President Muhammadu Buhari has joined other dignitaries, and Afenifere cultural group in celebrating with Pa Reuben Fasoranti on his 97th birthday.
The President, in a statement by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, expressed his admiration for the courage, wisdom, resilience and visionary leadership that the nonagenarian had continued to provide.
He said Fasoranti’s personal profile conveyed the remarkable history of Nigeria from independence, with his participation in shaping political and economic developments in the first, second, third and fourth republic, and fearlessly advocating democratic rule under the military rule.
He also noted the overwhelming influence of the Afenifere leader in the South West and across the country, preserving the legacies of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, after working side by side with him in building the Action Group and Unity Party of Nigeria, and serving as Commissioner of Finance in Ondo State, 1979-1983.
He said as a patriot who had walked the streets leading protests and worked as principal in many schools, Fasoranti’s strength came from a deep fear of God, which remained the measure of good a Christian, and love for humanity.
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Buhari prayed for more grace of divine strength and health for Fasoranti.
The President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has rained accolades on the leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, as he celebrates his 97th birthday.
Tinubu who particularly lauded Fasanti’s commitment to the ideals of good governance, noted that it has paved way for progressive politics.
The President-elect’s tribute is contained in the congratulatory message issued in Abuja by his media officer, Tunde Rahman.
The former Lagos State governor further praised Fasoranti for his exemplary life of courage and public service as a teacher, school principal, local government chairman, administrator, commissioner for Finance and an astute politician.
He also recalled the various roles the elder statesman played in Nigerian politics, especially the South-west, from his student days at the University College in Ibadan where he was an active member of Action Group and one of the trusted allies of the late Premier of the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and first civilian governor of old Ondo State, Chief Adekunle Ajasin.
Tinubu noted in particular that Fasoranti established his lasting legacy in the educational sector where he made invaluable impact on many of his former students and generations of students at Iju-Itaogbolu Grammar School where he was the founding Principal, Iwo Baptist High School, Olivet Baptist School, Oyo and Christ School Ado-Ekiti where he retired as a Principal.
The Deputy Chairman of Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs, and Olugbon of Orile Igbon, Oba Francis Alao, also described Pa Reuben Fasoranti as a pride of Yoruba race.
The monarch had in a statement submitted that as a Nigerian, Pa Fasoranti contributed his own quota to the development of the country through political, governance and community leadership.
“Also, as a Yoruba leader, he invested himself in ideas and activities geared towards the progress and well-being of the Yoruba nation.
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“Pa Fasoranti has remained constant in promoting democratic ideals, and sustaining the Omoluabi ethos as he leads by example in grooming new generation of national and community leaders.
“He has proved, over decades, that true leadership is possible; and that true leaders are servants to those they lead because national and community interest is the priority in all considerations.
“For example, Pa Fasoranti turned down the offer of Ondo State governorship ticket by the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1998, saying he needed to attend to his children being a widower.
“Fasoranti is in the ilk of men and women who attain greatness through selflessness, commitment to nation building and unparalleled love for community development.”
The former leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, on Thursday, expressed worry that the current state of Nigeria is worrisome, lamenting that this is not the country he dreamt of.
His words: “I feel fulfilled at 97. I have seen it all; I’ve seen the worse and the best. I lost my wife and my daughter; she was shot dead but, generally, I have to thank God for everything.
“This is not the Nigeria of my dream. Things are getting worse. We only hope those we are leaving behind will try and do their best, because what we are seeing now is not good for the country at all.
“My expectations from the incoming government are many, but I want the government to give priority to unemployment and insecurity.
“People are not gainfully employed and it is getting worse every day. I hope the incoming government will try and look into it, and the security of the land.
“The incoming government should also look into the restructuring of the country, and I hope the new President will do it.”