The leadership of Igbo apex sociocultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has commiserated with Northern Elders Forum (NEF) over the death of elder statesman, Paul Unongo.
Ohanaeze described Unongo as a detribalised Nigerian who championed the course of restructuring Nigeria for effective service delivery.
In a statement yesterday, the National Publicity Secretary of the body, Chief Alex Ogbonna said though Unongo remained culturally attached to his Tiv ethnic group and that he never lost his Northern orientation and the need for sustainable relationship with the other parts of the country based on equity, justice and fairness.
The statement reads: "Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide received with sadness the news of the death of a foremost Nigerian patriot, astute administrator, bridge builder, courageous and sagacious politician, moral edifice, elder-statesman, former minister of Power and Steel in the second Republic and former and the former Leader of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) Chief Paul Iorpuu Unongo.
"Unongo was an apostle of excellence, a social crusader and political activist.
"Unongo had recounted how as a small boy, he donated six shillings in support of the Zikist movement in 1946; based on his broad mind and convictions that Nigeria needed a cerebral pragmatic intellectual, he was to campaign for Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe to be elected a President of Nigeria in 1979.
"The dispositions, mutual toleration, elderly moderations of the Unongo quintessence in the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) have no doubt added profound values to the Nigerian democratic dispensation.
"One is left to guess the feelings of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo that Unongo has departed at a critical point his wise counsel is most needed.
"The President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Ambassador Professor George Obiozor recalls with intense nostalgia, his relationship with Dr Chuba Okadigbo, Chief Paul Unongo, Chief Aper Aku, Sen. J S Tarka, Chief Solomon Lar, among others during the Second Republic under President Shehu Shagari. Obiozor lamented that a foremost Nigerian patriot is gone.
"While the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and indeed the entire Ndigbo send our condolences to the immediate Unongo family, the Governor, Samuel Ortom and the good people of Benue State, the Paramount Ruler of the Tiv Nation, Tor Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse; Professor Ango Abdullahi and the Northern Elders Forum; and indeed the community of Nigerian patriots. It is our prayers that the Almighty will grant his soul an eternal rest in his bosom."
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