Stakeholders in Ebonyi on Monday in Abakaliki urged leaders in the country to emulate the selfless and exemplary leadership style of the late elder statesman and Nigeria’s Vice President Alex Ekwueme.
Some of the stakeholders who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Ekwueme’s death include Dr Paul Okorie, ex-Commissioner for Works, Housing and Transportation, Chief Egwu Chima, former Commissioner for Information and Mr Eze Nwachukwu, Acting chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Ebonyi.
They described the death of the accomplished politician as a great loss to Africa, Nigeria and Ndi’gbo in particular.
According to them, Ekwueme died at a time Nigeria needed his wealth of leadership experience to steer the country out of its present political, social and economic crises.
The stakeholders, who described the late politician as a selfless and exemplary leader, noted that he was a patriotic Nigerian who contributed greatly toward the political development of the country.
Okorie described Ekwueme’s demise as a great loss not only to the Igbos but also to Nigeria and the entire African continent.
“With the death of Ekwueme, Nigeria, Igbos and indeed Africa have lost another political icon whose politics and leadership style were embedded in selflessness, patriotism and hard work.
“He was an incorruptible politician who, by dint of hard work and commitment, became very successful and rich before entering into politics but became poorer when he left, contrary to general belief.
“He was an epitome of good leadership hrough his selfless, exemplary and patriotic character and offered the best of service to his country and Africa as the Vice President of Nigeria in the second Republic.
“Ekwueme’s type comes once in a generation; Nigerians, the Igbo nation and indeed the entire continent of Africa will miss the invaluable contributions of this ‘Iroko’ and impeccable Nigerian politician.”
He said that the only way to immortalise him was for Nigerian politicians to imbibe his virtues and political philosophy anchored on selflessness and patriotism.
Similarly, Chima, an ex-Commissioner for Information under Chief Martin Elechi, said his death was a huge loss.
According to him, the contributions of Ekwueme to the political development of the country cannot be quantified.
Chima noted that Ekwueme was instrumental to the introduction of the the six Geopolitical zones into the political lexicon of Nigeria.
“One, the death was a shock to me; two, for me he died early, considering his contributions to Nigeria and considering what we still expect him to contribute.
“You are aware that we are enjoying the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria today was because of the brain work of a man called Ekwueme; this was a man who was multi-faceted in all aspects of life.
“He was a renowned architect who helped to design and situate Abuja masterplan; he was a Vice President to President Shehu Shagari and showed exemplary leadership in both character and conduct of what a Vice President can be to his boss.
“Ekwueme was an intellectual par-excellence; Ekwueme was one of the founders of Ohaneze indigbo.
“He believed in grassroots organization and a master in sitting down to plan and get results.
“Ekwueme was a wonderful rare gem and people like him are difficult to come by and when they exist, we should pray for them to live long.
“I feel that Nigeria and indeed Igbos have lost a legendary icon and a rare gem, I mourn him.”
Chima who recalled the contributions and role played by the late politician in ousting the military out of power and his role in the formation of the G34 which later metamorphosed to become the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said that Nigeria had lost a “political colossus”.
Nwachukwu, in his reaction, said that the political soul of the Igbo nation had once more been stolen with the death of Ekwueme.
He described the news of his death as a rude shock, saying that the Igbo nation had lost another political giant.
“The death is one death too many. I am devastated by the news and it is still like a rumour to me.
“He was our political father in the South-East and his death has yet created another vacuum that will take a long time to fill.
“We will miss his selfless and exemplary leadership style which is both legendary and iconic.
“We, in APC, mourn his death and I send my heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, political associates and Ndi Igbo in general.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ekwueme, born in Oko, Aguata local government area of Anambra, died at about 10 p.m. in a London clinic on Sunday.
He became the first Nigerian civilian Vice President between 1979 and 1983 under the Shagari administration when the military scuttled the second Republic.
NAN also reports that he contested the Presidential primary of PDP in December 1998 and lost to President Olusegun Obasanjo. (NAN)