The elder statesman’s death was disclosed in a statement issued by the Ekwueme family of Oko, in Anambra State.
The statement was released in the early hours of Monday.
The statement, signed by the former Vice-President’s brother, who is also the traditional ruler of Oko, Igwe Laz Ekwueme, explained that he passed on around 10pm on Sunday, in a London hospital, the United Kingdom.
The statement read, “The Ekwueme family regrets to announce the peaceful passing away of their patriarch, the former Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme, GCON.
“The sad event occurred at the London Clinic at 10pm on Sunday, 19th November, 2017.”
Ekwueme was hospitalised in Memfys Neurosurgery Hospital, Enugu, for about two weeks before he was flown abroad for medical treatment on November 12.
The elder statesman was rushed to the hospital after collapsing at his residence in the Independence Layout area of Enugu on October 28.
It was learnt that the elder statesman was in a coma at the time he was admitted to the hospital.
Ekwueme, who celebrated his 85th birthday on October 10, reportedly suffered from a chest infection, according to his family members.
His death, has, however, thrown prominent Nigerians into mourning. From former Presidents Shehu Shagari and Olusegun Obasanjo to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, and from the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, tributes have continued to pour in for the deceased shortly after his death was announced by his family.
Also, the South-East Governors’ Forum led by Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi,governors Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos, Ibikunle Amosun, (Ogun); Willie Obiano (Anambra), Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa also paid tributes to the departed politician on Monday.
Also, the Peoples Democratic Party, a national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, the President General of Ohanaeze, Chief John Nwodo, and former Senate President, David Mark, paid glowing tributes to the deceased.
Buhari mourns Ekwueme, says he’s committed to a united Nigeria
Buhari on Monday sent condolences to Nigerians, and to the Government and people of Anambra State, on the death of the former Vice-President.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President commiserated with the entire Oko Kingdom, the Aguata Council of Traditional Rulers, and the Ekwueme family, over the loss of the family’s patriarch, Ekwueme.
He said the deceased’s regular counsel on national issues and mediations for peaceful co-existence would be sorely missed.
The statement read in part, “The President affirms that Dr. Ekwueme’s unwavering commitment to the unity of Nigeria had been a major encouragement to many governments, recalling the personal sacrifices he made in helping to lay the foundations for sustainable democracy in Nigeria.
“President Buhari believes Dr. Ekwueme worked assiduously to improve the livelihood of many poor and underprivileged people through the Alex Ekwueme Foundation, describing him as a man who served his country and humanity.”
I’ve lost my brother, says Shagari
Shagari, with whom Ekwueme served between 1979 and 1983, commiserated with Nigerians over the death of his then deputy.
Shagari, in a one-paragraph condolence message he personally signed, described the late Ekwueme as, “my brother.”
“It is with a deep sense of loss that I heard about the demise of my brother and former Vice-President, Alex Ekwueme. On behalf of myself, I sincerely commiserate with Nigerians on his death. May his soul rest in peace,” Shagari’s statement read.
He lived nobly and he died in nobility –Obasanjo
Obasanjo in his condolence message signed by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, said the late Ekwueme was a great Nigerian who devoted his life to the service of his fatherland.
The tribute read in part, “The late Dr. Ekwueme was a selfless, disciplined and patriotic Nigerian who lived a worthy and exemplary life.”
The former president acknowledged his diverse and worthy achievements in the multi-faceted endeavours, which he had undertaken in the course of a meritorious career in public and private life.
It read further, “His demise is a loss to his family who would miss a caring patriarch, the people of Anambra State who would miss a guide and the good people of Nigeria who would miss a leader. In all situations, he lived nobly and he died in nobility.
“His irrepressible thirst for knowledge and education, which propelled his foray into many fields of intellectual pursuit and his distinguished role in the development of the architectural profession in Nigeria are shining examples to the younger generation, many of whom have, in fact, benefitted from his philanthropy and goodwill.
“It cannot be gainsaid that, over the years, Dr. Ekwueme had shown courage of conviction and integrity in his dealings at the pinnacle of national affairs, notably with his record of sincerity as Vice-President of Nigeria between 1979 and 1983 and as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, during my administration as a democratically-elected President of Nigeria.
“It would not be an exaggeration to state that with his exemplary lifestyle and commitment to noble and worthy causes, he rightly came to be regarded as one of the titans of Nigerian politics and an illustrious elder statesman.
“I had hoped he would continue to play an active role in strengthening democracy in Nigeria as well as lending his voice to the ennobling ideal of national unity. But what can we do? I would only urge that we should accept this circumstance as the unquestionable will of God who gives and takes life according to His will and wish.”
His demise, end of an era – South-East Governors’ Forum
The Chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi, described Ekwueme’s death as the end of an era.
“The death of our father and leader, Dr. Ekwueme, is so devastating especially now that his fatherly advice is needed most; he was a great Nigerian and a great believer in the unity of the country. As his children, we have learnt a lot from his deep political sagacity,” Umahi said.
Saraki, Dogara, Ekweremadu pay tributes to Ekwueme
Saraki, Dogara, and Ike Ekweremadu, also paid tributes to the late Ekwueme.
Saraki, said in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, described Ekwueme as a man of exemplary courage who dedicated himself to the development of the country.
“I join the entire nation to mourn the passing of one of Nigeria’s most illustrious sons, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, our first elected Vice-President.
“As we mourn his death, we celebrate his dedication and service to the development of our country.
“We remember his exemplary courage in the face of overwhelming odds – when he stood up to past military regimes in the struggle for restoration of democracy and his dexterity in his personal pursuits as a successful architect, lawyer, businessman and philanthropist.
“He will be sorely missed,’’ Saraki said.
Dogara, in a statement on Monday, said Ekwueme’s death was a monumental loss not just to Nigeria but the entire African continent.
“In times like these, elderly wisdom, experience and guidance of Dr. Ekwueme is needed by leaders at all levels so as to enable us to surmount the daunting challenges confronting us as a country and as Africans.
“Dr. Ekwueme was a philanthropist, a famous professional architect, lawyer, brilliant politician and a man of peace whose efforts in building bridges of friendship amongst the various peoples of Nigeria are legendary,” Dogara’s statement read partly.
On his part, Ekweremadu said Ekwueme would be remembered as a leader who bequeathed a legacy of integrity and strength of character as “he was until his death reputed to have left office as the Vice-President of Nigeria poorer.”
Ekwueme’s interventions helped Nigeria navigate critical points – Tinubu
Tinubu described Ekwueme as a man whose intellectual interventions helped Nigerian to navigate critical situations.
In a statement by his media office on Monday, Tinubu said, “As he contributed to Nigeria’s stability through his interventions, he also made laudable contributions to Nigeria’s political lexicon.
“It was Chief Ekwueme who, at the 1994-95 Constitutional Conference in Abuja, suggested the six geopolitical zones as a more realistic structure to create a more equitable system. This has stuck till date. The structure is also often cited in appointment-distribution and calculation.
“Dr. Ekwueme was a fine gentleman and a good family man. I mourn with his family. I mourn with the government and people of Anambra State. I mourn with Nigeria, for we have all lost a patriot.”
Ambode, Fayose mourn Ekwueme
Ambode and the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, have commiserated with family and the people of Anambra State and Nigerians in general over the demise of Ekwueme.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Idowu Adelusi, Fayose described the late vice president as a humanist who held no grudge against political enemies.
“Moreover, Dr Ekwueme’s contributions to the formation of our great party, the PDP, are etched in our minds.
“He joined others to struggle for the enthronement of democracy in the face of tyranny at its highest level. May his gentle soul find repose in the bosom of the Lord,” he said.
Ambode on Monday expressed sadness over the demise of Ekwueme
Ambode, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Habib Aruna, described the deceased as a complete gentleman, a thorough bred scholar, a philanthropist and a politician par excellence, who contributed his own quota to serving his country and humanity.
“Dr. Ekwueme was a man of many parts. He was a scholar of repute who had so many academic awards to his name. Not only did he bag degrees in Philosophy, History, Sociology, Law as well as Architecture and City Planning, he was a successful business- man to the core and impacted on the lives of his people positively.
“He was also a detribalised Nigerian who was committed to the course of a united, indivisible and prosperous Nigeria. He believed so much in all inclusive governance and was one of those patriotic Nigerians who contributed in laying the foundations of a sustainable democracy in Nigeria,” he said.
Ekwueme, a hero of democracy – Mark
The immediate-past Senate President, David Mark, described Ekwueme as a quintessential leader and a hero of democracy.
Mark, in a statement by his Media Assistant, Mr. Paul Mumeh, said, “He (Ekwueme) was a forefront politician who brought intellectualism into governance.
“His quest for excellence, due process and rule of law in Nigeria will remain a reference point in politics and leadership in many years to come.”
Obiano, Okorocha, Tambuwal, Akeredolu, Amosun, Daniel grieve
The governors of Anambra, Imo, Sokoto, Ogun and Ondo states, Willie Obiano, Rochas Okorocha, Aminu Tambuwal, Amosun and Rotimi Akeredolu, respectively, have also expressed sadness over Ekwueme’s passing.
Obiano, who said he was close to the late Ekwueme, said he had lost a father, a friend and a mentor.
“Dr. Ekwueme’s life is an open book that should inspire generations of Nigerians who need a beacon to guide them into evolving as true patriots who are willing to make sacrifices for the greatness of the country. He is an icon whose place is assured in our hearts in Anambra State,” said Obiano.
Okorocha, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, said the late Ekwueme would be remembered as a man who refused to play politics that would undermine the unity and oneness of the country.
“Dr. Ekwueme launched the Igbo into national politics since the Second Republic and refused to be cajoled into playing tribal politics, and until his death, Dr. Ekwueme remained in the mainstream of Nigerian politics because of his firm belief in oneness of the nation,” Okorocha said.
Tambuwal, in a statement by his spokesman, Mallam Imam Imam, said Ekwueme’s death was particularly painful to Sokoto, because the deceased proved himself as a dependable lieutenant to Shagari, who hails from Sokoto.
“For us in Sokoto, Dr. Ekwueme’s death comes with extra pain because he was Vice-President to one of our distinguished sons, Turakin Sokoto, Alhaji Shehu Shagari.
“The deceased proved himself an able lieutenant who, together with other members of their team, gave their best for the unity, progress and stability of the Nigerian federation in the Second Republic and beyond.”
A former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, in a statement by his media assistant, Ayo Giwa, described the late Ekwueme as an articulate, focused and disciplined patriot, who won “great respect from across the political spectrum putting him at a foremost spot as a legend and natural leader.”
Great icon of Nigeria democracy has fallen, says PDP
The PDP has commiserated with the family a former Vice President and Founding Chairman of the Party, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, who died in London on Sunday.
It said with his death, a great icon of Nigeria’s democracy has fallen.
A statement signed by the party’s spokesman, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, described Ekwueme as a man of many parts.
He said the Ide of Oko and Aguata actually served Nigeria and his immediate communities in many capacities.
Adeyeye said, “ He made considerable contributions to their socio-economic advancement especially, in the education of their youths to universities in the country and abroad through his Education Trust Fund.
“He was the founding chairman of our party, who mobilsed patriotic/eminent Nigerians accross the country under the Group of 34 (G-34) who fearlessly challenged the military despot, Sani Abacha, over his ambition of transforming undemocratically to a civilian president.
“Dr. Alex Ekwueme contested the 1998 Presidential Primary of the PDP in Jos, Plateau State, and lost gallantly to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who won the presidential election and became the President of Nigeria.
“Also, he was the first appointed chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, a position he voluntarily resigned from to make way for others to serve. To prove his dedication, commitment and loyalty to the PDP, and love for democracy, Dr. Ekwueme remained in the party till his death. We salute him.”
Adeyeye added that the late Icon celebrated his 85th birthday on October 21, 2017, and so could be said to have departed at a good old age, but said that the party wished he had lived longer so that it could continue to tap from his wealth of experience.
He also said it would be difficult for anyone to fill the position left by Ekwueme..
Immortalise Ekwueme, Ohanaeze tells FG
The Igbo socio-political and cultural organisation, Ohanaeze, has described Ekwueme as an outstanding patriot whose contributions to the country’s socio-political evolution would be indelible.
The President General of Ohanaeze, Chief John Nwodo, said in a statement in Abuja on Monday that with the demise of the first elected Vice-President of Nigeria, the country had lost one of the foremost advocates of a restructured federation.
He urged the Federal Government to immortalise Ekwueme.
“As Vice-President, Dr. Ekwueme was intellectually forthright, engaging, loyal and outstandingly patriotic.
“As a politician, he was courageous and original in his ideas.
“Ndigbo have lost a genius, a father and an intellectual giant,” Nwodo said.