The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, has described the late Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, as a `detribalised public official’ who believed in the unity of the country.
Onyeama made the remark on Sunday in Abuja at a memorial service held in honour of the late politician and former Minister of Foreign Affairs at the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, First Abuja Parish.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the late Maduekwe, a lawyer, politician and diplomat, died at the age of 71 on June 29, 2016.
In his tribute, Onyeama said: “he was a public official in the true sense of it for the whole of Nigeria and for all Nigerians; he believed that was what he was without any allegiance to any section of the country.
“One of the greatest testimonials on him was a reception that was organised for him by a particular group who told him that he belonged to them and had to do certain things for them.
“However Chief Ojo Maduekwe told them that he was a minister for the whole country and not for any particular group and I think that really spoke about this man.
“He brought this passion to his work and of course it could underpin his intellectual pedigree which is razor sharp that made him outstanding in all his endeavours.”
The minister noted that the late Maduekwe was one of Nigeria’s icons, adding that the country had not produced many leaders who came with many qualities as the late politician.
He said that the deceased was “a good person and an intellectual with razor sharp mind’’ who occupied the most important offices in the country.
“He has been Minister of Culture and Tourism, Minister of Transport, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chairman of a political party and Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Canada.
“So he was really up the height in terms of political and public service career; he was a humble man to the core.
“I had wanted to go and see him when I was made a minister of Foreign Affairs but before I did that he came to see me.
“He gave me a master class for almost one hour on many things even beyond foreign affairs; really amazing and really helpful,” Onyeama said.
In his tribute, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, who was represented by his deputy, Ude Chukwu, said the late Maduekwe was a political god father to many people.
He described the late diplomat as “transparent, very intelligent and a man that would want you to do exactly what he said.’’
According to the governor, the late Maduekwe did his best to hold Abia together, as well as ensuring the unity of Nigeria.
“He was a man that would want Nigeria to be like one of the developed countries of this world if it was possible for him overnight to turn Nigeria to a great country of this world.
“When he was PDP chairman, he showcased his legendary; when he was a minister he was always outstanding.
“Left for us we would have wanted the man to be alive but what can we do as death snatched him away.
“We pray that God would continue to grant him eternal rest,” Ikpeazu said.
The wife of the late former minister, Mrs. Ucha Madukwe, described her late husband as “a lover of peace who wanted the country to be in peace always.’’
“My husband wanted peace in the country always; he liked peaceful atmosphere; that was one important thing for him.
“He also wanted to see the youths doing the right things.
“In the midst of this agitation in the country, he would have been in the centre and would have loved peace to reign across the country,” she said. (NAN)