Gen. Robert Adebayo Adeyinka (1928-2017)
A warrior who advised against force to quell Biafran crisis
As a combatant, it was taken for granted that General Robert Adebayo, military governor of defunct Western region, would go for every available force to ensure that the ‘enemy’ is conquered. Ironically, he chose the path of peace, dialogue and political solutions to the Biafran crisis.
Speaking prophetically and perhaps with hindsight into the consequences of violence, his fears that informed the need to avoid violence came to pass.
“I need not tell you what horror, what devastation and what extreme human suffering will attend the use of force. When it is all over and the smoke and dust have lifted, and the dead are buried, we shall find, as other people have found, that it has all been futile, entirely futile, in solving the problems we set out to solve,” he asserted discerningly about the war that resulted.
Incidentally, when the war broke out, Adebayo, then governor of Western state, ordered the demolition of all bridges into the West to prevent the Biafran soldiers from reaching Lagos, the initial capital of Nigeria through his state.
It was a considered a wise decision as the Biafrans troops went as far as Ore in present-day Ondo state, about 100 kilometres from Lagos. After the war, the Head of State, General Yakubu appointed him the chairman of the Committee on the Reconciliation and Integration of Biafrans (Igbos) back into the Nigerian fold
Also of note is the fact that the late General was the governor during the controversial Agbekoya (farmers) revolt over taxation, which was eventually resolved peacefully and harmoniously.
As governor, he fostered agricultural extension services, as well as initiated the establishment of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Moor Plantation, Ibadan.
Meanwhile, more groups and individuals have continued to pay tributes to the late General. The Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) and the Oodua Progressive Union (OPU) commiserated with the family, noting that the news of his passage in the early hours of Wednesday sent jitters to their spines, “not because he did not live to the ripe age, not because he did not die an accomplished leader, but because we missed him at a point when his elderly contributions to the Yoruba race is much needed.”
In a statement, the national coordinator of OPC, Otunba Gani Adams said the former governor of Western Region departed at a time Yoruba leaders were coming together to advance their civilization. “He died when the race is yearning to return to her pride of place as trail blazers among the tribes in the country, we will indeed miss him.
In another tribute, former governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori described Gen. Adebayo as a great patriot who sacrificed greatly for Nigeria to remain one united nation in its trying days after the counter-coup of July 1966.
Ibori according to a statement issued by his Media Assistant, Tony Eluemunor, said Adebayo did not for once seek personal gain, as one of the most senior officers that would have been in contention for leadership in the aftermath of the counter-coup in mid-1966, but set his mind and heart to the search for peace and unity for Nigeria.
He said that the record of the deceased, as Western State Governor remains a shining example for others to emulate.Ibori particularly commiserated with Adebayo’s first male child, Niyi, who was his close colleague as Ekiti State governor from 1999 to 2003.
“Niyi Adebayo has since remained a friend and brother. I also condole with the general’s eldest daughter, Mrs. Nike Makinde as well as his brother Sola. Most of all, I pray that God should give Mrs. Adebayo the grace to bear this irreparable loss.”
Similarly, in a condolence message, former presidential spokesman, Mr. Akin Osuntokun said Adebayo was a true family man who took everybody that came close to him either as his children, colleague or family.
A subordinate officer to Adebayo in the military, Alhaji Kayode Onasoga told The Guardian that the late governor was his master in the military and his president in the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE).
He recalled how he was fond of Muhammadu Buhari because of Mr. President’s impeccable characters when he served under late Adebayo’s command. To Chief Olabode George, a former military administrator of Ondo State, late Adebayo was a mediator and moderator whose reconciliatory capacity was much pronounced at the height of the Nigerian Civil War, when he was the military Governor of the Western Region.
More prominent Nigerians yesterday trooped to Adebayo’s residence at 48 Ladipo Bateye Ikeja GRA to pay their respect to him. They include the four former and living governors of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) from 1999 to 2003, Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Lagos, Chief Bisi Akande, Osun, Chief Segun Osoba, Ogun.
The role call also comprised former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe; Governor Akinwunmi Ambode; former governors of Ogun and Delta states, Otunba Gbenga Daniels and Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan; the minister for Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; founder, Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Dr. Fredrick Fasehun; and former minister of Health, Dr. Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi.
Also present were spokesman Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin; former Minister of State for Defence, Dr. Demola Seriki; wife of former governor of Ondo, Mrs. Olufunke Agagu, former AIG Police, Mr. Tunji Alapini; Chairman of Elizade University, Chief Michael Ade Ojo; Senator Oluremi Tinubu; business mogul, chief Sam Adedoyin; and Rasak Okoya.
In his remark, Tinubu said Adebayo lived for peace and he dedicated his life to the course of development in Nigeria while Ukiwe said Adebayo’s integrity, consistency and hard work turned Nigeria around, adding: “His handshake across the Niger went a long way to foster peace in the country.”
Uduaghan described him as someone who loved and lived for peace throughout his life.Chief Samuel Adedoyin (left); Mrs. Sade Okoya, Chief Razaq Okoya, daughter of the deceased, Mrs. Nike Makinde, wife of the former Governor of Ekiti State, Mrs. Angela Adebayo and Senator Oluremi Tinubu during the condolence visit to the house in Adebayo House in Lagos…yesterday
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