Fasoranti’s life is proof that leaders can truly represent the people – VP Osinbajo

 

 

REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, ON THE OCCASION OF THE 94TH BIRTHDAY OF PA. REUBEN FASORANTI, ON THE 25TH OF SEPTEMBER, 2020.

It is a special pleasure and privilege to celebrate Papa’s birthday with you all today. Papa, your birthday is first an opportunity to thank God for preserving your life for close to a century, 94 years and also that you are hale and hearty to hear and see for yourself, how truly appreciated you are.  Truly the Lord is to be praised!

But perhaps more importantly, we are gathered to celebrate a life of significance and to reflect briefly on what that might mean today.

Papa represents a political tendency to which many of us here belong; that which was established by Papa Obafemi Awolowo, described by many as “progressivism” or progressive politics.

Being a part of the founding of the Action Group and the various other iterations of that idea, the Unity Party of Nigeria and the Alliance for Democracy, Papa has been in the forefront of propagating the idea, strategies and programmes which recognize that the Nigerian person is our nation’s most important resource.  That his or her physical, material, mental and societal welfare, must therefore be at the centre of all policies of the government.

In the result, the progressive tendency came to be expressed in the emphasis on free education, free universal healthcare, access to land and other forms of capital to own, to manage businesses, full employment and a robust social safety net for those without work or those who cannot work.

But Papa was not merely involved in formulating ideas and strategies, he also played the practical role of working out, how these egalitarian programmes were to be paid for when he served most creditably as Commissioner for Finance in the government of Papa Ajasin, in the old Ondo State.

But as we have seen in the chequered history of our nation, there is no shortage of those who espouse egalitarian ideas and claim that they are committed to serving the people, but it is at the point of the courage of one’s conviction, at the point of walking the talk, paying the price, demonstrating integrity, that the rubber truly hits the road.

Papa Reuben Fasoranti in all these years, through thick and thin, in tragedy and victory, has not only “maintained his calm”, to quote Prof Akintoye, but he has also maintained his integrity and commitment to his race, to our people and the nation.

The quintessential Omoluabi, faithful to his word, not just to friends, but also to adversaries. Everyone knows where he stands. This is why his life and times inspire hope about what is possible in our country, that it is possible for leaders to truly represent the people, that political office is a public trust, meaning that neither the opportunities nor the resources of the nation should be squandered or appropriated for personal purposes.

I am pleased that there is a clear plan to preserve a part of this incredible legacy by the establishment of the Reuben Fasoranti Centre for the Advancement of Democracy. This is a project that deserves the support of all us, individually and collectively.

Papa thank you for your life of exemplary public service and for the invaluable lessons that your existence has taught and will continue to teach.

We pray that you will live even longer in excellent health, peace and joy, and that the Nigeria of your dreams will emerge.

On behalf of the President and the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I wish you a happy 94th Birthday!