By Olayinka Ajayi with Agency Report
Following the demise of Nigeria’s former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Prominent Nigerians has being paying their tributes via social media.
The news of Ekwueme’s death was confirmed by his brother and traditional ruler of Oko in Anambra State, Laz Ekwueme.
According to him, Mr. Ekwueme died on Sunday in a London clinic at 10:00 p.m. He was 85 years old.
“We the Ekwueme family regrets to announce the peaceful passing away of our patriarch, the former Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme GCON”, he said.
“The sad event occurred at the London Clinic at 10:00 p.m. on Sunday 19th November 2017.”
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in an emotional message on Twitter mourned the passing of Mr. Ekwueme commending his dedication and service to the nation.
“Today, I join Ndigbo and the entire nation to mourn the passing of one of Nigeria’s most illustrious sons, H.E. Dr. Alex Ekwueme, our first elected Vice-President. As we mourn his death, we celebrate his dedication and service to the development of our country”, he said.
“I will always remember Dr. Alex Ekwueme for his exemplary courage in the face of overwhelming odds — when he stood up to past military regimes, and his dexterity in his personal pursuits as a successful architect, lawyer, businessman and philanthropist”, Mr. Saraki added.
A former Minister of Education and Co-convener of the BringBackOurGirls group, Oby Ezewesili also paid her tribute.
“Really pained that former Vice President Alex Ekwueme did not make it back home to us and has now gone the way of all flesh. We remember him with fondness for his strides in the Land. May our Gracious God comfort Aunt Beatti, Chidi and all the Ekwueme clan”, she said on Twitter.
A Nigerian lawyer, Festus Keyamo, said: “It was just about two months ago that I last saw Dr. Alex Ekwueme. He was physically present at the Supreme Court for the induction of the new SANs. Such a fine gentleman. His passage is a big loss to the country as a whole. Deep commiseration to the Ekwueme family.”
The South-east Governors Forum and the Igbo socio-political and cultural organisation, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, have also mourned the death of Mr. Ekwueme describing it as a great loss to the Igbo nation and the entire country.
The Chairman of the Governor’s Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, described the death of Mr. Ekwueme as, ”the end of an era.”
Governor Umahi in statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Emmanuel Uzor, expressed shock over the death of Mr. Ekwueme. He described the loss as a great one to Ndigbo in particular and Nigeria in general.
He commiserated with the Government of Anambra State and entire Ekwueme family of Oko in Anambra State for the loss and prayed God to grant him eternal rest.
“The death of our father and leader, Dr. Ekwueme is so devastating especially now that his fatherly advice is needed most. He was a great Nigerian and great believer in the unity of the country. As his children, we have learnt a lot from his deep political sagacity.
“As the Vice President of Nigeria, Ekwueme was a great rallying factor of Igbo socio-political integration. He was a voice of reason and a man who toiled to place Ndigbo at the centre of mainstream politics. Indeed, we have lost a rare gem, a gentleman and a decent politician and academia”, the statement said.
The governor disclosed that the South-east zone through the governors would soon draw a programme on how to pay last respects to the fallen statesman.
The President General of Ohanaeze, John Nwodo, in his ramarks said Mr. Ekwueme was an outstanding patriot, whose contributions to the country’s socio-political evolution would be indelible.
Mr. Nwodo, in a statement, said that the country has lost one of the foremost advocates of a restructured federation.
“As Vice President, Dr Ekwueme was intellectually forthright, engaging, loyal and outstandingly patriotic. As a politician, he was courageous and original in his ideas. Ndigbo have lost a genius, a father and an intellectual giant.”