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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

OOPF mourns former VP, Ekwueme, says he lived for service

The Oriental Online Publishers Forum (OOPF) has sent a message of condolence to the family of elder statesman, Dr Alex Ekwueme, the second republic vice president, who died on Sunday in a London hospital, reports ITRealms.

According to a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday, signed by the chairman, Mr. Max Amuchie and secretary, Chris Ndiribe, the group said the story of Ekwueme's life was that of service, integrity and love for Nigeria as a nation.

The OOPF statement entitled 'Ekwueme: Farewell to the doyen of endurance and sacrifice' reads:

Sunday, November 19, will surely remain one of the most remarkable days in the history of Nigeria. It marked the end of a chapter in the nation’s burgeoning, tortuous and undulating narrative that has seen more of contradictions than rationality and reality. It was the day, with his passing, in a London hospital, the curtain fell on the epic of one of Nigeria’s greatest, Dr. Alexander Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme.

Teacher, philosopher, scholar, prototypical professional, politician, et al, Ekwueme, was not only equipped, but embodied the finest qualities of human development, which he readily put at the disposal of Nigeria.

To his students, Ekwueme not only taught them the value of education and how to acquire it, but how to apply its maximum benefits for individual and societal development. From a nondescript village, of Oko, now Orumba North Local Government of Anambra State, he was able to build a successful empire business empire, led by his Ekwueme and Associates, a firm of architects due to early education.

Yet, his philosophy transcended personal ascendency on the trajectory of life, as exemplified by his record in office, where, even as Vice President, even having supported his then, National Party of Nigeria (NPN), to achieve power by bringing in his own personal money, he never found it needful to recoup from government till, so that by the time an investigation was concluded into his activities as the number two Nigerian for four years, plus, he was found to have come out from government, poorer than he went in – a record in Nigeria – nay, Africa and many parts of the world.

Like great thinkers of old, whose philosophical offerings have become the standard for the advancement of humanity, past and present, and perhaps the future, Ekwueme’s archetypal bent to politics, would probably remain one of his greatest gifts to Nigeria.

He was a man, who was arrested and thrown into jail as a Vice President, in 1983, and left to languish, whilst his boss, who was President and had higher authority, was kept in a plush and cozy apartment with all the benefits and appurtenances thereto. Yet, like the proverbial biblical lamb taken to the slaughter, he uttered no word of hate or complaint.

But that was not all. Ever ready to find solutions rather than become the problem, Ekwueme, who was one of the arrowheads of the National Constitutional Conference of 1995, was able to find a workable template upon which the Nigerian people will find the elusive principle of justice equity, and fair play, with which to build a sound and progressive nation, by fashioning, introducing and championing the six geo-political structure, presently in use in the country today.

At the time many of his ilk were falling over themselves to salute the late General Sani Abacha and begging him to transmute to a civilian President, after supervising the most repressive and horrendous administration in the history of Nigeria outside the civilian war, Ekwueme stood up to be counted and showed uncommon courage, when he led some eminent Nigerians to resist that obvious raid on democratic norms and the collective psyche of the people.

But, what was his recompense? Out of that courageous enterprise put up by the Group of 34 eminent Nigerians (G-34), sprouted out the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which went ahead to rule Nigeria for a record 16 years. At the time the table was dressed and the food was garnished and served, he was shoved aside from the head of the table by the strong forces that suddenly emerged. Twice he begged to lead Nigeria as President and show the direction, twice he was stopped by the same forces.

Yet, he never uttered any angry words, neither did he show bitterness of place curses on those who dealt him those deadly blows. Instead, he opened himself up to them and never shut his doors to all in his eagerness to help the Nigerian project.

Ever realising that all politics is local, Ekwueme never left his people Ndigbo in the lurch. He always strove to build their interests into the larger entity, while also recognising the peculiar diversities of the nation.

How then could the nation say farewell to such a quintessential sage, nationalist and elder statesman? What better epitaph could be written on the grave of this great Igbo man, who has exhibited the most demonstrable evidence of his people, expressed in the doctrine of Egbe bere Ugo bere (Let the Eagle and the kite, share their space on the iroko tree) the spirit of Onye anwu na, Ibe ya efuna (let nobody die, and let his brother not get lost). How then can Nigeria bid this great son that inspired many and opened the doors of opportunity for others? How does a nation thank this great son for making democracy happen in Nigeria by standing up and be counted when he was most needed.

This is the time to look back at the message Ekwueme passed in his few words, whose essence echoed farther and more than the clap of thunder.

Thank you and farewell, Ide Aguata.

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