Obasanjo, Gov. Abiodun pay tribute to late Ernest Shonekan

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…As FG orders flag to fly half mast for three days

By Bankole Taiwo, Abeokuta

Former President,  Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has described former Head of the Interim National Government (ING), late Chief Ernest Shonekan as a unifying force for the nation.

He declared that, his contribution to the growth and development of democracy in Nigeria cannot be forgotten in a hurry.

Obasanjo in a condolence letter to Mrs Margaret Shonekan, copy of which was made available to Nigerian NewsDirect in Abeokuta by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, said the late Business mogul was “a role model and an epitome of the good in the nation’s business firmament of mixed blessings.”

“He would be remembered as a man of sustained strongwill to succeed. Coming from humble background, rising, stepping and peaking at the topmost plum in corporate management, and the very top of the giant United Africa Company (UAC) ladder, attest to his sagacity, tenacity and steadfastness.

“He founded, in 1994, the Economic Summit Group, an advocacy group and think tank for private sector-led development of the Nigerian economy, and it remains, till today, sustaining the legacy of helping to support stakeholders in the execution of policies, programmes and strategies in response to any emerging trends in national and global economies.”

Obasanjo who received, while currently on international assignment as the High Representative of the African Union for the Horn of Africa, “with great shock, the news of the death of one of the illustrious sons of Africa, a community leader, a distinguished business baron and an exemplary leader in the private sector and, of course, the former Chairman of UAC Nigeria Limited, Chief Ernest Shonekan, with an admixture of joy for a life well spent and sadness for the loss of a beloved man after God’s heart.”

On the political scene, Obasanjo noted that, “Chief Shonekan, as the Interim National Government in Nigeria in1993, though short-lived for the period of three months through the palace coup orchestrated by General Sani Abacha, rendered outstanding service to our country, and we will never forget that.

“It is also worthy of note that as Special Envoy on the Implementation of the Abuja Agreement on Zimbabwe in 2001 under my administration as the President of Nigeria; and Chairman, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) under Yar’Adua’s administration in 2008, he was forthright, dedicated and showed great patriotism in the discharge of his duties.

“He was a unifying force for the nation and his contribution to the growth and development of democracy in Nigeria cannot be forgotten in a hurry. In all situations, he lived nobly and he died in nobility. He was an achiever.  Indeed, Chief Shonekan died at a time the country is in dire need of his leadership, wealth of experience and wisdom to tackle the multifaceted challenges facing the nation,” Obasanjo was quoted as having said.

Mourning the passage of the former Interim Head of State, Gov. Dapo Abiodun described the death of the elder statesman as a colossal loss to the state and the nation at large.

Shonekan, who headed the ING between August 26 and November 17 1993, breathed his last in Lagos, early Tuesday at the age of 85.

Prince Abiodun, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, described the death of the Egba born British-trained lawyer, industrialist and traditional chief, as a colossal loss to Nigeria in general and Ogun State in particular.

He expressed grief that Chief Shonekan, former chairman chairman of the UAC Nigeria Plc., passed on at a period Nigeria needed his experience most as a technocrat.

“Chief Shonekan was a first-class administrator, boardroom guru and astute leader whose imprint in the business and political firmaments cannot be erased. His commitment to peaceful resolution and patriotic fervour will live after him.

Chief Shonekan, an Egba traditional chief (Babasale of Egbaland), was a true Nigerian who spent most of his life for the betterment of the country,” the statement said.

While noting that his death has created a huge vacuum in Nigeria, and Egbaland, Gov. Abiodun prayed for the repose of the deceased’s soul and that God will comfort his immediate family and the Egba Traditional Council.

He will be sorely missed, the statement concluded.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has equally ordered the country flag to fly at half-mast from Wednesday January 12 to Friday 14 in honour of the Late Head of Interim National Government.

The statement from the office of the Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustapha says “following the death of Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan, GCFR, President Muhammadu Buhari, has directed that the national flag be flown at half-mast, effective from Wednesday 12th – Friday 14th, January, 2022 as a mark of respect for the former Head of State who died on Tuesday 11th January, 2022 at the age of 85.”