President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said he was “deeply saddened” by the passing of Professor George Obiozor, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide.
The president, in a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, condoled with Obiozor’s family, the government and the people of Imo State as well as Ndigbo, at home and in the Diaspora.
Buhari, who described his demise as an immeasurable loss to the country, said the former Ambassador of Nigeria to the United States, High Commissioner to the Republic of Cyprus, Ambassador to the State of Israel and former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) exemplified leadership skills and values as a thoroughbred diplomat.
“The president who had fond memories of meeting Prof. Obiozor on several occasions and valued his endearing sense of patriotism joined the Igbo nation in mourning the irreparable loss of this great son of Nigeria and prayed for the peaceful repose of the soul of the deceased,” the statement said.
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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said Obiozor would be “fondly and proudly remembered as a foremost multilateralist, an erudite scholar, a passionate nationalist, and a diplomatic legend of international repute. He was an icon and a true Nigerian”.
“It is also worthy of note that Ambassador Obiozor acquitted himself as a peace-loving, unassuming and committed patriot. He was a firm believer in democracy and participatory governance.”
Also, former President Goodluck Jonathan described his death as a huge loss to the nation.
“Prof. Obiozor was a great patriot whose love for the nation and his people knew no bounds in his selfless service towards the unity and development of our country,” he said.
The Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide, the apex socio-cultural organisation of the Igbo, has expressed grief over the death of its President-General.
The group in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Alex Ogbonnia, and made available to newsmen in Owerri, on Thursday, said it received the news “with a heart overtaken by pain and sorrow”.
Ogbonnia said Obiozor stood out among his peers “for his unique intellectual wizardry, profound sense of humour, extraordinary creative imagination, rationality, clear-headedness, unwavering determination and incandescent passion.”
Also, the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, in a statement personally signed by him in Abuja, said that he received the news of Prof. Obiozor’s death with rude shock.
Abubakar condoled with Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the South East and the country as a whole over “the fall of an Iroko”.
He described the late Obiozor as a charismatic personality, who was much at home in any part of Nigeria.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in a condolence message issued by his media aide, Tunde Rahman, said Obiozor lived a distinguished life of service to Nigeria and to Ndigbo. He said his career made him one of the foremost patriots who served Nigeria with diligence, honour and integrity.
“The ideals of a better and more inclusive country where justice and equity would prevail, for which Ambassador Obiozor lived will forever be cherished,’’ he said.
In his Twitter handle on Thursday, the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, expressed sadness over the news of Obiozor’s death.
“He was a dear elder brother and friend. Prof. Obiozor was a patriot, renowned academic and diplomat, who served Nigeria and Ohanaeze selflessly and diligently.
“He was witty, well-heeled in history and effusive in his personal charm and warmth,” Obi said.
By Muideen Olaniyi, Baba Martins (Abuja) & Peter Moses (Abeokuta)