Members of the National Association of Sea Dogs (NAS) from across the country gathered in Ilorin on Sunday to honour Mr Ayo Odebis, a leading member of the group, who died recently during a brief illness.
Speaking at a memorial lecture for the former top official of the Central Bank, the Zonal Coordinator of NAS in Ilorin, Mr Dele Abiodun, described the deceased as a trail blazer who had touched many lives.
Abiodun said Odebisi, who was known by the nick name, Paramole, “ was a true embodiment of the pyratical spirit,; he lived for others and gave his all for their joy.”
He also said the role of the deceased in the enthronement of democracy could not be quantified, adding that he was in the forefront of the “ activists who acted as foot soldiers to usher in the country’s new found democracy.’’
“ It is on record that his contributions can never be quantified in the struggle for enthroning democracy in Nigeria.
“ He sacrificed his all till he was spent and although he worked his way till he was among the elite, he lived for the down trodden,” he said.
He described NAS as a mustard seed that had spread to almost all higher institutions in the country three decades after its formation, with branches in other African countries, Canada, Europe, Asia and America.
Abiodun dismissed speculations that NAS is a cult group, saying several court rulings had vindicated members’ right to freedom of association, expression of conscience and right to perpetual succession.
The Chairman of the occasion and University of Jos professor, Bashir Ajala, enjoined Nigerians to embrace the humanist virtues of the late Odebisi.
Reflecting of the life and times of the deceased, the don said Odebisi played a critical role in revolutionising the nation’s agriculture sector after quitting his lucrative job at the apex bank to venture into farming.
He recalled that Odebisi was one of the critical players in the sector who worked to ensure that the Institute of International Tropical Agriculture in Ibadan remained in Nigeria after its promoters threatened to leave Nigeria.
The Guest Speaker at the occasion, Dr Remi Medupin of Hal-Hikmah University, Ilorin, urged Nigerians to emulate the humanist virtues of the deceased irrespective of their religious affiliation.
His lecture was entitled: “ In Quest of a just Society: The Example of Ayo Tiamiyu Odebisi.”
Born in Ogbomoso on April 28, Odebisi graduated from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1980, and was retained in CBN where he did his national service, rising to become the bank’s statistician.
He was to quit the job to venture into management consultancy and agro-business.