By James Ogunnaike, ABEOKUTA
A former Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya (rtd) has described the former Chairman of the Interim National Government, late Chief Ernest Adegunle Shonekan as a catalyst for stability and progress.
Diya, who said this in a tribute he wrote on the demise of Shonekan, said the late elder statesman heeded the clarion call to stem the nation turbulent situation after the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election.
He wrote; “The nation was at a crossroads. The polity was heated across all fronts. The Nation needed a stabilizer and unifier.
“Then came in Chief Ernest Shonekan, The Abese of Egba land.
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“He selflessly heeded the clarion call to serve as Chairman of the Interim National Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He went about his duty with guile, firmness and resolve.
“As the icon was laid to rest yesterday, February 4, it is instructive to note that Chief Ernest Shonekan was not new to stepping into turbulent situations to calm the tides.
“He has always been a catalyst for stability and progress.
“Time was of the essence and the task was herculean. We saw it all as the lawyer, industrialist, accomplished administrator, and statesman calmed the nerves of the nation.
“Chief Ernest Shonekan and I were close. We shared decades of amazing friendship built on mutual trust and respect.
“He was the big brother I looked up to for counsel and he never disappointed. What a Statesman we lost with his passing, even at 85.
“My heart goes to the respected and adorable Mrs Magareth Shonekan and the children.
“May the good Lord grant the entire family, near and extended the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss of this great national icon.
“I give my last salute to a selfless patriot and National hero, in Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan.
“Chief Shonekan was great in life. He was even greater in death. It is heartwarming to watch the Nigerian State accord the former Head of Government a well-deserving state burial.
“Special thanks to President Muhammadu Buhari for ensuring due diligence before, during and after the burial of Chief Shonekan.
“Ably represented by our amiable Vice President, Prof. Yemi Oshinbajo (SAN), at the All Saints Cathedral, Marina Lagos, for the Order of State Funeral Service for His Excellency Chief Ernest Shonekan.”
Diya charged other statesmen to, as a matter of national call and duty, fix Nigeria in all its ramifications, in order to bequeath a worthy Nigeria to unborn generations.
He added, ” the time to act is now. This is the time for strategic national advancement. It’s not a moment for finger pointing or politicking.
“Although, I have never been involved in politics, it is nevertheless to lay it bare and send a clear message that only justice, equity and fairness can take us out of the woods.”
While noting that President Muhammadu Buhari is obviously doing his best in repositioning the economy and winning the war against terror, he said more work still needs to be done.
“The success rests not only in the barrel or sacrifice of our gallant Armed Forces, but more so by the cooperation of all Nigerians. A word should be enough for the wise.
“For Chief shonekan: he came, he saw and he conquered. Like the famous Indian quote “the problem of the State is so difficult that you alone cannot solve it.”
Though Chief Shonekan faced his challenges, history and fate was rather kind to him.
“Though he had gone to rest, his legacy of excellence, hard work and integrity will forever remain with us,” he added.