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 respects to 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, praised 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.
They all spoke at the funeral service which was held at the Oritamefa Baptist Church, Total Garden, Ibadan.
Obasanjo described the deceased as a courageous and fearless preacher who never spared confronting ills in government and in the society.
The ex-President said the late Baptist pastor was well known for preaching against all forms of secret societies which did not go down well with some notable individuals.
He recalled how the late Akande, as his pastor at Owu Baptist Church, Abeokuta, from 1966 to 1965, 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 the late Akande was a member of the electoral commission in 1965 who refused to be compromised.
Obassanjo said: “The late Akande also contested as a candidate in the presidential primaries of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in 1991. He 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, courage, committment 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 a pastor.
“He was fearless as he preached against secret societies and did not spare confronting any ill 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 on the occasion by Pastor Seyi Malomo, said the late Akande was an exemplary preacher whose selflessness and broad-mindedness should be emulated by all Christians.
Osinbajo recalled that the deceased, during his life time, provided the right leadership to the Nigerian Baptist denomination and ensured the fold remained as one spirit-filled family even after his retirement.
In his own remarks, Ayokunle, described the late Akande as a gifted and fearless preacher and an astute and tireless pastor.
“He was a forthright theologian, an able, accomplished administrator, a committed and uncompromising leader and unwavering Christian gentleman,”he said.
Ayokunle, who doubles as the President of the Nigeria Baptist Convention (NBC), said the 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’, 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 life time was not without effect.
According to Akanji, the effects of God’s extraordinary grace upon the deceased were courage of Caleb, leadership of Moses, faith of Abraham, boldness and excellent spirit of Daniel, the wisdom of Solomon, vision of Joseph, among others.
He called on the congregation to emulate the Godly lifestyle of the deceased.
Pa Akande, who died on September 10 at his Ibadan residence at the age of 94 years, was survived by his wife, Comfort Olalonpe, and five children.
Akande, during his life time, 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.