Eminent Nigerians on Tuesday paid tributes to the late Afenifere leader, Ayo Fasanmi, as his remains were interred in his country home in Iye Ekiti, Ilejemeje Local Government Area of Ekiti State. Mr Fasanmi, a Second Republic Senator, died on July 29 at the age of 94.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the casket conveying Mr Fasanmi’s corpse was brought to the community in a white jeep for the funeral service held at Saint John’s Anglican Church, Iye Ekiti.
Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi said Mr Ayo Fasanmi’s contributions to the development of democracy was immeasurable, particularly his role in the formation and operation of the defunct National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) that fought the military.
The governor disclosed that his government was already constructing a secondary school to honour the deceased for his contributions to the state before his death.
“My only regret is that he has left us before the school will be officially inaugurated for academic activities when schools finally reopen,” Mr Fayemi said.
The governor, in his tribute entitled, “‘Tribute to a Man of Integrity,” said what attracted him to the deceased was his integrity.
“His death has, therefore, robbed me of a godfather, counsellor, an advocate and a father. A good man has left us.
“We will sorely miss him but we are consoled that he was dedicated to selfless service,” he said.
Mr Fayemi added that Mr Fasanmi belonged in the class of the youth of the 1950s when the nationalist movement was at its feverish peak.
He noted that the deceased got indoctrinated into nationalism struggle through the writings of Nnamdi Azikwe and his contemporaries.
“He proved his political mettle in 1964 when he was elected as a member of the Federal House of Representatives before 1966 and he got imprisoned in Agodi Prison and was later released.
“He offered to serve as governor of the old Ondo state in 1978 and slugged it out with Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin who defeated him in the primary.
“One legacy for which Baba would be fondly remembered was his credential of incorruptibility. He was a man of tall integrity and honesty.
“It would be recalled that he was the first to start the Anti-Bribery and Corruption Committee in 1973 under Col. Oluwole Rotimi of the Western Region.
“Chief Ayo Fasanmi has come, he has seen and conquered. He conquered human cravings, vanity of power, ostentation, greed and malice,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the Southwest governors, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, said the news of the passage of the icon was a loss to the Yoruba and Nigeria at large.
“Baba living long for 94 years was not what we are celebrating, but we are celebrating how many lives he had impacted on. He lived an impactful life.
“He was not petty but he spoke truth, lived a remarkable life and was one politician who became senator and came home to rest,” he said.
The governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, represented by his Special Adviser on Civic Engagements, Aderemi Adebowale, said Mr Fasanmi’s influence became more pronounced by his incorruptible nature.
The All Progressives Congress National leader, Bola Tinubu, represented by former Lagos State Deputy Governor, Abiodun Ogunleye, said Nigerians must learn from the late politician who lived a modest and Spartan lifestyle.
Mr Tinubu described Mr Fasanmi as a revolutionary and a politician of outstanding mien, civility and character who was worthy of being emulated.
In his sermon, the Bishop of Ekiti Oke, Anglican Communion, Peter Olubowale, said Mr Fasanmi was not a noise maker and trouble maker during his time.
The cleric urged the people to continually do good to humanity the way Mr Fasanmi did to his family, political associates, friends and companions.
“We need to be available to ourselves and committed to God. Nigerians are number one people in the world that are easy to govern with patience, zeal and endurance.
“Baba has told us that all these monies you are spending and the one you are keeping inside bullion vans and the ones being stashed in banks accounts are all vanity.
“Use the position you are occupying very well to develop humanity. This is the only way you can gain eternity because materialism will lead you to hell fire,” he said.