From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja

Eminent Nigerians from different walks of life, yesterday, converged on Abuja, for a night of tributes in honour of former governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife.

The event was attended by the speaker of the House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, represented by the Deputy Minority Whip, George Ozodinobi;  former Senate president, Anyim Pius Anyim; former Osun State governor, Olagunsonye Oyinlola; chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, Professor Obirorah Okonkwo amongst others.

Former Ogun State governor, Chief Segun Osoba, who chaired the event, in his tribute, described the late Ezeife as a champion of democracy. Osoba stated that the deceased in his lifetime was in the vanguard for a better Nigeria.

He recalled that the late Ezeife and other eminent Igbo leaders initiated the handshake across the Niger to foster collaboration between the people of South East and South West.

He said the late Anambra supported the winner of the  June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola fully, in his quest to be president. Osoba added that even when the election was annulled, the late Ezeife was part of the National Democratic Coalition ( NADECO), which sought the revalidation of the poll.

“Ezeife was  a champion of truth. A champion of what is good for Nigeria. He supported Abiola fully.

He stood with us in NADECO.. He was among those who started what is called the handshake across the Niger.We are enjoying democracy  today, because the likes of Ezeife stood for Nigeria.”

Other speakers including Anyim also paid tribute to the departed statesman.

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Chairman of the National Burial Committee, Okwesilieze Nwodo,  said the best way to honour the late Ezeife was for Igbo leaders to live simple and courageous lives like the deceased former governor.

“As we mourn our own Okwadike, let us remind ourselves that death is an inevitable end and live lives that will impact humanity that we will be remembered for when we leave this world.

“Okwadike lived a life that we are all proud of today, so I admonish you all to imbibe such lifestyle for the benefit of those we will leave behind at death.”

Ezeife died on Thursday, December 14, 2023, after a brief illness at the Federal Medical Centre, Abuja. He was aged 85.

Chief Nwakaire Ezeife, who announced the passage of  the elder statesman on behalf the family,  said he died at the Federal Medical Centre, Abuja, on Thursday,

On behalf of the Ezeife Dynasty of Igbo-Ukwu, I wish to announce the promotion to glory of our most distinguished son, Okwadike, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife,CON.

“He was a former Federal permanent secretary, the first executive governor of Anambra, and staunch politician.

“More details about the deceased and the arrangements for his state burial will be announced later,” he said.