President Bola Tinubu, President of the Senate Goodwill Akpabio and Speaker House of Representative Tajudeen Abass took turns on Wednesday to eulogise Chief Bisi Akande on his 85th birthday celebration.
Akande, who was the pioneer chairman of the All Progressive Congress [APC] and former governor of Osun state, was celebrated at a dinner in his honour by Tinubu in Abuja on Tuesday.
Tinubu described Akande as a worthy friend who stood by him in a personal and political sphere of life.
He said that the wise counsel and patience of the celebrant laid a solid foundation on which the APC was built.
”He is a great man of integrity, honesty, kindness and commitment to humanity. He facilitated the coming together of parties that formed the APC with his strong management of men and resources.
”Those who we thought we cannot go along with or trust to play politics were all brought together by Chief Bisi Akande. He always says forget about the past and move forward.
”Today, I stand before you as the President and I am moving forward in making Nigeria great as we envisaged those days when we spoke truth to power. I thank you very much for being a reliable ally,” he said.
First Lady Oluremi Tinubu also thanked Akande for being a confidant that stood behind her husband during the journey to the top.
”You know it is lonely during the journey to the top; my husband was lonely at some period. Baba, you provided for him the comfort that was sorely needed in those times. When I see you with my husband, I feel at ease and know that the destination reached today is worthy,” she said.
Akpabio also said that Akande belong to the generation that inspire nationalism, steadfastness and loyalty in politics, adding that his sacrifice was the result of the APC defeating a ruling party.
He said that the sacrifice of Akande led to his serving only a term in office because some persons in the country were afraid of his strong character of integrity and uprightness.
Abass commended Akande for being a rallying point for democrats in the country, stressing that the members of the House would continue to uphold his advocacy for education for Nigerians.
The elated celebrant thanked everyone for the honour done to him for gathering to celebrate him.
”It has become a tradition now for the President to surprise me with a birthday celebration. He did it when I was 70, when I became 80 and now at 85.
”I always like doing this with my people in the village, but I cannot say no to the President for so honouring me. I’ll still return and celebrate with my people after the Abuja ceremony,” he said.
Other well wishers at the event include Gov. Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa state, Minister of Solid Minerals Dele Alake and Malam Nasir el-Rufai, former Kaduna state governor.
The event was attended by APC governors, members of the Senate and House of Representatives, top government functionaries as well as family members of the celebrant.[NAN]