On November 20th 2017, Nigeria lost a man of exceptional prodigious intellect, a human encyclopedia; a pragmatic Statesman and Politician; a true Nigerian of immeasurable patriotic credentials; a man with a golden heart and an extravagant philanthropist who believed in human capital development as a means of societal transformation; a philosopher of some sort, objective and foresighted; an incorruptible politician with a loud judicial affirmation, Nwoke Asaa.
Dr. Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme Gcon, Former Vice President, would have celebrated his 87th Birthday today 21st October 2019 but God had other plans for the IDE of Aguata and Orumba. He wanted IDE to return to base to receive the Crown of Glory after a meritorious sojourn on Mother Earth.
During his 85th birthday in 2017, IDE quietly spent some quality time outside the country, perhaps more than ever before, with his immediate family and the venue was carefully chosen as if to orchestrate his Nunc Dimitis, a departure that only God Himself had fore-knowledge of. It was only few days thereafter that his journey to Eternity began with prayers being offered by people of diverse inclinations.
Alex Ekwueme will be remembered for his many contributions to humanity but as a Nation, Nigerians will continue to remember his efforts towards building a true Nigerian Federation through the enthronement of true federalism and the review of the political structure of Nigeria with an eye on the history and evolution of the Nigerian State especially as it concerns its constitutional and structural development. Like many other patriots, Alex Ekwueme, who was both a Historian and a Constitutional lawyer, emphasized the relevance of the pre-independence constitutional evolution leading up to the 1963 Republican Constitution which recognized the various units making up the Federation. Recognizing those historical and constitutional stand points, Ekwueme came up with the proposal for a Six geopolitical structure for the country during the 1994/95 Constitutional Conference which was set up by Gen. Sani Abacha government.
This six geopolitical structure with its concomitant rotation of the presidency, was designed to address the imbalances created by the distortions and manipulations occasioned by repeated military incursions in the political arena through draconian decrees which no one could question or challenge – not even the Courts. The Government of Sani Abacha accepted the Six geopolitical structure as proposed and even endorsed the proposal for the rotation of the presidency among the Six geopolitical Zones. Were it not for the death of Abacha and the Justice Niki Tobi Committee which reviewed the 1995 draft Constitution under the Abdulsalam Abubakar government, the present burning issues of true federalism and restructuring of the Federation would have largely been dealt with. Today, the Six geopolitical zones are observed as an administrative imperative but ironically not as a constitutional matter. That is why there is pervasive nepotism, favoritism and corruption with impunity. Most, if not all the agencies and institutions of the federal government are over bloated and over worked, yet , short of their full potentials in a fast changing world.
Whether it is called “restructuring” or “true federalism”, it is perhaps now clear, that without proper devolution of powers, Nigeria will continue to ridicule itself in the comity of nations by continuously kicking the can down the road. Professor Chukwuma Soludo in his classical thesis on the political and economic future of Nigeria took time to remind us that Nigeria is heading nowhere under the present structure of governance. All these contemporary issues and the ensuing debates make the life and times of Alex Ekwueme even more relevant today.
Alex Ekwueme, like other patriots of his pedigree can not die since his good works, whether they are physical, political or humanitarian, etc are indelible.
In Oko town, he will continue to be celebrated as the father of modern Oko. In his honor and for the continuous benefit of the community, a group known as IDE MEMORIAL GROUP has taken up the responsibility to uphold the ideals which he promoted in community development. We can only pray that Nigeria should pay more attention to IDE’s prescription for a strong and progressive nation as that remains the only way out for our dear nation Nigeria.
It is said that to live in the hearts of those we love is not to die and so it is with IDE who now lives even more in our hearts.
May his gentle and patriotic soul continue to rest in peace.
Chief Handel Okoli
Former Special Assistant to the
President (Special Duties)
Chief Handel okoli
(Chibuko of OKO; Chibuko of Mbaukwu)