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Why I appointed Oyerinde Principal Private Secretary, by Oshiomhole

Governor Oshiomhole flanked on the left by the widow, Labake and Elder Akinwusi...at the burial
Governor Oshiomhole flanked on the left by the widow, Labake and Elder Akinwusi…at the burial

By Adesoji Adeniyi, Osogbo and Osagie Otabor, Benin

EDO State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, yesteday explained why he appointed the late Olaitan Oyerinde his Principal Private Secretary.

He was addressing a crowd of human rights actvists, civil society groups, labour movement and students, who thronged the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Orientation Camp, Ede, venue of the lying-in-state and burial service.

Oshiomhole told his audience that the late Oyerinde understood him more than anyone else.

The late Oyerinde, he said was invited to join his administration to remind him of his principles and to caution him anytime he was drifting from his ideology.

“Olaitan had the gift to play with words and can easily read my lips and put to paper exactly what is in my mind,” the comrade-governor said.

He described the deceased as a fearless and dogged fighter, who proved himself a dependable ally.

His words: “When I was considering to run for governorship, I called him and asked for his opinion. He was my confidant. When I was appointing him, I never bothered about the town where he came from. No primordial sentiments featured in his appointment at all. It will be difficult to find someone who could capture my mind on issues like Olaitan.

“Those who killed him really got me where it hurts most. They knew that if they could not get the king, they would get the son. I know we will use the day light to get the cowards, who used the night to kill Olaitan.

“The cowards only wasted their bullets because they only killed the flesh but not the spirit of Olaitan because he has children and he will forever be in our hearts. They have succeeded in killing Olaitan but not the fighting in me.”

Oshiomhole, who said a street has been renamed Olaitan Oyerinde Crescent in Edo State to immortalise him, assured that his family would not be allowed all to suffer anything in his absence.

He sent his condolence to his aged parents, the Osun State Government and the people of the state.

There were speeches from many labour leaders and notable activists, including Lagos lawyer Femi Falana, amid wailings and tears the remains of Oyerinde were buried.

Oshiomhole, who arrived in a chartered helicopter at about 1.55 p.m., was received by the Osun State Head of Service, Elder Segun Akinwusi, who represented Governor Rauf  Aregbesola.

Akinwusi was accompanied by top government officials, including commissioners, special advisers and local government chairmen to give  the deceased a befitting burial.

Expressing regret over the gruesome killing of Oyerinde, Aregbesola  urged security agents to find his killers and bring them to justice.

President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Comrade AdulWaheed Omar and his Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart Peter Esele had a hectic time delivering their farewell messages.

Their presentations were interrupted by students, who used the platform to berate them over the role they played in the January anti-fuel subsidy removal protest.

The students pelted the labour leaders with satchets of pure water.

Former Secretary of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Lagos State chapter, Omotaje Olawale St. Jericho, paid a glowing tribute to the late Olaitan for his sterling leadership qualities from the students’ unionism days.

According to him, the deceased rallied support for the labour struggle against injustices.

He recalled his active role during 1989 anti-Structural Adjustment Programme protest under military president General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd).

He recalled the late Oyerinde led the peaceful protest without compromise, adding that he coordinated all the campuses and ensured the protest was successful.

The Special Adviser to Governor Aregbesola on Environmental Matters,  Mr. Bola Ilori, also a  student-activist in his university days, described Oyerinde’s death as a wake-call to all on security issues.

Falana, challenged the students to emulate the good spirit of the late Oyerinde, whom he said proved himself a selfless and dedicated activist.

The activist-lawyer,  who enjoined the students to always take responsibility for their actions, urged them to ask if they are on the side of justice.

Recalling that he spoke with the deceased four weeks ago, Falana said the late Oyerinde planned to return to activism to re-organise the youth movement.

He challenged the youths to work hard and fight for justice, saying that the fate of the people should not be left in the hands of the “reckless political class.”

The hearse bearing Oyerinde’s remains,  accompanied top government functionaries, left Benin City at about 6:15am.

At a service of songs held Wednesday evening at the Government House for the late Oyerinde, officiating Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, said God and time will reveal those who killed Oyerinde.

The cleric described Oyerinde as a lover of freedom and a man who devoted himself for a better Nigeria.

He said: “He was quiet, unassuming, friendly, firm and focus. A man who will not a hurt a fly. Why did they kill him? What was his offence?

“An innocent man has been killed in his private residence. They wanted to make sure that he was dead. Those were not armed robbers or kidnappers. This is not the best way to settle dispute.

“It will not be well with Oyerinde’s killers. Today we call the blood of heaven that those who took Oyerinde’s life will die a terrible death.”

Pastor Ize-Iyamu recalled how the late Oyerinde felt indifferent when they received security report. He said many of them took extra measures to protect themselves but that late Oyerinde never believed anybody could harm him.

In his tribute entitled: “We shared the dream of a new Edo State”, Oshiomhole said he picked Oyerinde because he needed a companion who operated on the same intellectual frequency.

The governor noted he was not in doubt that Oyerinde was killed to weaken his resolve to fight for the people.

He said: “It was immaterial that Oyerinde did not hail from Edo State insofar he was most resourceful, creative and could work under severe pressure.

“In the last three and half years of my stewardship in Edo State, I attest that Comrade Oyerinde proved most supportive, to say nothing of his terrific sense of humour which often provided comic relief during moments of tension.”

Source: The Nation Newspaper

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