The end came for Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme, GCON, exactly three weeks after he suddenly took ill at his Enugu home, and exactly one week after he was airlifted to The London Clinic. Nigeria’s Second Republic vice president passed on peacefully at exactly 10pm on Sunday, November 19, 2017. He marked his 85th birthday only last month.
A release signed by his younger brother and traditional ruler of Oko town in Anambra State, HRH Prof. Laz Ekwueme, says: “The Ekwueme family regrets to announce the peaceful passing away of their patriarch, the former Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme, GCON. The sad event occurred at The London Clinic at 10:00 pm on Sunday 19th November 2017.”
With that confirmation by his family, the rumour mill has been quietened. He had been rumoured dead immediately he fell into a coma, and the social media and some mainstream media ran with the “breaking news”.
The man with seven different university degrees – including in Architecture and Law – was Nigeria’s No. 2 between 1979 and 1983. He was Shehu Shagari’s running mate in 1978 and they won again in 1983 but the regime was truncated by a coup led by Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s elected president now. Ekwueme was put in jail along with other “discredited” politicians, but the military panel set up to try them found Ekwueme clean.
In 1995 at a national conference he originated the idea of dividing the country into six geopolitical zones, but northern delegates defeated his motion. His call for restructuring the country was ignored until in recent times when many of the political hawks of the military era recognised the truth.
He led the G34, a group of politicians that stood up to dictator Sani Abacha.
Eager to put Nigeria on a sound footing as No. 1, Dr Ekwueme ran for president in 1999 on the platform of a party he co-founded a year earlier. Again, the evil politicians chose a more malleable fellow.
All hope for Nigeria now seems lost. “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership.” When cometh another Ekwueme?
As condolence messages poured in from around the world, veteran journalist Aniebo Nwamu mourned Ekwueme in a special way. In a post on Facebook, he listed the names of 104 influential Nigerians (including Ekwueme) that he had encountered in the past 30 years but who were no more.
His post: “Perhaps EVOLUTION is real! If you knew the following, as I did, and still doubt that ‘All is vanity’, then you’re not wise:
Alex Ekwueme, Abubakar Rimi, Emeka Ojukwu, Obafemi Awolowo, Adeniran Ogunsanya, Sam Ikoku, Tony Enahoro, Chimere Ikoku, Bola Ige, Barkin Zuwo, CC Onoh, Pius Okigbo, Sam Mbakwe, KO Mbadiwe, Nnamdi Azikiwe, MKO Abiola, Shehu Yar’Adua, Alex Ibru, Waziri Ibrahim, Aminu Kano, Sani Abacha, Chuba Okadigbo, Umaru Yar’Adua, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, Beko Ransome-Kuti, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Gani Fawehinmi, Chime Ubani, Anthony Ochefu, Moses Adasu, Solomon Lar, Stella Obasanjo, Melford Okilo, Umaru Dikko, Benjamin ‘Scorpion’ Adekunle, FRA Williams, Funso Williams, Chinua Achebe, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Flora Nwapa, Neli Uchendu, Sony Okosuns, Tony Ubesie, Godwin Dabo Adzuana, Chris Okolie, Abraham Adesanya, SMO Aka, Andrew Azazi, Patrick Yakowa, Bamidele Azikiwe, Shettima Monguno, Maryam Babangida, Chike Obi, Cyprian Ekwensi, Usman Katsina, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, Dora Akunyili, Abdulkadir Kure, Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, RBK Okafor, Tai Solarin, Olusola Saraki, Osita Osadebe, Rilwanu Lukman, FC Ogbalu, Oliver deCoque Atanike, Akanu Ibiam, Tunde Idiagbon, Christy Essien-Igbokwe, Power Mike Okpala, Stephen Keshi, Adisa Akinloye, Olu Onagoruwa, Shehu Musa, Kenneth Dike, Maitama Sule, Mokwugo Okoye, Uche Chukwumerije, Tunji Braithwaite, Benson Idahosa, Ojo Maduekwe, HID Awolowo, Sam Ogbemudia, Victor Malu, Omo Omoruyi, Stanley Macebuh, Ladi Lawal, Isiaka Adeleke, Abubakar Audu, Michael Otedola, Adeyinka Adebayo, Levi Ajuonuma, Musa Bama’iyi, Adinoyi Onukaba-Ojo, Wada Nas, David Attah, Bimbo Odukoya, Patty Obasi, Elechi Amadi, Isidore Okpehwo, Dimgba Igwe, Danbaba Suntai, Olusegun Agagu, Lam Adeshina… [104 national figures and still counting…]”