The late Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala was a simple and humble man who practiced politics with an open mind, served the people and his country all his life, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Prof. Osinbajo spoke on Friday in Ogbomoso where he graced the funeral service of the former Governor of Oyo State at an event also attended by State Governors, including Seyi Makinde of Oyo, and Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, among other dignitaries.
The Vice President added that Alao-Akala “practically demonstrated what is possible when creativity and compassion are brought into governance.”
“Alao Akala served the people and country all his life; from a career in the police force, to chairmanship of the Ogbomosho North Local government, to Deputy Governor and then Governor of Oyo State. He put everything into public service. This is why today the people of Ogbomosho, Oyo State, and the nation gather to pay him the high respects due to such a well regarded patriot and faithful servant of the people.”
The VP further said that the testimonies of many associates of the late Oyo Governor recalling his political sojourn, was evidence that “Otunba Alao-Akala was a politician who knew how to be a political opponent without being a sworn enemy.
“The good people of Ogbomosho and the nation will miss the kindness, compassion and love of a trusted and revered leader… whose political influence and reach went beyond party affiliation and multi-partisan colours,” the Vice President stated.
He further added it was not surprising, that “in any political calculation, everyone knew that wherever Alao Akala pitched his tent is where Ogbomosho will go, he was that highly regarded… His wide network is a solid reflection of the goodwill he enjoyed across political divides, ethnicities and faiths.”
Prof. Osinbajo recalled the broad smile and hearty laughter of the late Alao Akala, whom he described as “an illustrious political actor from Ogbomoso-land” who was able to strike and “sustain a deep connection with the people.”
“Everywhere he went in those days as Governor of Oyo State; you would hear chants of Oyato gomina! Oyato! For the benefit of non-speakers of Yoruba, they meant ‘Governor with a difference!’
“Of course, there were a couple of things Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala did differently on assumption of office (from Jan 2006 to December that year, and then again from May 2007 to May 2011),” the VP recalled.
The VP stated that as governor, the late Alao Akala was able to significantly improve the State’s “Internally Generated Revenue (from a paltry N300m to a record N1b) within eight months of becoming Governor.”
Alao Akala also instituted impactful programmes like the home-grown empowerment scheme known as Community Link Advancement Programme (CLAP), Prof. Osinbajo noted, adding that a common refrain running through the glowing tributes paid to his memory was the attestation of his uncommon generosity.
“There is undoubtedly lot more to be said about his generosity in material terms and in things money cannot buy. At a personal level, I can attest to his generosity with time and counsel. I met him many years ago through his nephew, Prof Oyelowo Oyewo, SAN, currently Attorney- General and Commissioner for Justice, Oyo State. And after becoming the Vice-Presidential candidate of APC in 2014, he was one of those I immediately turned to for advice.
“Being a battle-hardened veteran of the game himself, he must have been wondering if I had the stamina to cope. So, he went on to give me some unforgettable advice about what he thought I should do. Till he drew his last breath, Alao-Akala never ceased to avail me of his quality counsel and words of encouragement, by way of phone calls or pep talk whenever our paths crossed.”
The Vice President, on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, the government and people of Nigeria, expressed condolences to the Alao Akala family, while praying that God will comfort and uphold them.
Other dignitaries at the event included the Ogun State, Deputy Governor, Mrs. Noimat Salako-Oyedele; her Oyo State counterpart, Chief Rauf Olaniyan; members of the National Assembly; Youths and Sports Development Minister, Chief Sunday Dare; the President of the Nigeria Baptist Convention, Dr, Israel Akanji, who delivered the sermon at the service, and Chief Niyi Akintola, SAN.