Eminent Nigerians have risen in a chorus of tributes as they mourn the death of Nigerian civil war hero, General Benjamin Adekunle, which occurred on Saturday.
From Aso Rock comes the message that President Goodluck Jonathan joins the family of the deceased and other Nigerians in mourning the very courageous soldier who achieved national fame during the Nigerian civil war for his gallant leadership of the 3rd Marine Commandoes in the successful effort to defend the unity and territorial integrity of the country.
A statement signed by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, said “Jonathan believes that General Adekunle’s civil war heroics, which made him easily one of the most celebrated military commanders of his generation, have ensured that he will always be honoured and remembered as a valiant soldier who served his fatherland exceptionally well at a very trying time in its history.
“As the Black Scorpion’s soul returns to the Almighty Creator, President Jonathan enjoins his family, friends, former military colleagues and all who mourn his passing to also give thanks to God for blessing the nation with fearless soldiers and patriots of his calibre who stand ready to lay down their lives for the peace, unity and progress of their country.”
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo believes Adekunle’s exit would leave a vacuum very difficult to fill.
Obasanjo who described Adekunle as a “friend, colleague and course mate,” said his contribution during the nation’s three years civil war was a no mean effort, which would also be remembered for long a time.
In a statement on Saturday by the former President who also witnessed the surrender of Biafran soldiers to the Federal troops, signalling the end of the war, he said Adekunle achieved much while they were both undergoing a military course in Ghana.
The statement reads in parts: “I received with shock the news of the death of my colleague, friend and course mate, Gen. Benjamin Adekunle today. I can recall with profound memories what he was able to achieve as a course mate at Teshi, Accra Ghana.
“The late retired General made a no mean contribution for the Nigerian civil war. His efforts would be forever remembered and May his soul rest in peace. I am very shocked about by this news today.
“His vacuum will be difficult to fill in the family, but, I pray for them to have the fortitude to bear this loss.”
National leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu, described Adekunle as a man of valour and unimaginable bravery.
“The Generalissimo has fallen. The Great General Benjamin Adekunle (Rtd.) has left this world and his departure saddens me greatly.
“The Civil War Hero was a Soldier’s Soldier. He was a man of valour and unimaginable bravery. Lion-hearted and a leader of men. He served his Fatherland devotedly and without question when we most needed him.
“Like most great men, he was greatly misunderstood. His flamboyant and outspoken nature made him a colourful character. However, that never stopped him from emerging as one of the most remarkable icons in Nigeria’s military history.”
The former Lagos Governor added: “Of all of Gen. Adekunle’s qualities, it is his loyalty to the flag that I most admire. He was a worthy ambassador of his people and a great example in service. He led from the front.”
Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, also described the passing away of the civil war hero as a monumental loss to the country.
He stated this in a statement issued in Ibadan on by his Special Adviser on Media, Dr. Festus Adedayo.
“Although Gen. Adekunle had for some time now been facing some health challenges, his death at this material time when the country is passing through difficult times, in terms of security and national cohesion, is tragic and shocking,” Ajimobi said.
The Governor described the late General as a fine officer-gentleman, a nationalist and patriotic Nigerian who exploited his military expertise to rescue Nigeria from the brink of precipice and ensured that the country remained one indivisible entity.
“Gen. Adekunle served the Nigerian Army with all his might and he was equally celebrated but never compromised on the need to end the agonizing civil war and bring peace back to the country.”
In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Media, Mrs. Olufunmilayo Wakama, Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, said he was greatly saddened by the news of the death of the war veteran.
“This is so sad. Black Scorpion, as he was fondly called, played a significant role in the unity and search for peace in our country as he fought gallantly in the Nigerian civil war, principally to preserve its sanctity as a leader the 3rd Marine Commando.
“History has recorded him well. His name cannot be easily forgotten in the history of modern day Nigeria,” the governor said.
Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, in a statement by the Director, Bureau of Communication and Strategy, Semiu Okanlawon, said the death of Benjamin Adekunle has closed a long chapter in the history of the nation as it relates to the Nigerian civil war.
Aregbesola said Adekunle played a crucial role in the war that almost liquidated the Nigerian nationhood.
He noted that irrespective of what some people might believe or not believe about the deceased, Adekunle played a vital role in making sure Nigeria remained a united country.