A national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, has described the late Olaniwun Ajayi as a true Awoist who taught many of the younger generations of politicians including himself the doctrines of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
In a statement on Friday by his Media Office, Mr. Tinubu said the late Afenifere leader left behind his enduring legacies.
“He was one of the very few we had left to guide our path with wisdom,” said Mr. Tinubu, who noted that the news of Mr. Ajayi’s passing left him “distraught”.
Mr. Ajayi, a prominent chieftain of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, died in the early hours of Friday aged 91.
The former Lagos State governor also described Mr. Ajayi’s commitment to the unity of the Yoruba people as unparalleled.
“Chief Olaniwun Ajayi was part of the entire leadership of Afenifere who honoured me with a visit recently in Lagos, where they renewed their call for unity and understanding among the Yoruba race and the entrenchment of progressive ideology in the country,” Mr. Tinubu said.
“During that visit, we joked about Sir Olaniwun Ajayi aging gracefully and he and Papa Fasoranti said they would not want to die without continuing to push for unity and progress of Nigeria based on true federalism. They enjoined us to continue to work for the attainment of the two ideals.”
Rauf Aregbesola, the Osun State governor, said Mr. Ajayi’s death was “the loss of a giant.”
“He was a politician of high repute and immense clout,” Mr. Aregbesola said in a statement issued by his Director, Bureau of Communication and Strategy, Semiu Okanlawon.
“All his life, he defined his politics and pitted his tent early in life with the progressive school. Even after the demise of the late sage and when others abandoned the Awoist camp for other political philosophy, Pa Olaniwun Ajayi remained steadily on the Awo progressive track.
“He was, till he breathed his last, very consummate about the progress and development of Nigeria as well as that of the Yoruba race.”
Another governor, Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, said the deceased was a consistent advocate for the struggle to see Nigeria achieve the dreams of her founding fathers.
“He was very passionate about the progress of Nigeria, he was an intellectual genius who had an enthusiasm for the development of his immediate community and the country at large,” Mr. Ambode said through his Chief Press Secretary, Habib Aruna.
“I recall my last meeting with him just about three months ago at the residence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. It was like a premonition. He had admonished all of us to give him a long lasting legacy and ensure that the Yoruba hegemony is not trampled upon and tarnished.
“This wish of his, as a great Nigerian statesman, and true son of Yoruba land, we are committed to uphold and to cherish.”
Gbenga Daniel. a former governor of Ogun State, said the nonagenarian’s death has ended another glorious chapter and created a deep void in Nigeria’s politics.
“Sir Ajayi was a very strong force in Nigerian polity and well respected in the political landscape over the years as he improved on the democratic ideals of the founding fathers and played his roles in the service to the nation in various capacities,” said Mr. Daniel.
“He was a courageous personality noted for his frank disposition to issues and policies. He remained principled when it mattered most and never compromised his stance even in the midst of challenges. His invaluable contributions to national development will be greatly missed.”