Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in a telephone interview, Oni said the demise of Adebayo signaled the end of a significant chapter in the history of the Nigerian Army in particular.
“Papa Adebayo was the oldest military officer in Nigeria and the last of the first nine officers appointed when the British Imperial Government began the process of Africanisation and Nigerianisation of the officer’s cadre.
“He was indeed a man of history with a chain of firsts in his military career. Until his death, he was the last man standing as he was the last to wear the Red Cap after the military coup of 29 July, 1966.
“Papa was a foremost elder statesman, a nationalist who gave his all to the service of the country and the Yoruba race with exceptional humility.
“He condescended to serve as Military Governor of the old Western Region after the July 1966 coup under a junior officer as Head of State for the love his people and the unity and stability of the country,’’ Oni, an APC chieftain, said.
He said that a tribute to late Adebayo could not but elicit heightened emotion as “he was a man of intimidating credentials, a man among men, a leader among leaders, a man of great stature that we are proud of.’’
“We have indeed lost a gem in Yorubaland, a voice of reason, a voice of wisdom, a rallying point who has left an eternal vacuum,’’ he added.
The APC in Ekiti also described the death of the former military governor of the old Western region as a great loss.
Chief Taiwo Olatubosun, the Publicity Secretary of the party, told NAN in Ado-Ekiti that the country had just lost a father.
“We have just lost one of the prominent nationalists, elder states man and father of all.
“This is one loss too many, honestly, there is no way we would not miss Baba, particularly for his fatherly role and at this crucial period of our national development.
“Baba administered the old Western region as a governor which comprises the South West states with many achievements and record-setting infrastructural development still being enjoyed today.
“Baba lived a fulfilled and accomplished life and that is the consolation we have to bid him farewell.
“We commiserate as a party with the Federal Republic of Nigeria, entire Yoruba race, Ekiti people and particularly, the family he left behind,’’ he said.
The Iyin-Ekiti born military governor died early on Wednesday in his sleep, only a day to his 89th birthday.