"It is a tragic and monumental loss. The likes of him don't come along every day. What is remarkable is that he seems to have foreseen his death," Dr. Ogaga Ifowodo said.
Tears flowed freely as hundreds of mourners on Wednesday gathered at the Unity Fountain in Abuja to extol the virtues of the late Pius Adesanmi, the renowned Nigerian writer, who was one of the victims of the ill-fated Ethiopian Airlines plane crash that occurred last Sunday.
A candlelight gathering was organised by friends of the deceased, and was attended by Nigerians from all walks of life, including Senate President Bukola Saraki.
The mourners were clad in customised black T-Shirts on which was printed the portrait of the deceased.
Sam Amadi, a human rights lawyer and activist, referred to Adesanmi as worthy to be celebrated, noting that he lived an exemplary life.
He added that Adesanmi's statement of writing for archaeology is an indictment against all Nigerians, adding that Adesanmi must have been disappointed with what he called the “psychology of slavery”. Describing Adesanmi as both optimistic and pessimistic, he said he was an intellectual culture critic, who spoke the truth with a kind heart.
"He was thoroughly intellectual and thoroughly practical. Like Gani said before he died that ‘Nigerians will know my worth when I die’, I think we will know more of Pius now that he is no more," Amadi said.
In his remarks, Dr. Ogaga Ifowodo described him as extraordinary, exemplary and consummate author and critic, who put his knowledge at the service of Nigeria and the world of humanity.
"It is a tragic and monumental loss. The likes of him don't come along every day. What is remarkable is that he seems to have foreseen his death. At this point, those who pay attention to social media would have seen on the eve of that ill-fated flight that he posted Psalm 139: 9-10. The only thing we can say for the likes of him is that they come, they lend us their brilliance and unmatchable things they possess for a brief, while they illuminate our lives and they depart because their work is done,” he said.
Adesanmi had posted a Bible verse on his social media platform before he embarked on the journey which read: "If I take the wings of the morning, dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hands shall lead me and your right hand shall hold me.”
On his part, Saraki said: "I find out that he comes from Kogi, which was at one time part of Kwara. He studied at the University of Ilorin and I decided to come here and join others to pay tribute to him. As I was leaving my house, somebody said ‘Sir, did you know that he was very critical of you?’ And I said he was talented to air his views. We are not enemies but we shared different views and we must appreciate his talents. He had his views; he had his wish about some of us. We can learn from those things and that is why I have come here to also join in paying tribute."
Aisha Yesufu, Co-Convener of BringBackOurGirls, said Adesanmi fought for the emancipation of Nigerians citizens through his works. She also noted that the office of the citizens is the highest in the land and there is need to use the power of that office for the good of the nation.
Also present at the event were Senator Dino Melaye, human right activists, writers, civil society organisations, journalists and well wishers.