President Muhammadu Buhari has described a former Minister of Aviation, the late Mbazulike Amechi, as a patriot whose lifestyle was worthy of emulation by Nigerian leaders.
Buhari stated this on Tuesday in Abuja at a “Day of Tributes organised in honour of the late minister.
The president, represented by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said that the late elder statesman continued to intervene whenever the country was at a cross road to ensure that not only the South-East but the entire Nigeria was at peace.
Buhari said that Amechi’s demise would leave a vacuum in the sands of history in the country.
“Amechi is an epitome of what every Nigerian leader should be aspiring to be. He was a man of peace and did everything possible to ensure that there is unity and peace in every part of the country,” Buhari said.
Buhari narrated how Amechi, popularly called “The Boy is Good” paid him a courtesy call at the Presidential Villa in the company of some notable elders from the South- East and requested that the detained leader of the banned Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, be released to him.
He quoted the late Amechi as saying “the unconditional release of Kanu will not only bring peace to the South- East, it will rebuild the trust of the people in your administration.”
The president also recounted how Amechi accommodated the late Nelson Mandela who was declared wanted by the then apartheid regime in South Africa in his house in Lagos.
Buhari said that such gesture stood out the late elder statesman as a patriot and a lover of humanity.
He said that the history of Anambra could never be complete if Amechi was not mentioned.
He described the deceased as a galvanizing force that ensured that the state was one of the largest states in Nigeria in terms of human capital development.
Also speaking at the event, the Presidential Candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, eulogised the late Amechi for his love for humanity and the nation.
Obi also advised Nigerians to emulate the patriotic and enterprising nature of the deceased.
Similarly, the Chairman of the occasion and former Chairman, Police Service Commission, Chief Simon Okeke, described Amechi as a “true Nigerian”.
Okeke said that the president had tremendous respect for the late Amechi because he saw him as a true Nigerian.
He said that the late Amechi was the youngest Minister of Aviation in the history of Nigeria who discharged his duties with all sense of diligence and patriotism until Jan. 15, 1966 when the administration was sacked via a coup.
The Chairman of the National Planning Committee of the burial, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, said the foremost Igbo leader lived his life for the course of N’digbo.
“I have known him (Amechi) in the past 50 years and all his life he had spent fighting the course of the Igbo race.”
Iwuanyanwu recalled that one of the late Amechi’s last public outings was when he led leaders of the South-East to Aso Rock Villa to plead for Kanu’s release.
Present at the event were PDP Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who was represented by Prof. Ike Obiorah; the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamilla, who was represented by the Deputy Chairman, House of Representatives’ Committee on Water Resources, Olubukola Oyewo.
Also at the event were the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika; former Senate President, Sen. Pius Anyim; former Anambra Governor, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, and two former Imo Governors, Achike Udenwa and Sen. Rochas Okorocha.
Others included former Minister of Women Affairs, Iyom Josephine Anenih, Sen. Ben Obi, elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, as well as two former Ministers of Health, Prof ABC Nwosu and Prof Tim Menakaya.