Former President Shehu Shagari has condoled with the family of the late former Vice President Alex Ekwueme who died on Sunday night.
In a statement on Monday in Sokoto, Shagari, said that Ekwueme’s death was a huge loss to the entire nation.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ekwueme, was Vice President during Shagari’s administration in the second republic – 1979 and 1983.
He died in a London hospital at 85.
Shagari described him as a brother and a humble Nigerians who contributed in various capacities to the nation’s development.
“It is with deep sense of loss that I learned about the demise of my brother and former vice president.
“On behalf of my family, I sincerely commiserate with Nigerians on his death.
“May his soul rest in peace,” he said.
Also, Senate President Bukola Saraki expressed grief over Ekwueme’s death.
Saraki said in a statement in Abuja that Ekwueme was a rare personality and an exceptional leader who dedicated himself to the development of the country.
The statement was signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu.
Saraki prayed God to grant Ekwueme eternal rest and give his family and the nation the grace to bear the loss.
“I join the entire nation to mourn the passing of one of Nigeria’s most illustrious sons, Dr Alex Ekwueme, our first elected Vice-President.
“As we mourn his death, we celebrate his dedication and service to the development of our country.
“We remember his exemplary courage in the face of overwhelming odds – when he stood up to past military regimes in the struggle for restoration of democracy and his dexterity in his personal pursuits as a successful architect, lawyer, businessman and philanthropist.
“He will be sorely missed,’’ Saraki said.
Immediate past Senate President David Mark described Ekwueme as a quintessential leader and a hero of democracy.
In a statement, Mark said that the elder statesman was unique in character and leadership.
The statement was signed by his Media Assistant, Mr Paul Mumeh.
He noted that Ekwueme was among the leading indigenous architects who designed the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
He also noted that Ekwueme relentlessly struggled for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria when he led the famous G34 that later metamorphosed into the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He listed Ekwueme’s exploits in politics and leadership to include conception of the segmentation of Nigeria into six geo-political zones for administrative and political convenience during the 1994/1995 Constitutional Conference.
“Interestingly, the six geo-political zonal structure (North-West, North-East, South-East, South-West, North-Central and South-South) has remained the roadmap for power sharing arrangement in Nigeria.”
According to Mark, Nigeria and the entire Africa has lost a visionary leader.
“He was a forefront politician who brought intellectualism into governance.
“His quest for excellence, due process and rule of law in Nigeria will remain a reference point in politics and leadership in many years to come,” he said.
Mark urged the Federal Government to immortalise Ekwueme for his contributions to national development.
An Igbo group, the Ndigbo Unity Forum (NUF) also described Ekwueme’s death as a huge loss to Igboland and Nigeria as a whole.
The President of NUF, Mr Augustine Chukwudum, told NAN in Enugu that Ekwueme wrote his name on the sand of time.
According to Chukwudum, Ekwueme’s gentleness and civility reflected in his political life, making politics a beautiful game, not a do-or-die affair.
He urged Nigerian youths interested in politics to emulate the late vice president’s political lifestyle.
“He is a good role model for the youth and others who want to make careers in politics and public service,’’ he said.
NAN reports that Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme was born on October 21, 1932.
He got his primary education at St John’s Anglican Central School, Ekwulobia, Anambra State, and attended King’s College, Lagos.
He secured Fulbright Scholarship in the U.S. and attended the University of Washington DC where he earned bachelor’s degree in architecture and city planning.
He obtained a master’s degree in urban planning.
Ekwueme also had degrees law and some other fields.
He obtained a Ph.D. in architecture from the University of Strathclyde.
He is the Ide of the Oko Kingdom in Anambra State, where his younger brother Prof. Lazarus Ekwueme is the Traditional Ruler.
Ekwueme participated in the Nigeria National Constitutional Conference in 1994/1995, where he served in the Committee on the Structure and Framework of the Constitution.
The elder statesman died at 10p.m., according to his brother, Laz.
Ekwueme, who turned 85 in October, was reported to have collapsed in his residence in Enugu few weeks ago and was taken to Memfys Nuerosurgery Hospital, Enugu, from where he was flown to London.