The remains of Second Republic Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, was finally committed to mother earth at exactly 2.40pm yesterday in his home town, Oko in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State.
He was laid to rest in his expansive compound after a funeral service at St John The Divine Church, Oko, before a large number of mourners from all walks of life.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo led an unprecedented crowd including former President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and his wife, Dame Patience, former Vice President Namadi Sambo, five governors, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha to bid the great icon farewell, announced the renaming of the institution.
Osinbajo said, late Ekwueme, practiced principles of personal sacrifice for others and would be remembered for many things not only by the people of the South East, but the entire country.
The first son of the late politician, Pastor Goodheart Obi Ekwueme, thanked the federal government for the gesture and for making the burial a memorable one. But he asked for more, a veiled reference to the deceased’s often repeated request for the upgrading of the Federal Polytecnic in Oko to a University of Technology.
Preaching at the service, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, the Most Rev Nicholas Okoh, said what the country needed to move forward was integrity in governance with its allied products of honesty, reliability. Okoh, who led over 50 Bishops and over 100 other clerics, said if the new breed politicians could behave like Ekwueme, that the country would be a better place for everyone.
Former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, in a tribute said Ekwueme was not the typical Nigerian politician. Anyaoku, a close friend of the deceased, said Ekwueme had left a remarkable legacy in three key areas-national and international service, politics and philanthropy.
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State thanked President Muhammadu Buhari and the South East governors for their dedication in making sure that Ekwueme got a befitting burial.
The presence of All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former President Goodluck Jonathan and former Vice President, Namadi Sambo, at the funeral, drew a loud ovation from the massive crowd.
Also in attendance were Governors Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Akinwumi Ambode (Lagos), and Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe), as well as a former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, and his AGPA counterpart, Dr. Victor Oye.
Others were Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige; Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu; Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe; former governors Sam Egwu (Ebonyi), James Ibori (Delta), and Bisi Akande (Osun); former Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Allison Madueke; Senator Joy Emodi; Prof Jerry Gana; former Governor of Abia State, Senator TA Orji, and Senator Jim Nwobodo.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has renamed the Federal University, Ndufu-Ikwo in Ebonyi State after the late former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who announced the renaming during the burial of Ekwueme, said the renaming had already been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, who had said that Ekwueme was being honoured for his contributions to national development.
Governor David Umahi described the development as a welcome one and part of his administration’s educational policy.
Governor Umahi in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Emmanuel Uzor, commended the federal government for appreciating his educational policy and rewarding same by renaming a federal government university in the state “after a sage and former Vice President of Nigeria.”