Tinubu hails Akande as trusted, progressive ally

Former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on Friday congratulated former Interim Chairman of  the All Progressives Congress, Chief Bisi Akande, as he turned 82 years.

Tinubu described the former governor of Osun State as a principled and perspective leader.

He said he would not be where he is at present without the help and support of the octogenarian.

Tinubu, in a tribute through his media office, commended Akande for his “outstanding contributions to democratic governance and to the progressive cause in Nigeria.”

He said: “Characteristic of this selfless man is his enlightened decision not so much to focus on himself this special day but to call each of us to pray for national healing so that Nigeria and Nigerians can overcome harmful consequences visited upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A committed democrat and a prudent yet compassionate leader of men, Chief Akande has done much for this country and for the progressive family.

“In addition to his able stewardship of Osun State, he has been a chief architect of our nation’s progressive political parties.

“In addition to his roles in the AD and ACN, he played a seminal role in the foundation of the APC.

“He is truly to be considered one of the few founding fathers of the APC.

“His deft and diplomatic performance as interim chairman of the APC confirmed that Chief Akande is one of our nation’s leading statesmen.

“Since Baba enlisted in the Action Group in the First Republic to support the progressive ideals of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, he has not looked back.

“He stands today even  more committed to those vital and necessary ideals.

“Like Chief Awolowo, he has devoted his public life to engendering a truly democratic, just and egalitarian society where all people are given the opportunity to attain a happy and prosperous life and no one is condemned to do without the basic necessities that a modern and compassionate society should afford its citizenry.

“Just as Chief Awolowo did for him, Chief Akande has been a father figure and engaging helpful mentor to younger politicians across the country, particularly in the South-West.

“He is a consummate teacher, tolerant and cosmopolitan in outlook, and an excellent human being, helpful and charitable to all, no matter their station in life.

“Because of his traits as an exemplary leader and mentor, many call him Baba awon omo ke ke ke, meaning the political father of the younger ones.

“Baba is a highly principled, thoughtful leader. He has been a close friend and advisor through the years. I cannot thank him enough.

“I would not be where I am now without the help and support he has given.

“Many countless other people will affirm that he has had the same positive effect in their lives as he has in mine. Chief Akande personifies the best traits of this nation.

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The Commander, U.S. Africa Command, U General Stephen Townsend, wrapped up a three-day West African visit February 22-25, 2021, with a stopover in Nigeria to meet with the nation’s leaders and further the long-standing partnership and security cooperation between the two countries.

A press statement by the Embassy on Friday, said: “During the visit, Townsend met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue operation last year.

“When we asked for their help, the Nigerian government answered the call. Our hostage recovery mission in October would have been impossible without their support.

“They quickly provided assistance that helped the U.S. military to save an American life. That is a strong example of our partnership with Nigeria.”

Townsend also met with senior military officials, including the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magash, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, to talk about on-going cooperation in the region and greater maritime security and threat mitigation.

Nigeria is a key partner in countering violent extremist organizations throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

Townsend said furthermore: “The bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. is built on several pillars including security cooperation.

“U.S. Africa Command will do our part to advance the security cooperation pillar, so that Nigerians can enjoy the more secure future they all deserve.”

As close partners, the U.S. and Nigeria have worked at ensuring the collaborative relationship continues to grow to include a commitment to interoperability. Nigeria purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, which will be delivered later this year.

“Nigeria’s purchase of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is another example of their commitment to interoperability and security in the region,” he added. “Our economic relationship with Nigeria is already strong, and we look forward to the continued strengthening of security relationships. Nigeria’s leaders understand the importance of a collaborative approach to ensuring stability in West Africa and partnering on areas of mutual interest.”

The Commander also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

Leonard said: “General Townsend’s visit to Nigeria demonstrates the strategic importance the United States places on our bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

“Our security cooperation partnership with Nigeria’s military will strengthen the country’s capabilities to secure land and sea borders, enhance overall security, and combat terrorism in the North East.”

As part of the visit, Townsend participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives in the service of their nation.

During the visit, the delegation expressed their condolences for the seven service men killed in the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Abuja.