By Emeka Mamah, Taye Obateru, Ben Agande, & Marie-Therese Nanlong
LAGOS—The Plateau State government has announced the death of the former governor of old Plateau State and founding chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Solomon Daushep Lar, at the age of 80.
Lar’s death was announced by Governor Jonah Jang at the Government Lodge, Jos following a call from a member of the family from the United States where he passed on at 3.30am, yesterday.
”I received a call from the US that Baba (Chief Solomon Lar has gone to be with The Lord. Baba died at 3.30 a.m. this morning”, he said in a solemn voice.
He said he felt duty bound to inform the people of the state following the confirmation of the death.
Anxiety over the health of the elder statesman heightened on Monday after he reportedly passed out and had to be resuscitated and placed on life support.
Family sources disclosed that it became apparent that it was a matter of time as the doctors treating him doubted if he could make it.
It was learnt that they made it clear that he was not fit to travel when some family members suggested that he should be brought home following the hopeless picture painted by the medical team.
He had been undergoing treatment for prostrate related ailments for almost two years and had to visit his doctors abroad constantly in the last one year.
It was wild wailing and anguish yesterday evening at the Jos residence of the departed elder statesman where scores of supporters and sympathizers gathered following the news of his death.
Many broke down as they arrived the residence to confirm what they thought was another rumour.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan has condoled with the family of the former chairman of the PDP and governor of old PlateauState, Chief Lar
In a statement yesterday, Jonathan said Chief Lar “will always be remembered for the exemplary humility, great vision, wisdom and maturity which he brought to bear on political leadership in Nigeria for over 50 years as a legislator, executive governor, party leader and highly revered elder statesman.
”President Jonathan received with immense sadness and a feeling of immense national loss, news of the passing away of the former governor of Plateau State and founding chairman of the PDP, Chief Lar.
”On behalf of himself and the Federal Government of Nigeria, President Jonathan extends heartfelt condolences to the Lar family, Governor Jonah Jang, the people of Plateau State, the people of the Middle Belt and all others for whom Chief Lar was a much beloved, charismatic and inspirational political leader.
”The President joins them in mourning the passage of a true great leader whose eventful and highly successful political career pre-dated Nigeria’s independence, having started with his election as a councillor in the Langtang Native Authority in January 1959 and continued with his election to the Federal Parliament in December, 1959.
”Jonathan urges them to take solace in the knowledge that Chief Lar lived a long and most fulfilled life; and that his immense contributions to communal, state and national development have assured him of a place among the eternal heroes of the Nigerian nation.
”The President believes that Chief Lar will always be remembered for the exemplary humility, great vision, wisdom and maturity which he brought to political leadership in Nigeria for over 50 years as a legislator, executive governor, party leader and highly revered elder statesman.
”He also trusts that present and future generations of Nigerians will always acknowledge and honour Chief Lar’s role as one of the founders and architects of the country’s current democratic dispensation which he helped to establish and stabilize.
”The President prays that God Alimghty who blessed the Nigerian nation with the gift of Chief Lar’s acclaimed leadership abilities for so many decades, will receive his soul, and grant him a well deserved rest from his earthly labours,” he said.
The Plateau State Government has also described the late elder statesman as pillar of democracy whose legacy would stand the test of time.
A statement last night signed by James Mannok, the Director of Press and Public Affairs to Governor Jang read,
”It’s with great sadness that the Government of Plateau state received the death of Chief Solomon Daushep Lar the first civilian Governor of the state and the first National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, who passed away in the United States of America.
”Gov Jonah Jang who was informed of the death by the family paid tribute to Chief Lar as a pillar of democracy, steadfast politician and a man of the people who is leaving a legacy that will stand the test of time.
”While calling on his family, the people of Plateau and indeed Nigerians to take this loss as an act of God, the governor recalled how the late elder statesman distinguished himself on the country’s political landscape thereby making the state proud.”
The former Chairman of the defunct Nigeria People’s Party, NPP and PDP in Anambra State, Chief Guy Ikokwu and the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF also reacted to Lar’s death.
‘’As a co-founder of the PDP at the end of the last military rule ushering Nigeria into the era of civilian governance, I and my colleagues are thoroughly shocked by the sudden news of the demise of an exuberant statesman and national leader and the first national Chairman of the PDP, Solomon Lar.
’’He was known as the liberator of his people in the middle belt and other down trodden Nigerians from the yoke of not only imperialism but also from domestic hegemony and feudalism.
’’He was one of the bridge builders in Nigeria relating to the North and South as equal partners in the domain of national transformation. He had a very genial personality and was loved by our people in the South East, South South, South West and other Nigerian zones.
The ACF National Publicity Secretary, Anthony Sani also said: “It is with heavy heart that ACF has received the news of the passing away of Chief Lar which sad event took place today, (yesterday).
Chief Lar was the spirit and face of his people and gave all his life to them.Many Nigerians would pass him for someone who struggled for the rights of his people with courage and in hope.
Considering what he stood and died for,one can imagine his body lying in both peace and pain:the peace associated with death and the pain of what he has left behind:a divided people in endless blame game and engagement of the past at the expense of how to move the nation forward.
’’Lar may not be any more with us because no one can fill the void he has left behind in the life of the nation and lives of loved ones, but in a way, he is very much around,considering he needs no monuments to remind us of his legacies.