Nigerians Mourn Chuckwumerije

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Uche Chukwumerije

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Eulogies have been pouring in on the death of Uche Chukwumerije, former controversial minister of Information and serving senator, who died of lung cancer on Sunday, April 19 aged 75

| By Olu Ojewale | Apr. 20, 2015 @ 11:50 GMT |

THE death of Uche Chukwumerije, a serving senator from Abia State, is regarded as very big loss, to the Senate and Nigeria. Chukwumerije, 75, died of lung cancer on Sunday, April 19.

Since his death hit the airwaves, condolences have been pouring in from different quarters, eulogising the late senator from Abia North Senatorial District of Abia State in the current Senate. In a statement signed by Olisa Metu, national publicity secretary, on behalf of national executive committee of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the party expressed deep grief over the death of Chukwumerije, whom it described as a patriotic Nigerian.

“We are indeed deeply saddened by the loss of this great Nigerian, a highly respected statesman, who has made immense contributions to the development of our dear nation.

“Senator Chukwumerije was a patriotic Nigerian and a brilliant lawmaker who gave his all and discharged his responsibilities with unequaled forthrightness, loyalty and commitment to the service of our dear fatherland,’’ Metu said.

Shocked by the sudden death his former colleague, David Mark, Senate president described Chukwumerije as big loss to the nation, adding: “He radiated intelligence and exemplary conduct in both public and private life. He was a team player who brought meaning to hard work. He was focused and determined to make positive difference.”

On his part, Ike Ekweremadu, deputy president of the Senate, described the late senator as “a fearless politician, who fought for the interest of the common man and his people, a patriot who gave his best towards the peace, unity and development of Nigeria.”

In a separate statement, Enyinnaya Abaribe, chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, disclosed that Chukwumerije died at the Turkish Hospital, Abuja, on Sunday, while receiving treatment.

Abaribe described the late senator as a “political giant and one of the nation’s finest legislators.” He added: “The Senate will surely miss his erudite contributions on the floor of the chamber and his painstaking approach to committee work. Chukwumerije was, indeed, an embodiment of legislative tradition and consummate activist-democrat who loved his people passionately.”

Apart from that, Abaribe said the late Chukwumerije would be remembered for his deep love for Ndigbo, which was manifested in his relentless struggle for the total political and social emancipation of the race over the years. He also said that the late senator’s love for Nigeria and its corporate existence was unprecedented.

The death of the senator was announced in a statement signed Che Chidi Chukwumerije, one of his chidren on behalf of the family. The statement said in part: “On the evening of Sunday, the 19th of April, 2015, surrounded by his family, Comrade Uche Chukwumerije passed into the open arms of history, and of our Lord Jesus Christ, after a long but gallant battle with lung cancer.

‘‘His life is many volumes, which can only be told with care and time, of dedication and focus, integrity and discipline, and an unbroken love for the highest ideals of our shared humanity.

‘‘Details of burial arrangements will be announced in due course. We ask only for your prayers and good wishes.”

Born in November 1939, Chukwumerije served as minister of Information in the dying days of the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida. He was retained in the same position in the Interim National Government, ING, led by Ernest Shonekan, which was installed after Babangida’s forced exit from power.

In the current Fourth Republic, the late Chukwumerije was first elected to the Senate on the PDP platform. When he fell out of favour with the party’s leadership, he joined the Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA, platform in 2006 and was re-elected to the Senate on April 28, 2007. Chukwumerije was elected for the third time on the PDP platform in 2011.

The late Chukwumerije was educated at the University of Ibadan where he studied economics. A divorcee, he is survived by seven children.

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