Ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo has described the First Republic Federal Minister of Social Services and Natural Resources, Chief Adegoke Adelabu, popularly called ‘Penkelemesi’, as his political role model.
Obasanjo made this remark on Saturday at his Hilltop residence, Abeokuta, while receiving family members of the late Ibadan-born politician, who paid him a courtesy visit.
The said they came to intimate the former president with the 100 years’ posthumous birthday of the politician slated for September 3, 2015 and a foundation to be inaugurated in his name.
Obasanjo said he shared the political philosophy of the late politician, which was devoid of ethnic and tribal considerations but focused on a united Nigeria.
He noted that Nigerians are still struggling to reach the pinnacle Adelabu attained in politics.
Obasanjo, who accepted the offer to be the patron of the posthumous centenary birthday celebration of the politician, described the late Adelabu as a detribalised Nigerian.
Led by an Ibadan High Chief and a former broadcaster, Chief Tunde Alabi, the family members said they were in Obasanjo’s house to solicit his support to give a befitting ceremony to the first African Manager of UAC.
The former president further noted that Adelabu was years ahead of his political contemporaries, adding that he advocated a United States of West Africa before his demise, which preceded the formation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
He said, “Adelabu was not just a historical figure, he was a reality. He was a phenomenon; he was uniquely Yoruba, uniquely Nigerian, uniquely African and uniquely a member of human race.
“What you are proposing to do, I believe Adelabu deserved it in every facet. Today, we are still struggling to reach the pinnacle or the pedestal Adelabu reached in politics, of not being swayed by linguistic, ethnic, tribal, regional, sectional considerations but by what is best for Nigeria.
“He was years ahead of his contemporaries in politics. In his lifetime, he was talking of United States of West Africa; ECOWAS came up years after his demise.
“In his lifetime, he belonged to a political party that has its base outside the Western Region, where he came from. He was not a tribal baron; he was a national politician.
“So, when you asked me to be the patron of Adelabu’s posthumous centenary birthday celebration, I have no reason to say ‘no’.
“I have no reason to say ‘no’ because, I share what Adelabu stood for. I share Adelabu’s philosophy of a united Nigeria and believe me, I share Adelabu’s view of politics beyond ethnicity, beyond tribe, beyond region and I believe that in our national life, we should extol the virtues like those ones we saw in Adelabu.
“A man of the people, down to earth, absolutely down to earth and yet, a man who believed that his politics must be above ethnicity, must be above tribe, must be to unite the country while, of course, uplifting his own people.
“On behalf of the family who asked me to accept this and having accepted this, I will do my utmost best to contribute to making that day you have chosen to celebrate the birthday a success and also to use it to remind those who may like to forget that there was, even before independence, men and Nigerians like Adelabu, who believed in the unity of this country, who lived for it and indeed died for it.”