Nigeria speaks glowingly of Ekwueme as he journeys home

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*Dr. Ekwueme (October 21, 1932 – November 19, 2017)

Dr. Alexander Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme, the Ide of the Oko Kingdom in Anambra State, the first elected vice-president of Nigeria, in office from 1979 to 1983 is given state burial in his home town, Oko in Anambra State today.

Born on October 21, 1932, Ekwueme obtained his primary education at St John’s Anglican Central School Ekwulobia, from where he proceeded to Kings College, Lagos. He became a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Washington in the United States of America where he bagged bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Architecture, City Planning and Urban Planning.

He also earned degrees in Sociology, History, Philosophy and Law from the University of London and topped a vigorous academic pursuit with a PhD in Architecture from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow in the UK. His firm, Ekwueme Associates, Architects and Town Planners, was the first Nigerian indigenous architectural firm which made a fortune with investments in many parts of the country. He emerged as the president of the Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA) and the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON).

Ekwueme who died at the age of 85 at a London clinic where he was flown after his relapse to a coma which he fell into as a result of his fall in his Enugu residence has been described variously as a highly revered elder statesman,  a fearless soldier of democracy, intellectual giant, a consummate professional, a silent, unassuming achiever, a political icon, a philanthropist and a selfless statesman, among other attributes. Here are what prominent Nigerians say about the man, Ekwueme.

President Shehu Shagari: He was a trusted deputy

“I never thought his last birthday was his last though he was younger than me. Death is a certainty and we will all face it one day.

*Shagari

“We worked harmoniously because we had the same vision. He was a deputy I trusted and mischief makers could not drive a wedge between us. His character remains impeccable. Even in death his achievements cannot be diminished.”

President Olusegun Obasanjo: He was one of the titans of Nigerian politics, an illustrious statesman

“Over the years, Dr. Ekwueme had shown courage of conviction and integrity in his dealings at the pinnacle of national affairs, notably with his record of sincerity as vice-president of Nigeria between 1979 and 1983 and as chairman of the board of trustees of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, during my administration as a democratically-elected President of Nigeria. It would not be an exaggeration to state that with his exemplary lifestyle and commitment to noble and worthy causes, he rightly came to be regarded as one of the titans of Nigerian politics and an illustrious elder statesman.

*Obasanjo

“His demise is a loss to his family who would miss a caring patriarch, the people of Anambra State who would miss a guide and the good people of Nigeria who would miss a leader.  In all situations, he lived nobly and he died in nobility.” Obasanjo said.

Jonathan: A well-loved statesman, played politics of inclusion

“Ekwueme was a well-loved statesman who played politics of inclusion and made useful contributions in charting a course for Nigeria’s geopolitical stability. A totem of courage and patriotism, the Second Republic Vice-President’s role in deepening the roots of democratic rule was evident in his selfless and principled stand against military rule.

“He was an intellectual giant whose prowess in learning was as deep and profound as the love he had for his people and nation. His commitment to educational excellence is a trait we should encourage Nigerians to imbibe.

*Jonathan

“As a professional, Ekwueme was an illustrious architect of international repute, whose works will continue to be celebrated at home and abroad.

“He was a man of peace who will be remembered for his candor, open-mindedness and the bridges of understanding he built across cultural and political boundaries.”

Former military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida: Simplicity characterised Ekwueme’s life

“His simplicity is a rare virtue, despite his intellectual depth. I have come to know him with carriage of a man that is always living a very worthwhile live built on values and morality.

*Babangida

We will miss him, Nigeria needs people like him now than ever.”

Former vice president, Atiku Abubakar: He was a very accomplished person and a philosopher of good standing.

“Dr. Alex Ekwueme is a man that Nigerians, and indeed the world will always remember. He was a very accomplished person and a philosopher of good standing. His pursuit of education and scholarship was legendary and helped in shaping the colossus that he eventually became.

“Suffice it to say that late Dr. Alex Ekwueme was a man of many parts, the likes of whom are very rare and the type that societies that crave for progress and development, hanker after. He unequivocally can be referred to as one of the best presidents that Nigeria never had, bearing in mind that on about three occasions beginning from 1999, the great Ide sought to govern his beloved country.

*Atiku

“Dr. Alex Ekwueme is one man who leaves anyone he has met with a good and lasting impression the way he has left a lasting impression and indelible footprints in Nigerian politics and society. He will undoubtedly be sorely missed especially at a time like this when many issues on which he stood and fought, including national integration and a viable and genuine federal structure, remain unresolved. In fact, one way to immortalize this great politician and Statesman would be for all Nigerians to visit, in good faith, the issue of political restructuring and devolution of powers which the great Alex stood for before his sudden death. I believe this will make him turn with joy where he is and bless the country.”

Senate: He was fearless soldier of democracy

“The Senate notes that the late elder statesman was an intellectual giant and consummate professional who pioneered the business of architecture in modern Nigeria and paid his dues to the social, economic, and political development of Nigeria.

“The Senate recalls that the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme was a bridge builder, patriot and pan-Nigerian, who played a major role in the post-war reconciliation process in Nigeria.

“The Senate is conscious of the fact that as Vice-President of Nigeria, Chief Ekwueme led an exemplary life of unassailable probity and unimpeachable integrity, such that even the military tribunal that tried him during his 20-month detention after the 1984 coup not only discharged and acquitted him, but empathically stated that Dr. Ekwueme left office poorer than he was when he entered it, and to ask more from him was to set a standard, which even angels could not meet.

“The Senate is aware that the legend was a fearless soldier of democracy, who, among other efforts, mobilised 34 eminent Nigerians from across the country on the platform of G-34 to demand an end to military rule and put pressure on the military to enthrone democracy; that he was very central to several hallmarks in Nigeria’s political development such as the six geopolitical zones and building one of the Nigeria’s major contemporary political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party, eventually governed this country for 16 years.”

“His irrepressible thirst for knowledge and education, which propelled his foray into many fields of intellectual pursuit and his distinguished role in the development of the architectural profession in Nigeria are shining examples to the younger generation, many of whom have, in fact, benefited from his philanthropy and goodwill.”

Former senate president, David Mark: He was a quintessential leader and a hero of democracy.

“Ekwueme’s exploits in politics and leadership include the conception of the segmentation of Nigeria into six geopolitical zones for administrative and political convenience during the 1994/1995 Constitutional Conference.

*Mark

“Interestingly, the six geopolitical zonal structures (North-West, North-East, South-East, South-West, North-Central and South-South) has remained the roadmap for the power-sharing arrangement in Nigeria.”

“He was a forefront politician who brought intellectualism into governance.

“His quest for excellence, due process and rule of law in Nigeria will remain a reference point in politics and leadership in many years to come.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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