SERVING Southeast senators shunned Enugu Cultural Carnival held in Enugu on Saturday in honour of the former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme even as President Goodluck Jonathan poured encomium on him, saying his unassailable integrity and consummate diligence had combined to make him one of the most respected national icons in the country.
A source revealed that the absence of the Igbo senators might not be unconnected with the alleged internal wrangling within a section of Igbo political leaders.
The cultural fiesta, which was held at the Michael Okpara Square, Enugu, was organised by the Southeast governors of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo States to mark the 80th birthday of Ekwueme.
It was observed that all the speakers agreed that it was high time Ndigbo rallied round Dr Ekwueme to lead them to the Promised Land, adding that Ndigbo should stop bemoaning the so called marginalisation as they were their own enemies.
The issues canvassed at the occasion were reiteration of the demand for creation of an additional state out of the present Southeast zone and 2015 President of an Igbo extraction.
Jonathan had in his goodwill message described the elder-statesman as an accomplished administrator and leader of men, an epitome of the highest ideals of selfless service and unwavering patriotism.
President Jonathan who was represented at the occasion by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, said, “now more than ever, when our nation requires the re-commitment of men and women of goodwill like your good self to our national transformation efforts, it is my prayer that Almighty God continues to keep and prosper you even as He blesses you with robust health and a life of perpetual fulfillment”.
“It is no surprise that you did not only rise to the height of your chosen profession of architecture, you also became Nigeria’s number two citizen as elected Vice President of the country.
“Over the years, you have consistently invested the benefit of your inspiring attributes in dedicated service to our dear country while continuing to avail our generation of leaders of your enduring wise counsel”.
Also Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State has described Ekwueme as a symbol of peace, unity and harmony in the country.
The governor in a release by his Chief Press Secretary, Abdulwahab Oba marking the 80th birthday celebration of Ekwueme, and made available to journalists in Ilorin on Saturday, also said that Ekwueme is a detribalised Nigerian whose love and interest for his people made him to identify with successive administrations in order to give the nation and her people the best leadership they deserve.
"Truly, you are an epitome of peace and unity in our nation", he said.
Governor Ahmed recalled the numerous achievements recorded by Ekwueme during the second republic as Vice President and most recently as a party stalwart saying: "With no doubt, the 80th birthday which the world joins you to celebrate is indeed remarkable.
"Your modesty, humility and political sagacity contributed in no small measure to the successes recorded by the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the 1979 and 1983 elections. You are, indeed, an advocate of togetherness devoid of ethnic or religious sentiments."
The governor prayed God to grant him sound health in order to do more for the nation especially at this challenging period in the nation’s history.