Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and other dignitaries paid moving tributes to the late Chief Isaac Folayan Alade at his funeral services in Lagos and Ekiti States.
Fola-Alade, who was the first architect to become a Permanent Secretary in Nigeria and also noted for historic structures such as the National Stadium, Tafawa Balewa Square, Federal Secretariat, Lagos and the Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic building in Kuru, Plateau State, died recently at 88.
During the funeral service, Obasanjo described Fola-Alade as a great friend, architect, scholar, civil servant and colleague. He spoke about how the late architect encouraged him in prison.
He said, “Fola’s children didn’t know how friendly and how close we were and until they started looking into the records and found letters that I wrote to Fola when I was in prison.
“Fola was one of those who gave me courage to survive in prison. I pray that my worst enemy will not go to prison. The worst thing in prison is isolation and I was isolated.”
The former president said his late wife, Stella Obasanjo, hid Fola-Alade’s letters in her bag when she visited him prison.
“Fola was constantly sending letters and money to me. I looked forward to his letters in prison and also wrote back to make him know I received them; I acknowledged all he did for me.
“He made me develop affinity for Ekiti and understand the dialect almost to the point of speaking it. Working with Fola was delightful and he became a permanent secretary because he was not orthodox. He achieved what he and I wanted for the country,” he said.
Similarly, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye said he and Fola-Alade took to each other the first time they met.
Adeboye, who described the deceased as an extremely intelligent and pleasant man said, “I thank God for the life of my departed friend. I look forward to meeting my friend again on resurrection morning.”
In his tribute, Lt.-General Alani Akinrinade (rtd.) said Fola-Alade was an honest and meticulous professional who brilliantly executed the task of building nationwide accommodation for the Armed Forces after the war.
He said the deceased also persuaded him not to leave the Army.
He stated, “I told him that I wanted to leave the army because of the devasting consequences the first and second coup attempts had on the morale of the army but he prevailed on me to stay put.”
Foremost pharmacist and legal practitioner, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, called on the Federal Government to honour Fola-Alade posthumously.
He said, “He lived a long, good life in service to Nigeria. He was gifted, creative and the kind of architect Nigeria ought to recognise in life and death.”