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Monday, January 1st, 2024

It is hard to believe another year has rolled by so quickly. We would all have experienced the year differently, but it can be agreed that January-December feels like just flipping a page – one second you are here and the next you are there. For the past three weeks I have battled a bad cold and cough that I picked up on one of my travels. It helped that I have been able to stay in the same place for the past two weeks, trying to rest and allow my rebellious body settle its quarrel with me. Not being well did not get in the way of having to attend to my many obligations, particularly during this festive period, but I am not complaining, instead I am thankful.

Just as I was looking forward to a joyful end of year, there was the news of the passing of late Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (Arakunrin) of Ondo State. The transition of this great man did not come as a shock because he had been ailing for a while. It however did not make the news any less painful. Arakunrin, as he was fondly called, was larger than life. An accomplished legal professional, a fearless politician, a selfless community leader, a devoted family man and a loyal friend, Governor Aketi lived a full and impactful life. Even though he was only 67, he managed to pack two lifetimes into one. My husband and I had a relationship with Arakunrin that transcended the usual ties you develop with political acquaintances who might or might not evolve into friends. Arakunrin was a true friend and a brother for all seasons as he once described my husband. One of his legacies will be the way in which he rose to the occasion as Chairman of the South West Governors’ Forum and subsequently Southern Governors Forum, to demand an end to the serious security challenges the South was facing. He became a sensation with his fearless speeches, often laced with humour with some singing and dancing thrown in, but he never left anyone in doubt about how passionate and serious he was about the issues he was raising.

Governor Aketi was a Life Senior Fellow and Patron of the Kegites Club. During his time at the Kegites Club at the then University of Ife, Aketi was the ‘Songito’, the lead singer. He had left Ife long before I became a student and joined the Kegites Club, but his fame lived on. His younger brother Kola Akeredolu also had a great voice and was the ‘Songito’ of his set, and whenever we praised Kola’s singing, we would be told, ‘his older brother is even better’. It was hard to believe that anyone could be better than Kola, so I always had this image in my mind of a great and talented man, and when I met Aketi senior years later, I was not disappointed. Our membership of and love for the Kegites club was a bond that we shared and which he took great pride in talking about at every opportunity. I will always remember Arakunrin for his humanity, warmth, keen sense of humour and clarity of thought. 

There will be uncountable tributes to this great man in the weeks to come, and it is hoped that they will be as inspirational as the man they intend to celebrate. I am appalled at the way in which social media now provides cover for those who never learnt (or were taught but refused to understand) that you do not speak ill of the dead. I cringe whenever I see the words, ‘vanity upon vanity’ whenever a transition has been announced. What does this mean, do we use these words to mock the dead because they are unfortunate enough to no longer be in our midst to drive their big cars and enjoy their mansions? Who are we to make fun of the dead?

 In 2020, I wrote the essay, ‘Memories of the Living’ when the late Mallam Aba Kyari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammed Buhari passed away. This is an excerpt, ‘It really does not matter what we think of the dead or living. In my opinion what should matter is that they did their bit. They lived their lives, made choices good or bad, and left legacies for better or worse. I believe that one of the reasons why we do not speak ill of the dead is because when they pass on, they are supposed to be beyond our judgement or reproach. They have transcended into entities that can only be held accountable by whatever creator they believe in. Every time we are tempted to engage in judgement of the dead, we should remember that our own day of judgement will be upon us. Call me old school, but this is one core value that we should not give up on. There are things we can do when a public figure passes away. We can either express our condolences or simply keep quiet. We should not be found running negative commentaries on people who are no longer around to defend themselves’.

As this year draws to an end, we will see the beginnings of a new year, full of dreams, hopes and aspirations. With the passing of Arakunrin, his work on earth has ended, but it should be the beginning for many more Arakunrins to come – public servants who will serve their people tirelessly and fearlessly. God-fearing citizens who will rise above all obstacles thrown in their way to leave an enduring legacy. My deepest condolences to his wife Chief Betty Anyawu-Akeredolu, the children, grandchildren, siblings, other family members, his political family at home and abroad, and the government and people of Ondo State.

Arakunrin, rest in peace. May you walk and never stumble and may your calabash always be full. You will be forever Karid.

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Development Practitioner, Policy Advocate and Writer. She is the Founder of, an online community for women. She can be reached at

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