Hundreds of Nigerians, on Wednesday, gathered at the Unity Fountain in Abuja to hold a night of tributes and candlelight procession in honour of the late Pius Adesanmi.
The late Mr Adesanmi, a professor, was a public intellectual who maintained a highly followed column in the PREMIUM TIMES.
He was among the 157 passengers and crew members of the Boeing 737 Max 8 Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed on Sunday morning, shortly after leaving Addis Ababa for Nairobi, Kenya.
The gathering had in attendance, the senate president, Bukola Saraki; Dino Melaye, a senator representing Kogi West Senatorial district; Aisha Yesufu, co-convener of the BringBackOurGirls (BBOG), an advocacy group; and Chido Onumah, author of ”We are all Biafrans”, among many others.
Mr Saraki said he never had the opportunity to meet Mr Adesanmi and never had the opportunity to engage in a discussion with him, adding that he thought he was a professor in Economics.
He also said Mr Adesanmi was a good ambassador of the country.
”Before leaving my house, I was told – ‘But Sir, do you know he was very critical of you?’ And I said, ‘he was talented for his views, we are not enemies.’
”We shared different views and we must appreciate his talent. He had his views and we must learn from some of them and that is why I come here today to also pay tribute.
”And, also, to pay tribute to someone who was a good ambassador of this country. He was on his way for an engagement. We can ensure that his wife and his daughter know that their father and husband did not die in vain. I am here, on behalf of my family and friends to show my last respect to him,” he said.
A human rights lawyer and activist, Sam Amadi, described him as worthy to be celebrated, noting that he lived an exemplary life.
“He was thoroughly intellectual and thoroughly practical. Like Gani said before he died, ‘Nigerians will know my worth when I die’. I think we will know more of Pius now that is no more,” Mr Amadi said.
Also speaking, Ogaga Ifowodo, an associate of the deceased, said the deceased was an extraordinary, exemplary, consummate, author and critic who put his knowledge at the service of Nigeria and the world of humanity.
“It is a tragic and monumental loss. Likes of him don’t come along every day. What is remarkable is that he seems to have foreseen his death. At this point, those who are paying attention to the social media would have seen on the eve of that ill-fated flight he has posted Psalm 139 verse 9-10,” Mr Ifowodo said.
Dino Melaye described Mr Adesanmi as someone who spoke the truth fearlessly.
”He was a great Nigerian, one who speaks the truth fearlessly. He is gone but his works are here and the only way to appreciate this transparent ordinary Nigerian is to make sure that the truth is stood for. The truth he wrote about, we will defend it. In an unjust society, silence becomes a crime.”
Mrs Yesufu said Mr Adesanmi fought for the country and for the emancipation of Nigerians citizens through his works. She said the office of the citizen is the highest office in the land and there is need to use the power of that office for the good of the nation.