President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Governor of Abia State, and Senate President, David Mark have all expressed shock over the demise, Sunday, of Senator Uche Chukwumerije, who until his death was chairman of the Senate Committee on Education and remained one of the longest serving lawmakers in the Federal legislative house.
Muhammadu Buhari who described the demise of Senator Uche Chukwumerije in his condolence message as ‘a diminishing blow to the generation of true progressives in Nigeria and the African continent, described the late Chukwumerije ‘as a Pan-African par excellence’
“As a man of my own generation, I observed the progressive political activities of Uche Chukwumerije and admired the Pan- African interests and national patriotic zeal which dominated and dictated major part of his actions and pursuits,” Buhari said.
General Buhari recalls that in the Second Republic, Chukwumerije’s parted ways with the ethnic and regional politics of that era to identify with Mallam Aminu Kano, the leader of the masses (Talakawas) and this “marked him out as a worker for national unity and a man of noble values.”
“As a media practitioner, Chukwumerije was a professional who did his job with passion and conviction in all positions he held. I was not surprised he was a leading voice in the Senate for twelve years, where he had been serving the Federal Republic till death came calling.”
The President-elect noted that Comrade Chukwumerije, as he was fondly called by admirers, lived an active life and never sat on the fence on any national issues.
“Senator Chukwumerije has played an exceptional role in the business of legislation in the country and we will all dearly miss him as an outstanding politician and an elder statesman.
“I sincerely condole with his family and friends, especially his constituents in Abia North senatorial district, the people of Abia State and members of the National Assembly,” Buhari said.
While Mark expressed shock and sadness over the death of the lawmaker, the former Vice President Atiku described the lawmaker as a ‘fine gentleman’.
Former Vice President and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar bids Senator representing Abia North and former Minister of Information, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, a farewell to eternity, describing him as a fine gentleman.
Atiku Abubakar said in a press statement signed by his media office in Abuja, Monday said the news of Senator Chukwumerije’s death, Sunday evening came to him as a rude shock.
“Senator Chukwumerije was in the class of those gentlemen you cannot but notice his outstanding qualities even when he stood in the midst of other men.
“His mannerism came across as someone who was well cultured. He was very sartorial in style and in presentation; and he never confused you about the disciplined background of his origin. He was a very worthy ambassador of his people.
“As a politician, he was very classy and as a statesman he was exceptional. His death came as a rude shock and I do sincerely pray that God grants his family, the people of Abia State, friends and colleagues at the National Assembly the fortitude to bear the loss.”
On his part, Mark who in a recent statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Paul Mumeh, said Nigeria has lost an erudite and extra ordinary nationalist, also noted that the late lawmaker was one of the outstanding senators in the National Assembly.
“He radiated intelligence, exemplary conduct in both public and private life. He was a team player who brought meaning to hard work. He was a shining light and a pathfinder, who was focused and determined to make positive difference.
“He was also a consummate and passionate Nigerian who believed in the sanctity of the peace and unity of the nation. No doubt he left a vacuum that would be too hard to fill; we shall miss him,’’ the statement quoted Mark as saying.
Also, Abia State Governor, Chief Theodore Orji, reacting to the development, described as a ‘monumental loss’ the exit of the Chukwumerije, just as the governor condoled with the family of late Senator Uche Chukwumerije on the sad loss of their father and a distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Charles Ajunwa, the Governor expressed shock over the death of the celebrated Senator and statesman who passed on at the Turkish Hospital, Abuja, of lung cancer.
According to him, the late Senator would be remembered for his invaluable contributions on the floor of the Senate as well as his efforts in building a strong and united Nigeria.
Governor Orji said the late Senator Chukwumerije would be remembered for his outspokenness and fearlessness in national discuss, adding that apart from distinguishing himself in many fields, he carved a niche for himself both as a politician and statesman.
The Governor said that though the late elder statesman was sick for sometime he never expected that he would die at this time, describing his death as monumental loss to Abia and Nigeria at large.
He prayed God to grant the bereaved family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
Meanwhile, family of Senator Uche Chukwumerije has confirmed that the lawmaker, who serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, died of lung cancer.
The late Chukwumerije who has represented Abia North Senatorial District of Abia since 2003, died Sunday.
A statement signed by Chukwumerije’s family representative, Chidi, and made available to the media, explained that the Senator had died after ‘a long but gallant battle with lung cancer.’
“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,” the statement said.
“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 November 1939, Uche Chukwumerije was elected a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in April 2003, representing Abia North Senatorial District.
He studied economics at the University of Ibadan.
Chukwumerije served as Minister of Information in the dying days of the the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida, as well as Minister of Information in the Interim National Government of Chief Ernest Shonekan.
In the Fourth Republic, Chukwumerije was elected to the Senate on the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) platform, but he fell out of favour with the party’s leadership when he opposed the Third Term Agenda. Chukwumerije eventually decamped to the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) in 2006, and was re-elected to the Senate on April 28, 2007.
Chukwumerije returned to the PDP on which platform he was re-elected to the senate in the April 2011 elections.
Chukwumerije is divorced with 7 children among whom are Chika won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
His other son, Dikeogu Egwuatu Chukwumerije, is a writer and a performance poet who regularly hosts the Abuja Literary Society (ALS)’s Night of Spoken Words.