Tribute to Aketi by Banire SAN

By Muiz Banire SAN

Life has a difficult definition. It seems most impossible to define as it is larger than human comprehension. As rich and all-encompassing the holy books are, there is no clause or verse giving a definition of what life is. We know every human life has a beginning and must have an end. It baffles human imagination how it all began.

The accounts provided by the holy books still leaves gap as they are not history books dedicated solely to genealogical narrative of human sojourns. According to Williams Shakespeare in his expression of exasperation of what human life portends, “life is a tale, told by an idiot”.

The frustration in defining life permeates the writings of most renown writers of ancient whose intellectual capacities are till today regarded as astounding and made William Smith conclude that “There is no single “concept of life” in the works of any great writer. In fact, the phrase “concept of life” is so vague as to be meaningless.

One could, I suppose, apply it to something like Sartre’s No Exit, but there are obviously clearer and better ways to articulate the concept.”

Death has made it more confounding to discover the meaning, concept and purpose of life. It is when it occurs that we reflect on the purpose and meaning of life. And that is for those who can reflect as many do not have the capacity to understand that when a neighbour falls into the cold hands of death, it is a confirmation of one’s mortality.

It in this season of celebrations that agents of death among us in Jos chose to carry out their evil business and terminated innocent lives of about 200 people. On 5 June, 2022, it was an attack on worshippers in Owo, Ondo State. About 40 people were reported killed while more than 80 people were reported injured and till date, the mystery of Owo massacre has not been unraveled.

To the credit of the Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, were spirited efforts made to bring to book the suspected terrorists who carried out the dastardly act.

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The Governor, thereafter, constructed a memorial park to honour the victims. But despite the efforts of the State Government, the security architecture of Nigeria does not seem to be capable of bringing any consequence to bear. The development reminds one of the assassination of the Honourable Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Chief Adebola Ige, SAN on 23 December, 2001.

Till date, the killers have not been found. Death took the best of his generation in a most gruesome and murderous manner.

The explanation of the cause till date defies reason as for why would some people kill a prominent citizen who was responsible for the education and development of many Nigerians, is unfathomable.

No one kills but death. Whoever is the agent and whatever instrument it uses to take a life. It is in this case of stupor and undefinability of life that today the 27th day of December, 2023, we lost an illustrious member of the inner bar in Nigeria, a courageous fighter for human and democratic rights and former Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, CON, SAN. Popularly known as “Aketi”, he bestrode this little corner of this firmament with candour, courage, resoluteness, brilliance and honesty.

He was the only one among the Governors who stood up against President Buhari on the feckless policy upon which the ruga outrage was being constructed in this country. When marauders and kidnappers turned the forests of Ondo State to their theatre of operations,

Akeredolu deployed the little resources at his disposal to engage them in a mortal combat. He was among the first to establish the South-western Security Network popularly known as “Amotekun” to secure our forests and cities. The sharp drop in the rate of kidnapping in Ondo State can only be credited to the resolute focus and attention of Akeredolu.

He mobilized the best of technology to scan the forests of Ondo State and located the various locations occupied by men of hideous souls and character who plunged the State, and by extension, the South West of Nigeria, into a forest of thousand demons where innocent and scrupulous Nigerians are abducted into for ransom and in many cases, death.

Akeredolu’s antecedent in governance predated his ascension to the governorship of Ondo State. He was, at a time, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of the State in 1997 – 1999. It was in 1998 that he became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a rank he occupied till death with extreme discipline and integrity.

Rotimi Akeredolu was the President of the Nigerian Bar Association between 2007 and 2009 and his administration till today stands out in the annals of NBA. Little wonder that the new and imposing administrative building of the NBA was named after him.

The President of the NBA then justified the naming of the secretariat as “generational identification and recognition of those who had contributed immensely to the development of the association. The sheer courage for him (Akeredolu) to go through the rigour is a testimony to his selfless service.” Aketi was a man of courage. Challenging corrupt judges in open court , never daunted Akeredolu.

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He would speak his mind with the clarity of an unmistakable oracle. He rose to the occasion always without minding the consequence.

And he triumphed in most of his battles that you could not fault the wisdom behind his courage which some people may believe was reckless. Akeredolu loved his people.

He did everything he could to bring development to Ondo State. His ambition to bring lasting progress and development to the people of Ondo State led to his construction of a seaport which he was committed to till he died.

He has registered a presence in history that is difficult to erase. His infrastructural projects in the State were designed to bring lasting development.

Construction of the notorious Oke Alabojuto in Ikare Akoko. Among the major road projects he concluded are the rehabilitation of the deadly Iwaro Oka hill, the construction of Police road, Ore and Ore Interchange flyover on the Shagamu-Benin Expressway to ease traffic for those traveling from the South-West to the South-East and Abuja which particular road remained a nightmare for hundreds of thousands of people plying the road before Aketi came to power; rehabilitation of Sabo Road, Akure; construction of a new office complex for Ondo State Internal Revenue Service; construction and flattening of the dreaded Oke-Alabojuto hill and rehabilitation of Ikare township roads.

At the time of Aketi’s death, and if not for his prolonged ailment which took him out of circulation intermittently, ongoing construction of 50km road linking Araromi seaside, Ondo state to Ibeju Lekki, Lagos State, would have been completed.

In his language, “ilera loro” which means health is wealth and to demonstrate his commitment to the health and general wellbeing of his people, Aketi established a contributory health insurance scheme which enables all classes of people in the state access to affordable health care services.

On Agriculture, the government reactivated the afforestation projects in Ondo State. 10,000 Hectares of the state afforestation projects sited at Omotoso in Okitipupa local government. The project is worth N20 billion and it has employed over 1,000 youths of Ondo state.

This is a Public Private Partnership with a Chinese company called “Weewood”. Food security was primal to Akeredolu throughout his time in office.

To this end, his regime ensured disbursement of over N210,000,000 to farmers’ co-operative societies in the State under the FADAMA Scheme while he distributed over 1,000 metrics ton of fertilizers to farmers in Ondo state for enhanced farming within a short period.

His government also mobilized 35,000 farmers for the Anchor Borrowers Scheme while it procured top quality tractors to aid farmers’ productivity and established Igba Otun broiler Scheme where farmers were given 2,000 day-old chicks with feed, drug and vaccines.

He empowered and trained of over 1000 bee-keepers while having distributed over 100,000 Brazilian cashew seedlings and top-quality oil palm seedlings to farmers across the state. He empowered and trained about 6,000 youths to become Agripreneurs.

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But the disruptive nature of death has put an end to all the glorious ambition of Akeredolu to impact more on his people. His ever-insatiable target of serving his people has been terminated by death.

And you wonder of what essence is life if, in a twinkle of an eye and like a candlelight in the wind, it can be blown off. Death is irreversible. It is a permanent end to man’s presence on earth. It afflicts both the rich and the poor; the young and the old.

There is no avoiding the evil fangs of death as while escaping it we run into its fulfilment. Even death kills the killer and buries the undertaker. He spares no one.

We then wonder of what use is this life? What is the purpose of life that is not dedicated to service of the humanity and its Maker? A life that is devoid of service is definitely not worth living.

We can only be remembered for what we did to impact on the people over whose affairs we preside or with whom we transacted while alive. No one is above death and life is meaningless if dedicated to evil.

Aketi is gone and humanity is the loser of a lover of good deeds. He did not die a perfect human as he left behind his own tracks of human foibles. Put on the scale of good service, the people of Ondo State are a better judge aside from God who owns the soul of Aketi and all of us.

This is a lesson to the politicians and our political leaders. Certainly, each and everyone is coming to pay this debt. I am sure that nothing would Aketi take away, just like you and I. E se aiye re o! Adieu, Aketi.

May your soul continue to rest in peace while wishing the family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.

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