By Steve Oko
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has condoled with the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, over the death of its former Leader and elder statesman, Chief Paul Unongo.
Ohanaeze in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary Dr Alex Ogbonnia, said it received the news about Unongo’s demise with sadness.
The Igbo apex Igbo described the late former Minister for Power and Steel as “a patriot, astute administrator, bridge builder, courageous and sagacious politician, moral edifice, and elder-statesman”.
” Unongo was an embodiment of restructuring Nigeria for effective and efficient service delivery”, Ohanaeze said.
The statement further said:”On the other hand, while Unongo remained culturally and emotionally attached to his native Tiv ethnic, he never lost his Northern orientation and the need for sustainable relationship with the other parts of the country based on equity, justice and fairness. Unongo was an apostle of excellence, a social crusader and political activist.
” Unongo had recounted how as a small boy, he donated six shillings in support of the Zikist movement in 1946; based on his broad mind and convictions that Nigeria needed a cerebral pragmatic intellectual, he was to campaign for Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe to be elected a President of Nigeria in 1979.
“The dispositions, mutual toleration, elderly moderations of the Unongo quintessence in the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) have no doubt added profound values to the Nigerian democratic dispensation. One is left to guess the feelings of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo that Unongo has departed at a critical point his wise counsel is most needed.
“The President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Ambassador Professor George Obiozor recalls with intense nostalgia, his relationship with Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, Chief Paul Unongo, Chief Aper Aku, Sen. J S Tarka, Chief Solomon Lar, among others during the Second Republic under President Shehu Shagari. Obiozor lamented that a foremost Nigerian patriot is gone.”
Ohanaeze also commiserated with the members of his immediate family, the his Tiv ethnic tribe and the people of Benue State.
It also prayed God to grant his soul eternal repose in heaven.
“While the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and indeed the entire Ndigbo send our condolences to the immediate Unongo family; the Governor, Samuel Ortom and the good people of Benue State; the Paramount Ruler of the Tiv Nation, Tor Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse; Professor Ango Abdullahi and the Northern Elders Forum; and indeed the community of Nigerian patriots, it is our prayers that the Almighty will grant his soul an eternal rest in his bosom.”