NOTABLE Nigerians from across the country converged on the town of Ode-Ekiti, in Gboyin Local Government Area of Ekiti State on Saturday to bid Ekiti son and emeritus professor of Economics,
Samuel Adepoju Aluko, a final goodbye.
Professor Aluko, who died in a London hospital on February 7 at the age of 82 was laid to rest at the Ode-Ekiti St. Mary’s Anglican Church cemetery.
The late Aluko’s internment followed a similarly well-attended burial on Friday of his good friend Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who also died in London after falling ill at 78.
Unlike the late Ojukwu’s burial, Aluko’s burial was fairly modest but nevertheless colorful, with important dignitaries arriving from all walks of life to grace the occasion.
Prominent amongst the guest was Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, whose arrival at the church service held in honor of the departed Aluko raised the attention of many in the audience.
Soyinka is not known to visit church premises for Christian service.
Amongst those who received the body of the late economist was a former governor of the old Anambra State, Mr. Jim Nwobodo, along with former governors Segun Oni, Bamidele Olumilua, Donald Duke of Ekiti, Ondo and Cross Rivers, respectively. Also on hand was Bisi Akande, a former Osun State governor and current National Chair of the the Action Congress of Nigeria.
Retired bishop of the Ibadan diocese, Most Rev. Gideon Olajide, delivered the sermon at the event where he dismissed uncharitable remarks about the late Professor Aluko by another Nigerian whom he did not mention by name.
Describing Aluko as incorruptible in his lifetime, Bishop Olajide said the late economist remained influential and conversant on Nigeria’s affairs until his death, after several decades of sacrifice for his homeland.
“Aluko served Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Adekunle Ajasin and the late Gen. Sani Abacha more than anybody could ever have done. He gave his best to ensure the creation of Gbonyin local government. He lived an exemplary life of humility, simplicity, courage and perseverance, and above all, he was free from corruption.
“He was an incorruptible man, who did whatever he believed with passion. In the Civil Service or political terrain, he served with truthfulness. It was unlike what Nigeria has become today where deceitful men have taken over politics.”
The Ekiti state delegation to the event was led by the governor, Kayode Fayemi and his deputy, Funmilayo Olayinka. In attendance also were members of the state’s delegation to the national and state assemblies.
Aluko was the first Council Chair of the Ekiti Local Council in the old Ondo Province of 1959.
In his tribute, Governor Fayemi mentioned that the late Aluko had contacted him barely two weeks into his admisnitration as governor, with a 200-page economic blue-print for the state otherwise known as the ‘Fountain of Knowledge’.
“We will continue to tread the path of honour and excellence he left behind for his efforts not to be in vain,” said Governor Fayemi, promising to deliver on the good deeds inspired by Professor Aluko for Ekiti. The governor said he admistration has plans to immortalize the late Aluko.
The academia was well-represented at the event of the departed academic. Those present included Wale Omole, a former popular Vice-Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University; Oladapo Aina, Ekiti State University Vice-Chancellor and Albert Ilemode, a former Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure.
In his remarks at the event, son of the departed Aluko, Professor Bolaji Aluko, himself a respected academician who is the current Vice-Chancellor of University of Otuoke in Bayelsa State, said that his father would be pleased that Professor Soyinka made a rare exception of the moment to visit a church service.