By Chimezie Godfrey
Former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, has expressed deep pain over the sudden death of his close friend, Dr. Paul Unongo.
IBB said in a statement,”At 87, one would conclude that Paul Unongo lived a fulfilled life, but death at whatever age, comes with its own feeling of pain, grief, nostalgia and sober reflections. In Unongo, I have lost a true friend, a confidante, a senior brother, and a remarkable Northern elder whose brilliance and oratory distinguished his passage through life.
“Dr. Paul Unongo was an encyclopedia of exemplary recall and references. He had the mastery of the spoken word, fought just causes and stood on the uncommon path of truth throughout his struggles in life,” IBB recalled.
He added,”Few days before his sudden demise, I had the rare opportunity to exchange pleasantries with him and his habitual bold and instructive voice was still evident. It didn’t convey any impression that he would depart soon, but God, in His awesome ways has answers to life and death. The news of his death days later was most benumbing.
“I shared very robust relationship with Paul Unongo. Whenever the other view is sought, Paul Unongo was the surest resource to reach out. He was fearless, bold, courageous and fecund. He spoke truth to power no matter whose ox is gored.
“He was brutally frank on issues and hated begging the question. He was a front line politician of note who deployed his resourcefulness for the good of the common man. At 87, he was still his energetic self and his voice still exhibited his peculiar gift of the garb. I am struck by his death.”
The Former Nigerian President declared that the exit of Dr. Paul Unongo is the exit of a generation, adding that he was detribalised Nigerian.
He said,”The exit of Dr. Paul Unongo is the exit of a generation; persons and factors who helped to shape the destiny of the Nigerian federation in a most patriotic and pan-Nigeria way. Unongo was a heavily detribalised Nigerian, a family man, whose love for his community was exceptionally great and profound. Unongo fought just causes for the ordinary Nigerian until he breathed his last. He was there for everyone.
“He never believed in crass materialism or primitive acquisition of wealth. He lived amongst his people, especially the down-trodden, who gave him the fibre of the fire in him. Unongo’s brilliance was extra-ordinary.
“He was outspoken, highly opinionated and cerebral in delivery of speeches. We truly have lost a great mind, a true unifier whose trajectory in life knew no boundary.
“May God Almighty grant him eternal rest. May God also grant the family the fortitude to bear this great loss. The death of Unongo is the death of a community. Rest on my dear friend Watanregh.”