Former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed his sadness over the late Professor Joseph Ogbonnaya Irukwu’s inability to see through the completion of a joint project initiative called “The Nigerian Dream.” The former leader of the Ohaneze group passed away over the weekend at the age of 89.
In a statement released by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, the former President expressed his sorrow, as he believed that the people would miss Prof. Irukwu’s valuable contribution to the realization of a new Nigeria in line with their shared vision.
Despite the sadness, Obasanjo also acknowledged his gratitude to God for the late elder statesman’s well-lived life in service to their fatherland.
He recalled that, “since 2018, Joe and I have been engaged in exchanging words, views and thoughts on a laudable project initiative titled, The Nigerian Dream, which is to be put in the public domain for national adoption with the hope that it would be another strand of our commonality, unity and togetherness.
“He was expressing great hope for his country through this initiative, but unfortunately, he didn’t wait to see our collective rigorous efforts on the project being brought to fruition.
Obasanjo further eulogized the former Ohaneze leader and to be remembered for his hard-work, integrity and probity, “which contributed to setting the high standards that were the hallmark of those halcyon days that we all yearn to return to our dear nation.
“He surely comes into reckoning as one of the builders of modern Nigeria. We were both always on the same page on issues that concern Nigeria and its development.
“I recall during my administration as a democratically-elected President of Nigeria, Joe never rested on his oars in exhibiting uncommon courage and commitment to progressive ideals in his contributions to the political development of our country and national discourse,” he was quoted as having said.
Obasanjo further recalled that “until his death, as a prominent and vivacious Chief and Igbo leader from ITEM community in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, he remained one of the most articulate and vocal champions of improved conditions for his people.
It is also worthy of note that while Joe served as the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, he deployed his good offices and goodwill towards ensuring peace and stability in the South-East region of Nigeria. With his invaluable experience in all spheres of human endeavour, it cannot be gainsaid that his actions were borne out of love for his people and a desire to improve their lot.
“In grateful recognition of his landmark achievements, the nation rewarded him with the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) and National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM). He also enjoyed great respect and affection from the corporate world, his local communities, hometown, region and beyond,” Obasanjo hinted.