By Festus Ahon, Charles Kumolu, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Akpokona Omafuaire & Brisibe Perez
SENATE President, Senator David Mark; Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr. Steve Oru; former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, deputy governor of the state, Prof Amos Utuama, SAN, and other notable Deltans, yesterday, mourned the late President General of Urhobo Progressive Union, UPU, General Patrick Aziza (rtd), who died on Saturday in Abuja from cancer. He was aged 67.
Senator Mark in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Paul Mumeh in Abuja, lamented the death of Gen. Azizi, whom he also described as a fine military officer, and a gentleman and one of the best and fertile minds the Nigeria military had ever produced.
Mark noted the positive contributions of the late army general to the development of the country, pointing out that he unarguably excelled in all assignments he handled.
On his part, Dr Oru said; “We got the news of his death with great shock. Since he emerged President General of UPU, he steered the ship of state of the Urhobo nation quite creditably. He succeeded in promoting peace and unity amongst the Urhobo people. He promoted the emergence of an Urhobo minister because I can remember, during his first tenure he led a delegation to President Goodluck Jonathan to advocate the appointment of an Urhobo son and today I am one of those that benefitted at the national level, so my missing him is even more.”
Chief Ibori, described Gen. Aziza as a thorough professional, a passionate statesman and uncommon rallying point. In a statement signed by his Media Assistant, Tony Eluemunor, he said that the late Gen Aziza served his country most creditably in the Nigerian Army, where he was a stablising factor and a role model in what it takes to be a soldier, a gentleman and statesman. Ibori said that on retiring from the military, Aziza continued to be a mentor to those coming behind him, and also devoted a lot of energy into the betterment of the Urhobo nation and his beloved country, Nigeria.
Prof Utuama, SAN, expressed shock and deep pain at the demise of Aziza, describing it as another loss to Nigeria, Delta State and the Urhobo nation in particular. Utuama in a statement said the late Gen Aziza was a courageous and patriotic son of whom the Urhobo are proud., noting,“The Urhobo nation has lost a courageous and illustrious leader that we are proud of. He was fully committed to the cause and progress of the Urhobo nation. He served his country meritoriously as a patriotic and gallant military officer.
He worked very hard towards the completion of the Urhobo Cultural Centre, UCC at Uvwiamuge and he was committed to completing it. Senator representing Delta Central at the National Assembly, Senator Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, said: “It is sad that we don’t even know what to think. We have talked to some of our leaders and everybody is still in shock.
We are sad, we mourn his passage and we pray that for the repose of his soul that God should accept his soul. We await what the family will say and what UPU will say so that we can all have a meeting on what to do next. He stood strongly for the unity of the Urhobo nation and he was a fine soldier, he served Nigeria very well.”
A Peoples Democratic Party, PDP governorship aspirant, Obaisi Ovie Omo-Agege, said; “the news of the death of Aziza came to us with shock. It was difficult to believe that the foremost Urhobo leader has breathed his last after many years of meritorious service to Nigeria and the Urhobo nation. A great iroko has fallen!
His death has robbed the Urhobo nation of his legendary tact in holding the torchlight of progress for our people. It is difficult to now speak of him in past tense. In him was a man who stood taller than many of his peers in character, honesty, integrity, achievement and personal example as a leader and as an unassuming team player in the quest for nation building.”
Olorogun Ebenezer Okorodudu said; “it is painful that he has to leave us at this critical time; we will remember him for being a man that stood for the Urhobo course and most especially for his astute management of the UPU.”
Mr Henry Baro, PDP chairmanship candidate in Uvwie Local Government Area, said; “Our hero has fallen. What a great loss to us the urhobos? Aziza brought so much charisma to the Urhobo Progress Union, UPU. We pray God to grant him eternal rest.”
Olorogun Jaro Egbo, said; “it is very sad that he has to die at this time that he was striving to unite the Urhobo nation and build bridges of unity amongst us and our neighbours.”
A former governorship aspirant, Mr Sunny Onuesoke, said, “Aziza is a symbol of Urhobo unity, the man worked so hard as UPU President General to unite the Urhobos. His death is a colossal loss to us the Urhobos. He has served the Urhobo nation well hence he was given a second term in office.”
The traditional ruler of Oghara in Ethiope West Local Government Area, Delta State, HRM Noble Eshemitan, described the death of Aziza as devastating saying, “He was a fine professional military man who rendered meritorious service to this country. A renowned former minister of Commerce and Industry and a respected military judge, who championed the course of Urhobo people head long and hence was re-elected the President-General of UPU, the position he held until his death.”
A former Delta Central senatorial candidate, Chief Ede Dafinone, said “General Aziza was an officer and a gentleman, a natural leader with a deep sense of responsibility to his people together with a humility that endeared him to so many. He was detribalised Nigerian who served Nigeria in so many capacities.”
Special Adviser to the Delta State Government and National President of Urhobo Political Forum, UPF, Chief Ighoyota Amori, said “His death is most unfortunate and is a great loose to the Urhobo people. We pray God to grant his soul a perfect peace.”
Former House of Representatives member, Mr Solomon Edoja, said “Aziza served Urhobo with every energy and resource at his disposal. His death is a painful loose but God knows why He decided to do it at this time. As we mourn him, we should remember the principles that he stood for.”
A former Sapele Local Local Government Area Chairman, Mr. Godwin Atose, said “He was a man who gave his life to the service of the Nigeria nation and the Urhobo people.”
Chief Frank Kokori, said “I am shocked with the news of his death. He was a very humble and fine gentleman. During the military era, he was the first Military General sent to mediate between myself and Late General Sani Abacha. Even though I was older with him being the UPU President General, he regarded me with a lot of respect. I thank God for his life and may his soul rest in peace.”
Prof Sam Oyovbaire, said “Aziza was a high worthy, dedicated and most patriotic military professional. He served the nation with credit and merit. He brought these values and principles to bear in his service to the Urhobo nation.”
The Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, World-wide in a condolence letter by Mr Eric Omare, said “Aziza was a stabilising factor in the Niger-Delta. It will be recalled that when there was so much protest from some sons and daughters of the Urhobo nation over perceived marginalisation against the Goodluck Jonathan administration, General Aziza as the leader of the Urhobo people unlike some other leaders did not join the fray in openly protesting, but instead he quietly led the Urhobo nation to constructively engage President Jonathan.”
The Urhobo People Forum, UPF, in a statement by Mr. Nathaniel Dortie, its National Coordinator, said “The death of Aziza came as a rude shock. I met him some days ago, so I am at a loss. It is a great void that will be difficult to feel.”