Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Sunday described late former Vice President Alex Ekwueme as fearless and an epitome of integrity.
He said this in his remarks at the Service of Songs and Night of Tribute in Abuja for the late Second Republic Vice President who died in a London Hospital on Nov. 19, 2017 at 85.
Osinbajo noted that Ekwueme was the most remarkable person to serve the nation and believed in its indivisibility.
He said that while alive, the late octogenarian possessed profound humility that came from the understanding of how much there was to learn and demonstrated it by his evident willingness to listen and learn always.
“As Vice President, he set an excellent example of loyalty, discipline, team spirit and fidelity to the nation.
“He was fearless and with the courage of his convictions, he led the G-34, the group of eminent Nigerians who confronted military dictatorship in its darkest and most fearsome days in Nigeria’s history.
“He contributed significantly to the return of democracy in 1999,’’ he recalled.
Osinbajo stated that in national and international discourse, as an elder in ECOWAS even on the most emotive subjects, the deceased spoke truthfully and ensured that his words built rather than destroyed.
He also said that late Ekwueme worked tirelessly to build and maintain the bridges established across ethnic and religious lines by many through the years.
“He never for once doubted the validity of one indivisible Nigeria,’’ the vice president said.
He recalled the late vice president’s incarceration for about 20 months after the Shagari administration was toppled but that he was cleared as having never abused his office.
Osinbajo said that Ekwueme’s principled and fearless leadership in confronting the military dictatorship of late Gen. Sani Abacha, especially when it chose to succeed itself, was unequalled.
According to him, the late Ekwueme had principled interventions in many national debates and in all, he epitomised impeccable integrity, courage and selflessness.
“His values, like himself, remain relevant in every age and time.’’
Osinbajo said that Ekwueme had remarked that he would like to be remembered as someone who came into public office to render service and rendered it selflessly.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that other dignitaries, including the President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo and Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige, paid tribute to the late octogenarian.
Nwodo said he was not mourning Ekwueme, but was rejoicing because God gave Nigeria such a man.
For Ngige, Ekwueme was a political master who did not disappoint the nation during the 1994/1995 Constitutional conference.
Former President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, represented by his son, Aminu Shagari, in a tribute said he would continue to relish the memorable time he had with his late former Vice President.
“He lived a simple and uncomplicated life,’’ he said, adding that he nominated to run with him twice because of his high level of discipline and integrity.
President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Prof. Jerry Gana, Prof Uzodimma Nwala, and the deceased’s younger brother, Prof. Laz Ekwueme, extolled his virtues.
A representative of the Ekwueme’s Community, Oko, Anambra, Mr Handel Okoli, thanked the Federal Government for putting all structures in place for the burial of their son.
He, however, requested that the late former vice president’s name should be immortalised for his vision of nationalism and patriotism to be exemplified.