By Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon, Henry Umoru, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Ozioruva Aliu & Dirisu Yakubu
SHOWERS of tributes continued to rain, yesterday, for former Information Minister and media icon, Prince Tony Momoh, who expired on Monday evening aged 81.
Eminent Nigerians who eulogised the late elder statesman, yesterday were former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, retd; former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; Senate President Ahmad Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State; and Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams among others.
In different ways, they outlined the virtues of the late lawyer, and politician that should be emulated, adding that his contributions to the enthronement of an egalitarian polity were invaluable.
We’ve lost a frank, blunt, articulate intellectual — IBB
Lamenting that Momoh’s demise is a sad chapter in the nation’s history, General Babangida said the Auchi Prince was frank, blunt and honest in his articulation of issues of national discourse.
In a condolence message he personally signed, Babangida recalled his time with the veteran journalist thus: “When Tony clocked 80 last year, we had opportunity to robustly engage and reminisce on our days and years in government, when we tapped so much from his reservoir of knowledge as our Minister of Information. He was such a teacher, a patriot, with uncommon brilliance, who deployed his intellect to shape national discourse in the course of our intervention in government. He was very blunt, honest, and frank when he needed to put issues across, and was fond of interrogating submissions to be sure they are based on facts. His sense of loyalty was profound.”
He continued: “I was utterly shocked yesterday (Monday) to learn of the death of this great Nigerian, such a rare enigma, a quintessential thorough-bred journalist and lawyer, a prince from the Auchi sacred kingdom, who carried his aura with remarkable presence of mind.
“Tony was a formidable mind, always worried about the place of Nigeria and Nigerians, in the scheme of things. He was a successful mass communicator, a didactic letter writer, a brilliant legal mind, a family man, and an unusual politician. He never hesitated to state his piece of mind, irrespective of who was involved. Once he believed in a cause, he followed through, no matter the outcome. As a principled prince, he was never frivolous and flippant. He was thorough, contented, well researched and essentially pan-Nigeria. His death, no doubt, has left a huge void in our heart of hearts.
“My condolences to the Momoh royal family of Auchi kingdom, particularly the Otaru of Auchi Kingdom, his widow, children, friends and associates. May Allah grant them the fortitude to bear this painful loss.
“Last year presented an opportunity to thank him for his support and contributions to nation-building; I never knew death would snatch him away so soon. It truly hurts. Let me specially console his son Rasheed at this mournful moment. You need to be a man to rally the family together. God will grant you the strength to bear this irreplaceable loss.”
We lost a man of peace, a bridge builder — Oshiomhole
To Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Nigeria has lost a peaceful man and bridge builder.
In a statement, the former governor of Edo State said Prince Tony Momoh played politics without bitterness and stamped his feet in the sands of time as a “journalist , administrator, public commentator, and conscience of the political elite,” adding, “I have lost an elder brother, counsellor, political ally and a dear friend.’’
Said Oshiomhole: “Prince Tony Momoh was a man of peace, a bridge builder and a trailblazer, whose impressive career mentored a whole new generation of present day leaders in the media, public service and academia.
“He played politics without bitterness, but with exceptional maturity and a unique ability to accommodate diverse opinions even when they were against his beliefs. As Minister of Information & Culture at a very critical moment in Nigeria’s political history, he introduced a novel channel of communication with the people in his acclaimed “Letters To My Countrymen” series through which he periodically explained policies of government to the governed while they too had the opportunity to react to the letters, which ultimately served as a feedback to government.
“He will ever be remembered as one of the very few principled, loyal and conscience driven politicians in Nigeria. His unique brand of unwavering loyalty and commitment to ideals is manifest in his political engagements as director of Media and Publicity for the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, Chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and the critical role he played in the emergence of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.”
His selfless service to fatherland would be missed — Gbajabiamila
In his tribute, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, said Momoh’s demise was a sad development because he was “one Nigerian who contributed immensely to the development of the party (APC) and the country” and ‘’would be remembered for his selfless service to his fatherland.”
The Speaker sent his condolences to Momoh family, the people and Government of Edo State and prayed God to give them the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss, even as he prayed eternal rest for the soul of the deceased.
Similarly, the Speaker also commiserated with Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa over the demise of her mother, Alhaja Sadiat Abeke Erogbogbo, a retired teacher and businesswoman at the age of 90.
APC will miss this principled political leader — Lawan
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said Prince Tony Momoh as a journalist made indelible contributions to the development of the noble profession in Nigeria, adding that the APC will miss the principled political leader.
In a statement by his Special Adviser, Ola Awoniyi, the Senate President commiserated with the government and people of Edo State and the APC, where he was a highly respected leader.
“Prince Tony Momoh as a journalist made indelible contributions to the development of the noble profession in Nigeria. As Minister of Information, Prince Momoh, through his ‘Letter to my countrymen’ series, professionally and effectively disseminated and managed public information in a manner that was unique to him.
“As chairman of the CPC, he helped nurture the party to a very strong showing at the polls within months of its formation.
‘’Prince Momoh was also a key facilitator of the emergence of the APC in 2014. The APC will miss this principled political leader particularly in this period that the party is repositioning as a grassroots-based political party and for improved performance of its leadership of our great country,” Lawan said.
He was a rare politician who spoke truth to power – Obaseki
In like manner, Governor Obaseki, celebrated the contributions of late Prince Momoh to the growth and development of Nigeria, describing him as a rare politician who spoke truth to power when it mattered the most.
His words: “It is with a heavy heart that I received the news of the death of veteran journalist and former Minister of Information and Culture, Prince Tony Momoh.
“Prince Momoh, though a great son of Edo State, was a total Nigerian. He was forthright, driven and spoke with candor. As a nationalist, he was unapologetic about the Nigerian project. His lasting legacy remains the enthronement of democratic values in Nigeria.
“A progressive and committed Nigerian, Prince Momoh’s wise counsel would be greatly missed especially as we navigate our current challenges as a nation.’’
Nigeria’s devt tale incomplete without Momoh – Uzodimma
Eulogising Prince Tony Momoh, Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State said his contribution to the development of Nigeria is invaluable.
He regretted that Prince Momoh died when his statesmanly services are still required in the country, noting that Nigeria’s development story will not be complete without Prince Momoh’s contributions.
According to him, Prince Momoh impacted the society as a teacher, a journalist, a lawyer, a politician, among other numerous ways he deployed his talent in service to community, state and nation.
Besides, Governor Uzodimma said Prince Momoh remained vocal and truthful in causes he was convinced in, and believed so much in a united Nigeria where equity, justice, fairness should be the guiding principle.
He said the APC has lost a dependable statesman, ally and consummate party man whose legacies are there for all to see and learn from.
Momoh’s death has created a huge vacuum for progressives — Aare Adams
O n his part, Iba Gani Adams said that Tony Momoh’s death has created a huge vacuum for the progressives.
Adams, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Aderemi, described the late Momoh as a genuine leader with a mind of his own, adding that he was one of the leading patriots who offered their wealth of experiences for national progress and development.
The statement read in part: “It is with deep sense of sorrow that I mourn the death of one of the heroes of this democracy. The late Momoh was a worthy ambassador of our country, a model to all the progressives, a leading journalist, and consummate politician.
“The late Tony Momoh during his lifetime was one of our heroes in the struggle for this democracy. He was an Apostle of restructuring, and one of the leading voices in national politics. Most times, he attends our programmes without rigour. The late Tony Momoh lived a worthy life, bringing to bear his deep thoughts and valuable ideas to national politics.
“The recent interview he granted a national daily (Vanguard) truly showed the stuff he was made of and I feel sad that the late Tony Momoh’s death came as a rude shock and at a time when his wealth of experiences are still needed most.
“With his death, it is no doubt that we have lost one of our great men, whose generation of patriots are depleting by the day. And I want to assure Nigerians that we will not relent in our efforts, by ensuring that the ideals he lived and died for remained evergreen in our minds.