Prominent Nigerians on Wednesday mourned a former governor of Oyo State, Chief Christopher Adebayo, died in the early hours of the day at the age of 71.
Alao-Akala, who ruled the state between 2007 and 2011, was said to have died in his home town, Ogbomoso.
The late politician was the deputy to Senator Rashidi Ladoja when he was the governor of the state from 2003 to 2007. Ladoja was removed from office as governor by the State House of Assembly on January 12, 2006 and Alao-Akala was sworn in to replace him.
Coincidentally, Alao-Akala died exactly 16 years after he was sworn in as the governor.
He spent 11 months as the court reinstated Ladoja in December of the same year he was removed.
Alao-Akala went on to contest the election as governor and won. He ruled the state for four years but failed to win a second term.
Meanwhile, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has commiserated with the deceased’s family as well as the government and people of Oyo State on his death.
Buhari’s condolence message is contained in a statement on Wednesday by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, titled, ‘President Buhari mourns former Oyo State Governor, Alao-Akala.’
“The President trusts that family, friends and associates who mourn the late governor, will honour his vision of entrenching good governance in the country and passion to lift the downtrodden in the society,” the statement read.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo urged Alao-Akala’s admirers to hold on to their faith in God over the demise of the former governor.
In a condolence letter to the head of deceased’s family, Obasanjo, described the former governor’s death as “indeed, a grievous loss to the entire members of his family, his friends and associates, Oyo State and indeed, the entire nation.”
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, expressed sadness over Alao-Akala’s death.
Gbajabiamila, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, said the former governor was a strong pillar in the ruling APC.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, in a statement by his media office, said the death of the former governor came as a “rude shock.”
He described Alao-Akala as a prolific politician whose records of achievement as governor remained enviable.
A national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in a condolence statement by his media office signed by Mr. Tunde Rahman, said the deceased would be sorely be missed by the people of Ogbomoso, Oyo State and the APC.
“Coming a month after the death of Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Jimoh Oyewumi, the loss of Alao- Akala, another eminent son of Ogbomoso and Oyo State, is disheartening,” he said.
The Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, said he had ordered flags to fly at half-mast across the state to mourn Alao-Akala, who he said would be remembered for taking development to other zones of the state, outside Ibadan.
Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, described the deceased a colourful politician, pragmatic leader and a man of the people in and out of office.
The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Yinka Oyebode, also described Alao-Akala as “an apostle of politics without bitterness and a leader whose interaction, influence and network cut across political divides.”
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has also described the death of the former governor as a great loss to his family, the people of Oyo State, and Nigeria as a whole.
In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile, the governor said, “The passage of Otunba Alao-Akala hurts me because of the critical role he is playing in Oyo APC before his demise. My heart was filled with grief when I was informed about his death.”
Also, Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Richard Olatunde, said the news of Alao-Akala’s death came as a rude shock, lamenting that the South-West, especially Oyo State had lost “a giant and quintessential politician who was committed to friendship, progress and development of the society till the end.”
Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun; and former governor of the state, Gbenga Daniel, also mourned Alao-Akala.
Abiodun, in a condolence statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, said the former governor’s death was not only shocking, but sudden and painful.
Daniel, in his condolence message addressed to the widow of the former governor, Oluwakemi, expressed shock on the death of the former governor.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, also expressed sadness over Alao-Akala’s death, describing it as a huge loss to Ogbomoso, Oyo State and Nigeria.
The Postmaster-General of the Federation and Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Postal Service, Dr. Ismail Adewusi, also described Alao-Akala’s death as shocking.
He said Alao-Akala left at a time he still had energy for the political and social development of Oyo State.
Also, a former Nigerian Ambassador to the Philippines, Yemi Farounbi, and the Abese of Ogbomosoland, Chief Kasali Oladipo, described the death of Alao-Akala as shocking.
The Oyo State chapter of the APC and some of the chieftains of the party also described the death of the former governor and leader of the party in the state as a rude shock.
The party in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Dr Abdulazeez Olatunde, described the death as one too many, noting Alao-Akala died less than two years after former Governor Abiola Ajimobi died.
The Chairman of the APC in Oyo State, Chief Akin Oke, who is Alao-Akala’s kinsman also mourned the late politician.
The Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Adeolu Akande, in his condolence message described Alao-Akala as a leader with milk of kindness.