By Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon, Olasunkanmi Akoni, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Olayinka Ajayi
THERE were torrents of tears especially in the pro-democracy community as Nigeria and the Igbo Nation lost two prominent sons – Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, retd; and Senator Onyeabo Obi.
Ndubuisi Kanu, former military administrator of Imo and Lagos states, former chairman of Ndigbo Lagos and a major pillar of the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, reportedly died of COVID-19 complications in Lagos at the early hours of yesterday.
President Muhammadu Buhari, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, Chief Guy Ikokwu, Hon Rotimi Amaechi, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, Afenifere, Iba Gani Adams, and Eminent leaders of Thought were among those who mourned Kanu and described his death as shocking and a huge loss to Nigeria at a time he was needed most.
Also, Life bencher, leading lawyer, and Second Republic lawmaker, Senator Onyeabo Chukwunedum Obi, died on Tuesday, aged 82. Obi’s demise was announced by his younger brother, Zik Obi.
Second Republic politician and Elder statesman, Chief Guy Ikokwu, described Senator Obi’s death as shocking.
”This is shocking as I had the last meeting with him at our Enugu Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide Ime-Obi meeting and took pictures with him and wished he would show up at the Ohanaeze election in Owerri on January 10. What a pity. It is terrible as we had a heart to heart chat. May he rest in perfect peace,” Ikokwu said.
Kanu, in 1975, was the only Igbo appointed into the supreme military council, SMC, before General Olusegun Obasanjo dissolved it when he assumed office in 1976 as head of state.
He fought on the Biafran side during the civil war but was reabsorbed into the Nigerian military at the end of the war in 1970.
After retirement, Kanu, who occupied many commands and political offices as part of his military postings, quickly civilianised himself.
In a swift reaction to the death, Vanguard gathered that the incumbent Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu received the news with shock, describing the deceased as “a great Nigerian.”
A chain of catastrophe —Ohanaeze
The Professor George Obiozor-led newly elected leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo described the deaths of Kanu and Obi as a catastrophe.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, the apex Igbo group said: ”The Ohanaeze Ndigbo are devastated by the news of the sudden death of our two prominent sons; Rear Admiral Ndubisi Kanu, Rtd and Sen. Onyeabo Obi.
”Admiral Kanu was a member of the Supreme Military Council (SMC) in 1975 under General Olusegun Obasanjo. At the creation of Imo State in 1976, Kanu was appointed the military administrator of Imo State where he made indelible footprints. As a robust thinker, he engaged the service of town planners to prepare a master plan for Owerri metropolis; built durable roads and was instrumental to increasing the number of local government areas in Imo State to 21. Among his legacies is the Imo Broadcasting Service, which went on air in December 1976.
”In 1977, Kanu was appointed the Military administrator of Lagos State. Due to his impressive records, Kanu was promoted to the enviable rank of a Rear Admiral and subsequently, the Chief of Naval Staff before his retirement.
”At retirement, Kanu founded the RANGK LTD, a maritime consultancy. He was a chieftain of National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, a pro-democracy movement that played a leading role in the agitation for the actualization of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election.
”Kanu at various times expressed profound passion for his people by playing several stabilizing roles in Ohanaeze Ndigbo. He was very jovial, personable but firm and courageous in his convictions. Throughout his career history, Kanu remained untainted and exemplary. We are devastated because Ndigbo and Nigeria will miss his disarming intellect and wise counsel.
”Senator Onyeabo ObI (82) was a Lawyer and graduate of the London School of Economics, England. He was a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 1979-1983. He followed his family tradition in the love for the Igbo nation. His father, Chief Z C Obi was the national leader of the Igbo Union before the Nigerian civil war. He served as the President of the Otu-Oka Iwu, Lagos-a body of Igbo prominent lawyers. During the 1994 National Constitutional Conference, Senator Obi worked assiduously with the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Chief Emeka Ojukwu and many others to produce an Igbo position paper.
”Like Kanu, the sagacity and outspokenness of Senator Obi will be missed. This is a chain of catastrophe very painful to bear. May their souls rest in perfect peace.”
Kanu’s patriotic virtues ‘ll continue to inspire younger generation —Buhari
President Buhari while commiserating with Kanu’s family and friends, prayed for God’s covering over all his loved ones.
President Buhari also condoled with “all professional colleagues of the gallant military officer, who distinguished himself in all positions and responsibilities during service, taking up more daunting, but historically rewarding challenges like speaking up for the weak and vulnerable, and the struggle for the country’s return to democratic government.”
Buhari, in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said he believes that Kanu’s credentials in serving the nation, as a career military officer and as an activist with NADECO in actualising the June 12, 1993 mandate, remained commendable and will continue to inspire younger generations on patriotism.
Kanu’s death a great loss to the progressives —Aare Gani Adams
The Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams described Kanu’s death as a great loss to the progressives.
Aare Adams, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Aderemi, said the death of the foremost administrator had robbed the progressives of a man of great honour and integrity.
The statement reads: “In life, he was a great leader and leader of leaders because he stood for democracy and true federalism, and even in death his memories will for a very long time remain indelible in the minds of great democrats. He had a strong conviction about good governance. We will all miss him because, I could remember those moments we shared together in our struggle for this democracy.
“The late Ndubusi Kanu was a model for good governance. He was always present at our programmes, especially the annulled June 12 commemoration, and on many occasions, he attended three programmes in a day.”
Kanu, a fighter for greater Nigeria core values —Ikokwu
On his part, Chief Guy Ikokwu said: ”Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu was a fighter for the core values of a greater Nigeria and devoted his time to bridge the gap between all our ethnic nationalities no matter where they came from. Because of his devotion to our common bondage he was one of the few Nigerians who governed two states – Imo and Lagos. He fought for the return of democracy and civil rights of citizens as a NADECO leader even when some had chickened out.
He was a frontline leader of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide and supported the stand of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF’s resoluteness for a restructured template for governance system and devolution of powers. The Lagos State Government honoured him with the Ndubuisi Kanu Park at Ikeja. His family structure is evidently inter-tribal. We had consultations with him on ways to diffuse the alarming rate of insecurities and economic degradation with our new rating of the economic capital of the poor.
”When I was unable to speak with him as he was out of Lagos in the last two weeks, I was bewildered and proceeded to Imo State for our Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide Confab to fathom a new template for a resolution of our existential precepts in our clime. On our return to Lagos State we just found the calamitous realities of our new World Order unraveling exponentially with his demise and movement to the galactic world zones beyond. May his Gentle Soul rest in peace.”
Kanu left indelible footprints —Uwazurike
Former President of Aka-Ikenga, an Igbo intellectual think tank group, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, said the late naval chief was an enigma.
”Admiral Godwin Ndubuisi Kanu was an enigma. He had a soft voice. Yet he became a Commander. Physically he didn’t look like a military man. What he lacked in physique he gained in his brainpower. It is therefore not a surprise that he rose to the height of his profession. As the Governor of both Imo state and Lagos states he left his footprint in the sands of time, he was a complete Igbo man, very passionate, brooked no nonsense and he never stood on ceremonies. He was the chairman of NADECO and was even manhandled by Abacha for his membership of NADECO. We have lost a great man,” he said.
Death of a patriot, good seaman —Amaechi
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi expressed shocked at the death of Kanu, who he described as a patriot and a Seaman that would be missed by all.
“It’s saddening. It’s the death of a patriot and a good seaman. May his soul rest in peace. ”
Kanu’s death painful, huge loss —Afenifere
The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, described the death of Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu as a huge loss to Nigeria.
National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin, said: “It was a very painful death. We have lost a very ebullient, vibrant and progressive someone. There is nothing we can do than to accept the will of God.
“He has lived a fulfilled life and dedicated his life to good causes for which we shall always remember him. May his soul rest in peace and may God protect all that he left behind.”
Kanu’s guidance in the struggle for prosperous Nigeria ‘ll be greatly missed
On their part, eminent leaders of thought, senior citizens, leaders of civil society on the banner of Project Nigeria Movement led by Professor Ben Nwabueze, condoled with Kanu’s family on his demise.
Describing Kanu as one of their strongest associates, they said in a statement by Comrade Olawale Okunniyi, that: Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, a veteran of the struggle for the restoration of democracy in the 90s was military governor of old Imo State in 1975 and of Lagos State in 1976.
He also made waves in 1975, when he became the only Igbo appointed into the then ruling Supreme Military Council before General Olusegun Obasanjo dissolved it when he assumed office as head of state in 1976.
”Kanu, a Biafran war veteran, became a dogged pro-democracy activist upon his retirement from the military. As a staunch member of the National Democratic Coalition, which spearheaded the struggle for the actualisation of the late Moshood Abiola’s annulled June 12, 1993 presidential mandate, Kanu was among those who signed an ultimatum’s for the General Sani Abacha’s regime to revalidate Abiola’s mandate and hand over power to him.
”He was the chairman of NADECO’s Action Committee, which organised and participated in protest marches and public sensitisation against military dictatorship.
”Kanu until his demise was also a frontline member of the Apex Project Nigeria Movement, which has Eminent Jurist, Prof Ben Nwabueze, SAN as its Chairman. The Group was initiated to build national consensus and political stability for Nigeria through constitutional restructuring of Nigeria.
Other arrow heads of the senior citizens group, which is currently mourning the sudden exit of Kanu are Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Elder Solomon Asemota, SAN, General Ike Nwachukwu (retd), Dr Kali Idika Kalu, Prof Akin Oyebode, Prof Pat Utomi, Commodore Dan Suleiman, among others.
”The active guidance of Kanu for the struggle to create a new democratic and prosperous Nigeria will be greatly missed by all Leaders of Conscience in the Project Nigeria Movement, NADECO and in the broad civil society constituency of Nigeria.”
Vanguard News Nigeria