By Yinka Adeniran, Ibadan
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and the President, Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev Dr. Olasupo Ayokunle are among notable dignitaries who paid their last respect and eulogies a former General Secretary, Nigeria Baptist Convention, Dr. S.T Ola Akande as he was on Saturday laid to rest.
The dignitaries in their various tributes eulogised the exemplary and worthy life of the late religious leader, with all of them concluding that the revered cleric was an icon of the Christian faith all over the world.
They all spoke at the funeral service held at the Oritamefa Baptist Church, Total Garden, Ibadan.
Obasanjo described the deceased as a courageous and fearless preacher who never spare confronting any ill in government and in the society.
Particularly, the Ex-President said the late Baptist Pastor was well known for preaching against cultism, occults and all forms of secret societies which did not go down well with some notable individuals.
He recalled how the late Akande, as his home pastor at Owu Baptist Church – Abeokuta, from 1966 to1965 and Ebenezer Baptist Church – Lagos, between 1966 and 1969, became a friend and pastor he held in high esteem.
He reminded the congregation, the involvement of the deceased in the political life of Nigeria, saying that late Akande was a member of the Electoral Commission in 1965 who refused to be compromised.
Obasanjo said, “Late Akande also contested as a candidate in the presidential primaries of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC), in 1991; won at the old Oyo state level but lost at the national level.
“He will be remembered for his forthrightness, doggedness, dynamism, welfarism, anti-corruption, psychological, discourse, courage commitment to ethical values, uprightness, unwavering Christian testimony, and purposeful leadership.
“He brought a heavy dose of intellectual insight into his sermons which attracted a lot of academics and non-Baptists to Oritamefa Baptist Church, Ibadan, when he served there as Pastor.
“He was fearless, as he preached against cults and secret societies and did not spare confronting any I’ll in government and in the society.”
Obasanjo urged the deceased’s children to be comforted that their father left a good name and heritage.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented at the occasion by Pastor Seyi Malomo, said late Akande was an exemplary preacher whose selflessness and broad-mindedness should be emulated by all Christians.
Osinbajo recalled that the deceased, during his lifetime, provided the right leadership to the Nigerian Baptist denomination and ensured the fold remains as one spirit-filled family even after his retirement.
In his own remarks, CAN President, Dr. Samson Ayokunle, described late Akande as a man of many parts, who was a gifted, courageous and fearless preacher, “an astute and tireless pastor.
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“A forthright theologian, an able, accomplished administrator, a committed and uncompromising leader, and unwavering Christian gentleman.”
Ayokunle who doubles as the President of the Nigeria Baptist Convention (NBC) said late Akande served the Baptist communities in Nigeria from 1952, when he answered the call into the ministry, to his retirement from the office of the General Secretary of the NBC in 1991.
In his sermon; titled: Celebrating God’s Extraordinary Grace, at the funeral service, the CAN chairman, North Central, Rev Israel Akanji, said the late Akande was a product of God’s extraordinary grace, saying the grace the deceased received during his lifetime was not without effect.
According to Akanji, the effect of God’s extraordinary grace upon the deceased were the courage of Caleb, the leadership of Moses, the faith of Abraham, boldness/excellent spirit of Daniel, the wisdom of Solomon, the vision of Joseph, among others.
He called on the congregation to emulate the Godly lifestyle of the deceased.
Pa Akande who died on Sept 10, at his Ibadan residence, at the age of 94 years, was survived by his wife – Comfort Olalonpe, and five children.
Akande during his lifetime served in various leadership capacities in the Nigerian Baptist Convention, including the President and General Secretary. He was the third indigenous General Secretary of the Nigerian Baptist Convention.