Some prominent Nigerians on Monday expressed sadness over the demise of former Nigeria’s Permanent Representatives to the United Nations and elder statesman, Alhaji Maitama Sule.
Sule died at the early hours of Monday in a hospital in Cairo, Egypt, at 87.
The people toldnewsmen in separate interviews in Abuja that the deceased was a detribalised Nigerian.
According to them, he will be greatly missed, particularly now that the issue of unity is on the front burner in the country.
Former President of the Senate, Chief Adolphus Wabara, described the late Sule was an encyclopaedia of knowledge and had left an indelible mark.
He said that he was a custodian of Nigeria’s customs and tradition and had left a gap that would be rarely filled.
“Alhaji Maitama Sule left Nigeria when we needed him most and he will be greatly missed. I don’t think Nigeria will find someone, who will step into his shoes.
“He was detribalised and we needed him most at this time of all the problems we have in Nigeria, with issues of restructuring and all that.
“But, we thank God for his life; he lived well,’’ he said.
Wabara prayed for the repose of the elder statesman’s soul, adding that “God gives, God takes. It was his time to go and Nigerians will miss him dearly’’.
Also, a former Deputy Governor of Plateau, Mrs Pauline Tallen, stated that the late politician’s crave for the continued unity of the country was unmatched.
“My heart is broken because he contributed immensely to the development of the country in his life time. He was a father that we will miss dearly.
“He was an elder statesman that kept preaching the unity of the country and that is what we need in this country now,’’ she said.
Tallen called on Nigerians to pursue peace and unity irrespective of ethnic or religious differences, as the late Sule.
She said, “my plea to all Nigerians is for us to love one another because if we love one another, we will not talk of tribe, religion or ethnic differences.’’
Human rights lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, said that the demise of the elder statesman was an irreparable loss not only to Nigeria but to Africa, adding that he was one of the pioneers of modern Nigeria.
Ozekhome said Nigeria would miss his contribution to current discussions on the restructuring of the country.
“He was a highly detribalised Nigerian. You wouldn’t know whether he was Hausa-Fulani or Yoruba. He spoke at all times for Nigeria.
“He was erudite, honest, and was radically patriotic about the oneness and unity of Nigeria.
“We would have needed the reassuring and the very strong voice of Maitama Sule to call to order the call by some people who want Nigeria dismembered without batting an eye.
“This will make the loss of him more painful,’’ he said.
Similarly, former Director-General, National Institute for Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Prof. Epiphany Azinge, said that besides his high level of patriotism, Sule’s unbiased views about national issues and oratory were second to none.
Azinge said that the man discharged his duties as diplomat diligently with a lot of integrity and credibility, adding that his gift of oratory skills and articulation were insightful and interesting to listen to.
He said that Sule charted a path for many people and urged Nigerians to emulate him.
“My condolences to the people of Kano State and Nigerians at large for the loss of an illustrious son, a distinguished icon of our time and a legend.
“He was an elder statesman for the better part of his life having been in the corridors of power for a very long time.
“I consider him to be a detribalized Nigeria because he never beat the drums of war or tried to identify himself more as a Northerner than a Nigerian.
“He believed in the unity and indivisibility of Nigeria and we regret that he passed on at this time when his voice would have been heard and listened to with interest.
“We also lost him at a time when his views would have counted much now that there are embers of discord for one thing or the other.
“He will be well remembered and history will register him more positively,’’ he said.
Also mourning the elder statesman, a members of the House of Representatives, Mr Abdulrazak Namdas, said Nigerians would miss his vital contributions and experience, especially at critical periods.
“He is one Nigerian that is detribalised and always wanted to see a united Nigeria as he always preached peace and stability for the country to move forward.
“We require peace at this material time and we would have required him more for the advice he has been giving Nigeria,’’ he said.
Namdas, who is Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, said that though Sule would be missed, God would provide someone that could step into his shoes and continue from where he stopped.
Also, Rep. Babatunde Kolawole (Ondo-APC), said Nigeria and Nigerians would miss the deceased, “who interacted with various sections of the country’’.
He said, “his values speak to and identify with the people’s desire to rid the country of negative influences like corruption.
“He has lived a fulfilled life where he represented Nigeria well in numerous capacities within and outside the country.
“If he had role models like Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Mallam Aminu Kano, then it’s no wonder that he lived a meaningful life filled with praises and laurels.
“As Nigeria’s representative to the United Nations and later, chairman of United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid, the continent owes him some applause for the fantastic work he did in that capacity.’’