Buhari, Ambode, others mourn
By Clifford Ndujihe, Olasunkanmi Akoni, Dapo Akinrefon, Charles Kumolu, Wahab Abdulah & Gbenga Oke
LAGOS—SECOND Republic Politician, Dr Tunji Braithwaite is dead. He died yesterday, aged 82 after a brief illness.
His son, Olumide, said the legal icon and activist politician fell ill in the early hours of yesterday and was rushed to St Nicholas Hospital where he died at 5.55 am.
Family sources said that Dr Braithwaite fell from a thread mill a few weeks ago and had been ill since then. The illness was said to have worsened yesterday morning when he had breathing problems prompting his being rushed to the hospital, the source added.
Olumide, who is yet to reconcile himself with the fact that his dad is no more said the family was sad about the death of his father but they are also happy about what he stood for while he was alive.
His words: “I believe if Nigeria has a minimum of 10 fearless personalities who are fighting for the masses like my father did all his life, Nigeria would have been a better country today.
“My father stood for integrity, steadfastness, uprightness, courage, bravery and the voice for the masses of Nigeria. In his early 40’s, he contested against the known names in the political annals of this country which include, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the great Zik and Shehu Shagari. I can say without being immodest that his name also opened a lot of goodwill for the children and family anywhere we found ourselves.”
Asked if his father had any regrets, Olumide said: “Anybody who knows my father knew that he was an enigmatic personality and he had so much hope for this country and that was why he sacrificed all he had and was never seen being bought over throughout his entire struggles.
“His greatest regret in life was that after fighting all these battles, the masses in Nigeria are yet to be free and emancipated from the political shackles of this country.”
Indeed, if his mien and the thoughts he shared with Vanguard during his last interview with the national newspaper are anything to go by, the late Second Republic politician, lawyer and philanthropist died with one major regret and an unfinished assignment.
Braithwaite had not completed the book he was writing on the politics of Second Republic, to capture the men and factors that shaped that era as well as the politico-legal and social relations between him and the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
He made eradication of corruption (clearing rats, mosquitoes and cockroaches) the fulcrum of his presidential campaign in 1983 when he ran on the platform of the Nigeria Advance Party, NAP, he founded.
Born on September 13, 1933 as the youngest son of eight children, Braithwaite was educated at the C.M.S Grammar School, entering the school’s Preparatory Section in 1946 and completing his education in 1953. He proceeded to sit for his A Levels at the London University at Kennington College in 1955 and enrolled in 1957/58 as a Law student at the Council of Legal Education, London. He was admitted into Lincoln’s Inn that same year and graduated as a barrister in 1960.
As a lawyer, Braithwaite made his mark in company law. He was also one of the lawyers, who stood behind Chief Obafemi Awolowo during his travails in the early 60s.
President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with the immediate family, friends, professional colleagues and political allies of the elder statesman and pro-democracy activist, Tunji Braithwaite, who passed away yesterday.
The President believes the passing away of the lawyer, author and politician came at a time his wisdom, intellectual depth, vast knowledge and experience were sorely needed by the country.
Lagos has lost a great son— Ambode
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, expressed shock and sadness over the demise of Dr. Tunji Braithwaite.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Habib Aruna, Ambode said Braithwaite’s demise was a great loss to both the state and the nation.
Ambide, who described the late nationalist as a detribalized individual whose example was worthy of emulation, said Braithwaite was a man of the people, a typical Nigerian who was consistent in saying things the way they were, not caring whose ox was gored.
He fought for a progressive Nigeria—Adebanjo
A chieftain of the Pan-Yoruba socio-economic organisation, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo said: ‘’His death is a very big loss to Nigeria. He was one of those who fought for an independent Nigeria and a restructured nation along progressive lines. We were both at the National Confab and he stuck his neck out to make sure that most of the resolutions were taken.”
Nigerian Bar Association, NBA President, Augustine Alegeh, SAN, said: “The Bar mourns one of the legal icons in the country. He has gone but we are consoled that he has gone to a better place. His name would be written in gold for the good work he did and he would be remembered.”
Executive Secretary of the Nigerian National Summit Group, NNSG, Mr Tony Uranta said : “The NNSG mourns the passage of one of its Guiding Lights, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite! Dr. Braithwaite was a key actor in Nigeria’s political history of the last half a century and more. We pray that Nigeria will soon become the dreamland that he and his ilks have strived to see it become.”