FOUNDER and Chancellor, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD) Aare Afe Babalola, SAN is sad over former Second Republic President Shehu Shagari’s death.
He suggested that the Federal Government should consider naming the Federal University of Technology Akure after the statesman.
With Shagari’s death, the eminent lawyer said, Nigeria has lost a rare gem and an irreplaceable hero, who stood and fought for the good of the majority.
Babalola claimed that Shagari was responsible for the three higher institutions, which now exist in Ondo and Ekiti states.
Babalola, who spoke in statement yesterday, said: “Our departed former President, who had the rare opportunity of ruling Nigeria during the Second Republic, was indeed a man of honour, dignity and character. He was a very considerate, accessible, objective, selfless and kind man.
I had the rare privilege of meeting him when I was a Counsel to the Federal Government in Justices Ayo Irikefe enquiry into an alleged 2.8 billion pounds diverted from the Central Bank of England into a private account in Midland Bank in England.
What stands this epitome of decency and integrity out is his vaunting patriotism, open door policy, simplicity, humility and his love for education.
The people of old Ondo State, which included the present Ekiti State, will forever remain grateful to the departed hero (Shagari), the Second Republic Senate Leader, late Dr. Olusola Saraki and the then Chairman of the ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN), the late Chief Augustus Meredith Adisa Akinloye, who accepted my request to hold a rally in Ado-Ekiti on Saturday, October 11, 1980, where the Federal Government announced the citing of a Federal University of Technology in Ado-Ekiti to begin academic work in October 1981.
This announcement gingered the then Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin-led UPN Government in the then bigger Ondo State to hastily announce the establishment of a university in Ado-Ekiti. The university was to have eight campuses in Ado-Ekiti, Ikere, Owo and other towns in Ondo State.
The political gymnastics that ensued between NPN and UPN led to the transfer of the University of Technology meant for Ado-Ekiti to Akure; and the transfer of the Federal Polytechnic at Akure to Ado-Ekiti.
“The departed Alhaji Sagari was therefore responsible for the three higher institutions which now exist in Ondo and Ekiti States. His name will remain indelible in the hearts of the fair minded members of the two states.”
He added: “By his death, Nigeria has lost a rare gem and an irreplaceable hero who stood and fought for the good of the majority. Our consolation is that he led a good life and above all, he left his indelible footprints on the sands of times. He was undoubtedly a great man, a worthy and an exemplary example of what a leader should be.
I commiserate with President Muhammadu Buhari, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III and the entire Shagari family of Sokoto over the death of this thoroughly distinguished citizen, who played his part very well.
His humanitarian services and the many lives he touched while on planet earth will surely stand him in good stead before the Almighty, the Maker of All Things.
“May I, therefore, humbly suggest that the Federal Government should consider naming the Federal University of Technology Akure after this illustrious son of Nigeria.”