By IHECHUKWU SUNDAY
Prominent Nigerians have reacted to the death of ex-finance minister, Dr. Chu Okongwu who passed on to eternal glory on Wednesday, January 12 at 87, describing his passing as a sad loss to the nation.
The nation has lost an icon, laments Ngige
In his reaction, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Nwabueze Ngige, expressed expressed sadness at Okongwu’s passing, lamenting that Nigeria had lost an icon, whose vast experience in economics helped shape the nation’s economy at the difficult crossroads of the 90s.
In a statement from his Media Office in Abuja, Senator Ngige also described Dr. Okongwu as a true son of Anambra State whose exit had created a huge vacuum.
“Chu had a long sojourn in the public service, starting from when he was pulled from the Ivy League schools in the United States, where he was a lecturer in econometrics, to join the East Central State Government of Ajie Ukpabi Asika as Director of Planning,” Ngige recalled in his condolence message to the Okongwu family in Nnewi, the government and people of Anambra and the federal government .
“His emergence under the Babangida administration, first as the Minister of National Planning, later Finance and subsequently Petroleum, was no surprise for Chu was a star.
“Even when in the management of the economy military regime felt there was no alternative to the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), Chu went for a variant whose fulcrum revolved around diversification in order to widen the national revenue base.
“He established the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (ANALDA) to ensure optimal utilization of our rural land, to boost agriculture and produce abundant food for the nation.
“He was a true Igbo son. His towering height in public life notwithstanding, his Nnewi roots never departed from him. He was a personal friend and his death, a personal loss.
The Minister, therefore, prayed to God Almighty to grant soul eternal rest and comfort the family he left behind.
Mbazuruike, Okeke react to Chu Okongwu’s death in Nnewi
In their separate reactions, the First Aviation Minister of Nigeria, Chief Mbazuruike Amechi and former Chairman of Police Service Commission (PSC), Chief Simon Okeke described Okongwu’s death as a great loss to the Igbo and to Nigeria as a whole.
Chief Mbazuruike said although he did not know the late Finance Minister very well, he heard about his exploits as a Minister who held several portfolios in the regime of Nigeria’s first military president, General Ibrahim Babangida’s regime, including those of finance, national planning and petroleum, adding that he heard also that the late Dr. Okongwu was a good man.
The elder statesman prayed for the repose of the late Dr. Okogwu’s soul
Chief Okeke on his part said described Dr. Okongwu’s death as a colossal loss to Ndigbo and Nigeria, generally.
“Nigeria in general and Ndigbo in particular have lost one of the intellectuals we have. A very brilliant man, both academically and professionally,” Okeke, who goes by the traditional title of Ochendo (shade) Amichi, said.
“He was an economic wizard. He did well as both minister of petroleum and finance, a highly de-trabilized man, a true Nigerian and technocrat of the highest order. May his soul rest in peace.”
Okeke recalled that the deceased had always been in Nnewi and that he (Okeke) had always discussed with him on telephone from time to time, describing the late former national planning minister as a very humble man.
The late Okongwu, a renowned Economist, was born on September 23, 1934, in the present Nnewi North Local Government Area of Anambra State.
He was at separate time the Minister of National Planning and Minister of Finance during the Babangida administration.
A graduate of Economic Theory from Boston University, Massachusetts, the United States, from 1961 to 1965, Dr. Okongwu also studied at Harvard University.
Similarly, a leading Ibgo sociocultural organisation, Nzuko Ndigbo, has expressed sadness at the death of Nigeria’s former of Finance Minister Dr. Chu Okongwu
Convener of the group Chuks Ibegbu, on behalf Nzuko Ndigbo condoled with his family, the people of Nnewi and Anambra State for the loss, calling on the State government to immortalise him.