There was anxiety yesterday in Oyo State as news broke that the state Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Alhaji Taofeek Oyerinde (aka Fele) had died.
It was learnt that the union’s National President, Alhaji Yasin, as well as other stakeholders announced the appointment of the Vice Chairman in Oyo State, Alhaji Abideen Olajide (aka Ejiogbe), as the Acting Chairman.
A source close to the late commercial drivers’ chairman confirmed his death to The Nation yesterday.
Oyerinde was said to have had serious issues with his health, making him pay frequent visits to the hospital in the last one year.
The late NURTW chairman was born on October 1, 1960 and reportedly died at Zenith Kidney Hospital in Abuja, the nation’s capital, at 2 p.m yesterday.
Fele officially succeeded Alhaji Lateef Akinsola (aka Tokyo) in 2011 after years of violent supremacy battle between Alhaji Mukaila Lamidi (aka Auxilliary) and the late Alhaji Lateef (aka Eleweomo).
The latter was killed in Ibadan in a political violence late 2010 at the height of the supremacy battle among the union’s leaders.
Auxilliary is currently serving a jail term for criminal offenses.
Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi has described the death of the state Chairman of the National Union of Road and Transport Workers (NURTW), Alhaji Taofeek Oyerinde (aka Fele), as depressing and tragic.
In a statement yesterday in Ibadan, the state capital, by his Special Adviser, Communication and Strategy, Mr. Bolaji Tunji, the governor said he received the news with a heavy heart and utter disbelief.
Describing the death of the NURTW chairman as a huge loss to the family, the state and the Southwest, Ajimobi said he was particularly pained because he had lost a dependable ally and purveyor of peace.
The governor said he was proud of Oyerinde’s chairmanship of the NURTW in the Southwest, adding that it was in recognition of his sterling leadership ability and propagation of peace and orderliness among drivers.
Ajimobi said: “I am greatly saddened by the passing away of Fele. It is very unfortunate and disheartening, especially because he has over time proved to be a dependable ally in our administration’s quest to restore peace in the land.
“That the motor parks across the state are rancour and violence-free today can be partly attributed to his yeoman efforts to whip errant and rapacious drivers into line. He commands respect among the drivers for his sterling leadership qualities.
“His death is indeed a big loss, not only to his family but also to the NURTW nationwide and the people of Ibadan. May the Almighty grant the family and loved ones the fortitude to bear this great loss.
“With the directive of the national leadership of the union that Fele’s deputy, Alhaji Abideen Olajide (aka Ejiogbe) should fill the vacuum created by his death in acting capacity, I urge our drivers to respect this decision and go about their lawful activities without rancour.
“I enjoin the good people of Oyo State to be vigilant around motor parks and report any act capable of breaching public peace without delay. May Allah repose the gentle soul of the deceased and grant him the highest place in Jannah.”
The governor sued for calm and admonished the NURTW leadership in the state to eschew violence or leadership tussle.