Abia, Imo governors, others mourn Ogbonnaya Onu

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The Governors of Abia and Imo as well as other prominent Nigerians have continued to pay glowing tributes to the late former Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu.

Family sources confirmed the death of the elder statesman in an Abuja hospital on Thursday at the age of 72.

In Abia, Gov. Alex Otti expressed shock and sadness over the death of the state’s first Executive Governor.

In a statement issued in Umuahia by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Ferdinand Ekeoma, Otti described Onu’s death as a huge loss to Abia, Ebonyi, the South-East and nation at large.

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He also described the deceased as “a true statesman with the character, carriage and disposition required to reposition the nation for the better.

“Dr Ogbonnaya was a gentleman and statesman with rich experience and wealth of knowledge, and was very outstanding in his character, comportment and engagements.

“Even though he held public offices both as a governor and minister, respectively, at difficult times, he was never associated with conducts or controversies capable of diminishing his reputation and personality,” the statement added.

Otti pledged that Abia Government would honour and immortalise him “by upholding the true ideals of democracy, which he stood for”.

In a similar reaction, Gov. Hope Uzodimma of Imo expressed shock over Onu’s demise and described the incident as “devastating and unexpected”.

Uzodimma’s reaction is contained in statement issued in Owerri by his  Chief Press Secretary, Oguwike Nwachuku.

The statement read in part: “My principal received with shock the sad, devastating and unexpected news of the passing of Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, a man he loves to describe as one of Nigeria’s intellectual and political giants with extraordinary gentility.

“With Onu’s death, the South East, Nigeria and the global community have lost a statesman, who believed so much in the unity, peace, progress and development of Nigeria,” it added.

The statement further described Onu as “a leading light in the All Progressives Congress (APC) family having, for many years”.

Also reacting, the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide described the septuagenarian as “one of the most principled Nigerians”.

The National Publicity Secretary of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, stated this in a statement issued to newsmen in Enugu.

Ogbonnia stated that “Onu was a rare Nigerian, who chose to remain in the opposition throughout the 16 years of the Peoples’ Democratic Party.

”Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide received with a rude shock the news of the passing on of yet another Igbo Titan; a pathfinder, visionary, erudite scholar and astute politician, Onu at 72.”

“The President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, was heart-broken on hearing the sad news.

He added that Iwuanyanwu lamented the death of high profile Igbo leaders in close sequence, citing the death of his predecessor, Prof. George Obiozor, Prof. Joe Irukwu; Elder U. K. Kalu; Prof. Ben Nwabueze; Dr Sylvanus Ebigwei; Prof. Chike Edozien and Dr Herbert Wigwe.

“Also, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife and today, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu; most of who were members of the Presidential Advisory Council of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide,” Ogbonnia also stated.

In a statement by the Abia APC Publicity Secretary, Chief Offor Okorie, the party expressed sadness over Onu’s death.

Okorie described the deceased as “a true statesman”, whose death had plunged the party into a state of sober reflection.

He stated: “Abia APC is in a sober reflection and we are pained over the death of the first civilian Governor of the state.

“We have lost a great hero in Nigerian politics, but we cannot question God because ‘He gives and He takes’.”

Others, who also paid tribute to the late elder statesman, included the Traditional Ruler of Oriendu Autonomous  Community in Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia, Eze Philip Ajomiwe, and the African Democratic Congress’ Governorship Candidate in 2023 in Abia, Bishop Sunday Onuoha.

The royal father and cleric expressed deep regrets over the death of the man they described as a decent, detribalised and principled politician and called on other politicians in the country to emulate his virtue.

In their respective reactions, all the mourners conveyed their condolences to Onu’s family members as well as the government and people of Ebonyi.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Onu was governor of the old Abia on the platform of the National Republic Convention between January 1992 and November 1993.

He later became the presidential candidate of the All Peoples Party  in 1999 and APC presidential aspirant in the 2023 General Elections. (NAN)

By Reporters

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