A former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, has described former Federal Commissioner for Works and Housing, Femi Okunnu, as an exemplary administrator, astute lawyer and a devoted nationalist.
Speaking during Mr. Okunnu’s 80th birthday, Mr. Tinubu said the Senior Advocate of Nigeria is a “guiding light and positive influence” to all Nigerians.
“One can glean greatness from the courageous life he led in his youth as a sportsman and nationalist on the streets of London.
“Indeed, his careers as a lawyer and administrator are testimonies in sagacity and great industry. He never put his name to something that was not good; everything he put his name come out better than it was,” he said.
Mr. Tinubu said the octogenarian was an “exceptional administrator” who served the country with excellence.
“It was Alhaji Femi Okunnu, as Federal Commissioner for Works and Housing, who guided the construction of several road infrastructure we all enjoy today such as the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the Sagamu-Benin-Asaba Expressway, the Warri- Benin- Auchi –Koton Karfi – Abuja Expressway, the Calabar- Yola- Maiduguri Express Ways and numerous highways and bridges throughout the country. During his tenure as the Federal Commissioner for Works and Housing, the length of the Federal Highways increased from 7,000 miles to over 21,000 miles.
“He set the standard for that office; a standard that is yet to be exceeded or even equaled by those who succeeded him,” he said.
Mr. Tinubu also praised Mr. Okunnu for being a mediator of peace during the Nigerian civil war.
“Let us speak of his heroic service to the nation during the civil war when he bravely and adeptly facilitated negotiations between the feuding sides.
“He did not play it safe to protect himself or his professional career. At a time when the nation needed him in order to survive, he showed himself to be a man of vision and diplomatic grace. He was one of those who helped mend the broken nation and those giving future generations a chance to live and prosper in an intact and greater Nigeria.
“For this, our debt to him is so profound that it can never be redeemed in full,” he said.
The ex-governor and leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, also extolled Mr. Okunnu for his “exemplary” career as a lawyer.
“In his law practice, Alhaji Femi Okunnu successfully litigated to abrogate the Ex-Native Authorities and Office Holders Removal Law of Northern Nigeria. Under that law, any former public officer could be banished without trial by the fiat of the governor of Northern Nigeria. The law was an open, naked affront to natural justice and Alhaji stood against the injustice even though the terrible law would never directly affect him.
“It is also on record that Alhaji Femi Okunnu, SAN, CON successfully challenged a decree promulgated by the Federal Government allowing the federal government to confiscate–without compensation–lands owned by state governments or individuals within 100 yards of the shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean,” he said.
Mr. Tunubu thanked Mr. Okunu for his political advice and legal support to Lagos State when he was governor saying “he is a great problem solver.”