By Muyiwa Akintunde
BEFORE he came into national consciousness in 1979, it was his younger brother, Prof. Laz Ekwueme, the musicologist and scholar, that was in the public eye. When Shehu Shagari emerged as presidential candidate of the then National Party of Nigeria, NPN, he chose Alex Ekwueme to ran the race with him. Soon, the distinguished architect with a Ph.D. in Architecture from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom, who also had earned BL (honours) degree from the Nigerian Law School became the first person to assume the office of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Of all the Second Republic politicians, Dr Alex Ekwueme was one of the few whose integrity remained intact till death. The probe by the Muhammadu Buhari military junta that kicked out the Shagari regime exonerated him such that he was able to raise his head high in politics well after that period.
During Nigeria’s turbulent experience with the General Sani Abacha dictatorship, Dr Ekwueme led 34 eminent Nigerians who risked their lives to opposed that draconian regime. One thing led to another, and he became the founding Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the pioneer Chairman of its Board of Trustees. He could have been the party’s presidential candidate – and possibly Nigeria’s Fourth Republic President – but for the scheme that brought Chief Olusegun Obasanjo into the picture after the latter was released from Abacha’s jail.
Ekwueme remained a respected leader of the PDP until his last day.
He was actively involved in the socio-economic development of his community, Oko kingdom in Anambra State where he was the Ide, while his brother, Prof Laz is the Igwe, Eze Ijikala.
Dr Ekwueme had been Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Nigerian Institute of Architects and also President of the Institute as well as that of the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria.
He had an active Educational Trust Fund responsible for the education of several hundred youths to universities in Nigeria and abroad.
He was a member of the housing sub-committee of the Simeon Adebo Salaries and Wages Review Commission in the Yakubu Gowon era. He was also on the board of the Anambra State Housing Development Authority for several years.
On the national front, Ekwueme participated in the National Constitutional Conference, NCC, in Abuja, where he served on the Committee on the Structure and Framework of the Constitution.
He had a successful private business with his firm – Ekwueme Associates, Architects and Town Planners, the first indigenous architectural firm in Nigeria. His practice flourished with 16 offices spread all over Nigeria and was wound up in preparation for his assuming the office of the Vice President of Nigeria.
Farewell to a prolific philanthropist, public servant, and a man of peace.
– Nov. 20, 2016 @ 15:11 GMT /