Thomas, a son of a former Nigerian Head of State, Maj. Gen. Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, has commended Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State for turning the scene, where his father and a former Governor of the Western Region, Lieutenant-Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi, were killed in the 1966 counter-coup into a park.
Aguiyi-Ironsi was in Ibadan on July 28, 1966 to address a conference of traditional rulers of Western Nigeria when he was assassinated with his host, Fajuyi.
The state Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Toye Arulogun, visited the scene where Aguiyi-Ironsi and Fajuyi were killed on Tuesday, saying that the state government was committed to turning it into a tourist centre.
Aguiyi-Ironsi’s son promised that the family would collaborate with the government by inviting investors to support the project.
The scion of the Ironsi family, who at the time of his father’s assassination was 13 years old, said, “I was with my father that fateful day when he was forcefully taken away. I was a 13-year-old 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.”
The Agba Akin Olubadan of Ibadanland, Chief Lekan Alabi, who stood in for the Fajuyi’s family, also recalled how the martyrs were murdered in cold blood, adding that the development highlighted the essence of Fajuyi’s philosophy about life.
Alabi said Fajuyi’s philosophy of life centred on love, trust, integrity, honour and loyalty. He described Fajuyi as a noble man with the rare qualities of the Yoruba.
The commissioner said the history of Nigeria would not be complete without Lalupon where both men were assassinated, stressing that the tourist centre would be a national park that would attract tourists from across the world.
Among the dignitaries at the event were the Chairman, Oyo State House of Assembly Committee on Information and Culture, Joshua Oyebamiji; the representative of the GOC 2 Division, Gabriel Ochinbango; and the representative of the Director General, National Museum and Monuments, Dr Amos Olorunnipa.