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Tribute to One of The Finest Nationalists, Late Sir Olaniwun Ajayi

By Itunu James
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It is usually a thing of shock to come into consciousness that the phenomenon called death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain every mortal.

Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.

Each time I reflect very deeply, I contemplate the transient nature of human life; I realize that from beginning to end, life is impermanent like an illusion. We have not yet heard of anyone who lived ten thousand years. How fleeting is a lifetime!

Today, I am still awestruck as our nation mourns the exit of a national icon, legal giant and one of the chieftains of Afenifere, a pan Yoruba socio-political group, by the name Sir Olaniwun Ajayi; a man of great virtue, indelible milestones and favourable reputation.

Infact, as it has been said in times past, “There are no comets seen when beggars die. Even the heavens blaze forth the death of princes.” This popular quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar apparently synchronised with the weather in our nation as Sir Ajayi died precisely on Thursday night, November 3, 2016 at the age of 91-years-old. I make bold to say he lived a worthwhile, fruitful, profitable and purposeful life.

Putting my memoir together, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi was truly an accomplished lawyer, known for his finesse, astuteness, doggedness and was irrepressible. Baba had penchant for lending his voice to every topical national issues and willing to provide workable solutions that can keep the country together without bias or prejudice. He is truly a quintessential lawyer and for me, it is convenient to call him a social engineer.

Late Olaniwun Ajayi justified this feat when he authored a book entitled, Nigeria: Africa's Failed Asset. The literary work, is a thoughtful, scholarly, well researched and revealing account of the behind-the-scenes moves that led to the creation of Nigeria. The shaky foundation on which the nation is planted in reckless disregard of the settled principles of federalism leading inevitably to the quagmire in which Nigeria finds itself is thoroughly discussed.

The quintessential nonagenarian also offered a permanent solution to the seemingly insolvable problems plaguing the Nigerian state in his book. Obviously these are rare feat worth emulating and indeed commendable.

Consequently, Chief unambiguously came, saw and conquered. He was a man of lofty dreams of how our federation should work and he vigorously pursued that painstakingly. Of course like every responsible and visionary fathers, baba had the dream of his offsprings succeeding and becoming greater than him in life, today he graciously left behind not only a lawyer but a Phd holder in Law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dr Kanyinsola Ajayi. This is the greatest feat/legacy anyone can be proud of. I feel greatly elated to have a platform like this to celebrate this irredentist national figure of the Yoruba stock.

How can I forget so quickly the classical dining room of Sir Olaniwun Ajayi in Isara Remo where in his hospitable nature used to assemble friends and associates after our Afenifere meetings; there was always enough to drink and eat for anyone present.

In a display of sheer humility, Pa Ajayi would personally ensure everyone had the delicacy of their choice ensuring that they were well fed and satisfied. Sir Olaniwun reminds me of Chief Godwin Olusegun Kolawole Ajayi, SAN popularly known by his initials GOK Ajayi; they are men I hold in high esteem even as they are no more with us.

Looking inwards, who in this world can maintain a human form for hundreds of years? There is no knowing about who will die or when death will occur. We depart one after another more quickly than the dewdrops on the roots or the tips of the blades of grasses. So it is said.

Hence, we may have radiant faces in the morning, but by evening we may turn into white ashes. Once the winds of impermanence have blown, our eyes are instantly closed and our breath stops forever.

Then, our radiant face changes its color, and the attractive countenance like peach and plum blossoms is lost. Family and relatives will gather and grieve, but all to no avail, the life we lived in the world subsequently determine our life-after-death whether good or bad.

Farewell Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, a father, grandfather and great grand-father, may your precious soul continue to rest in God’s bosom and may God grant the family you left behind the fortitude to bear this irreparable lose. Sleep on our iconic legal luminary and forthright nationalist.

Dr. Kayode Ajulo a lawyer, former National Secretary of Labour Party, is the Principal Partner of Kayode Ajulo & Co. Castle of Law.