demise. Gbajabiamila, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, said though the patriot’s death would be felt by the nation, the progressives and his family, solace would, however, be taken in the fact that his footprints had been firmly entrenched in the sand of time.

The Speaker noted that Fasanmi’s passionate quest for democracy and good governance saw him leave pharmacy for politics and later became the leader of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere. He said: “As a lawmaker at the national level, first as a member of the House of Representatives and later a Senator, Pa Fasanmi came across as a symbol of humility, selflessness and integrity.

These attributes have continued to inspire lawmakers across the country. “It is my prayer that his soul rests in perfect peace, and may God give those he left behind the fortitude to bear the loss.” The All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, also commiserated with the family, associates and progressives on Fasanmi’s death. He said: “Papa’s long sojourn on earth was for the good of all. He walked at the vanguard of all democrats, freedom fighters and believers in true federalism.

To have lived to the age of 94 was God’s gift not only to him and his family, but to this nation he loved so deeply. “A colourful personality, Papa was principled, courageous and honest. He was a loyal and dependable ally of the indomitable Chief Obafemi Awolowo. For all his life, Pa Fasanmi practiced and advanced the virtues he learned at the feet of his leader. He never betrayed those values. “Like American civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis, who was buried today (Thursday, July 30), Papa Fasanmi remained faithful to the truth for which he suffered greatly. Yet, no matter the cost, he never strayed from his principles. A brave man, he never flinched at the prospect of speaking truth to power.” On its part, the APC described Fasanmi as a welfarist.

The APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, said in a statement that “the Yoruba and indeed the nation at large have lost a father to all, elder statesman, welfarist, second Republic Senator and frontline politician whose indelible strides will be forever remembered. “In death, the APC celebrates an accomplished man and leader of the frontline Yoruba socio-cultural organisation who alongside championing the socio-political interests and preserving the ethnic identity of the Yoruba, was also an advocate of good governance in the country. “Although born in Ekiti State, he chose to make Osun State home. The APC expresses condolences to the immediate family, the government and people of Ekiti and Ondo states and the Yoruba nation at large. We pray for the fortitude to bear the loss.

The task before us now is to keep his legacies alive.” On his part, former Abia State Governor and Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Kalu, expressed sadness over Fasanmi’s demise. Acknowledging the contributions of the late politician to nation building, Kalu stressed that the deceased dedicated his life to the service of humanity. He said: “The demise of Pa Ayo Fasanmi, a devoted Awoist and Senator in the Second Republic, is a big loss to the nation.

“The deceased was a selfless statesman whose philosophy was anchored on good governance and credible leadership. “The late Pa Fasanmi played prominent roles in the social, economic and political development of Nigeria. “The deceased was known for his patriotic and unbiased contributions to national discourse. “The late politician will be remembered for his good deeds.” Also, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun State, said Fasanmi’s passage was a big loss to not only the Yoruba race, but Nigeria as a whole. The governor said Fasammi would be greatly missed and remembered for his love for and service to Nigeria and its people.

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, also expressed sadness over Fasanmi’s death. Sanwo-Olu said the death of the nonagenarian came at a critical period when his wealth of experience, knowledge and wisdom were most needed in Nigeria. He said: “Pa Fasanmi was an exemplary leader who spent the greater part of his life in the service of humanity, particularly the Yoruba course where he contributed to the development of the region.” Also, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State described Fasanmi as one of the heroes of democracy being enjoyed in the country today.

He said: “Our highly revered Pa Fasanmi lived a good life, ran a good race and has gone home for a well deserved rest. “There is no doubt we shall miss his wise counsel, but we are consoled with the fact he lived a good life and left a good legacy.

Our prayer is that God will grant him eternal rest and comfort his family.” Afenifere also commiserated with the family of Fasanmi and the government and people of Ekiti State on the passing away of the Second Republic senator. Chief Reuben Fasoranti said in a statement on behalf of Afenifere that Fasanmi’s life was meritorious and would always be remembered. He said: “On behalf of all members of Afenifere, I commiserate with the family of Senator Ayo Fasanmi and the government and people of Ekiti State on the passing away of the Second Republic Senator. “Senator Fasanmi will be remembered as a firebrand Action Grouper who distinguished himself as a principled fighter for the ideals of our Leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in the days of siege. “As a UPN senator in the Second Republic, he was also very distinguished. His life was meritorious and would always be remembered.”

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