By Vincent Ujumadu, Dennis Agbo & Bartholomew Madukwe
Awka—THE national leadership of the Oko Peoples Union, OPU, yesterday declared that the community’s Eke Market would be closed for business on November 30, 2017 as a mark of respect for the late second republic vice president, Dr. Alex Ekwueme who died on Sunday in London.
It was gathered last night that the closure of the Eke Oko market would also extend to businesses owned by Oko people across the globe.
According to a source, all Oko people, no matter their place of residence, had been mandated to observe a sit at home on the 30th in addition to closing their businesses that day.
It was further gathered that the National President of OPU, Chief Cyprian Nwanmuo, along with the leader of the women, Mrs. Maureen Uzoegbunam and legal Adviser, Barr Uchenna Okonkwo Okom, took the decision after a meeting with the family of the late former vice president. Others at the meeting were youths, titled men and women groups.
Meanwhile, following the formal statement announcing his death by Ekwueme’s younger brother and traditional ruler of the town, Igwe Laz Ekwueme, mourners have been visiting members of the family to commiserate with them.
Nwoye, SANS, others eulogize Ekwueme
Also yesterday, former President of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, expressed shock about Ekwueme’s death lamenting that it was a sad loss for the nation.
Agbakoba noted that the deceased was a great gentleman and statesman who should be emulated by politicians in the country.
In his tribute, human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, described Ekwueme’s death as an “Iroko” tree that has fallen”,, adding that the deceased was one of the few remaining titans of democracy and good governance.
“It’s an irreparable loss, not just to Ndigbo and Nigeria but to the entire democratic world. May his great soul rest in perfect peace, Amen!” he said.
Former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Prof Chidi Odinkalu, on his part, explained that the late Ekwueme was a distinguished member of the Unity Schools Old Students Association (USOSA), Kings College 1945.
Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Tayo Oyetibo, stated “ his voice on political issues in this country was always a voice of wisdom. The political space has undoubtedly lost a valuable player.”
A renown human rights activist, Chief Morah Ekwunoh, said: “Ekwueme was so sparkling in political respects that no politician worth his salt or onion yearning for political ascendency failed to crave his immeasurable guidance and direction, as a consummate political engineer and bridge builder, which he willingly and graciously gave in no small measure.
“He also clearly show-cased these attributes by serving as an arrow-head in the creation of the present six-zone political structure in Nigeria, for purposes of achieving much needed national peace.”
In his tribute, the governorship candidate of APC and member representing Anambra East and West Federal Constituency, Dr Tony Nwoye described the demise of the former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme as a huge loss to Ndi Anambra, Ndi Igbo and Nigeria in General
Reacting to the news of the death of Dr Alex Ekwueme, Dr Tony Nwoye said that he was yet to come to terms with the reality of Dr Ekwueme’s death as it was hard to contemplate the void that his passage has created for Ndi Igbo at this point in time.
“A great iroko has fallen. Ndi Igbo and Nigeria has lost a great statesman. We have lost a great son, a father and a bridge builder.
“I and the good people of Anambra East and West wish to express our deepest condolences to the Ekwueme family and the people of Oko and to Ndi Anambra in general. I pray that God Almighty will give us the fortitude to bear this grave loss. May His Soul Rest in the bosom of the Lord, Amen.”
Also reacting, the Anglican Bishop on the Niger, Rt. Rev. Owen Nwokolo described Ekwueme’s death as a devastating blow not only to Ndi Anambra but also Ndi Igbo and Nigeria in general.
In a statement issued yesterday from All Saint’s Anglican Cathedral, Onitsha, Anambra State, Bishop Nwokolo, who expressed sadness over the incident, regretted that the icon died when his wealth of knowledge was mostly needed in galvanizing the state and the Nigerian nation.
He recalled that as a Vice-President, Ekwueme played exemplary and very challenging politics, which according to him, distinguished him from pedestrian politicians, adding that on the religious angle, the intellectual, moral and economic qualities with which he used to serve God and humanity was so inexplicable that it would be very difficult to get another Alex Ekwueme in Nigerian social and political life.
We disagreed politically but … — Nwobodo
Similarly, former Governor of old Anambra state, Senator Jim Nwobodo has said that even though he disagreed with the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme on political issues, the second republic vice president was a gentleman who played an import role in his family life.
In a tribute to the late icon, Nwobodo said his wife and and himself were saddened by the death of the elder statesman and a family friend whom he described as a nationalist, courageous democrat, brilliant, principled statesman and a gentleman.
Nwobodo said: “We were both second republic politicians. He was then the vice president of Nigeria under NPN, and I was Governor of old Anambra State under NPP.
“Even though we disagreed on issues of politics, we were friends at personal level, to the extent that he and his wife, Beatrice, played important roles in our family life.
“In 1994, he led political leaders across party lines to our wedding, as chairman, and we had since then maintained good personal relationship, in spite of our political differences .”
Nwobodo recalled that Ekwueme championed the creation of 6 geo-political zones at the 1997 constitutional conference, adding that when the late statesman felt the military government was over staying, he led a group of 34 political leaders, referred to as G34 to confront the then millitary government.
“He was one of the founding fathers of the PDP and the first national chairman of the party and later the chairman, Board of Trustees.
“It is sad that he died at a time the unity of Nigeria is threatened, at a time when his wealth of experience and wisdom of an elder is required to strengthen the unity of Nigeria,” he said.
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