The Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano delivers a moving eulogy at the Commendation Ceremony in honour of former Vice President Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme at Ekwueme Square, Awka on February 1, 2018.
Ndi be anyi ekenem unu. We have gathered here today to celebrate a statesman. One of the greatest we have known. Indeed, if history is kind to Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme, his name should go down as the Pillar of Modern Nigeria. The facts before us indicate that only a handful of people may have sacrificed as much as Dr Alex Ekwueme to save Nigeria. And much fewer have devoted as much time and rigour to redesigning Nigeria into a workable federation as Ekwueme did.
Indeed, His Excellency, Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme stands out today as one of the few Nigerians whose life and Times graphically reflect Nigeria’s attempts to be greater than she is. In Ekwueme’s outstanding pursuit of knowledge, we are subtly reminded of the importance of knowledge in building a modern society. In his fierce struggles with the military and eventual triumph with his colleagues in G34 to form the PDP, Ekwueme underscored the imperatives of entrenching democracy in Nigeria. In the ease with which he sacrificed his personal ambition to be president after being denied the party’s ticket in Jos in 1999 and swiftly turned around to support the preferred candidate, Olusegun Obasanjo, Ekwueme showed us that Nigeria should always come first before personal or ethnic interests. And in his resolute pursuit of the re-configuration of Nigeria into six geopolitical zones at the 1995 Constitutional Conference, he reminded us that no country can survive without paying attention to issues of fairness, balance and justice. Again, with his Modotel Hotel chain spread across the South East, he poked all of us gently in the rib to always remember the importance of Aku luo uno. And finally, in his unrelenting support to the government of Anambra State, he tells us that East or West, home is still the best! But he also emphasized the mantra of our great party that na nkea bu nke anyi!
Brothers and sisters, I think the point is fully made. I think that we can all see how a great man’s life is like a mirror through which his people can see their struggles and aspirations as a society. Through the prism of Ide’s life, we can see rare glimpses of our individual and collective journeys through the tunnel of time to the present day. It is a mark of the greatness of Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme that the ideals that he invested his youth and sagely old-age in have remained the dominant issues of our time and the resonant questions for the future generations. Indeed, there can be no truer mark of greatness! And this is what makes it compelling for the Federal Government to immortalize this great man by naming a national monument after him. This will not only strengthen the walls of national unity but also ensure that the sacrifices of this great patriot were not in vain.
On a personal level, Ide’s death has been a huge blow to me. Having lost my dear mother in June last year, nothing prepared me for the loss of someone who was like my own father five months later. So, Ekwueme’s death is a pain I feel in the deepest recesses of my soul where no soothing word can touch. It is a raw pain which only God can heal.
His Excellency Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme was my father, my mentor, my counsellor, my advocate, my motivator and the gentle voice of wisdom I could not ignore. We had an amazing father-and-son relationship that made me look forward to his private visits and his attendance of almost all our major events. His sagely presence was a silent stabilizer in the turbulent sea that is the politics of our dear state.
Umu nnem, in Ekwueme’s death, we have lost the soul of the season. We have lost a foremost thinker and philosopher, a visionary leader, a pragmatic statesman and more importantly, the BEACON of modern Nigeria. Ndi Anambra, our loss is immense. But so is our heritage. Yes, Nna anyi Ekwueme left us a proud heritage. So, rather than grieve and mourn over his passage, I urge you all to celebrate the life and times of a man who came clearly ahead of his time and did his very best to make Nigeria a better place for everyone.
Umunnem bikonu, onye ebezina!
Ide has gone to a better place
Goodbye Your Excellency Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme
Goodbye Ide Anambra