Former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme, 85, has died in a London clinic, the family confirmed on Monday.
Ekwueme’s younger brother and traditional ruler of Oko, Igwe Laz Ekwueme, confirmed the death in a statement.
Laz said the late Second Republic vice-president of Nigeria died about 10p.m. on Sunday night.
Ekwueme, who was born on Oct. 21, 1932, was reported to have collapsed in his residence in Enugu few days after celebrating his 85th birthday.
He was immediately taken to a hospital in Enugu from where he was moved to London for further medical attention on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ekwueme was the Vice-President to Alhaji Shehu Shagari from Oct. 1 1979, to Dec. 31, 1983, when the administration was overthrown in a military coup.
Reacting to the development, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, described the death as a colossal loss to Igbo people and Nigeria.
Nwodo told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka that Ekwueme made significant contributions in his public service that guided the country well.
“I served as a minister during the time Ekwueme was vice-president of Nigeria and his contributions were outstanding,’’ he said.
Nwodo also noted Ekwueme’s contributions during the National Constitutional Conference that led to the creation of six geo-political zones in Nigeria.
He said Ekwueme was a good example of a patriotic and forthright Nigerian and an illustrious Igbo son, whose roles in the peace and stability of the country could not be questioned.
In his reaction, a former National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, said the death of Ekwueme was regrettable.
“Ekwueme, not minding his age is very useful to you at anytime you engage him on issues and his death is very regrettable at this time irrespective of his age,’’ he said.
Similarly, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, said Ekwueme showed good example of what an Igbo man should be.
“Ekwueme represented the Igbo people well in his public service, though his death is painful, we pray God to grant his soul eternal rest,’’ Uwazuruike said.
Igwe Ralp Ekpeh, the traditional ruler of Enugwu Ukwu in Anambra, described the death as a great loss to Anambra people, Ndigbo, Nigeria and Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion.
Prof. Stella Okunna, Dean Faculty of Social Sciences, Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka described Ekwueme as one of the pillars of democracy in Nigeria.
Okunna, a former Commissioner for Information in Anambra, said the contributions of Ekwueme would be greatly missed at this time democratic governance in Nigeria was still evolving.