Update: Ex-NUNS president, Segun Okeowo, dies at 73

Okeowo led a popular revolt against Obasanjo’s military regime.

A former president of the National Union  of Nigeria Students, NUNS, [a precursor of the current National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS] Segun Okeowo, of the famous ‘Ali Must Go’ era is dead. He died at about 6.30 a.m. on Tuesday at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu, at the age of 73.

Mr. Okeowo was a member of the 1976 Constitution Drafting Committee, CDC, constituted to write what later became the 1979 Constitution.  He created a stir when he appeared for the inaugural meeting in an all-red overall suit with a kangol classic hat to match.

The CDC chairman, the legal luminary, Late FRA Rotimi Williams screamed in dramatic outrage accusing Mr. Okeowo of platform act than a preparedness to help write a constitution. The Obasanjo government subsequently took him out of the CDC.

It was a revenge spat for Mr. Obasanjo after Mr. Okeowo had led the celebrated revolt of Nigerian students against the price hike on student’s feeding introduced by the Olusegun Obasanjo military regime in 1978. The protest was dubbed the “Ali Must Go” campaign taking its name from the then minister of education, Col. Ahmadu Ali, a medical doctor and army colonel who had been NUNS president himself as a student at the University of Ibadan.

For his role in the protest, Mr. Okeowo was expelled from the University of Lagos where he was a second year English major student. He finally completed his degree fiver years after at the University of Ife in 1982 graduating with a second class honours degree in Literature-in English.

His son, Kolade Segun-Okeowo, confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that the deceased had been sick for over two weeks and admitted at a hospital in Sagamu where he was diagnosed with “heart mumurs.” He was later discharged. But on Monday night, he was rushed back to the hospital where he died.

Kolade, who is an evangelist and film producer, told PREMIUM TIMES that his late father had been nursing the heart disease for over three years prior to his death. He disclosed that his father’s corpse had been deposited in the morgue and that the family was yet to discuss burial arrangements.

Mr. Okeowo was a retired school principal in Ogun State, before he ventured into politics and served under the Gbenga Daniel-administration as Chairman, Civil Service Commission.

Mr. Daniel has since expressed grief over the late student union leader’s death. He described Mr. Okeowo as a legendary freedom fighter who sacrificed his whole life for the emancipation of Nigerian students, youth as well as the voiceless masses.

“I feel saddened by the death of Chief Segun Okeowo, a man of superior courage and principle. Late Chief Okeowo was a leading light in the fight for the liberation of the oppressed Nigeria students. His contributions in the liberation of the Nigerian students and youth were colossal. He is indeed the Mandela of Nigerian Students’ unionism.

With the passing of Okeowo, we have lost a true servant of the people and a great liberator. He will also be remembered as a peacemaker and an advocate of true democracy as he made up with those he crossed paths with during the 1978 struggle before his death,” Mr. Daniel said in a condolence message.

Mr. Daniel expressed his deepest sympathies to the Okeowo family and the people of Sagamu on the loss of a great son.

The Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, referred to Mr. Okeowo’s death as a painful loss.

A governorship aspirant on the platform of the state Labour Party, Sina Kawonise, noted that the deceased was an activist and liberator of the oppressed and voiceless masses. Mr. Kawonise said Mr. Okeowo’s death was a big loss to the people of Ogun State in particular and Nigeria in general.

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