Monday, November 20, 2017 11:25 am
Nigerians have been paying tribute to former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme, 85, who died in a London clinic on Sunday’s evening.
Ekwueme’s younger brother and traditional ruler of Oko, Igwe Laz Ekwueme said in a statement that the Second Republic vice-president of Nigeria died about 10p.m. on Sunday night.
“Ekwueme family regrets to announce the peaceful passing away of their patriarch, the former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme,’’ he said.
Ekwueme, who was born on Oct. 21, 1932, was reported to have collapsed in his residence in Enugu few days after celebrating his 85th birthday.
He was immediately taken to a hospital in Enugu from where he was moved to London for further medical attention on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ekwueme was the Vice-President to Alhaji Shehu Shagari from Oct. 1 1979, to Dec. 31, 1983, when the administration was overthrown in a military coup.
Reacting to the development, the President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, described the death as a colossal loss to Igbo people and Nigeria.
Nwodo told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka that Ekwueme made significant contributions in his public service that guided the country well.
“I served as a minister during the time Ekwueme was vice-president of Nigeria and his contributions were outstanding,’’ he said.
Nwodo also noted Ekwueme’s contributions during the National Constitutional Conference that led to the creation of six geo-political zones in Nigeria.
He said Ekwueme was a good example of a patriotic and forthright Nigerian and an illustrious Igbo son, whose roles in the peace and stability of the country could not be questioned.
In his reaction, a former National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, said the death of Ekwueme was regrettable.
“Ekwueme, not minding his age is very useful to you at anytime you engage him on issues and his death is very regrettable at this time irrespective of his age,’’ he said.
Similarly, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, said Ekwueme showed good example of what an Igbo man should be.
“Ekwueme represented the Igbo people well in his public service, though his death is painful, we pray God to grant his soul eternal rest,’’ Uwazuruike said.
Igwe Ralp Ekpeh, the traditional ruler of Enugwu Ukwu in Anambra, described the death as a great loss to Anambra people, Ndigbo, Nigeria and Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion.
Prof. Stella Okunna, Dean Faculty of Social Sciences, Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka described Ekwueme as one of the pillars of democracy in Nigeria.
Okunna, a former Commissioner for Information in Anambra, said the contributions of Ekwueme would be greatly missed at this time democratic governance in Nigeria was still evolving.
Also, the South-East Governors’ forum on Monday, joined millions of Nigerians to mourn the death of former Nigeria’s Vice-President, Dr Alex Ekwueme.
Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi and Chairman of the forum described Ekwueme’s death as the end of an era, in a statement in Abakalilki.
According to the forum, the death is a rude shock and a great loss to Ndigbo in particular and Nigeria as a whole.
“I commiserate with the Anambra Government and the entire Ekwueme family of Uga in Orumba North Local Government Area of the state over the loss,” the chairman said.
He prayed God to grant the deceased eternal rest in His bosom.
“The death of our father and leader is devastating, especially within this period that his advice is needed most.
“He was a great Nigerian who believed in the unity of the country and we have learnt a lot from his deep political sagacity, as his children.
“We have lost a gem, gentleman, decent politician and academia as the South-East through, its governors, would soon map programmes to pay its last respect to the fallen iroko tree.” (NAN)
A House of Representatives member, Rep. Emeka Ujam (Enugu-PDP), on Monday, mourned late former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, saying “Ekwueme was a man of peace who stood for the unity of the country.”
Ujam told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that Ekwueme’s death was a huge loss to Nigeria.
He added that “this is a man who stood for the unity of Nigeria; it is extremely painful.
“I am personally saddened because I know him personally; he was a great man.
“The family should take heart but to know that the legacy he stood for lives through them.
“He was the first Igbo Vice President we know; we must emulate his political style of peace.”
Ekwueme started primary school at St. John’s Anglican Central School, Ekwulobia, Anambra and later attended King’s College, Lagos.
He got Fulbright Scholarship in the U.S., being one of the first Nigerian to gain the award.
He attended University of Washington where he earned bachelor’s degree in Architecture and city planning.
He also obtained master’s degree in urban planning and degrees in sociology, history, philosophy and law from the University of London.
The Ide of Oko kingdom in Anambra, where his younger brother, Prof. Lazarus Ekwueme is the traditional ruler, participated in the National Constitutional Conference in Abuja, where he served on the Committee on Structure and Framework of the Constitution.