31st July, 2020
By Tayo Ogunbiyi
The tough certainty of death as the expected end of every mortal was succinctly driven home by Williams Shakespeare in one of his enduring works, ‘Julius Ceaser’, in the following words: “Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, It seems to me most strange that men should fear; seeing that death, a necessary end, Will come when it will come”.
Death is certainly an integral part of human existence. Either by spiritual insight or medical diagnosis some know ahead of time about the imminence of their death. But for others, deaths come so suddenly, tragically and at times so painfully.
This same death, which Shakespeare describes as a necessary evil, finally caught up with Pa Ayo Fasanmi on Thursday, July 30, 2020 at the age of 94.
An elder statesman and leader of Yoruba socio-cultural group Afenifere, Pa Fasanmi was a great nationalist, visionary leader and a great pillar of democracy in the country.
His death has since been variously described as a great loss not only to the South-West but the country as a whole. He was a dedicated Nigerian with massive contributions to the socio-political development of the country.
The departed illustrious elder statesman was a constant source of support and inspiration to contemporary political leaders across the country. He was always willing to offer his wise counsels and experience whenever the need arises. That is the exact reason why he would be sorely missed.
What is, however, soothing is that Pa Fasanmi passed away at a ripe age, having served God and humanity in various capacities and fields. A progressive politician and rare humanist, Pa Fasanmi touched and transformed several lives through his life of selfless service and industry. He was a symbol of decency, humility and integrity. His life epitomised the virtues of honesty, fairness and justice.
He was an exemplary leader who spent the greater part of his life in the service of humanity, particularly the Yoruba nation where he contributed to the development of the region. A vastly experienced political leader, he contributed immensely to the development of the South West region in particular and the nation in general.
Pa Fasanmi served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Old Western Nigeria Housing Corporation. He was National President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria in 1977, elected into the Senate in 1979, and became a member of the House of Representatives in 1983. He also served as a member of the National Constitutional Conference Commission in 1994.
Pa Fasanmi was indeed an icon with indelible contributions to the socio-political evolvement of Nigeria and the Yoruba race. He will surely be missed. A core disciple of the iconic Yoruba leader, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Pa Fasanmi was an untiring advocate of a united Nigeria.
He was never one to stand in support of falsehood. Throughout his political, Pa Fasanmi was always on the side of justice, fair play and transparency. In a society where people do all sort of things to acquire wealth and fame, it is amazing that the late Senator opted to be different. As we continue the process of nation building, we could draw vital lessons from the life and time of this illustrious patriot by daring to be different and endeavouring to stand by the side of truth and justice at all times.
One vital lesson that we need to really draw from the commitment and dedication of the departed to the cause of the downtrodden is that whatever man does in life lives after him. Though the passionate leader is no more, but he will be remembered forever by the lives that he touched. He could have closed his eyes to the plight of the poor but he did not because he had a divine understanding of the true purpose of life. The life he lived actually brings to mind the following philosophical words of Albert Pike: “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” How apt!
The true purpose of life, according to Martins Luther King, is not in the number of mansions one has but in the number of lives one is able to touch. It is this respect that one could actually say that Pa Fasanmi came, saw and conquered.
No doubt, the demise of the leader of Egbe Ilosiwaju Yoruba came at a critical period when his wealth of experience, vast knowledge and elderly insight was most needed in Nigeria. But then, having played his part in the stage of life, one could only wish him eternal peace at the bosom of the Lord. Rest in Peace, Pa Ayo Fasanmi.
-Ogunbiyi is of the Lagos State Ministry of Information & strategy, Alausa, Ikeja