Nigeria renames University after late elder statesman

Late General Adeyinka Adebayo

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has announced the decision of the Nigerian Government to rename the Federal University Oye-Ekiti, the Adeyinka Adebayo Federal University, Oye-Ekiti.

The government will accordingly send a bill for an amendment of the Act establishing the University to the National Assembly to reflect the new name of the University.

Professor Osinbajo made announcement at the funeral service of General Adebayo held at the All Saints Anglican Church, Iyin-Ekiti on Saturday.

“We are gathered here to celebrate a life of service and sacrifice. We are here to honour an officer and a gentleman who gave his all to Nigeria, to his people and to his race.
His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari would have loved to be present at this occasion. I recall that the last time he was in Ekiti during our presidential campaigns, he made it a duty to see his old boss, General Adebayo. Late General Adeyinka Adebayo was not a person the President had a casual acquaintance with. He was the President’s Commander in the Congo in 1963.
He was the President’s first indigenous Chief of Army Staff, and in these military roles, he had a major influence on the President as a young officer. It was therefore not a surprise that the President specifically asked me to represent him on this occasion, not being able to attend this funeral personally and further asked me to deliver the funeral oration here,’’
the acting President said.

Professor Osinbajo said “What shall be said of us when we are no longer here?  In General Adebayo’s case, his departure has elicited tremendous outpouring of love and nostalgia across the country. For General Adebayo, the reactions since the Lord called him on March 8, 2017 have all been positive.

“As one of the pioneers of Nigeria’s most enduring institutions, the military, General Adebayo played a critical role in rescuing Nigeria from the abyss of disintegration. Not only did he advice against the use of force in resolving the Biafran crisis, in what turned out to be one of the most clairvoyant statements on the war, he declared in a broadcast before the war thus, I need not tell you what horror, what devastation, and what extreme human suffering will attend the use of force. When it is all over, and the smoke and dust have lifted, and the dead are buried, we shall find, as other people have found, that it has all been entirely futile, in solving the problems we set out to solve. But General Adebayo was no peacenik. When the situation demanded as Governor of the West, he worked hard alongside others to protect the region from the onslaught of the rebel army by halting the advance into Lagos in Ore. Immediately the civil war ended though, he was readily at hand to play the role of the post-war conciliator, as the officer requested by General Yakubu Gowon to chair the Committee on the reconciliation and integration of the Ibos back into Nigeria.  By most accounts, he handled the task admirably.’’

General Adebayo’s life was a light-bearing one. Though kindled in the ancient town of Iyin, in Ekiti State, Nigeria, his light shone brightly for the world to see. In an obituary in The Times of London on April 18, 2017, he was described as ‘the Governor of the Western Region of Nigeria whose attempts to promote peace and prevent the Biafran war failed, with devastating consequences.’

From serving as the Aide-de-Camp to the last colonial Governor-General James Robertson, from 1957 -58, he chalked up a string of firsts:
*first Nigerian General staff officer,
*first indigenous Chief of Army Staff and Chairman of the Organisation of African Unity Defence Planning Committee-1963-65,
*first Nigerian army officer to attend the Imperial Defence College, where he was during the 1966 coups, Governor of Western Region,
Commandant, Nigerian Defence Academy.

Indeed, his military trajectory in a way was a study in Nigeria’s history.
Even in retirement, he remained passionately committed to the unity of Nigeria. His life of meritorious service to God and country is a testament of faithfulness, diligence, humility and integrity.

Professor Osinbajo stated; “Many remembered his role during the dark years of military rule as one leader who supported the struggle in various ways, unafraid to speak the truth to power with his house serving as the foundational headquarters for the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO.

“It was a fitting recognition of his steadfastness that his first son, Adeniyi, was elected the first civilian Governor of his native Ekiti State.

“He was particularly concerned that the West had fallen behind in education, in Agriculture and in the provision of social services and urged that a renaissance of the Western Region was called for and immediately necessary.’’

“We can never thank the late General enough for his service and sacrifice to the nation. But we must also not take for granted the labour of this redoubtable hero. Indeed, we owe him a duty to continue to pursue the values which his iconic life represented.  It is for this reason that the Nigerian Government has decided in recognition of his service to Nigeria to name the Federal University in Oye-Ekiti–The Adeyinka Adebayo Federal University.

On behalf of the Government and the people of Nigeria, I offer heartfelt condolences to the Adebayo family, to the people of Ekiti State, to the Nigerian Armed Forces, and all those who hold him dear. We shall all miss him greatly,’’ the acting president said.

Mercy Chukwudiebere