By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has condoled with Nigerians, and the Government and people of Anambra, on the passing away of elder statesman and former Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, who died on Nov. 19.
President Buhari, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, in Abuja on Monday, commiserated with the entire Oko Kingdom, the Aguata Council of Traditional Rulers, and the Ekwueme family, over the loss of the family’s patriarch.
The President noted that the elder statesman’s regular counsels on national issues and mediations for peaceful co-existence would be sorely missed.
He affirmed that Ekwueme’s unwavering commitment to the unity of Nigeria had been a major encouragement to many governments.
President Buhari recalled the personal sacrifices he made in helping to lay the foundation for sustainable democracy in Nigeria.
He also observed that late Ekwueme had worked assiduously to improve the livelihood of many poor and underprivileged people through the Alex Ekwueme Foundation, describing him as a man who served his country and humanity.
The President prayed that the almighty God would receive the soul of the former Vice President, and grant his family the fortitude to bear the loss.
Alex EKwueme, who died in a London hospital on Sunday at the age of 85, was the first elected Vice-President of Nigeria, from 1979 to 1983.
Several weeks ago, he slumped in his Enugu residence. He was immediately taken to the Memfys Neurosurgery Hospital Enugu, where he went into coma.
As soon as he was stabilised in the hospital he was flown to London in an air ambulance last week on the orders by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Ekwueme, who was Vice President to President Shehu Shagari, was ousted in a coup staged by military officers led by Brigadier Muhammadu Buhari on 31 December 1983.
He attended the University of London; King’s College; Lagos, Nigerian Law School; University of Strathclyde and University of Washington.
Ekwueme was a distinguished architect who started his professional career as an Assistant Architect with a Seattle-based firm, Leo A. Daly and Associates, and also with the London-based firm Nickson and Partners.
He worked briefly with ESSO West Africa, Lagos, overseeing the Construction and Maintenance department.
He founded Ekwueme Associates, Architects and Town Planners, the first indigenous architectural firm in Nigeria.