The rank of Yoruba elder statesmen has further been depleted with the death of Pa Ayo Fasanmi, a leader of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere and Second Republic senator.
Fasanmi, born in Iye Ekiti, Ekiti State, on September 27, 1925, died late Wednesday.
He attended St Paul’s Primary School, Ebutte Metta as well as Government School, Ibadan before he proceeded to the Pharmacy School of Yaba.
He practised pharmacy for years and became National President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria in 1977 before his foray into politics.
He had been active in politics since the Second Republic when he joined the Unity Party of Nigeria led by the former Premier of the defunct Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in 1978.
He contested the UPN ticket with the former governor of the old Ondo State, the Late Michael Adekunle Ajasin and lost.
He then picked the senatorial ticket. He was also a member of the Federal House of Representatives representing Ondo North.
He was considered a staunch follower of Awo disciples.
In the Fourth Republic, Fasanmi was the National Vice Chairman, South-West of the Alliance for Democracy.
He was the leader of Egbe Afenifere, a breakaway faction of the mainstream Afenifere and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress.
He reportedly dumped the mainstream Afenifere following suspicion that other Afenifere leaders were aligned to other political parties.
Until his death, he remained an APC chieftain; the development which pitched him against other Afenifere leaders including Pa Reuben Fashoranti, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, among others who have never hidden their distaste for the ruling party.
Fasanmi consistently pressured other Afenifere leaders to support the APC.
His wife, Felicia, died six years ago. They both had made a double decker tomb and agreed that anyone of them that died first would occupy the lower chamber.
His son, Folabi, yesterday said the tomb would be open and that his father would be buried there on Tuesday in Iye Ekiti.
He said the family was consulting with governors of southwest on Fasanmi’s burial.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement yesterday by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, described Fasanmi’s death as a big loss to the nation.
The president commiserated with people and government of Osun and Ekiti States, family members, friends and associates of the elder statesman.
He said Fasanmi distinguished himself politically by always standing for the truth, especially on issues related to the uplifting of the downtrodden.
Buhari said Fasanmi’s wise counsels borne out of humility, deep reflection, diligent studies and experience would be sorely missed by governments at different levels, as he regularly and willingly listened to leaders, and always had a good advice on going forward.
Similarly, Senate President Ahmad Lawan condoled with Fasoranti’s family, friends and political associates.
He also commiserated with the government and people of Ekiti State and the Yoruba people in general over the demise of a leader who throughout his life was committed to the cause of his people and Nigeria.
Lawan, in a statement by his spokesman, Ola Awoniyi, said Fasanmi made immense contributions to nation-building as a two-time parliamentarian, public office holder and political party leader.
He said Nigerians would miss Fasanmi’s forthrightness, consistency, wise counsel and wealth of experience.
The speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, in a statement by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi, said Fasanmi’s death would be felt by the nation, the progressives and his family.
APC National Leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu yesterday said with Fasanmi’s death “we have lost someone special and excellent in every way.”
Tinubu said Fasanmi was a mentor to him and many other progressive politicians.
“This fine job has not been completed. The Nigeria of our dreams is still a work in progress. Papa Fasanmi struggled for that dream and supported those patriots like President Muhammadu Buhari who also toiled for the same goal,” he said.
Also, the APC, in a statement by its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, said Yorubas and indeed the nation at large had lost a father to all, elder statesman, welfarist and front line politician whose indelible strides would be forever remembered.
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu described Fasanmi as “a great nationalist, passionate leader and humility personified.”
Sanwo-Olu, in a condolence message by his Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile, said the death of the nonagenarian came at a critical period when his wealth of experience, knowledge and wisdom was most needed in Nigeria.