Says Nigerians owe him debt of gratitude
Soni Daniel – Northern Region Editor
Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has said that the late Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Ufot Ekaette, was exceptionally brilliant and highly patriotic and loyal in the discharge of his work as a public servant.
General Gowon made the assertion in Abuja while visiting the family to condole with the widow, Senator Eme Ekaette and children over the demise of Ekaette, who served as his Principal Private Secretary between 1968 and 1975.
General Gowon, who was accompanied by his wife, Victoria, recalled with nostalgia how the late Ekaette used to write flawless speeches and letters for him and diligently carried out his duties even at personal discomfort without any complaint or resentment throughout his time at Dodan Barracks.
ALSO READ: Gowon @85: Symbol of national unity — Buhari
Gowon said: “Ufot Ekaette was one of my most brilliant, dedicated and committed officers that I really cherish even till today. He was exceptional in the discharge of his duties. I can say that he was my trusted ally whose judgment on public and private matters I also trusted at all times.
The former head of state said he was therefore not surprised that Ufot Ekaette rose to the pinnacle of the civil service as a Permanent Secretary and went on to become the Secretary to the Government of the Federation as well as the pioneer Minister of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
But Gowon said that Nigerians owe the Ekaette family a debt of gratitude for the contributions their breadwinner made to the country through selfless service to the nation for about four decades and commended the widow, Eme, for always standing by him to deliver for the nation.
The former military leader said he would still pick Ekaette as his principal private secretary if he were to return to as a Nigerian leader given the way the man worked with him when he was head of state.
Gowon said: “Ekaette was an enigma who understood his duty from the outset of his career and gave his best even at the expense of his personal comfort. He was a workaholic who did not remember the days of the week once he had been given the assignment to deliver. Those who worked under him were elated that they did while those who missed out in serving under his control were sad that they missed an everlasting opportunity to learn the basic tenets of life and service at his feet, a gift that money cannot guarantee.
“Ekaette remained one of my best friends till he died and I have no regret meeting him on the path of life. Indeed, if I were to come back to this world and start my life all over, I would still ask for Ekaette to be part and parcel of my life because of the first impression he made in my life as Nigeria’s Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
“As I look back today and remember all that Ekaette did while we worked together for Nigeria, I feel that Nigerians owe him a debt of gratitude for his sacrifice to the country. He gave his all to make Nigeria a strong and united nation at a time it was very convenient to simply walk away and join her foes to shoot darts at her,” Gowon said of his former Principal Private Secretary.