Members of Nigeria’s Civil Society Organisations, family and friends on Saturday, gathered to bid farewell to the late human rights activist, Ariyo Dare-Atoye. Mr Atoye died on 27 October, in an Abuja hospital. He was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was married to Abiola and the union produced three children.
Mr Atoye was generally described as a saintly activist who sought accountability from the Nigerian government. He was a major voice in the civil society space for electoral reforms which culminated in President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2022.
Mrs Dare-Atoye described her husband as an angel in human form who lived a life of love and humility.
You had a great relationship with your Lord, that He made you an apple in His eyes. He took you so that you may not see corruption and evil. The more I like to write, the more the pain of your death I feel. I bless God that we met and I was able to stand by you till you left this world smiling and winking at me – Mrs Dare-Atoye
Okowa said the late Ariyo Dare-Atoye fought for humanity and for the oppressed, for justice and a better society. This was contained in a statement shared by the Okowa’s media aide, Ovie Success, on his Facebook page.
The convener of Concerned Nigerians, Deji Adeyanju, said even at the point of death, Mr Ariyo was a considerate person.
But for those who did not know him very well, activism was only just a part of Ariyo’s life. Before being an activist, Ariyo was and remained, until his death, a philanthropist. Ariyo was an advocate of the electoral act and Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS – Deji Adeyanju
The Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi on Sunday mourned the late human right activist, Ariyo-Dare Atoye. Obi in a tweet via his verified Twitter page, commiserate with the late activist’s family, expressing sadness over his death.
I was saddened by the news of Ariyo-Dare Atoye’s death. He was a human rights activist, a known voice in the civil society space, and he contributed greatly to the signing of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2022. May God, who called him home at this time, grant him eternal rest and comfort his family, and all who mourn him – Peter Obi
The former NERC Chairman, Sam Amadi, said the deceased matched the right ideas with the right actions.
Ariyo did a lot in the area of electronic transmission of results which is now our last hope. The technology we have today, Ariyo, played a key role. Today, we are talking about the indirect primary and Ariyo was part of the advocacy when we had an issue around the direct and indirect primaries, Ariyo ensured that the law empowered INEC to take action in this regard. Very important is the ability to ensure citizens’ consciousness, today not just about the electoral reform laws, but we are still agitating for the appointment of INEC commissioners even though the National Assembly did not accept, but today we can see that there is a greater focus of citizens in engaging the process. Ariyo can take some glory because his efforts have created a strong citizen-based advocacy for electoral democracy. He was a mature and coherent thinker. He was an effective actor. I found him a trusted advisor. The craft of human rights advocacy is usually populated by many charlatans who hide their baseness with the fig leaves of social activism – Sam Amadi
Sowore described the deceased as selfless, humble, and unassuming. He stressed that Ariyo was one of the best mobilizers in the activism world.
He is one of the young people that have a combo of characteristics; he’s calm, nice, selfless, he is unassuming and very humble. He is one of the best mobilizers in Nigeria’s activism movement. I do not agree with him all the time, but he never abandoned what he believed in and would always carry you along. As a matter of fact, he called me a few days before he was hospitalized. He said he needed to talk because 2023 is coming, and he wanted to find out where we should stand, but I never got to see him again. I met him during a very political period, and he left during a very political period as well. I don’t know what to say, but my people are always afraid of me when they go out to protest, so Deji recruited him to help calm me down, and he did that for a very long time. As if he knew he would die, Ariyo left a legacy about what would happen in the 2023 election; he called on the authorities to ensure that the polls are free and fair. He was concerned about the election being a reflection of the aspiration of the people. He took sides with the truth when election matters were concerned and he had called to discuss the elections, but it was very sad that we lost him – Omoyele Sowere
Governor Okowa told Mrs Dare-Atoye, “The nation is forever in your husband’s debt for his strength and advocacy. He lived a short life; but he lived a life full of purpose.“
The former Governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, said Nigerians are proud of his push for electoral reforms particularly the introduction of BVAS and electronic transfer of result from polling units.
Also, a former governor of Ekiti, Olusegun Oni, added that the late Ariyo took on the electoral system and worked hard for reforms.
More encomiums continue to pour in as the renowned activist was laid to rest.