President Muhammadu Buhari has described late Samuel Ogbemudia as an elder statesman who “diligently served the country with courage and dedication at crucial moments in her history”.
The Edo state government, meanwhile, has declared seven days of mourning in honour of the late Mr. Ogbemudia.
Mr. Ogbemudia, a former governor of the defunct Midwest region and old Bendel State, died on Thursday at a private hospital in Lagos.
He was 84.
He was also a retired brigadier-general in the Nigerian army and had fought in the country’s civil war.
The late politician and administrator was a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Mr. Buhari, in a statement issued on Friday by his spokesperson, Femi Adesina, said that the late Mr. Ogbemudia had a distinguished career in the Nigerian military and in public administration, and has “left an impressive legacy of hard work, discipline and commitment to communal, state, regional and national development”.
Mr. Adesina said, “The President recalls the unique role of the elder statesman in the nation’s return to civilian rule in 1999 and trusts that, as a tireless advocate for equity, he will be long remembered and honoured for his dedication to the advancement of his people, especially in the fields of education, social welfare and infrastructure.”
Mr. Buhari condoled with the family of the late Mr. Ogbemudia, the government and people of Edo over the loss.
Nigeria’s former vice president and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Atiku Abubakar, said that the passing on of Mr. Ogbemudia was a painful loss not only to the late politician’s family and Edo, but to the entire country.
Mr. Abubakar said Mr. Ogbemudia would be remembered as a leader who was dedicated to Nigeria’s reconstruction after the civil war.
“He (Ogbemudia) initiated improvements in the areas of sports, urban development, education, public transportation, housing and commerce,” said Mr. Abubakar, in a statement released on Friday by his media office in Abuja.
The former vice president said that Mr. Ogbemudia did so well that in later years his administration would become a reference point for good governance.
Mr. Abubakar, who said he had a “brotherly relationship” with the late Mr. Ogbemudia, recalled how both of them and other politicians worked together to established the PDP following the restoration of democracy in the country between 1998 and1999.
Both Mr. Atiku and Mr. Ogbemudia had served as members of the party’s Board of Trustees.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, in his condolence to the government and people of Edo, described as “indelible and iconic”, Mr. Ogbemudia’s contributions to the development of the state when he was the military governor of the defunct Mid-Western and later Bendel State.
Mr. Dogara urged the nation’s leaders to copy from Mr. Ogbemudia’s leadership style.
“He is a reminder that we, as leaders, must engage in activities that will promote the growth, development and well-being of our people,’’ Mr. Dogara added.
Tony Momoh, a former Minister of Information and Culture, while mourning the passing on of Mr. Ogbemudia, said, “Everyone who ever worked in old Bendel State, now Edo, has always looked at what he did as a yardstick”.
Mr. Momoh said that the country would have proudly produced world class swimmers by now if what the late governor did in swimming had been followed through.
Oluremi Sonaiya, the presidential candidate of KOWA Party in the 2015 election, said late Mr. Ogbemudia was a towering figure in the nation’s politics and that his contributions to national development would long be remembered.
“I urge the family members to remain strong in the knowledge that we are holding them in our thoughts and prayers,” NAN quoted Mrs. Sonaiya as saying.