The death of former Senator representing Enugu North Senatorial District, Ayogu Eze, came to many Nigerians as a shock. Eze died on April 25, 2024, at an undisclosed hospital in Abuja after a protracted illness. He was aged 65.

The former Senator was born on November 23, 1958 and hailed from Umuida community in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area (LGA) of Enugu State. He obtained a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Mass Communication from the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu. He later went to International Institute for Journalism (IIJ), Berlin, Germany and came tops among the G55 student stream made up of working journalists from about 14 African countries. Among others, he studied for a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Lagos, attended the executive education programmes of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Said Business School at the University of Oxford, and the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge.  

After his education, he practised as a journalist for a number of years before plunging into politics in 1998. Between 1983 and 1989, Eze was a reporter and staff writer with The Guardian newspaper. He later became Head of Guardian Express, Guardian’s evening newspaper, where he broke the news of the deportation of Patrick Wilmot, a major critic of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida’s military junta. He moved to edit the Platform Magazine in 1989 from where he joined Newswatch Magazine in 1991 as Associate Editor.  

In 1992, Eze was appointed Special Adviser, General Duties, to the then Governor Okwesilieze Nwodo of Enugu State. When the late Gen. Sani Abacha took over government in November 1992 and sacked the government of the day, Eze went into the private sector. In 1998, he became a pioneer national ex-officio member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He later emerged pioneer secretary of the party in Enugu State. In 1999, he became the Commissioner for Information and Culture under the then Governor Chimaroke Nnamani. He later served as Special Adviser to Governor Nnamani on Public Affairs before he contested and won the senate seat of his constituency in 2007. It was on the platform of the PDP.

At the senate, he served in various committees, including Constitution Drafting and Amendment Committee, Police Affairs, National Planning, Marine Transport and Federal Character & Inter-Government Affairs. He was also appointed Chairman, Senate Committee on Information and Media (Senate Spokesman) and Chairman, Senate Committee on Works.

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In 2015, he left the senate to contest for the governorship of Enugu State. He lost the PDP primary election to Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who later became the governor of the state. In 2019, he sought to contest the governorship election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), having defected to the party in 2018. He withdrew from the race when it became apparent that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) omitted his name from the final list of contestants in the election.

Ex-Senator Eze garnered a number of honours and titles. He was a holder of one of Nigeria’s prestigious national honours, Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), conferred on him in 2012. Among his chieftaincy titles were Ebube Dike of Ogruteland, Okwulora of Umuozzi both in Igbo Eze North LGA of Enugu State, and Odezulu Igbo of Unadu in Igbo Eze South LGA of Enugu State.   

Prominent Nigerians paid glowing tributes to Eze following his demise. The APC in Enugu State expressed shock and sadness over his death, describing it as sudden and tragic. In a statement, the state Chairman of the party, Chief Ugochukwu Agballah, said Eze was a major stakeholder of the APC in Enugu State and, until his demise, the member representing Enugu State on the board of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC). He said APC Enugu State held in reverence the nostalgic memory of Eze’s legacy of service.

President Bola Tinubu also sent his condolences to the Eze family, his friends, associates and former colleagues in the Senate. He prayed God to grant his soul repose and comfort those mourning him. Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State expressed deep grief over Eze’s demise. Describing it as a monumental loss to the state and Nigeria as a whole, Mbah said Eze served the nation creditably and that “his services to the people of Enugu State and the nation will be sorely missed, especially at a time the nation is in need of experienced hands like him.”

We commiserate with the family, friends and colleagues of Senator Eze both in government and in the media and pray that God will grant them the fortitude to bear the loss. Enugu State Government should immortalise him.