Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has extolled the leadership virtues of a late politician, and a first Republic Minister of Social Services, Chief Adegoke Adelabu, describing him as a uniquely detribalised Nigerian.
Obasanjo, who spoke on Tuesday in Abuja at the 60th anniversary memorial event in his honour, said the late politician was part of the architects of the independent Nigeria.
Adelabu, popularly known as “Penkelemesi’’, won a seat in the House of Representatives in 1954, before becoming a federal minister and died in a motor accident on March 25, 1958.
According to Obasanjo, “Adegoke Adelabu was a reality; he was outstanding. He was uniquely Yoruba, uniquely Nigerian, uniquely African and uniquely a member of the human race’.
“He was years ahead of his time and age. In his life time, he was talking about United States of West Africa, ECOWAS came many years after.
“In his life time, he belonged to political party that had its base outside the defunct Western Region where he came from. He was not a tribal baron.
“We are still struggling to reach the pinnacle of Adedibu’s politics of not being swayed by linguistic, tribal, regional, sectional interests, but what is best for Nigeria, Africa and humanity’’
Obasanjo however urged the current crop of Nigerian politicians to draw lessons from Adedibu’s nationalistic spirit, healthy politics and social forthrightness.
The Minister of Communication, Alhaji Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu, said that, “Adelabu’s contribution to nation building was yet to be equaled by any political leader in Nigeria’’
Chief Mbazulike Amechi, a contemporary of the late politician and a fellow First Republic Minister, described Adelabu as a nationalist and a devout Muslim.
Amechi reminded the gathering that “Adelabu continued his politics of principle, loyalty and dynamism and his popularity spread through the country like a wildfire.
“In spite of the betrayal of the other elected members of the Assembly from Ibadan, he still remained the leader, accepted leader of Ibadan people,’’ he said.