…Ekaette saved me from political landmines-SGF Boss Mustapha
By Soni Daniel
Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and pioneer Niger Delta Minister, Chief Ufot Joseph Esuaiko Ekaette, was on Saturday described in glowing terms by those who worked closely with him.
The tributes poured in as the remains of the late former Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State were committed to mother earth in his family compound in Ikot Edor in Onna Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
Serving and former top government functionaries attended the event and paid their last respects to the late technocrat and described him in superlative terms and wondered whether Nigeria would ever be blessed with his generation.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who appointed the late Chief Ekaette and retained him for an unbroken eight years as the SGF, stole the show at the funeral as he unexpectedly showed up at Saint Joseph Anglican Church Ikot Edor, even before the arrival of host Governor Udom Emmanuel and other top state functionaries.
Obasanjo said he was proud to have known and appointed Ekaette to serve as the SGF for two terms and benefitted immensely from his wealth of experience, which helped to steady the hands his administration.
“Chief Ufot Ekaette was the brain box of the administration we served and I am happy and proud to say that he was behind any achievements we recorded as an administration,”Obasanjo said amidst cheers from family members and well wishers.
“Ekaette worked very hard to make Nigeria better and gave all he had to ensure a better country for all Nigerians.
“That’s why we are here today not to mourn our late icon and bastion of integrity but to celebrate him for what he stood for: Inntgrity, diligence, hard work, loyalty, commitment, honesty and contentment.
” Ekaette stood steadfastly to defend Nigeria as my SGF and stabilised the ship of state.
“He never complained for one day and didn’t fail in the discharge of his duties.
He never quarrelled with any other government functionary till he died,” Obasanjo recalled.
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, described Ekaette as the pillar of honesty, integrity and diligence, who made the state and its people to be very proud.
Governor Udom said the state had missed one of the brightest technocrats and elder statesmen with his demise and promised to take over and complete the building of the Saint Joseph Anglican Church Ikot Edor, which the late SGF started.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, said Nigeria had missed a quintessential civil and public servant with the denise of Chief Ekaette, who served Nigeria patriotically and selflessly for over three decades.
Speaking in his personal capacity about Ekaette, Mustapha recalled how Ekaette’s wise counsel saved him ceo. what he described as ‘political landmines’ in the days of winding up the Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF.
The SGF said he would have been consumed by the traps of his adversaries without the wise counsel of the late Ekaette.
In attendance at the funeral were: Olusegun Obasanjo, Governor Udom Emmanuel, Boss Mustapha, Former Governor Attah, Godswill Akpabio, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga whom Ekaette served as Deputy Governor between 1990 and 1992, former and current senators and members of the Akwa Ibom state cabinet.
The Primate of the Anglican Communion, Nicholas Okoh, preached the sermon at the event and pleaded with Nigerians to move closer to God in order to make the Triumphant church after transitting from the militant church which is depleted with challenges.