…Buhari, Saraki, IBB, Govs, Ohanaeze, APC, PDP, others shower tributes
By Our Reperters
NIGERIANS across political divides, yesterday, paid glowing tributes to the late Second Republic Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, who died in a London clinic, Sunday night after battling with what the family said was a chest infection.
Confirming his death in a statement, early yesterday morning, Ekwueme’s younger brother and traditional ruler of Oko community in Anambra State, HRH, Prof. Laz Ekwueme said the sad event occurred in London at about 10pm on Sunday.
He said: “The Ekwueme family regrets to announce the peaceful passing away of their patriarch, the former Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme GCON. The sad event occurred at The London Clinic at 10:00 pm on Sunday 19th November 2017.”
The elder statesman died a month after his 85th birthday. He fell ill 20 days ago after collapsing in his Enugu residence and was rushed to Memphys Hospital, Enugu from where he was flown to London, nine days ago.
Dr Ekwueme’s expiration elicited a flood of tributes, yesterday, with a host of eminent Nigerians and groups describing him as a detribalised Nigerian, advocate of restructured Nigeria, outstanding democrat, bridge builder, visionary peace lover, pillar of democracy, national icon, statesman, and legendary figure among others.
Those who paid tribute included President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President Bukola Saraki, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Rochas Okorocha (Imo), David Umahi (Ebonyi), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), the apex Igbo organisation Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, former Anambra Governor, Peter Obi, former Ogun State Governor, Gbenga Daniel, former Deputy National Chairman of the PDP, Chief Olabode George, and former Chairman of PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Anthony Anenih.
There were also tributes from Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, former governor of Imo state, Mr. Ikedi Ohakim, former Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, former Senate President David Mark, former Acting National Chairman of the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party PDP and a National Chairmanship contestant, Prince Uche Secondus, members of the House of Representatives, lawyers and lecturers at the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State.
Others include the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB; Eastern Consultative Assembly, ECA; Igbo Leaders of Thought, ILT; former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori; National Chairman of the Green Party of Nigeria, GPN, Chief Sam Eke; National Chairman of the United Progressive Party, UPP, Chief Chekwas Okorie
Ekwueme made personal sacrifices for our democracy — Buhari
President Buhari in his condolence message signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, commiserated with Nigerians, the Government and people of Anambra State, on the death of the elder statesman.
He commiserated with the entire Oko Kingdom, the Aguata Council of Traditional Rulers, and the Ekwueme family, over the loss of the family’s patriarch, whose regular counsels on national issues and mediations for peaceful co-existence would be sorely missed.
The President said that Dr Ekwueme’s unwavering commitment to the unity of Nigeria had been a major encouragement to many governments, recalling the personal sacrifices he made in helping to lay the foundation for sustainable democracy in Nigeria.
President Buhari believed Dr. Ekwueme worked assiduously to improve the livelihood of many poor and underprivileged people through the Alex Ekwueme Foundation, describing him as a man who served his country and humanity.
He was a rare personality – Saraki
Senate President Bukola Saraki described the late former Vice-President eria, Dr. Alex Ekwueme as a rare personality and an exceptional leader while praying to God for the repose of his soul, and the grace for his family and the nation to bear the loss.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, the Senate President, who lauded the dedication and service of Ekwueme to the development of the country, said: “Today, I join the entire nation to mourn the passing of one of Nigeria’s most illustrious sons, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, our first elected Vice-President. As we mourn his death, we celebrate his dedication and service to the development of our country.”
We’ve lost an advocate for a restructured Nigeria — OHANAEZE
apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo where Ekwueme was also a top chieftain said he was an advocate of a restructured Nigeria, an outstanding patriot whose contributions to the country’s socio political evolution would be indelible.
President General of Ohanaeze, Chief John Nnia Nwodo said in a statement that the country has lost one of the foremost advocates of a restructured federation and urged the Federal Government to immortalize him.
“As Vice President, Dr Ekwueme was intellectually forthright, engaging, loyal and outstandingly patriotic. As a politician he was courageous and original in his ideas. Ndigbo have lost a genius, a father and an intellectual giant,” he said.
Great loss to Ndigbo—S’East Governor’s Forum
Also reacting, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State and chairman of the South East Governors Forum, said Ekwueme’s death was a great loss to Ndigbo in particular and Nigeria in general adding that his death has marked the end of an era.
In statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Sir Emmanuel Uzor, the governor, who disclosed that the South East zone through the governors would soon draw up programme on how to pay last respect to the fallen political Iroko, said: “The death of our father and leader, Dr Ekwueme, is so devastating especially now that his fatherly advice is needed most. He was a great Nigerian and great believer in the unity of the country. As his children, we have learned a lot from his deep political sagacity.
“As the vice President of Nigeria, Ekwueme was a great rallying factor of Igbo socio-political integration”
A huge loss to Nigeria, by Obasanjo, Amosun
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, saw Ekwueme’s demise as a great loss, describing him as a great Nigerian whose life had been a life of devotion and distinguished service to his fatherland.
Both Obasanjo and Amosun recalled the roles played by Ekwueme while he was alive and described him as an exemplary politician, selfless leader, relentless community leader, renowned architect and zealous philanthropist.
Obasanjo, whose military regime handed over power to the democratically elected government of President Shehu Shagari with Ekwueme as vice president in 1979, in a statement by his media aide Kehinde Akinyemi, said: “The late Dr. Ekwueme was a selfless, disciplined and patriotic Nigerian who lived a worthy and exemplary life.
His irrepressible thirst for knowledge and education, which propelled his foray into many fields of intellectual pursuit and his distinguished role in the development of the architectural profession in Nigeria are shining examples to the younger generation, many of whom have, in fact, benefited from his philanthropy and goodwill.”
Similarly, Governor Amosun, in a statement by the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dayo Adeneye,said: “The contributions of Dr. Alex Ekwueme to the enthronement of an enduring democratic rule, is worthy of note and emulation, adding “his bold efforts to gather 34 eminent Nigerians (G34), to confront the former Military Head of State, General Sani Abacha, despite the risk, no doubt, fuelled the agitations for and the subsequent evolution of a democratic government, which has lasted for 18 years in the country.”
A pillar of unity — IBB
Former Military President Ibrahim Babangida retd, described Ekwueme as a pillar of unity, saying his death is a big loss to the nation.
General Babangida, in a statement by his media aide, Malam Mahmud Abdullahi, said: “We lost Ekwueme at a time the invaluable role of elder statesmen like him is needed for national cohesion.’’
Babangida said he received the news of Ekwueme’s demise with a heavy heart but took solace in the exemplary life he lived.
He extolled the virtue of simplicity, which according to him, characterized the life of the former vice president.
He said that Ekwueme’s demise had left a very big vacuum in the quest for true nation building, national unity and peaceful co-existent that had the dream of every Nigerian.
“His simplicity is a rare virtue; with his intellectual depth, I have come to know him as a man living a very worthwhile live built on values and morality. We will miss him; Nigeria needs people like him now than ever. I condole with the family of the late Dr Ekwueme, the government and people of Anambra state and Nigerians. I pray that God gives the family and all of us the fortitude to bear the irreplaceable loss.’’
Unusual calm in Oko
Oko, Ekwueme’s home town was yesterday thrown into unusual calm as the news of the death of the former Vice President filtered into the town.
At the Federal Polytechnic, Oko which was founded by Ekwueme, both students and workers were in mournful mood. His country home was locked and his younger brother and traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Laz Ekwueme declined to speak to visitors. Even the President General of Oko community Mr. Cyprain Nwamuo also declined comments on the death.
Vanguard gathered from a reliable source that even the President General of the community does not have the power to make a statement on the death or otherwise of an eminent person like the former vice president.
He noted that it is the traditional ruler of the community that will tell the people of Oko of the news of the death of his brother is true or not, and since he hasn’t, they still regard the news of his death as rumour.
A huge loss to political establishment —Anyaoku
In his reaction, former Secretary General of Commonwealth of Nations, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, said: ”Dr Alex Ekwueme’s death is a huge loss to the political and professional establishments of Nigeria. In his truly outstanding public service to the country, he represented at the highest level professionalism as a renowned architect, and cerebral political leadership as Vice President and great contributor to national public political discourse.
”His unforgettable legacies include not only the many public institutions that he designed as an architect, but more importantly, the adoption of the six geopolitical zones which he conceived and introduced into the country’s political lexicon and his seminal role in Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999 as leader of the G34 group.
”My family joins the Ekwueme family in mourning the passing of this indisputably illustrious son of our country.”
We’ve lost a fine gentleman —Anenih
Former chairman of the Board of Trustees of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, described the death of Dr Alex EKwueme as a great loss to the nation.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, Chief Anenih described Ekwueme, who was foundation chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, as a nationalist who played politics without bitterness.
Anenih said: “With the death of Dr Alex Ekwueme, the tribe of principled politicians has been further depleted. Nigeria has lost a nationalist, a detribalised politician and one who was not given to impropriety in the conduct of government business.
“Dr Ekwueme will sorely be missed by a vast majority of Nigerians who had the privilege of his leadership, political association and interactions. The PDP where both of us played leading roles will remember him for his sterling contribution to its birth and development.
“While I pray that the Almighty God would grant his soul eternal repose, it is my earnest wish that his family would be strong in this moment of grief to be able to bear this great loss.”
He was an outstanding democrat —Wike
In his reaction, Governor Nyesom Wike said Ekweme was an outstanding democrat, exemplary leader, according to a statement by his media aide, Mr Simeon Nwakaudu.
Expressing his condolence to the family of the late Ekwueme, the nation and people of Anambra state, Wike said: “The former Vice President Alex Ekwueme was an outstanding democrat, compassionate leader, true patriot and exemplary statesman. He would be missed by all lovers of democracy and development.”
A pillar of democracy—APC
In its tribute, the APC said Nigeria has lost a foremost patriot and pillar of democracy.
A tribute signed by Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, National Publicity Secretary described Ekwueme as a
political intelligentsia, a fine gentleman and a true patriot who demonstrated that politics and integrity are not incompatible.
The statement read: “The APC will remember the late Ekwueme as a stabilizing voice in Nigerian politics over the years. Many will attest that the late Ekwueme’s political ideas and interventions greatly and positively shaped the country’s political fabric. The Party recalls that at the 1994-95 constitutional conference, the late Ekwueme suggested a six-zone geo-political structure to create a more equitable system. That structure is now in operation in the country today.
“The late Ekwueme was also undoubtedly one of the strong pillars of democracy in the country.”
A thorough bred philantropist —Ambode
Lagos State governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who expressed sadness over the demise of Dr. Alex Ekwueme, described him as a complete gentleman, thorough bred scholar, philanthropist and politician per excellence, who contributed his own quota to serving his country and humanity.
Ambode, in a statement yesterday, by his Chief Press Secretary, Habib Aruna, said: “Dr. Ekwueme was a man of many parts. He was a scholar of repute who had so many academic awards to his name.
”Not only did he bag degrees in Philosophy, History, Sociology, Law as well as Architecture and City Planning, he was a successful business man to the core and impacted on the lives of his people positively.”
“He was also a detribalized Nigerian who was committed to the course of a united, indivisible and prosperous Nigeria. He believed so much in all inclusive governance and was one of those patriotic Nigerians who contributed in laying the foundation of a sustainable democracy in Nigeria.”