From Magnus Eze, Enugu, Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja,  Emmanuel Uzor, Awka and George Onyejiuwa, Owerri


President Bola Tinubu, the South East Governors’ Forum (SEGOF), Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Peter Obi, Senator Shehu Sani and others have extolled the virtues of Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, who died at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, yesterday.

A native of Uburu in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi, Onu was a politician, teacher, author, engineer and Prince of Uburu until his death.

The statement by the family spokesman, Uzoma Onu, indicated that the former governor was a bridge builder as shown by the numerous chieftaincy titles conferred on him from various parts of the country, adding that he had toured almost all the local government in Nigeria.

“He was a distinguished and patriotic Nigerian who served the nation effectively and efficiently in all the numerous positions he held. A fine statesman, party leader, political strategist, brilliant scholar, outstanding intellectual, public speaker, teacher, lecturer, inventor, researcher, consultant, engineer, youth mobiliser, accomplished administrator, prolific author and poet, a man of great ideas as well as a distinguished man of exceptional principle, integrity, greatly missed by all who knew him for a long time to come.”

The family said it would announce his burial arrangements in due time.

Onu was the first chairman of the Conference of Nigerian Governors (Nigeria Governors’ Forum) in the aborted Third Republic (1991-1993), former national chairman/national leader of defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). Also, he initiated and facilitated discussions that finally resulted in the formation of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which has been the ruling political party in the country since May 29, 2015.

He was Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, a position he held for seven years having been re-appointed in the second tenure of former president, Muhammadu Buahri. He resigned as minister and contested for the presidential primaries of the APC.

President Tinubu said he was a luminous star in Nigeria’s political firmament. He described him as an accomplished scholar, first-class engineer, a man of proven integrity, defiant to indiscipline, but ever yielding to the highest standards of rectitude.

He affirmed that Onu epitomised Nigeria in concord; in wholeness, as the late statesman believed in and defended Nigeria’s unity, advocated peace, and promoted fellowship across the Niger.

He also condoled with the friends and associates of Onu, Ebonyi and Abia State Governments, and all Nigerians grieving this gaping loss.

President Tinubu prayed to God Almighty to grant repose to the gentle soul of this great leader.

•Intellectual giant- Buhari

According to a statement issued by his media aide, Garba Shehu, former president, Buhari, joined family members of the deceased and the entire nation in mourning the demise of the notable politician.

He said the nation has lost one of its most outstanding scientific minds and intellectuals.

“He was an intellectual giant. My heart goes out to his family, the government and people of Abia State and the country at large. May his soul rest in peace.”

•Gentleman, astute technocrat

In its reaction, the South East governors described his demise as a great loss to the nation and South in particular.

The Director General, Senator Uche Ekwunife, said the nation has lost a gentleman,  astute technocrat, worthy son of Igbo and man who stood on the path of justice.

“Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu was a visionary leader, brilliant man and passionate advocate for justice. As the first civilian governor of Abia State, he brought to bear his ingenuity in leadership which opened the state to the world

“He was a man of peace, wisdom, and compassion. The South East Governors’ Forum has lost a trusted senior colleague and brother.

“His death has dealt a huge blow to the nation but we are consoled by the fact that he lived a selfless and fulfilled life as former Governor and Minister in Nigeria.

•Uzodimma, Obi pay tributes

In a separate statement, Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State said with his death, the South East, Nigeria and the global community have lost a statesman who believed so much in the unity, peace, progress and development of Nigeria.

He said Onu remained a leading light in the APC family having, for many years, imbibed the tenets of progressive democracy as the easiest route to serve the people.

Related News

In a condolence message issued to the press, Peter Obi highlighted Onu’s notable contributions to Nigeria’s educational advancement, both as a lecturer and an author.

“Dr. Onu epitomised leadership characterised by a commitment to peace, progress and justice. He courageously championed equity and good governance, leaving a lasting impact on our nation.”

Obi emphasised Onu’s efforts to promote local production for national development during his tenure as minister.

“The passing of Dr. Onu is an immense loss to our nation. May God comfort his family and all of us as we mourn his departure, granting us the strength to bear this irreplaceable loss. May he rest in eternal peace.”

Mr. Obi described his death as a significant loss to the nation.

•National tragedy –Ebonyi APC, others

Some political leaders in Ebonyi described his demise as a national tragedy. The leaders, who spoke in Abakaliki at separate interviews, described him as a detribalised Nigerian and a man who always stood for the truth.

Chief Eze Nwachukwu, member representing Ohaukwu/Ebonyi Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives said Nigeria had been robbed of a political giant and truth-bearer.

Nwachukwu, who served as the chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) under Onu as leader of the party, also said Ebonyi has lost a great son and path-finder who worked tirelessly to birth the ruling APC.

On the legacies of the politician, Nwachukwu noted that Onu was a foremost nationalist and a detribalised Nigerian who sacrificed his personal pleasure and interest for the good of all Nigerians. “His impact as a nationalist, detribalised Nigerian and as a man who stood for truth, lived for truth and died for justice will be felt from generation to generation,” he said.

•Pan-Nigerian leader, authentic patriot –ADF

In its reaction, the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) expressed shock. Its National Secretary, Chief Abia Onyike said he was a wonderful human being, a first-class brain, and one of the finest Nigerian political leaders.

“He had the best education money can buy. He was a man of character and high integrity, not in the banal sense we use the term in Nigeria but in the real sense of the word. He was an exemplary leader who lived a very simple life. He was inspired by the late Dr. Akanu Ibiam, the first governor of the Eastern Region.

“Onu’s house in his village Uburu was built in 1985. It is a modest bungalow of four rooms. Even after becoming governor of old Abia State (1992-93) and two-term Minister of Science and Technology (2015-2022), Onu never added a single block in his compound. He was a great man, a towering African and pan-Nigerian leader of the highest class,” the ADF scribe said.

Noting that Onu was very close to the leadership of ADF and met a couple of times with the members of the organisation in Enugu, Onyike said they shall miss him greatly.

Decent, disciplined -Sani

In his reaction, Sen. Shehu Sani said Chief Onu is one of Nigeria’s most distinguished, decent and disciplined political figures in history.

“He has been an influential figure in Nigeria’s politics for over four decades. A Senator in the second republic, governor in the third republic and presidential candidate, party chairman and minister in the fourth republic.

“He is a rare breed politician who lived as unstained, untainted and unblemished like his white apparel.He was a man who lived and served his country with decorum and impactful anonymity.He was a true patriot whose nationalist credentials can’t be faulted by any section of the country.

“Onu was an unnoticed and unappreciated gentleman and national leader. In words and in deeds, he lived above politics of rancour and controversy.”

According to Sani, Chief Onu could have been Nigeria’s president in 1999 after he won the APP primaries in Kaduna attended by the likes of the late Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Ojukwu.

“He was deliberately displaced after a midnight merger with the then AD.  The military wanted Obasanjo and Falae. In 1999, the outgoing military wanted power to shift to the South West.

“Onu was a simple man. His known residence in Asokoro remains the one rented for him by his party, the ANPP, when he was elected its chairman. He remained there throughout his tenure as a minister. May his soul rest in peace.”

Also speaking, Chief Stanley Okoro-Emegha, state chairman of APC said the entire Ebonyi and APC family were saddened over the news of the death of the minister.

Chief Hyacinth Oteh, former Chief of Staff (CoS) to former governor Martin Elechi and a close associate of the former minister described him as a “fascinating politician” who enjoined him to always stick with the truth no matter the consequences and stood for truth and justice throughout his career as a politician.

“Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu brought peace to this nation and the last thing he said to the country was ‘where is Justice? And so, while Onu joins his creator, Nigeria will continue to grapple with that question,” Oteh said.