Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The ceremony for the burial rites of late Second Republic Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, continued at the at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, in Abuja, yesterday.
The Nigerian Police Force led the parade and added colour and glamour to the solemn event.
Osinbajo, in his remarks, noted that Ekwueme was committed to selfless service to the country, region, Africa and the world.
He said the country is reminded of the late elder statesman’s timeless ideals of integrity, loyalty and kindness to all and expressed hope that Ekwueme’s vision and sacrifice will not be in vain.
“As we receive the body of the first elected vice president of Nigeria, Dr. Alex Ekwueme (GCON), this morning (yesterday), we are reminded of his commitment of the timeless ideals of integrity, of loyalty and kindness to all. We thank the almighty God for giving us 85 glorious years of Dr. Alex Ekwueme.
“When he was asked what his vision was for the county, he said ‘I will want to see Nigeria be a nation not just a country.’ Those words tell us how committed he was to the unity of this country and I pray that in death and as we remember him, that this will not only encourage us but also cement the relationship between all of the people and nationalities of this country, so that we become and remain one.
Other personalities present were Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of the Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Nkem Okeke, representative of former President Shehu Shagari, Hon. Aminu Shagari, Senator Andy Uba, who represents Ekwueme’s senatorial district in the Senate, among other members of the National Assembly.
Others dignitaries present included former Chief of General Staff, Ebitu Okiwe, former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, former Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Ebele Okeke, FCT Commissioner of Police, Sadiq Bello, AIG Federal Operations, Tayo Lekan, Permanent secretaries, serving and retired and heads of government agencies.
Members of the Federal Executive Council included ministers of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Capital Territory, Labour and Productivity, Education, Budget and National Planning and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
The ceremony, which began at 12:19 included inspection of the parade by Osinbajo, movement of the corpse by the pall bearers (Ebony) at 12:26, handing and taking over of corpse by Body of Commissioners of Police, guard of honour for the corpse (rendition of the National Anthem), Osinbajo and family representative, Pastor Goodheart Ekwueme, joined the parade train and escorted the corpse to an Enugu-bound plane at 12:39.
In his tribute to Ekwueme, former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu described him as “a man of destiny who exemplified the best of Nigeria. A child of humble beginnings in Oko, Anambra State, through the dint of hard work, love of country and his innate sense of dignity and decorum, Alex Ekwueme became a consummate statesman and visionary.”