By Daniel Idonor
ABUJAâ€”YESTERDAYâ€™S weekly Executive Council of the Federation, EXCOF, provided an ample opportunity for cabinet members to pay glowing tributes to late President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua as ministers took turns to eulogize the life and times of the immediate past Nigerian leader in a valedictory session.
At the end of the two-hour session, EXCOF approved that the Katsina Airport, in Yarâ€™Aduaâ€™s home State and the 40-kilometre Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Road in Abuja be named after the late President.
The decision was taken following an amended memo presented to Council, naming the stretch of the road leading to the Airport between the city gate and the airport junction after him.
President Goodluck Jonathan who presided over the valedictory session, which was beamed live on television, opened the business of the day by introducing a one-time Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, and the immediate past President of Ghana, Mr. John Kuffour, who was invited by Jonathan as a special guest.
President Jonathan said the purpose of the memorandum was to pay tribute to the late President who died on 5 May, 2010 after a protracted illness and was buried on Thursday 6 May, 2010 in his home town, Katsina.
The council approved that in recognition of his many contributions to national development, Yarâ€™Adua should be immortalized with the naming of a major street in Abuja city and Katsina airport after him.
The council named the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport road, Abuja, after him with a directive to the FCT minister to work out the part of the road that would best suit this purpose.
Afterward, Jonathan called on the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Yayale Ahmed, to present to Council for debate and deliberation the only memo of the day.
In a memo initiated by President Jonathan and presented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, which urged Council to consider the immortalization of the late President by naming the Katsina Airport and a major road after him.
Jonathan who noted that his landmark achievement was the restoration of peace in the Niger Delta therefore, said: â€œIn recognition of his contribution to national development, the airport road starting from the City Gate and Katsina airport be named after him.â€
Diezani said: â€œOur late President was a man of vision, integrity, a bundle of humility, very transparent and a passionate believer in the rule of law.â€
Dora Akunyili said: â€œThe late President was an extraordinary leader whose life has become a legend and a moral compass on the attitude we should adopt in public office. He lived a decent life which was dedicated to dutiful service to humanity.
As leader of our great country, he was a humble, patriotic peaceful transparent and a perfect gentle man with divine contentment which utterly diminished any appeal of materialismâ€.
Another memo also presented by President Jonathan was in a form of note to Council on the demise of President Yarâ€™Adua and the consequent swearing-in of President Jonathan which Council immediately noted.
Kuffour at EXCOF
The business of the day ended with a brief address by the special guest, former President John Kuffour who thanked Jonathan for the rare privilege to attend the highest decision making meeting in Nigeria.
Kuffour said he was honoured to be part of the council meeting to commiserate with the government, family and the people of Nigeria on the death of the late President Yarâ€™Adua.
He recalled meeting late Yarâ€™Adua before he became President, saying he made indelible mark within the short period he was in office, adding that he stood for African unity. While congratulating Jonathan on his elevation, former President Kuffour expressed optimism that his experience as vice and acting president should stand him in good stead to pilot the affairs of the nation in the right direction. He added: â€œI believe you are a man of destiny.â€
Reading the last tribute for the session, President Jonathan described late President Yarâ€™Adua as an extra-ordinary man who was committed to peace in the Niger Delta and the country as a whole.
He said: â€œHaving listened to the ministers and the former President of Ghana, one starts wondering why our President didnâ€™t live up to the minimum age we Christians normally read in the scripture: three score and ten. Unfortunately he couldnâ€™t attain that but from the contribution today; obviously he was a great man.
To round up the session, Jonathan called for a minute silence after which the Minister of State for Finance, Mr. Remi Babalola and his Information and Communication counterpart, Labaran Maku, said the Muslim and Christian closing prayers respectively.
After a minute silence, both Christian and Muslim prayer sessions were staged to conclude proceedings at the memorable EXCOF.