By Esther Onyegbula
Nigerians from all walks of life, including friends and family members, gathered to celebrate the life and times of Major-General Henry Edmund Olufemi Adefope.
The event, which witnessed the gathering of eminent citizens, was put together by his family members and also saw the coming of his children and grand-children to Nigeria.
Eminent Nigerians present at the event include Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Prof Bolaji Akinyemi, Otunba JK Randle, Pastor Wale Adefarasin Prof Anthony Kila.
Leading the eulogy during the memorial event and unveiling of the book, titled: “Major-General Henry Edmund Olufemi Adefope: A Legacy of Honour,” in Lagos on Thursday, was his first daughter and second child, Justice Olubola Adefope, who spoke on the topic: “A Legacy of Honor.” She described Maj-Gen Adefope as “A cherished child among his siblings.”
Saying that her father was “a man who was at peace with his life,” she added that the major general “Loved Nigeria with a passion and hated the endless pursuit of money.”
She said that her father had so much love for his family that “he decided to change his carrier to suit his family.”
The Judge described her father as a man who loved nature.
Corroborating Maj-Gen Adefope’s daughter was a retired Deputy Director of Sports, Usman Mamman Gora, who in his speech, described Maj.-Gen. Adefope as “A man who was committed to sports development.”
Describing Maj.-Gen. Adefope as a family friend, Gora said: “He picked me from nowhere in 1972 and made me who I am today. The late general was a mentor and a friend.”
He described Adefope as “One of those Nigerians that we have every reason to celebrate today.
“He was a man of integrity, a personality that can be reckoned with anywhere any day.”
Gora noted that Maj.-Gen. Adefope vowed to develop sports in Nigeria, while completing the stadium in record time.
Describing the late major general as being “Very approachable, fully committed to achieving testimonies,” Gora said that “Adefope provided purposeful leadership in national sports. He saved the face of Nigeria during the Olympics.”
Also, Nigeria’s renowned chartered accountant, JK Randle, who reviewed the book, titled: “Major-General Henry Edmund Olufemi Adefope: A Legacy of Honour,” described Maj.-Gen. Adefope as “An officer of the Nigerian Army and a gentleman to the core.
“He was a man of many parts. He was a combatant. He lived a fruitful life. He labored steadfastly and endlessly to lead a Christian life of service and worship, remaining transparent in the work of the lord. He was a jack of many trade and master of the trade.”
In his tribute to the Major General, Dr. Issa Aremu, General Secretary of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NVTGTWN) and vice president of the Industrial All Global Union, described Maj.-Gen. Adefope as “A mentor and a statesman in the true sense of the word. He was the most sustainable and constructive minister in Nigeria.
“He was the first number-one labour man and the labour administration, under the late major general, was the most remarkable.”
Noting that Maj.-Gen. Adefope made a great impact in labour matters, Aremu said: “His legacies are the most impactive and most constructive that I have ever known.”
Aremu noted that events, which took place under the major general were very remarkable.
“The first one is that before he became a minister, the first generation of unionists tried to have one labour centre. The four major unions including UFC, and others, were trying to form a second one and General Adefope put his feet on ground and brought these four centres together, which produced the NLC that we have today,” Aremu remarked.”
The second legacy that Maj.-Gen. Adefope left in NLC, according to Aremu, was to build a financially independent trade union movement.
According to Aremu: “It was during his tenure that we had an automatic check-off in which workers paid their union dues, which built financial independence for the union. This also made trade unions not to be dependent on foreigners who used to influence them.”
Third legacy, the labour unionist said, was that Maj.-Gen. Adefope brought restructuring, which led to the consolidation of industrial unions. “He brought trade unions together during his time. He believed that trade unions must be well equipped, well informed and that led to the creation of Michael Imoudu Labour Institute in Ilorin, Kwara State. It has built capacity over the years for the working people,” Aremu remarked.
He remarked that Adefope facilitated the independence of the trade unions, adding: “He was well educated, well informed and this led to the creation of Michael Imodu.”
Also, at the event, the Director, Centre for International Advanced Professional Studies (CIAPS), Lagos, Professor Anthony Kila, while answering questions on what the intervention of the late major general would have been as regards the Russia-Ukraine Crisis, noted that the two warring parties would “Need Like Of Adefope To Refrain From Going Trigger”.
Prof. Kila said that if Major-General Adefope were to be alive, “At a time like this war, Adefope would have advised the two warring countries to embrace dialogue, as nobody needs to carry a trigger.”
Commending the major general for possessing the qualities that make a man, Prof. Kila said: “Adefope had education, exposure, experience, and the environment. Those are the four things that make a man overall. Adefope brought in the Man Adefope.”
Saying that Adefope never fought or rushed for any recognition, Kila added: “Adefope was a man who did his job and went home.”
Managing Director, Business Travels, Funlola Adefope, who is also Maj.-Gen. Adefope’s grand-daughter, described him as a meek man, whose character should be emulated by all. “He wasn’t arrogant,” Funlola added.
A U.S.-based medical doctor, Dr. John Mabayoje, described Maj-.Gen. Adefope as “A man who was gifted with wisdom and steady common sense”, adding that Adefope has good public comportment, as well as a man who knew how to handle crisis.”
Dr. Mabayoje said that with Adefope’s love for public service, the major general “incorporated rural service for medical doctors.”
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