Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Sunday said that the late Vice President in the Second Republic, Dr. Alex Ekwueme had impeccable integrity, courage and selflessness.
Ekwueme had died in a London hospital last year.
Speaking at the Night of Song service organised by the Federal Government in honour of the deceased, Osinbajo said that the late Ekwueme worked tirelessly to build and maintain bridges across the country.
According to him, Ekwueme understood the symbolism of leaders of the nation to honour God.
He said, “Dr. Alex Ekwuene is perhaps one of the most remarkable persons who have served our nation. Despite being probably one of the most thoroughly educated persons anywhere in the world with degrees in disciplines as distinct as architecture, philosophy, sociology and law.
“He possess the profound humility that comes from understanding how much more there was to learn and he demonstrated it by his willingness to listen and to learn at all time.
“As Vice President he set an excellent example with loyalty, discipline, team spirit and fidelity to the nation.
“He was fearless and with the courage of his conviction, he led the G-34, a group of eminent Nigerians who confronted military dictatorship in its darkest and most fiercesome days in Nigerian history.
‘In public discourse nationally and regionally as an elder in ECOWAS even in the most emotive subject, he spoke truthfully but maintaining a forthful balance ensuring that his words built rather than destroyed.
“He worked tirelessly to build and maintain the bridges established across ethnic and religious lines. He never once doubted the validity of one indivisible Nigeria.” he added.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige disclosed that former President Olusegun Obasanjo, offered the late Ekwueme, Senate Presidency, after the later lost the Jos primaries of the People’s Democratic Party ( PDP ).
Ngige said he personally advised the late Ekwueme to reject the offer as he was sure that the former Vice President was too rigid to be a Senate President and that he would be impeached within three months.
He said, “I told Ide (Dr. Ekwueme) that he was too rigid and that he would not be able to do that job. When the committees come to you and say do this and do that, you will not agree and the next thing they will go and gather signatures and in no time, the will impeach you.
“Ide was very strict on accountability. Even when we were campaigning, whenever we returned, he would call you and ask you to give account of how you spent the campaign money. He will have his paper and pen in his hands. You know politicians don’t like that. They don’t like accountability.” he said
Ngige also disclosed that the late Vice President, lost the Jos PDP presidential primary ticket because he refused to bribe the delegates.
He said that Ekwueme failed in bribery and corruption and refused to give false promises, which were the hallmark of typical politicians.
Stressing that the late former VP was not a religious bigot, as his father was an Anglican pastor, Ngige said that Ekwueme never discriminated against people of other faiths.
The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, urged Nigerians to learn from late Dr. Ekwueme’s courage, which made him confront late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, with the G34 initiative.
He also urged Nigerians to imbibe Dr. Ekwueme’s patriotic zeal.
He said “We must first see ourselves as Nigerians, irrespective of our religions and tribes.”
Former Minister of Information, Prof. Jerry Gana, who was also the former Secretary of the G34 and political ally of the Late Dr. Ekwueme, said that Ekwueme was “a great son of Nigeria, a loving leader, creative designer, first class architect, wise counselor, elder statesman, a great patriot, defender of the people, an advocate of social justice, fairness and equity.”
He said that Dr. Ekwueme led the G34 which confronted Late Gen. Sani Abacha to stop his self-succession bid, and was at the vanguard of the return to democracy after more than two and half decades of military dictatorship.
Prof. Gana also revealed that the letter by the G 34 was written by himself and Dr. Iyorchia Ayu but that Dr. Ekwueme, who was the chairman of the group personally edited and submitted it at the Aso Rock Villa, to ensure it got to Late Gen. Abacha.
Prof. Jerry Gana described the late Ekwueme as a defender of the people, a political colossus and an advocate of social justice and equity.
The President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo said he didn’t come to mourn rather to rejoice for the gift of nature from God to Igboland.
He said, “He was multi disciplinary and distinctive in what he set out to do and loyal in his convictions and believed in his intellectual perception.
“I haven’t come here to mourn on behalf of the Igbos, I have come here to rejoice that God gave us an exemplary son.
“On a night like this what is important is to christenize the distinctive achievements and characteristics of Dr. Alex Ekwueme and I’m the process hope that those of us who are living will derive example from it and create a better society.”
He said that Dr. Ekwueme was very loyal to Shehu Shagari.
He said “Dr. Ekwueme never thought of leaving PDP. What was important to him was his sense of contribution. Whether or not he made money from it or not. Ekwueme was a very humble man. Chief Nwodo urged Nigerians politicians to emulate.”
Also speaking, Prof. Uzodimma Nwala who worked closely with the late Vice President said he respected him for his great intellect and not the typical Nigerian politician, adding that he had the carriage.
He said that Ekwueme came up with the establishment of six geopolitical zones as basis for optical and resources sharing.
“We are celebrating a man that had contributed in laying the foundation of unity in Nigeria.
“The true components of Nigeria is the ethnic nationalities. We must come back to a loose federation.”
“Dr. Alex Ekwueme was not a typical Nigerian politician,” and urged Nigerian politicians to take lessons from the departed VP.” he said
The former President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari represented by his son, Aminu Shagari said late Ekwueme lived a simple and uncomplicated life and that his father’s choice of Ekwueme as his Vice President was a right choice.
He said the late former Vice President exhibited tolerance and total loyalty, describing him as patriotic and a statesman.