Vice President Yemi Osinbajo announced this on Friday during the funeral service for the deceased at St. John the Divine Anglican Church, Oko, in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra.
Osinbajo said that Ekwueme was being immortalised for his selfless service, integrity and contributions to national development.
He described Ekwueme as a true Nigerian icon and statesman whose life and times were worthy of celebration.
He said he was being remembered not only as an accomplished scholar but also for his architectural prowess and having occupied high public offices.
More importantly, Osinbajo noted that he had practiced eternal principles that set men and women apart from their peers whether they were poor or rich.
Furthermore, the vice president said that the deceased showed bravery in the face of terror and set an excellent example of loyalty as a vice president.
“Ekwueme was a man of principles, of personal sacrifice for others and service to those who cannot offer him reward,” he said.
In his sermon, the Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, described Ekwueme’s burial ceremony as a crusade rather than a funeral service.
Okoh said a lot had been said about Ekwueme’s good Christian upbringing, public service and educational accomplishments and enjoined Nigerians to emulate his virtues.
In his sermon entitled “Get into the Ark”, the Primate said that the biblical story of Noah’s Ark reminds us of salvation and destruction.
He said that if people lived right, they would enjoy divine fellowship when they die and condemnation, if they lived badly.
“Even if you are doing business, in public service or in the Lord’s vineyard and you lack integrity, things will not work fine.”
The Primate consoled the late Ekwueme’s family and thanked God for giving the late patriarch to them.
Some of the dignitaries who graced the occasion included former President Goodluck Jonathan and his Deputy, Alhaji Namadi Sambo, and 10 serving governors as well as Mr Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Others were Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Chief Bola Tinubu, National President of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, Chief John Nwodo, National Chairmen of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr John Oyegun and Chief Uche Secondus, respectively.
The renaming of FUNAI after the late Dr. Ekwueme has, however, generated mixed reactions from stakeholders.
Some of the stakeholders, who spoke with NAN in Abakaliki, commended the Federal Government for the decision while others argued that an edifice in Anambra or Enugu where he resided or a bigger edifice could have been more befitting.
Mr Ikechukwu Ubochi, the Public Relations Officer of FUNAI, told NAN that the institution had not been officially informed about the renaming.
“We heard about the renaming over the radio and the university will react appropriately when we receive the information formally,’’ Ubochi said.
Prof. John Ekeh, the Ebonyi Commissioner for Education, commended the Federal Government’s decision, adding that the government and people of Ebonyi appreciate it.
“The Federal Government has honoured the Igbo nation by giving its departed worthy son, Ekwueme, an honour befitting of icons like him.
“The decision should be a rallying point for Nigerians to believe and work for Nigeria’s unity which the departed statesman preached during his lifetime,” Ekeh said.
Supporting the position, Mr Nwachukwu Eze, the Acting Chairman, APC in Ebonyi, described the decision as an honour to the Igbo nation.
“The APC in Ebonyi appreciates this gesture and it shows that despite the misgivings about President Muhammdu Buhari, he is a detribalised Nigerian,” Eze said.
However, Mr Hycinth Achoja, an official of Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) in Ebonyi, argued that naming an institution or edifice in Anambra or Enugu where Ekwueme lived, could have been more befitting.
“There are several institutions and edifices in Anambra and Enugu which could have been named after Ekwueme, especially the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra, which he established,” he said.
Similarly, Mrs Juliana Ibeneme, a retired civil servant, suggested that a bigger edifice could have been designated to immortalise him.
“The late Nnamdi Azikiwe was from Anambra but the International Airport in Abuja and the Stadium in Enugu were named after him by the Federal Government.
“I would have preferred that a teaching hospital, airport or older federal university in the South-East zone was named after Ekwueme instead of a new and unheralded university such as FUNAI,” Ibeneme said.
Petty traders made brisk business at the burial of the late Dr. Ekwueme on Friday in Oko, Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The NAN Correspondent who monitored activities at the St John D Divine Church, Oko, where the commendation service was held, reports that small scale businesses boomed in the area.
NAN reports that hawkers seized the opportunity to make quick businesses like sale of caps, T-shirts, wristbands and bags with pictures of the late icon.
Mrs. Amaka Ofoche, who sells snacks, said that Ekwueme was loved by his people so she decided to make the mementos and sell in his memory.
According to her, I have a provision store where I sell snacks but as the burial was approaching I decided to make mementos and sell because I know people will buy them.
Another trader, Mr Tobenna Ifechukwu, who sells ice cream, said he made triple what he usually made on a daily basis and thanked God for the crowd that honored the late vice president.
“If not that death was painful, I will pray for such gatherings so as to make huge income,” Ifechukwu said.
Mr Amobi Okoye, who sells sachet water, said he ran out of stock due to high demand of the product.
He said that the community had enjoyed uninterrupted supply of electricity since three days to the burial date which made it possible to have cold water and drinks to sell.
NAN reports that different traffic agencies in the state including police and the Federal Road Safety Corps ensured free flow of human and vehicular movement in the area.