Wednesday, March 8, 2017 5:57 pm
A former governor of Ekiti, Chief Segun Oni, on Wednesday said the death of retired Major General Adeyinka Adebayo marked the end of an era in Nigeria’s history.
Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in a telephone interview, Oni said the demise of Adebayo signalled the end of a significant chapter in the history of the Nigerian Army in particular.
“Papa Adebayo was the oldest military officer in Nigeria and the last of the first nine officers appointed when the British Imperial Government began the process of Africanisation and Nigerianisation of the officer’s cadre.
“He was indeed a man of history with a chain of firsts in his military career. Until his death, he was the last man standing as he was the last to wear the Red Cap after the military coup of 29 July, 1966.
“Papa was a foremost elder statesman, a nationalist who gave his all to the service of the country and the Yoruba race with exceptional humility.
“He condescended to serve as Military Governor of the old Western Region after the July 1966 coup under a junior officer as Head of State for the love his people and the unity and stability of the country,’’ Oni, an APC chieftain, said.
He said that a tribute to late Adebayo could not but elicit heightened emotion as “he was a man of intimidating credentials, a man among men, a leader among leaders, a man of great stature that we are proud of.’’
“We have indeed lost a gem in Yorubaland, a voice of reason, a voice of wisdom, a rallying point who has left an eternal vacuum,’’ he added.
The APC in Ekiti also described the death of the former military governor of the old Western region as a great loss.
Chief Taiwo Olatubosun, the Publicity Secretary of the party, told NAN in Ado-Ekiti that the country had just lost a father.
“We have just lost one of the prominent nationalists, elder states man and father of all.
“ This is one loss too many, honestly, there is no way we would not miss Baba, particularly for his fatherly role and at this crucial period of our national development.
“Baba administered the old Western region as a governor which comprises the South West states with many achievements and record-setting infrastructural development still being enjoyed today.
“ Baba lived a fulfilled and accomplished life and that is the consolation we have to bid him farewell.
“We commiserate as a party with the Federal Republic of Nigeria, entire Yoruba race, Ekiti people and particularly, the family he left behind,’’ he said.
The Iyin-Ekiti born military governor died early on Wednesday in his sleep, only a day to his 89th birthday.
Born in 1928, he was the son of a Public Works employee from Era area in Oketoro Quarters in Iyin Ekiti.
He was educated at All Saints School, Iyin-Ekiti, and later attended Eko Boys High School and Christ’s School, Ado Ekiti.
Adebayo later joined the West African Frontier Force in 1948 as a regiment Signaler and later completed the Officer Cadet Training Course in Teshie, Ghana, from 1950 to 1952.
After passing the War Office Examination for Commonwealth Cadets in 1952 as well as the West African Qualifying Examination in 1953, he was commissioned as an officer in the Royal West African Frontier Force as the 23rd West African military officer with number WA23.
He was also the 7th Nigerian military officer with number N7 after completing the War Office Cadet Training in Eaton Hall, England.
The deceased later attended the Staff College course in Camberley (Surrey) in 1960 and the prestigious Imperial Defence College, London, in late 1965 where he was the only African officer.
He retired from the Nigerian Army with the rank of major-general in July 1975.
In 2011, Adebayo emerged the Chairman of the Yoruba Council of Elders while his eldest son, Niyi, became governor of Ekiti from 1999 to 2003.
Another son, Adesola, was the Commissioner for Works and Transport in Ekiti State under Dr Kayode Fayemi-led Administration between 2010 and 2014.
Adedayo, another son, played rugby for Bath and for England’s National team, winning six international caps between 1996 and 1999.
Yet another of his children, Leke, is an actor, writer and producer in London and has appeared in and scripted various productions.