By Kolawole Olayinka, Abeokuta
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has described the late Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Richard Akinjide as a nationalist and patriot, 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.
Akinjide, a foremost legal icon reportedly died in his Ibadan, Oyo State home on Tuesday, at age 88.
In a condolence letter to the Akinjide family, Obasanjo, said the death of family patriarch was a sad occurrence, which was shared by many “and certainly by me. Indeed, Nigeria has been robbed by the death of a shining star and one of its best and brightest.”
The condolence message, which was made available to newsmen through Obasanjo’s Media Aide, Kehinde Akinyemi noted that “the life of Chief Akinjide is really a testimony of great service built on hard work to his community, profession and fatherland.
It reads, “Chief 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. His life as a most cerebral legal luminary; a profound thinker; a well-informed writer; an astute administrator and a die-hard patriot and democrat, were most inspiring.
“It is indeed noteworthy that he was constant on Nigeria’s political scene for the better part of the past six decades, both as a passionate participant in both the executive arms of government and constitutional matters in the country and as an avid chronicler of our evolution as a people and a nation.
“Chief Akinjide was a committed nationalist. His commitment to enthroning democracy in our dear country, his tenacity in the face of daunting odds and mortal risk to his life is very common knowledge.
“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.
“He had friends from all over the country. He led a life filled with remarkable experiences. 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 tremendous contributions 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.
“Of course, we cannot but feel it when loved ones suddenly are no more. However, I believe that even in this bereavement, there is much to thank God for, because Chief Akinjide lived to a ripe old age while he served his community, State and nation and the rest of humanity with acknowledged distinction. His was a life of great purpose, true service, and solid accomplishments.
“On behalf of my family and on my own behalf, I extend our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the entire Akinjide family on the demise of dearly beloved Chief Richard Akinjide and pray that the Almighty God will grant you all succour and fortitude to bear this great loss.”