Ex- minister Onu dies at 72; Tinubu, Obi, Kalu, Uzodimma, APC mourn

The first civilian Governor of Abia State and former Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, is dead.
He was  aged 72.
Onu, reportedly died at a hospital in Abuja on Thursday.
He served as the first civilian governor of old Abia State before the creation of Ebonyi State in 1996 by the late General Sani Abacha.
He hailed from Uburu in Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

Onu contested for the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the 2023 general elections but lost to President Bola Tinubu.
In his condolence message, Tinubu sympathised with the Onu family over the passing of Ogbonnaya Onu.
This is contained in a statement by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, on Thursday in Abuja.

Pix- Onu

“The President mourns the first civilian governor of Abia State; former Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, a principal draughtsman in the founding of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and a valiant partner in the victory of the party in the 2015 elections.

“Most importantly, the President celebrates the life of an accomplished scholar, first-class engineer; a man of proven integrity; defiant to indiscipline, but ever yielding to the highest standards of rectitude.”

Ngelale said that Tinubu acknowledged that Onu epitomised the spirit of Nigeria, adding that the deceased believed in and defended the country’s unity, advocated peace, and promoted fellowship.

Onu and Tinubu

Also, Mr Peter Obi, the 2023 Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party (LP), mourned the passing of Onu.

Obi stated this in a condolences message, signed by his media aide, Mr Valentine Obienyem, and made available to newsmen on Thursday in Onitsha.

He described Onu’s death as a “significant loss to the nation”.

Obi described late Onu as a “patriotic and inclusive Nigerian leader” who served the nation diligently in various capacities.

He highlighted the deceased’s notable contributions to Nigeria’s educational advancement, both as a lecturer and an author.

“The late Dr Onu epitomised leadership characterised by a commitment to peace, progress, and justice.

“He courageously championed equity and good governance, leaving a lasting impact on our nation.

“The passing of Dr Onu is an immense loss to our nation, may God comfort his family and all of us as we mourn his departure, granting us the strength to bear this irreplaceable loss. May he rest in eternal peace,” Obi said.

He further emphasised late Onu’s efforts to promote local production for national development during his tenure as Minister.

Obi extended his prayers to the grieving family and the entire nation mourning his loss.

Former Abia State Governor, Senator Orji Kalu, expressed sadness over the passing of Onu.
Kalu, in a condolence message issued by his media office in Abakaliki, described Onu, a frontline politician, author, engineer and former Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, as a nationalist with passion for unity and progress of Nigeria.
The Senate Committee Chairman on Privatisation acknowledged Onu’s invaluable contributions to nation building, even as he urged his family to be consoled, as their late patriarch lived a purposeful life.
“I urge the deceased’s children and loved ones to sustain his worthy legacies, as his death is a huge loss to Ndigbo and Nigeria in general.
“The late statesman was a consummate politician and selfless philanthropist who served meritoriously in various capacities in the public sector.
“His wise counsel on national issues will be greatly missed, as he will be remembered for his outstanding leadership qualities,” he said.
Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State described Onu’s death as shocking and devastating.
A statement by Oguwike Nwachuku, Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to the Imo State Governor, said his principal received with shock the sad, devastating and unexpected news of the passing of Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, a man he loves to describe as one of Nigeria’s intellectual and political giants with extraordinary gentility.

The statement said that with Dr. Onu’s death, the South East, Nigeria and the global community have lost a statesman who believed so much in the unity, peace, progress and development of Nigeria.

The statement further said that Dr. Onu, 72, remained a leading light in the All Progressives Congress (APC) family having, for many years, imbibed the tenets of progressive democracy as the easiest route to serve the people.

The statement said that Governor Uzodimma therefore consoles the APC family, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the government of Nigeria, the South East geopolitical zone, the government and people of Ebonyi State and all political associates of the deceased over the huge.

Nwachuku also said that his principal spared a thought for Dr. Onu’s family and prayed God to give them the grace to bear the burden of the unexpected loss even as he prayed for the repose of the soul of the one time presidential aspirant of the APC and presidential candidate of the defunct All Peoples Party (APP).

Meanwhile, some political leaders in Ebonyi State have described the sudden demise of Onu as a “national tragedy”.

They described the minister as a “detribalised Nigerian and a man who always stood for the truth”.

Chief Eze Nwachukwu, member representing Ohaukwu/Ebonyi Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives said that Nigeria had been robbed of a political giant and truth-bearer.

Nwachukwu, who served as the chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) under Onu as the leader of the party, also said that Ebonyi had lost a great son and path-finder who worked tirelessly to birth the ruling APC.

Speaking on the legacies of the politician, Nwachukwu noted that Onu was a foremost nationalist and a detribalised Nigerian who sacrificed his personal pleasure and interest for the good of all Nigerians.

He said that the birth of the now ruling APC in 2014 was the brain-child of the former Abia state governor which he sold to other opposition politicians.

“Well, I’m very saddened about the news of his demise; it came quite unexpected and we never expected him to leave us at this critical time, his contributions, his experience as a scientist, a politician and as a leader of repute were needed.

“His impact as a nationalist, a detribalised Nigerian and as a man who stood for truth, lived for truth and died for justice will be felt from generation to generation.

“He played fundamental role in the formation of our great party, APC which, for the first time in the political history of the country wrestled power from a ruling party at the centre.

“He sacrificed his position as the national chairman of the All Nigerians People’s Party (ANPP) to form the APC just to give Nigeria leadership and direction at a time it mattered most,” Nwachukwu said.

Also speaking, Chief Stanley Okoro-Emegha, state chairman of APC said that the entire Ebonyi and APC family were saddened over the news of death of the minister.

He said: “The news is a sad one, we all know that he was sick sometime and has recovered, we didn’t know that he was going to die so unexpectedly.

“There is nothing we can say, he has contributed his quota in the building of nation.

“He has been an elected governor in the old Abia State, served as a minister, served the country and more particularly Ebonyi, he contributed heavily in the creation of Ebonyi and has been playing advisory role in Ebonyi and APC.

“As a party, we symthpatise with President Bola Tinubu, the National Working Committee (NWC) of our great party, our governor, Mr Francis Nwifuru.”

Meanwhile, Chief Hyecinth Oteh, a former Chief of Staff (CoS) to former Governor Martin Elechi and a close associate of the former minister lamented the unexpected exit of Onu.

Oteh described the late leader of the APC as a “fascinating politician” who enjoined him to always stick with the truth no matter the consequences and he was a man who stood for truth and justice throughout his career as a politician.

He said that Onu worked and dedicated his entire public live for the service of the nation stressing that one of the greatest sacrifices he made for the country was in relinguishing his position as a national chairman of his party to form APC.

“Onu was the man who convinced Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and former President Muhmmadu Buhari to make sacrifices of losing their benefits as leaders of their individual parties in order to merge to form a bigger party that could dislodge the PDP as a governing party .

“He achieved it because it was the first time an opposition party defeated a ruling party at the centre in Nigeria.

“Dr Ogbonnaya Onu brought peace to this nation and the last thing he said to the country was _where is Justice?’ and so, while Onu joins his creator, Nigeria will continue to grapple with that question,” Oteh said

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