Matthew Hassan Kukah: Tribute to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu & Ghali Na’abba

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Matthew Hassan Kukah: Tribute to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu & Ghali Na’abba

I join millions of Nigerians but especially the people of Ondo and Kano States to mourn the death of two of Nigeria’s illustrious sons, His Excellency, Ladi Akeredolu , SAN, now late Governor of Ondo State and Alhaji Ghali Na’abba, former Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives. I knew and interacted with both men over the state of our dear country at different fora for well over twenty years.

I first met Governor Akeredolu at a Conference in Geneva in 2001 and we struck up a relationship that lasted till his death. Our last meeting was at the burial of the victims of the tragic slaughter of the worshippers at St. Francis Catholic Church, Ondo last year. Alhaji Na’abba caught my attention with his passionate commitment to Democracy in the early days of the Obasanjo administration when he stood up to the then President despite his relative lack of experience and youthfulness. Behind his harmless looks lay a formidable and firm, and passionate politician.

Both men were energetic and relentless advocates of a greater and peaceful Nigeria. Governor Akeredolu was an excellent lawyer and Nigerians have fond memories of the passion with which he pursued the issues of justice in Nigeria as President of the Nigerian Bar Association. Mr. Na’abba and I met severally at public events and he often called me to speak about Nigeria. He shared his deep concerns especially about what he saw as the brokenness of both the country and northern Nigeria. He worried about the deterioration in the internal relations between Christians and Muslims and wondered if the north would ever be mended again. He called almost each time he read what I had said and it was always great listening to his very wise views.

They will both be remembered for their patriotism and selfless services to our dear nation. Nigeria gained from their selfless sacrifices and we are the better for that they walked on our shores. Sadly, they will both wish that the country had made more progress.
May God console their families and grant them eternal peace

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