Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, stood still for over two hours yesterday as the body of the former Military Governor of old Western Region, Maj.-Gen. Adeyinka Adebayo, arrived to receive last respects from dignitaries and ordinary people.
Thousands of people defied the sweltering heat and thronged the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium, Ado-Ekiti, to honour the late general whose remains were brought into the arena at about 1.46 pm.
Governor Ayo Fayose and the family of the deceased led by the first son and pioneer civilian governor of Ekiti State, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, arrived with the corpse alongside the funeral train.
The brown casket containing the remains of the war hero was draped the Nigerian green-white-green flag and Ekiti flag and was placed at a special dais placed at the centre of the stadium football pitch.
Dignitaries who witnessed the Day of Tributes and Lying-in-State included former Governor of old Ondo State, Evangelist Bamidele Olumilua; former Ekiti State Deputy Governor, Chief Paul Alabi; former Military Administrator of Ekiti State, Navy Capt Atanda Yussuff; former Military Administrator of Ogun State, Commodore Kayode Olofinmoyin; Catholic Bishop of Ekiti Diocese, Most Rev. Felix Ajakaye; founder of the Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Aare Afe Babalola; members of the Ekiti House of Assembly and State Executive Council.
Interest groups like market women, artisans, women, youths, students, community associations and politicians who were mobilized from all parts of the state started trooping to the stadium as early as 8.00 am for an event scheduled to start by 11.00 am.
Shortly after the rendition of the national anthem and that of Ekiti, the Ekiti State Government Mass Choir ministered in songs.
Delivering a sermon at the event, the Government House Chaplain, Pastor Seyi Olusola, who quoted from Hebrews, Chapter 9, Verse 27, stressed on the certainty of death for all mortals.
Olusola said Adebayo lived an exemplary life and was celebrated with a memorable burial, adding that burial for everybody born into the world was sanctioned by the Scriptures in the Ecclesiastes, Chapter 6, Verse 3.
It was tributes galore for the former Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) after the sermon with some selected groups invited to testify to the virtues of the deceased during his lifetime.
Delivering the funeral oration on behalf of Christ’s School, Ado-Ekiti, the late Adebayo’s alma mater, was Mr. Jadesola Babatola, whom he said entered the school in 1943 alongside other personalities like former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr. Christopher Kolade; retired educationist, Chief Francis Daramola; and Mr. Akinola Jonathan.
Jadesola said Adebayo and his contemporaries had discipline and determination to succeed inculcated in them during their years at Christ’s School, adding that he was a patriotic general who constructed projects like dams, schools, hospitals and other public infrastructure during his tenure.
Former YCE Secretary General, Dr. Kunle Olajide, said the late Adebayo achieved greatness through diligence, industry and commitment to whatever assignment ahead of him.
Olajide said Adebayo deployed his time and skills to heal political wounds caused by the counter-coup of 1966 in the Western Region and used his platform as YCE president to unite the Yoruba.
According to him, the greatest achievement of Adebayo was the political neutrality of the group during his presidency.
President of Ekiti Parapo in Lagos, Chief Esan Ogunleye, described Adebayo as a colossus, national hero and true Ekiti son who never forgot his roots, adding “he was a true pillar who brought us together in Lagos and his legacies live on.”
The Odoba of Ado Ekiti, Chief Alex Olu Ajayi, said Adebayo did his immediate predecessor, Lt.-Col. Adekunle Fajuyi, a honour by giving him a befitting burial after his death in the military counter-coup of 1966.
Ajayi noted that Adebayo gave his best to mankind and loved his God, family, people and the Yoruba race.
Fayose praised Adebayo for his selfless service to the Western Region and the nation at large as a military officer who fought to keep the nation united.
The governor also eulogized the son of the deceased, Otunba Adeniyi, whom he described as “the first among equals and who remains a leader.”
Fayose said: “You remain our leader whether you are In the APC or you are back in the PDP. You have paid your dues, you have represented us very well, you did your best and you have set the ball rolling and we are building on your work.
“I called on you to come and be the Chancellor of our university, but you cleverly turned it down because of politics and we believe with your experience, you will turn around the university for us.
“You are a replica of your father whom everybody has attested to as a peaceful man. We are celebrating him, we are not mourning him. I want everybody to pray for the Adebayo family to stand on the ideals of the General of Generals “Your father did his best; he remained the symbol of hope for governors yet to be and yet to be born. Each time he was coming to Ekiti, he would call me. He was a time keeper. If he says 3 o’ clock, he would be here.”
Fayose added: “He told me, don’t look at your critics,face your work.
He gave me counsel which I will not forget. I want you to thank God for me because God does not make the mistake of having made me the man on the saddle at his departure.”
A member of the family of the deceased, Mr. Sunny Adeleke Adebayo, who gave the vote of thanks appreciated the entire Ekiti people for their outpouring of love during the obsequies of their patriarch.
The Ekiti State government choir rounded off the Day of Tributes and Lying-in-State with the Halleluyah Chorus.
The remains of the late general will be interred today after a funeral service at the All Saints Anglican Church, Iyin-Ekiti.