Raphael Ede, Enugu
It was a day of grief and sorrow for South East governors and the people of the region, yesterday, when the remains of late Second Republic Vice President, Dr. Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme, arrived the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.
Ekwueme died on November 19, 2017, in a London clinic.
He will be buried in his country home at Oko, Anambra State, on February 2.
The remains of the late former vice president was flown from Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, in a Nigeria Air Force aeroplane marked NAF 918, which landed at the Akanu Ibiam airport at 2:08pm.
Ekwueme’s remains was received by the South East Governors’ Forum, led by its Chairman and Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, accompanied by governors Willie Obiano (Anambra), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Rochas Okorocha (Imo). Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu was absent.
Ekwueme’s brother and the traditional ruler of Oko, Igwe Laz Ekwueme led his wives and children to the airport reception.
Other Igbo dignitaries who were at the airport to pay their last respects to the late vice president included the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, National Chairman of United Progressive Party (UPP), Chief Chikwas Okorie, Anglican Bishop of Enugu, Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, Speaker of Ebonyi House of Assembly, Ogbonnia Nwaifuru, who led members to the airport, Secretary to the State Government (Ebonyi), Prof. Bernard Odeh, who also led the state executives, chairmen of Ebonyi and Enugu State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Onyekachi Nwaebonyi and Augustine Nnamani and Secretary to the State Government (Enugu), as well as Elder Gabriel Ajah. Archbishop Chukwuma prayed for a successful burial and described Ekwueme as “a great politician in Nigeria who will never be forgotten as far as politics is concerned in this country.
“We are happy that government is giving him a befitting burial but one thing is that people should emulate the legacies he left behind.
“It is not good to say all sorts of things without emulating what he left behind.”
After the bishop finished his opening prayers for the departed elder statesman, South East governors filed round the casket bearing Ekwueme’s remains, and paid their last respects.
After this, his corpse was taken to his Independence Layout Enugu residence, closely followed by the governors and other dignitaries for a brief stop-over before it was taken away to the mortuary from where it would be brought back, today, to the Cathedral Church of the Good Shepherd, Enugu, for service of songs.