Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo has described the late Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Richard Akinjide, as a nationalist and patriot.
Obasanjo went down memory lane and revealed some details he said many Nigerians might not know about the late Akinjide.
He recalled that the deceased, who died on Tuesday in Ibadan, built bridges of unity and tolerance, “the necessary ingredients for the perpetuation of a cohesive, strong, and stable Nigerian nation”.
In a condolence message to the family, Obasanjo described the demise as a sad occurrence, shared by many “and certainly by me. Indeed, Nigeria has been robbed by death of a shining star and one of its best and brightest.”
Obasanjo, in a statement signed by his spokesman, Kehinde Akinyemi, said the life of Akinjide, aged 88, was a testimony of great service built on hard work to his community, profession and fatherland.
He noted that Akinjide was a titan in the study and practice of the law as is evident from a stellar career spanning almost the entire spectrum of the legal profession.
The former president asserted that the deceased was constant on Nigeria’s political scene, both as a passionate participant in the executive arm of government and on constitutional matters.
“He stood steadfastly for the observance of human rights and the rule of law; it is thus quite gratifying that he lived to see the end of military rule and the restoration of democracy to our dear country. All these marked him out as a courageous political leader and true patriot. He brought his track record of purposefulness to bear in promoting the cause of national unity.
“As part of his political service to Nigeria, he served as Minister of Education in the First Republic during the government of Prime Minister, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa. His selfless exertions in the Education Ministry thereafter remained evergreen in the national consciousness as he made a tremendous contribution to human development in that Ministry.
“Of course, this track record of loyal, altruistic and result-oriented service culminated in his re-appointment as the Minister for Justice in the Second Republic, during the administration of President Shehu Shagari.
“As was his practice throughout his distinguished career in the noble calling, this forthright and diligent gentleman showed keen commitment to whatever task or assignment he had before him. It is no surprise that his life was packed full of brilliant achievements including the conferment on him of the highly coveted Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, which perhaps best attested to his track record as a great legal icon.
“As the integrity of every great man lies in his various contributions to the development of the society in which he lives, Chief Akinjide’s commitment to duty and transparency in all he did qualified him to be a great man and a chieftain in the Olubadan of Ibadan’s court of clan nobles.
“As a Yoruba leader, he was a custodian of our cultural and traditional values who built bridges of love, goodwill, unity and tolerance which are the necessary ingredients for the perpetuation of a cohesive, strong, and stable Nigerian nation.”
Obasanjo said he believed that even in bereavement, there is much to thank God for, because Akinjide lived to a ripe old age while he served his community, home state, nation and the rest of humanity with acknowledged distinction.
The former Nigerian leader prayed that Almighty God will grant the family succour and fortitude to bear the great loss.