Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, stood still as the remains of the Secretary-General ,Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, Alhaji, Abdul Lateef Adegbite, were interred, yesterday.
Adegbite passed on, on Friday.
Present at the interment of the Baba Adinni and Seriki of Egbaland, who died at the age of 79, were former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former Head of Interim Government, Chief Ernest Sonekan; the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar; and governors of Ogun and Lagos states, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and Mr Raji Fashola respectively.
Others were two ex-governors of Ogun State,Aremo Olusegun Osoba and Otunba Gbenga Daniel; Baba Adinni of Yorubaland, Alhaji Arisekola Alao; and the Imams from all the South west states.
Adegbite, whose body was committed to mother earth at about 4 p.m., was described by the Muslim leader in South West, Alhaji Daud Noibi, as a complete believer in Allah.
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in his tribute, described Adegbite as a bridge-builder who reached across ethnic and religious divides to promote peace and unity in the country.
The President said, “Dr. Adegbite’s tenure as the Secretary-General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) would forever be remembered for fostering peace and unity among religious groups in the country and for his moderating influence.”
From right, Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar; Chief Ernest Shonekan, former Head of Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan; former President Olusegun Obasanjo; Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State; Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola and Aremo Olusegun Osoba during the burial Alhaji Lateef Adegbite,yesterday.
In his own tribute, the Sultan of Sokoto said:” I cannot find words to express how I feel about his death.
”I have worked with Baba Adinni for six years. He worked for Allah passionately.” Obasanjo said: “Some of us who know him know that he was doing social service within Egba, Ogun, Nigeria and beyond.
“He has left a good legacy and we are looking for the replacement of Adegbite in Egba”.
A former military governor of the defunct Western State, Brig-General, Oluwole Rotimi, said,” Adegbite was a great man we met in college in 1950. ”When I became military governor, I made him my commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs and attorney-general and he did well.
"Lateef’s voice was the government’s voice”. Amosun described the death of the NSCIA scribe as a great loss,urging his children to uphold their father’s legacy.
Fashola described Adegbite’s death as painful and a great loss to the nation.
According to him, “the late Seriki-Adinni of Egbaland was an apostle of peaceful co-existence whose religious convictions were not in doubt but who nonetheless epitomized the peaceful essence of the Islamic religion till be breathed his last.”
Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, described Adegbite’s death as very sad and shocking. The governor regretted that the country has lost a bridge builder between the North and South who worked tirelessly for the unity and progress of the country.
In a condolence message by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Yinka Oyebode, he said Adegbite’s death has created a vacuum among the Muslim Ummah which will be difficult to fill.
Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State said the death of the NSCIA scribe was a national loss.
In a statement in Akure, Mimiko said Adegbite during his life time played well his leadership role an Islamic scholar and Nigerian leader, adding that his role in ensuring Nigerians continue to live as one irrespective of religious differences cannot be over emphasised.
Arewa Consultative Forum said it received the news of Adegbite’s death with heavy heart.
“Dr Adegbite died preaching religious tolerance and co-existence because he was a true and strong believer in one united Nigeria inhabited by people who are socially diverse, economically empowered and politically active”, the group said.
A former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Prince Bola Ajibola, described the news of Adegbite’s demise as a rude shock.
Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola said Adegbite served the country meritoriously.
The governor, who spoke through his Special Adviser, Media and Communications, Alhaji Semiu Okanlawon, said: “His death is a big loss to the country. Dr. Lateef Adegbite served this country meritoriously. He was a role model, a source of inspiration to the younger generation and his life was worthy of emulation”.
A former Deputy Governor of Ogun State and serving Senator representing Ogun East, Senator Sefiu Gbenga Kaka, said, “Dr. Adegbite was an embodiment of respect who had served Nigeria diligently.”
He instituted the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) over 60 years ago. Although we did not know him at that time but we were hearing his name and were trying hard to emulate him”.