Former Vice President of Nigeria, Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme was a rare gem, a colossus, and one out of a handful of Nigerians who though was an active participant in Nigeria’s corrupt political process exited the stage with his integrity unblemished. The late Ide of all Aguata Communities in Anambra State (about 41 kingdoms) exited this corrupt and sinful world to join the saints triumphant on Sunday, the 19th of November,2017. He was a man of numerous accomplishments. He set up Nigeria’s first indigenous Architectural firm-Ekwueme Associates,Architects and Town Planners with 16 offices nationwide out of the then 19 states of the federation. Before then, he was one of the first Nigerians to be awarded a Fullbright Scholarship to study Architecture in America. Chief Ekwueme achieved so many things in life-professionally, politically and socially. He played pivotal roles in Nigeria’s political life most especially during periods of crises. However, his greatest achievement politically was his reign as Nigeria’s 5th Vice President in the Second Republic (1979-1983) under former President Shehu Shagari. What are the lessons that the youths most especially the younger generation of politicians in Nigeria can learn from the life of this intellectual juggernaut, professional leviathan and successful politician?
If there is anything that stands Chief Ekwueme out among the pack of colorless politicians that currently bestride Nigeria’s political space, it is his integrity, consistency and love for the Nigerian people. Though he was often shabbily treated by successive governments after his inglorious exit from power in 1983 through a military coup and his subsequent incarceration without trial, he bore no grudges against anyone and was ever willing to contribute his quota to the development to the development of the country. Even when the Peoples Democratic Party which he helped create in 1998 during the regime of the late maximum dictator General Sani Abacha, turned it’s back on him, he did not defect from the party and remained a life-long member till his death. His love for the downtrodden in the society led him to set up the Alex Ekwueme Foundation which has awarded scholarships to thousands of indigent students to study both at home and abroad. The Foundation has also given out loans to several indigent people to set up businesses of their own. The former VP shunned the primitive accumulation of wealth through political office which is the hallmark of politicians in Nigeria nay Africa. He was a detribalized Nigerian who played politics without bitterness or rancour. Dr Ekwueme lived an exemplary life; a life worthy of emulation by the youths and the younger generation of politicians in Nigeria today. He was a living proof that it is possible to insert your feet into the murky waters of Nigerian politics and yet your feet would remain unsoiled. Adieu Chief Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme.