President Bola Tinubu, his vice, Senator Kashim Shettima, Governors including Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State; members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), National Assembly members and eminent Nigerians stormed Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State on Tuesday for the 85th birthday celebration of former interim National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and ex-Governor of Osun State, Chief Adebisi Akande.
President Tinubu and other dignitaries from all walks of life, which included elder statesmen, serving and former public office holders, politicians, leaders of Civil Society Organisations and Captains of Industry, among others, converged on the International Conference Centre, Ibadan, for Akande’s 85th birthday, celebrated with the unveiling of the Adebisi Akande Foundation and a lecture titled “The Leadership Question: Prospects for Nigeria.”
The Guest of Honour, President Tinubu, was represented by Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, while Vice President Kashim Shettima, the Guest Speaker, was represented by the Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Zulum.
The event was attended by Governor Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Biodun Oyebanji (Ekiti), Lucky Aiyedatiwa (Ondo) and Ademola Adeleke (Osun), who was represented by his deputy, Kola Adewusi; Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; elder statesmen, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai and Prince Tajudeen Olusi; former Governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba; former Chief of Army Staff and Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. General Alani Akinrinade (rtd), traditional and religious leaders, among others.
Speaking at the event, President Tinubu described Chief Bisi Akande as “one of the moving forces of progressive movement in Nigeria.”
President Tinubu disclosed that Akande has been a close friend, ally and advisor to him through the years, noting that perhaps, he would not be where he is today as President of this country without the help and support Chief Akande has given. “Many countless other people will also affirm that he has had the same positive effect in their lives as he has in mine,” he declared.
The President said: “Baba Akande’s turning 85 is a landmark achievement that calls for celebration. We must also be thankful to God for his life and for giving the nation an eminent leader like him. He remains one of our respected elder statesmen in Nigeria who continues to offer rare insights and counsel on how best to organise our country for effective governance.
“I have benefited immensely from Baba Akande’s good knowledge and perspectives on a wide range of issues as they affect Nigeria and the Western part of the country.
“Beyond his sagely contributions to our national development and political evolution over the decades, the most enduring aspect of his enviable life is his forthrightness, integrity, reliability and spartan life which he imbibed from his leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. All these attributes have served him well in all the positions he had the rare honour to occupy in his illustrious life.
“A committed democrat, die-hard progressive, and prudent yet compassionate leader of men, Chief Akande has done much for this country and for the progressive family. He has been a prominent architect of our nation’s progressive political parties.”
President Tinubu stressed further that “If anyone needs a reliable and dependable compatriot as an ally, Chief Akande is that man anyone can go to battle with. Since we transitioned from the defunct Alliance for Democracy to Action Congress, from Action Congress to Action Congress of Nigeria, and now the governing All Progressives Congress, Chief Akande has remained a constant feature. l salute his courage and commitment to democratic and progressive ideals.
“Whether in public office or later in life in his capacity as pioneer Chairman of ACN or as Interim Chairman of APC, Chief Akande brought honour and integrity into the discharge of his responsibilities.
“He could not have done otherwise. Baba had been sold early in life on those noble values of honesty, integrity, conscience, courage, hard work, perseverance, and the importance of a good name, among others.
“Highly principled and perceptive, Baba Akande is selfless and intensely patriotic. He gave more to others than he gave himself. What he has given to his family, his Osun State, to the Yoruba race, he also gave to this country: the very best.
“He is one of the few leaders still around who can be called a true disciple of Chief Awolowo. Like Chief Awolowo, Baba Akande has devoted his public life to engendering a truly democratic, just, and egalitarian society where all people are given the opportunity to attain a happy and prosperous life.
“Just as Chief Awolowo did for him, Chief Akande has been a father figure and a mentor to younger politicians across the country, particularly in the Southwest. He is a consummate teacher, tolerant and cosmopolitan in outlook, and an excellent human being. He is charitable and equally helpful to all who come in contact with him no matter their station in life.”
Speaking in his capacity, Governor Sanwo-Olu said Chief Adebisi Akande is a teacher, leader, and cosmopolitan man.
He said: “I have the rare privilege to call you my father. I appreciate those little moments when you have called, advised, admonished, encouraged, and corrected me as a person, father, and leader of people. I want to thank you for who you are and for what you have been to many of us.
“He is a man that all of us will continue to drink from his wealth of experience. You are a teacher and leader, but you are also a cosmopolitan man. You are a man who understands the reality of today because even from your age, you have the sense to put together the reality of today.”