Obasanjo, Gov. Abiodun mourn exit of anti-apartheid hero, Desmond Tutu

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Bankole Taiwo, Abeokuta

Former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Ogun State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun have both expressed grief over the demise of the South African anti-apartheid hero, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa had on Sunday announced the passage of the late cleric and human rights crusader at 90.

Obasanjo recalled the role played by late Desmond Tutu in getting the country’s debt cancelled, declaring that his death was a personal loss to him.

Obasanjo, according to statement made available to journalists at Abeokuta on Sunday by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi was said to have expressed this condolence in a  letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The former President said that “Over the years, Reverend Tutu had shown focused, credible, bold, sensitive and purposeful leadership not just to members of the Anglican Church but to all Christians.”

He explained that the Late Desmond Tutu had been part of building and strengthening the Anglican Church, and its eminent place in the Church system in South Africa today is not unrelated to his selfless service and leadership.”

On the country’s debt cancellation role, Obasanjo said that he acknowledged late Tutu’s “uncommon solidarity and the deep passion with which he had argued Nigeria’s case for full debt cancellation by the contents of his letter to Mr. Gordon Brown, the then United Kingdom’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, during my administration as the President of Nigeria.

“This heroic advocacy effort of his with respect to Nigeria’s indebtedness to the Paris Club on behalf of Nigeria was very much in his character.”

Obasanjo told President Ramaphosa that “Reverend Tutu was a patriotic and highly respected Teacher, Preacher, Intercessor and Field Commander of the Lord’s Army.  He symbolized one of our finest examples of how a life truly dedicated to our Saviour Jesus Christ can make a difference.  He had been a difference-maker for his family, his friends, his flock, his community, the Church, the Republic of South Africa and, indeed, the world.”

Similarly, Gov. Abiodun in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, said he was shocked by the death of the anti-apartheid hero who stood stoutly against the imperialism and segregation of the white minority rule years back in South Africa.

He further eulogised him for being a loud voice against suppression of black South Africans throughout the apartheid era in his country.

Abiodun, who praised the former Anglican Archbishop for giving support and played a pivotal role in ensuring South Africa regained self rule, said the black nation will miss him, especially, his altruistic disposition and wise counsel.

“Desmond Tutu’s legacy is moral strength, moral courage and clarity. He felt with the people. In public and alone, he cried because he felt people’s pain. And he laughed – no, not just laughed, he cackled with delight when he shared their joy.

“Though he was a South African, he defended the cause of Africa and blacks in the diaspora. He preached peace; lived peace and shared the words of peace. Even, when apartheid was raging in his country of birth, late Tutu urged his country men and other fighters against white imperialism, to use peace as a vehicle to champion their cause.

“In fact, his stance against xenophobia in his country cannot be forgotten. He will not only be missed by South Africa, but the whole of Africa.

“Rest well, icon of anti apartheid and defender of the black nation,” Abiodun was quoted to have said in the statement.