Buhari, Okorocha, Ohanaeze, others mourn, as Ikedife is buried


President Muhammadu Buhari, Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and prominent Igbo sons have expressed sadness over the death of former president general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, was buried in his hometown, Otolo Nnewi, in Nnewi North Local Government Area of Anambra State.

In spite of the short notice about his death, on Tuesday, and burial, yesterday, thousands of sympathisers from South East and beyond, particularly his medical doctor colleagues, gathered in his house to pay their last respect.

Also, his Dennis Memorial Grammar School (DMGS) Old Boys Association members were present in their uniform to pay their last respect to late Ikedife.

First son of Chief Ikedife, and the All Progressives Congress (APC) deputy governorship candidate in the 2017 governorship election in Anambra State, Mr. Dozie Ikedife jr, said the family was consoled that their father did not bury any of his children.

“Considering his age at 88 years, it should be a celebration of life. He actually dictated what should be done for him at death. We, his children and family are trying to do things according to his wishes.

“Our father left a very good family unit. However, he left real big shoes and it will be difficult for us to fill. We will maintain his legacies, that is his desire.”

In his sermon, Rev. Fr. Udemba described the late Ikedife as a detribalised Nigerian, whose life was like a photograph, very clear, transparent and built on truth.

“Unlike other prominent Igbo men, you would never sign any paper before seeing him, this was a man who always had his gate open.

“If you wanted to see him for any thing and you brought gift or wine he would tell you to go back with it and come back later, so you don’t think he would assist you because of your gift. You could not buy him with anything.”

In his condolences to the Ikedife family as well as the government and people of Anambra State and Ohanaeze Ndigbo, President Buhari hailed Ikedife’s commitment to the development of his community, devotion to his professional calling, zeal for democratic values and passion for the preservation of Igbo ethos and tradition.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement said: “Buhari joins in mourning the veteran obstetrician and gynaecologist, who spent over 50 years of his life as a medical practitioner, working bravely to save countless lives in the country and charting new developments in the medical field through research.”

The president prayed God to grant the deceased eternal rest and comfort all who mourn him.

Governor Okorocha, in his condolence message, signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, described Ikedife as a selfless leader, who made sacrifices in the overall interest of Ndigbo, in particular, and Nigeria as a nation.

The governor recalled that when Ikedife was the president general of Ohanaeze, he demonstrated high level exemplary leadership qualities to the acknowledgement and delight of both Igbo and none Igbo alike.

Reacting to the passage of the octogenarian, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, described him as a “patriot and committed Igbo patriot.”

A statement by its spokesman, Chuks Ibegbu, said Ikedife served Ndigbo with dedication and unwavering patriotism.

Also, the United Kingdom chapter of Ohanaeze Ndigbo described the demise of the former leader of the group as the fall of another proverbial Iroko; and, indeed, the end of a great era.

Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu said: “Ikedife was close to me, when I contested election for president of Nigeria, he gave me a lot of support and even gave space in his hospital complex as office for our campaign.

“He supported me and supported everything that makes for equity and justice in Nigeria.”

In his comment, elder statesman and First Republic aviation minister, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi described his death as a big loss to Ndigbo in particular and Nigeria in general.

Senator Chris Ngige described Ikedife as a distinguished medical practitioner of the obstetrics and gynaecology specialty, consummate and courageous politician. He said Ikedife’s loss has created a big void in the medical profession and political landscape in the South East and Nigeria in general. For Senator Ndi Ben Obi, “the nation has lost factual thinker, a courageous and committed elder statesman of repute. A man who, as we all know, was a medical doctor and virtually treated all those who went to his place without money.

The Igbo nation is, in fact, worse hit by his demise. Ikenga Nnewi stood on completely different pedestal than many leaders that I know.

“He had no respect for material acquisition, but was more concerned about humanity. May his great, humble and gentle soul rest in the bosom of the Lord.”

Chief George Moghalu said: “I feel very sad. It is a monumental loss, not only to his family, not only to Nnewi, not only to Anambra, but, the entire Igbo nation and Nigeria as a whole.

“Ikenga was a great man, a very forthright man who stood on the part of justice at all times. I, personally, enjoyed his support. So, I feel very sad about what has happened.

“My prayer is that his soul rests in perfect peace, and that God grants fortitude to the immediate family, friends, associates and, in fact, the Igbo nation to bear the loss.

“While he lived, one thing you can say for Ikenga is that he was a very forthright man. He did not have gray areas, it is either white or black and when he led the Igbo nation, the Ohanaeze, he led it with great candour and integrity.

“So, he was a man you can always count on his support, because, if he is with you, he is with you; if he is not with you, he will be bold enough to tell you that he is not with you.”