Rotimi Agboluaje, Ibadan
Following the Oyo state government’s initiative to immortalize late General Aguiyi Ironsi and Col. Adekunle Fajuyi with a Memorial Park and Garden at Lalupon Area of the State, the Nigerian Army, Ironsi family, Fajuyi Foundation, Oyo State House of Assembly and the Lalupon community have lauded the Oyo State Government for its efforts which they described as one that will not only sustain the heritage but encourage patriotism among the people.
Speaking during the working visit and post site clearing inspection of the proposed Ironsi – Fajuyi Memorial Park and Garden, which is going to serve as a tourist center, on Tuesday, they noted that developing the assassination site of the two martyrs killed by counter coup plotters on July 29 1966 during Nigeria’s first military coup is a way of immortalizing them and promoting gallantry, loyalty, trust and unity amongst Nigerians.
The Nigerian Army, who was represented by Gen. Gabriel Ochigagno, the Engineer Brigade Command, Mokola Barracks, lauded the Oyo State Government for recognizing and celebrating the patriotism tenets of the Military, promising that the Military will not stop to uphold the ideals of the martyrs.
Speaking on behalf of the State House of Assembly, the House Committee Chairman on Information and Culture, Hon. Joshua Oyebamiji, who was supported by Committee Chairman on Tourism, Hon. Niyi Adeoye and Chairman, House Committee on Solid Minerals, Hon. Jimoh Akintunde, promised that the house would support the project with relevant legislations whenever the need arises.
Hon. Oyebamiji described the event as historic, stressing that the project will bring developmental projects to the community.
Representing the Ironsi family, the son of the late Aguiyi Ironsi and former Minister of State for Defense, Amb. Thomas Agunyi-Ironsi, thanked the State government for recognizing the gallant strides of the late administrators to the country, pledging that the Aguyi-Ironsi family will support the laudable project to promote inter-tribal unity in the country.
Amb. Aguiyi-Ironsi, then a 13year-old boy, who recalled events leading his father’s assassination alongside his host, Fajuyi, said “I was with my father that fateful day when he was forcefully taken away. I was a 13year-old boy then. Today’s event is historic for so many reasons. But above all, the two of them were gallant heroes who laid down their lives for the unity of this nation.”
He lauded Governor Abiola Ajimobi and the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Toye Arulogun for their ingenuity to site a tourist attraction site at the spot where the gallant soldiers were killed, noting that the project is not only important for the present generation, but for the coming generation, which will lend to the historical treasure of the nation.
The Secretary Fajuyi Foundation, Agbaakin Lekan Alabi commended the government for bringing Lalupon community to limelight, stressing that the project will not allow the efforts of the past heroes to be in vain.
In his opening remarks, the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Toye Arulogun assured that the state government would leave no stone unturned to ensure the immortalization of the two martyrs, late Gen. Agunyi-Ironsi and Col. Adekunle Fajuyi.
He said that the state government initiated the process that will turn the spot where they were assassinated to a tourist site because of its historical significance and peculiar circumstances, which led to their death.
“We are here today to celebrate the unity of Nigeria where a Yoruba man laid his life for an Ibo man. We are here to celebrate bravery in the military and beam the search light on Lalupon and its people, because we know Lalupon deserves recognition in Nigeria,” Arulogun noted.
Also speaking on behalf of Lalupo Community, the Chairman, Community Development Association, Prince Oribayo Okeyode assured the State government that the indigenes of the community will lend their unalloyed support to ensure the realization of the project.