The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.); former President Olusegun Obasanjo; former President Goodluck Jonathan; President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; were among prominent Nigerians who on Tuesday mourned a former Head of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan, who died earlier in the day.
Others who paid glowing tributes to the deceased include a national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; and state governors.
This is just as the President directed that national flag be flown at half-mast from Wednesday to Friday in honour of the deceased.
Shonekan, who was the head of ING between August 26 and November 17, 1993, died at the age of 85.
Buhari, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, titled, ‘President Buhari pays tribute to the life, legacy of Chief Shonekan,’ said Shonekan’s life and service demonstrated that love for country and commitment to her development transcends the trappings of office and the transient nature of political power.
The statement read, “President Buhari received with profound sadness the news of the death of a great statesman and former Head of the Interim National Government, Ernest Shonekan.
“On behalf of the Federal Government, the President extends deepest condolences to Shonekan’s wife, Margaret, loved ones, as well as the government and people of Ogun State.”
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, announced the directive on the national flag in a statement titled, “FG orders national flag to fly at half-mast”.
It read, “Following the death of the former Head of the Interim Government, late Chief Ernest Shonekan, GCFR, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that the national flag be flown at half-mast.
“This is effective from Wednesday, January 12 to Friday, January 14, 2022 as a mark of respect for the former Head of State who died on Tuesday, January 11, 2022 at the age of 85.”
Obasanjo said Nigeria lost Shonekan at a time the nation was in dire need of his leadership, wealth of experience and wisdom to tackle its multifaceted challenges.
In his condolence letter to the deceased’s widow, copy of which was made available to journalists in Abeokuta by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, the former President described Shonekan as “a role model and an epitome of the good in the nation’s business firmament of mixed blessings.”
Jonathan, in a statement, described Shonekan as “an elder statesman, well-loved for his sincerity and sense of purpose.”
Lawan, in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media), Ola Awoniyi, said the deceased would be most remembered for heeding the nation’s call to duty at a very turbulent period in the history of Nigeria.
Chief Shonekan’s services as Chairman of the Transitional Council and later as Head of the Interim National Government were selfless and contributed greatly to saving the Nigerian ship from hitting the rock,” Lawan said.
Gbajabiamila, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, said Shonekan’s death had created a vacuum in the league of elder statesmen in the country.
Atiku, in a statement from his media office, said Shoneka’s “exit at a time when the country would need his skills and global connections in finding solutions to many of our intractable challenges is quite saddening.”
Tinubu, in a condolence message by his media office issued by Mr Tunde Rahman, said with Shonekan’s death, “the country has lost another important elder-statesman; a man of peace who tried to bring unity and concord during one of the nation’s most trying moments.”
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, in a condolence message signed by his Special Assistant (Media), Kelvin Ebiri, described the deceased as a dedicated Nigerian, who was committed to the peace and stability of the country.
Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, also described Shonekan’s death as a colossal loss to Nigeria in general and Ogun State in particular.
Abiodun said this in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin.
Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, also described Shonekan’s death as a huge loss to the country.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Richard Olatunde, the governor said, “Chief Ernest Shonekan was a nationalist per excellence. His belief in a united and peaceful Nigeria was unparalleled. He was dedicated to the progress and development of the county. He will be sorely missed.”
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, in a statement, said, “Shonekan was an unassuming leader and a cerebral lawyer, who helped to steady our nation during the turbulent years of Nigeria’s Third Republic.”
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, described Shonekan as an icon.
In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, the governor said, “Shonekan was an outstanding role model who stood to be counted when it mattered.”
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo has also described late Shonekan as a nation builder, manager of people, who was in a special class of his own.
Speaking to one of our correspondents in Awka, on Tuesday, the Vice President, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene, said Shonekan was a disciplined gentleman, who meant well for Nigeria, but was unfortunately, not given the opportunity to bring his wealth of experience to bare.
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, said Shonekan’s legacy would outlive him.