Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike; President Muhammadu Buhari; former military President, Gen Ibrahim Babangida; former Presidents, Dr Goodluck Jonathan; and Olusegun Obasanjo, have joined millions of Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora to mourn the demise former head of interim national government, Chief Ernest Shonekan, who passed on the glory, yesterday, after a brief illness at the age of 85.
Speaking in Port Harcourt, Wike said he received the news of the sudden demise of Shonekan, who succeeded the former military Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, with shock and great sorrow.
In a message of condolence signed by his Special Assistant (Media), Kelvin Ebiri, the Rivers State governor said Shonekan was a dedicated Nigerian, who was committed to the peace and stability to the country.
Wike noted that Shonekan’s strong credentials as an astute administrator enabled him to steadfastly steer the country through one of its most turbulent times.
“On behalf of the Government and good people of Rivers State, I offer our deepest condolences to the family, relatives of the former chairman, Interim National Government and the people of Nigeria.”
Wike said Nigeria has lost an elder statesman whose wisdom, foresight, and steadfast commitment to the country will always be remembered.
Also speaking, President Muhammadu Buhari said he received with profound sadness the news of the death of a great statesman and former Head of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan.
In a statement, yesterday, the Presidency said, “On behalf of the Federal Government, the President extends deepest condolences to Chief Shonekan’s wife, Margaret, loved ones, as well as the government and people of Ogun State.
“As an internationally-respected statesman, President Buhari affirms that, with courageous wisdom, Chief Shonekan left his flourishing business career to become the Head of Government, at a delicate time when the country needed someone of his calm mien and pedigree to save the ship of state from sinking.
“The President notes that Chief Shonekan demonstrated to all that the love for country and commitment to her development, peace and unity transcend the trappings of office and the transient nature of political power.
“President Buhari believes that Nigeria owes a great debt to Chief Shonekan, the peacemaker, who even at the twilight of his life time never stopped believing and working for a prosperous and democratic country.
“The President prays that the memory of the departed Head of Government will remain a blessing to Nigeria even as he finds perfect peace with Almighty God”, the statement said.
Reacting, the former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) described ex-Head of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan has “an uncommon patriot,” following the demise of the latter, yesterday, at the age of 85.
In a condolence message personally signed by the retired general and circulated by his media aide, Kassim Afegbua, Babangida expressed shock at the tragic development, saying, “the shocking news of the death of one of Nigeria’s finest brains and patriots came to me this morning with helpless awe.
“I hadn’t the faintest idea that Chief Ernest Shonekan would depart this sinful world too soon, even at 85.
“He was a man, a leader and an uncommon patriot who had a presence of mind and whose understanding of Nigeria was profound and remarkable. It is indeed a personal loss to me.”
According to Babangida, “Chief Ernest Shonekan was one of our cerebral minds during our time in government.
“He was the architect of our principle of free-market economy which helped to open up the system for a robust participation by the private sector.
“The liberalisation of the economy, the investment and boost in the agricultural sector and budget management approach were part of his brainchild. I recollect very vividly how he used to give us tutorials on budget, planning and management of national resources, each time he was invited to our session.
“At each budget year, Chief Shonekan would be invited to critique our budget proposals, and gave us further input to enrich the final budget. He was a man of ideas and ideals. He was prudent and preached so much about fiscal discipline.
“It was, therefore, timely for us to appoint him as Head of the Interim Government to help stabilise the polity at a most trying period of our country’s political evolution. He was a calm personality whose managerial skills were foretold in the way and manner he managed a lot of blue chip companies.
“As Head of the Interim Government, he was able to consult with a broad spectrum of the Nigerian populace in charting a roadmap out of the political impasse at that time. His brilliance and meticulous interrogation of situations helped in large measure to forge ahead during the period. I owe a personal gratitude to him throughout his sojourn on earth as we maintained very robust mutual relationship after his exit from the corridors of power.
“Given the achievements we recorded during our time in government in the area of infrastructure, economy and social rebirth, I owe a word of gratitude to him for his experienced intervention in helping to dissect our policy frameworks each time we called upon him to do so.
“He was an engaging personality whose sense of patriotism was total. He was friendly and sociable. He understood economy and made so many projections that helped us to bail the country out of economic conundrum. We benefited from his immense knowledge, experience and brilliance,” the condolence message read in part.
On his part, ex-President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan described Shonekan as “an elder statesman, well-loved for his sincerity and sense of purpose.”
He said: “As a leader, Chief Shonekan was well respected because of the enormous goodwill he brought into governance. He was a compassionate and determined administrator, a peacemaker and bridge builder who stepped in to lead the nation at a very difficult time in the history of its political evolution.
“Before he assumed office as the Head of the Interim National Government in 1993, Chief Shonekan had become a boardroom guru, having established himself as a foremost industrialist and one of the leaders of the business world.
“He left enduring legacies, part of which was his considerable effort towards mainstreaming the private sector in the development drive of the nation, especially with the institutionalisation of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), which he founded.
“He will be remembered for his great wisdom, peaceful disposition, the goodwill he extended to all as well as his significant contributions to the growth the economy of the nation.”
Also, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said former Head of the Interim National Government, Ernest Shonekan, died at a time when Nigeria was in dire need of his leadership to tackle the challenges facing the nation.
According to his family, Shonekan passed, yesterday morning of natural causes at the age of 85.
Obasanjo said that Shonekan’s contribution to the growth and development of democracy in Nigeria cannot be forgotten in a hurry.
In a condolence letter to Mrs Margaret Shonekan, copy of which was made available to newsmen in Abeokuta by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, Obasanjo said the late business mogul was “a role model and an epitome of the good in the nation’s business firmament of mixed blessings”.
Obasanjo, who received, while currently on international assignment as the High Representative of the African Union for the Horn of Africa, “with great shock, the news of the death of one of the illustrious sons of Africa, a community leader, a distinguished business baron and an exemplary leader in the private sector and, of course, the former Chairman of UAC Nigeria Limited, Chief Ernest Shonekan, with an admixture of joy for a life well spent and sadness for the loss of a beloved man after God’s heart.”
On the political scene, Obasanjo noted that, “Chief Shonekan, as the Interim National Government in Nigeria in1993, though short-lived for the period of three months through the palace coup orchestrated by General Sani Abacha, rendered outstanding service to our country, and we will never forget that.
“It is also worthy of note that as Special Envoy on the Implementation of the Abuja Agreement on Zimbabwe in 2001 under my administration as the President of Nigeria; and Chairman, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission under Yar’Adua’s administration in 2008, he was forthright, dedicated and showed great patriotism in the discharge of his duties.
“He was a unifying force for the nation and his contribution to the growth and development of democracy in Nigeria cannot be forgotten in a hurry. In all situations, he lived nobly and he died in nobility. He was an achiever. Indeed, Chief Shonekan died at a time the country is in dire need of his leadership, wealth of experience and wisdom to tackle the multifaceted challenges facing the nation,” Obasanjo was quoted as having said.
Similarly, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar described the demise of the former ING boss as saddening and shocking, saying his 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.”
He said: “Either as a politician or a boardroom guru, Chief Shonekan possessed a unique set skill of bringing stability to a tumultuous situation.
“That obviously was the consideration that made him become Head of the Interim National Government following the crises that greeted the events after the June 12 Presidential election.
“Although his reign as Head of State was interim, Chief Shonekan’s contribution to the peace and development of Nigeria in those days and later years, remain enduring.
“My condolences go to his immediate family, the people and government of Ogun State and the entire nation for the loss of a man of industry and intellect, who lived a life of service to the country and humanity.
“It is my prayer that God almighty receives his soul in a peaceful repose.”
In the same token, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, mourned the death of former Head of the defunct Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan, describing his death as a national tragedy.
This was contained in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Debo Ologunagba.
The statement said, Chief Shonekan was a very courageous, humble and patriotic leader; a bridge-builder and an extraordinary statesman, who dedicated his life.
It said Chief Shonekan made immense sacrifices to ensure the unity and stability of Nigeria in the heat of the political crisis that threatened the nation’s corporate existence following the annulment of the June 12, 1993, presidential election.
The statement said, “The late Head of the Interim National Government was an accomplished personality and a visionary leader, whose efforts in applying his vast experience as a consummate lawyer and businessman to reposition our nation, despite the daunting challenges faced by his three-month regime between August and November, 1993 cannot be forgotten.
“Chief Shonekan’s commitment to the entrenchment of democracy was evident in his determination to restore the rule of law and transparency in governance”, the statement said.
He said, even outside office, Shonekan remained committed to the unity, stability and development of our nation.
“Our party grieves that he left the stage at the time the nation needed his wealth of experience and wise counsel the most”, the PDP said.
The PDP commiserated with the Federal Government, the government and people of Ogun State and the Shonekan family.
The party prayed to God to grant the nation and the bereaved family the fortitude to bear the huge national loss.
Further reacting, the governors in the South-West described the death of elder statesman and former Head of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan, as a huge loss to the country.
They said Shonekan was committed to the peace and unity of the country.
The Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu said this in Akure, yesterday.
Akeredolu, in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde, said the governors “received the news of the death of elder statesman and former Head of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan with a heavy heart”.
The governor noted that the vast experience of the elder statesman was an asset to the country, particularly with the array of challenges confronting the nation.
He said the late Shonekan was committed to the peace and unity of the country and pursued it with vigour and dedication as a patriot.
Akeredolu noted that the service of the former Head of Interim National Government would never be forgotten in the annals of the history of the country.
“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.
“His historic and patriotic role in maintaining the unity of the country was one of the many things that endeared him to many.
“He was true, an asset, his counsels were useful for national cohesion and progress”, the governor said.
The chairman prayed to God to grant the deceased eternal rest while commiserating with his wife, the government, and the people of Ogun State.
Rivers Monarchs Begin Another Round Of COVID-19 Vaccination, Today
Members of the Rivers State Council of Traditional Rulers will, today, begin another round of COVID-19 vaccination exercise in the state as part of the state government’s policy of ensuring that all Rivers people and residents of the state get fully vaccinated from the pandemic.
A statement signed by the Secretary to the council, Dr. Ogwuokwa Jonah, and made available to The Tide, last Monday, invited all government recognised traditional rulers to turn up at the council’s secretariat in Port Harcourt, for the crucial exercise.
The statement reads in part, “I am directed to invite you to take part in the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccination exercise scheduled for Wednesday,January 19 through Friday, January 21, 2022, at the council’s secretariat.
“Vaccination begins at 10.00am each day. Please, note that there are other free medical examinations that have been arranged for you during the period.
“You are entitled to 15 persons either from your family or area/district council. Kindly attend during the turn of your LGA”, the statement added.
According to the statement, Abua/Odual, Akuku-Toru, Ahoada-East, Ahoada-West, Andoni, Asari-Toru, Bonny and Degemawould receive their vaccinations today.
To be vaccinated tomorrow are traditional rulers and members of their families from Eleme, Emohua, Etche, Gokana, Khana, Ikwerre, Obio/Akpor and Oyigbo local government areas.
However, monarchs and their families from Opobo/Nkoro, Ogu/Bolo, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, Okrika, Omuma, Port Harcourt and Tailocal government areas are due to get their shots on Friday.
The statement appealed to all affected traditional rulers to take the exercise seriously, and come along with the required number of persons to enable government reach as many Rivers people as possible.
By: Nelson Chukwudi
PDP’ll Surely Produce Next President -Ayu
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Iyorchia Ayu has urged Nigerians to keep faith with the party as it was poised to produce the next president of the country.
He maintained that the current inept rule of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government, which has pulled the country backwards economically, has to be changed.
Ayu gave the assurance at the gala night hosted by the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike for PDP governors at the Banquet Hall of Government House, Port Harcourt, last Sunday night.
The PDP national chairman emphasised that the APC leadership has been unable to harness the rich diversity of Nigerians into better fortunes that should strengthen the bond of brotherhood and promote peaceful coexistence.
“Unfortunately, a very poor leadership has presented Nigeria at home and abroad as an extremely divided country.
“We must change this narrative, and the only way to change this narrative and harness not just the culture, but the environment and the richness therein, is to back the Peoples Democratic Party which is determined to produce a new leadership for this country.”
Ayu also enthused that Nigeria would bounce back again with the PDP at the saddle because the project of rescuing the country and making it great was realisable.
The PDP national chairman stated that the expected leadership they would offer at the national level would change the negative characteristics associated with the APC that have been used to deepen the divide among Nigerians in the country.
“The PDP will definitely produce the next president and take the country back to the days when we were in power, when we cleared all foreign debts, when we were developing this country at reasonable speed.
“At a time, we became the richest country on the African continent. But today, we are the poverty capital of the world. All that will change”, he said.
In his welcome address, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike said the gala night was a pride to the usual meeting of PDP governors, adding that it was rotational.
He stated that such meetings have always been used to discuss salient issues of economy, politics and others that bother on how to chart a virile Nigerian society.
“It has been ritual for PDP governors to gather and meet and discuss about the welfare of the party. And this has been rotating from one state to the other.”
On his part, the Chairman of PDP Governors Forum and Governor of Sokoto, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal said the PDP governors and other party leaders were already working in synergy towards rebuilding the party.
He said the focus was to rescue Nigeria, which would also require all Nigerians of goodwill to join forces with the PDP to achieve that goal.
“All Nigerians of goodwill who believe in this country, who believe Nigeria is going the wrong direction, ought to join us.
“And like I always say, there are two divides in Nigeria today. Those who are happy with the confusion because they are benefiting from what is happening at the centre, and those of us who are truly patriotic enough to disagree with the way our country is being governed and being run.
“I appeal and beseech every Nigerian, even those in APC that are patriotic enough, to join hands with us as we continue to march towards rescuing Nigeria together.
“I believe it is our responsibility to do so, not for ourselves but for our younger ones and generations unborn.”
Governors present at the gala night were, Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); Ahmadu Fintiri (Adamawa); Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom); Mohammed Bala (Bauchi); Samuel Ortom (Benue); Seyi Makinde (Oyo); and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).
Also in attendance were the deputy governors of Rivers and Zamfara, Dr Ipalibo HarryBanigo; and Aliyu Gusau; PDP National Secretary, Senator Sam Anyanwu; and several other dignitaries.
UPTH Begins Transplant Procedures In 2023 …Launches Five-Year Strategic Dev Plan
The management of University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) has said that the hospital would begin transplant procedures in 2023.
The UPTH said it was its desire and dreams to transform the hospital to a five-star hospital in the region.
The management said the infrastructure for the transplant procedures and Cardiac Unit would be completed soon.
The Chief Medical Director (CMD), UPTH, Prof. Henry Arinze Ugboma stated this during the official Hospital Strategic Development Plan Implementation Workshop and Roll Out held in the hospital Auditorium, in Choba, near Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Ugboma said the Amenity Ward project was also mapped out in its five year strategic plan, which began from June, 2021 to 2026.
He noted that the hospital was ready to begin the transplant procedures as arrangements had been concluded for its take off next year.
Ugboma said as part of the commencement of the project, the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited had donated $500,000 to support the hospital.
“Transplant procedures are an important area we need to invest, as a hospital, such will be beneficial to the hospital and the society”.
The CMD said, as part of its capital projects in 2022, the hospital would change its aesthetics and make the hospital more beautiful.
“We shall change the aesthetics of the hospital to attract investors and beautify the environment”.
On the problems faced by the hospital, Ugboma said workers’ poor attitude to duty was a great challenge to the management.
“Work ethics, relationship to patients and visitors are not encouraging and must improve for a better hospital.
“If workers change, UPTH will grow faster.People come to work whenever they like and leave whenever they also like”, Ugboma said.
“You look for files, you will not see, most of our consultants are not always on duty call, there is no handover note amongst them”, he lamented.
He also said that part of the plan was to build residential quarters for staff of the hospital to enhance efficiency and productivity.
Earlier, the Board Chairman, UPTH, Muktar Anka, had appealed to the staff of the hospital to be diligent to duty and shun truancy.
Anka noted that a change in the attitude to work would enhance productivity and efficiency in the hospital.
The chairman insisted that idleness and truancy on duty promote bad attitudinal behaviours and tarnish the corporate image of the organisation.
By: Chinedu Wosu
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