By Valentine Amanze
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, and former president Olusegun Obasanjo on Sunday December 26, 2021, joined other world leaders to mourn the passing away of the cleric and freedom fighter, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu at the age of 90.
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the passing of the outspoken Nobel Peace Prize laureate and anti-apartheid veteran.
He described his death as another chapter “of bereavement in the nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans, who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa”.
President Buhari and Chief Obasanjo, in separate statements, described the late archbishop as a famous cleric, who never shied away from confronting global and South Africa’s shortcomings and injustices.
Also, the African National Congress (ANC) Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, former U.S. President and Nobel Peace laureate Jimmy Carter; British Prime Minister Boris Johnson; India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi; Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema; Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, are among the world leaders who mourned Tutu’s passage.
Buhari, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, also commiserated with his South African counterpart, the Tutu family, especially his spouse, Mrs. Leah Tutu, and South Africans over the passage of the global hero.
Buhari assured that the contributions of the late archbishop’s contributions to humanity, recorded through his voice, writings and activities would resonate over generations.
The full statement: “On behalf of government and people of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari condoles with President Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africans and the global Christian body, particularly Anglican Communion, over passing of Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu, 90, on Sunday, December 26, 2021.
“President Buhari believes the death of the iconic teacher, human rights activist, leader of thought, scholar and philanthropist, further creates a void in a world in dire need of wisdom, integrity, courage and sound reasoning, which were qualities that the Nobel Peace Prize Winner, 1984, typified and exemplified in words and actions.
“As a South African, global citizen and renowned world leader, the President affirms that the historic role Archbishop Tutu played in the fight against apartheid, enduring physical assaults, jail terms and prolonged exile, took him beyond the pulpit to global, political relevance, and his position, under President Nelson Mandela, in heading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission provided healing and direction for his country and the world.”
In a condolence letter to Ramaphosa, Obasanjo recalled the role played by the late Tutu in getting Nigeria’s debt cancelled.
Obasanjo said: “Over the years, Reverend Tutu had shown focused, credible, bold, sensitive and purposeful leadership not just to members of the Anglican Church, but to all Christians.”
The letter, which was released to the media by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, added: “Tutu had been part of building and strengthening the Anglican Church, and its eminent place in the Church system in South Africa today is not unrelated to his selfless service and leadership”.
On Nigeria’s debt cancellation, Obasanjo said that he acknowledged late Tutu’s “uncommon solidarity and the deep passion with which he had argued Nigeria’s case for full debt cancellation by the contents of his letter to Mr. Gordon Brown, the then UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, during my administration as the President of Nigeria.
“This heroic advocacy effort of his with respect to Nigeria’s indebtedness to the Paris Club on behalf of Nigeria was very much in his character.”