Detail of circumstances that led to the sudden death of a former Oyo State governor, Chief Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala, has been exclusively obtained by FirstNews.
A top family source disclosed that Alao-Akala slumped and died while in the bathroom, in the early hours of Wednesday.
He was aged 71.
The source, who preferred anonymity owing to the sensitivity of the issue, said the affable former governor and retired Assistant Commissioner of Police did not show signs of ailment, before the tragic incident.
The source noted that Alao-Akala would most probably have slipped in the bath-tub and hit his head against a hard object, which impacted badly.
According to him, he could not get help early enough as nobody suspected anything untoward or heard any noise.
“I must confess to you that Uncle Bayo (Alao-Akala) did not show any sign of sickness as he was his bubbly self, playing with all and sundry.
“He was in Abuja at the weekend where he attended the wedding of a relation, following which he returned to Ogbomoso (his country home) on Tuesday.
“We all watched the Nigeria-Egypt football match together where Uncle Bayo leapt up and danced and hugged everyone when Ihaenacho scored for Nigeria.
“So early this morning (Wednesday), he went to take his bath to set out for Ibadan to meet his wife.
“It was after he had quite unusually spent about one hour in the bathroom that people in the house went and botched the door open, only to meet his lifeless body in the bath-tub,” the family source revealed, amid sobs.
Particularly devastated at the death is a nephew to Alao-Akala, Mr. Adebowale Adeniyi, who wept profusely, saying the deceased ex-governor had been programmed to play an active role, “both financially and materially”, in the burial ceremony for his late father, coming up next month.
“So where do I go from here?”, a visibly shaken Adeniyi asked, rhetorically.
Meanwhile, eminent Nigerians have been reacting to the sudden passage of Alao-Akala.
Leading the mourners is President Muhammadu Buhari, who said the late Alao-Akala served with dedication, making very important contributions to the development of institutions and communities.
Alao-Akala served as deputy governor before becoming governor of Oyo State.
Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina said in a statement on Wednesday, that the President commiserated with the Alao-Akala family, the government and people of Oyo State over the former governor’s passing.
“As a former police officer and civilian governor with an extensive political career, the President affirms that Otunba Akala served the country and the people of Oyo State with dedication, making very important contributions to the development of institutions and communities.
“The President trusts that family, friends and associates who mourn the late governor, will honour his vision of entrenching good governance in the country and passion to lift the downtrodden in the society.
“The President prays God Almighty to grant the departed eternal rest and comfort those who mourn.”
In the same vein, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed shock at the death.
Obasanjo disclosed that the vacuum left with the exit of the former Oyo governor would be difficult to fill, urging his admirers to hold to their faith in Almighty Creator in the present situation.
In a condolence letter to the Head of Akala Family in Ibadan, Obasanjo, remarked that the death, “is, indeed, a grievous loss to the entire members of his family, his friends and associates, Oyo State and indeed, the entire nation.”
In the letter, which was made available to newsmen in Abeokuta by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, the former President said, “Otunba Alao-Akala was an outstanding Nigerian and leader who contributed immensely to the development and stability of Oyo State and Nigeria as a whole.
“As an amiable cop, he transcended the narrow precincts of what used to be cultural limitation to tower over his peers.
“From a distinguished career of a crime buster, he straddled the ‘Pacesetter State’ like a colossus. His humble career as a policeman did not stymie his ascendancy to the height of a Governor and unprecedentedly crowned him as a high achieving Deputy Governor, who became an Acting Governor and later Governor.
“There seemed to be nothing stopping the effervescent enigma. His politics had been that of a thorough bred statesman, determined to make the critical difference in the lives of the people he led and he succeeded in building confidence across a wide spectrum of the social strata and validated the mandate bestowed on him as the Executive Governor of Oyo State.
“Indeed, the vacuum created by his death would undoubtedly be difficult to fill. I assure you that we all share your sense of deep grief.”
Obasanjo further urged all his admirers “to hold on to your faith in the Almighty Creator who understands all things and arranges all things ultimately for the best. Please bear this great loss by believing in divine dispensation. In every circumstance, we must trust in Almighty God and acknowledge His greatness.
“I pray that God will comfort you all in this hour of travail. May He also grant the departed eternal bliss in Heaven”.