President Muhammadu Buhari, House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Hope Uzodimma (Imo) and other eminent Nigerians on Wednesday mourned the former military administrator of Lagos and Imo states, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (retd.).
The former naval officer was said to have died in a Lagos hospital after a brief illness.
He was 77.
The Nation learnt that residents of Ugwunta in Isuikwuato Local Government Area of Abia State, where he hailed from, also mourned the respected pro-democracy and Igbo leader.
Many other Nigerians, including Chairman of Afenifere Renewal Group, Olawale Oshun, also mourned the former National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) chieftain.
A statement yesterday in Abuja by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, reads: “President Buhari commiserates with family and friends of former military administrator of Lagos and Imo states, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, 77, praying for God’s covering over all his loved ones.
“The President condoles with all professional colleagues of the gallant military officer, who distinguished himself in all positions and responsibilities during service, taking up more daunting, but historically rewarding challenges like speaking up for the weak and vulnerable, and the struggle for the country’s return to democratic government.
“President Buhari believes the late Rear Admiral Kanu’s credentials in serving the nation, as a career military officer and as an activist with NADECO in actualising the June 12, 1993 mandate, remains commendable and will continue to inspire younger generations on patriotism.
“The President prays for the repose of the soul of the elder statesman.”
Gbajabiamilia expressed grief in a statement in Abuja by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Lanre Lasisi.
He said the late Kanu would be remembered for his commitment to the development of Lagos State and the other states he governed.
He condoled with the family and prayed God to grant the soul of Kanu eternal rest.
In a condolence message by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, Governor Sanwo-Olu said: “…As one of Nigeria’s advocates of good governance, restructuring and true federalism, the late Kanu will be sorely missed by the people.
“The death of Rear Admiral Kanu is a colossal loss to the country. He made lots of positive impact and contributions during his lifetime to the growth and development of Lagos State and Nigeria. He fought tirelessly, along with several other patriots, for a united Nigeria during his days in the Nigerian Navy as well as a member of pro-democracy group after he retired from service.”
In a statement in Owerri, the state capital, by his Chief Press Secretary, Oguwike Nwachuku, Governor Uzodimma described the late Kanu as one of Nigeria’s finest and brightest who devoted his energy for the good of the country.
He said the late governor got to the pinnacle of his profession by dint of hard work and remained committed to the discipline in the Armed Forces till his death.
In a statement in Lagos, Oshun said: “I learnt with the deepest regret of the passing of Rear Admiral Kanu, a former military governor in Imo, and later Lagos states.
“His greatest legacy, however, is in the area of pro-democracy struggle. A brave officer, and a convinced democrat, he was one of the founding leaders of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), and for a long time NADECO held many of its meetings in his home on Victoria Island and not the direct threat by the Sani Abacha goons would make him distance himself from his coalition colleagues.
“Admiral Kanu had stood up to be counted, even with the return to civil rule in 1999, amongst the civil and pro-democracy activists who deem that the civil rule in process in Nigeria fell far short of the democracy they struggled for. He also has used his great goodwill amongst the Yoruba people to the benefit of his Igbo people resident and making home in Lagos and many other parts of Yoruba land.
“I had, as NADECO Secretary in the intervening period Ayo Opadokun was in Abacha detention, found Admiral Kanu to be one great Nigerian ready to lay down his life to make Nigeria a great country, one in which all the nationalities are equitably treated and there is justice for all.
“May his great soul rest in perfect peace.”
Elder statesman and a NADECO chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, described late Kanu as a dedicated loyalist to the cause of restructured Nigeria.
Adebanjo, who is also a leader of Pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, added: “This is a great loss. He will be greatly missed. He was a gallant soldier, great patriot, nationalist, progressive politician and a dedicated loyalist to the cause of restructured Nigeria.
“He will be greatly missed. I have been in shock at the news of his death. May his soul rest in peace.”
The nonagenarian, a staunch supporter of the late nationalist, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, said the late Kanu would be remembered for being a great nationalist who believed in the restructuring of the country as the only panacea to Nigeria’s progress.
Senate Chief Whip Orji Uzor Kalu described the late Kanu as “a big loss” to Ndigbo and Nigeria.
In a condolence message, the Abia North senator said: “I received with pain the news of the passage of a leading light in Igbo land and former Chairman of NADECO, retired Rear Admiral Kalu.
“The late statesman contributed immensely to the enthronement and sustenance of democracy in Nigeria.
“The democracy Nigerians are enjoying today is attributed to efforts of the deceased and a few others. He lived a fulfilled life dedicated to national service and humanity.
“He has left indelible footprints in the annals of Nigeria’s democracy, owing to his remarkable, unbeatable and historic good deeds.
“The late statesman will surely be missed for his counsel at the community, sub-national and national levels.”
President of Women Arise and Centre for Change, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, expressed sadness over Kanu’s death.
In a condolence message in Lagos, she said: “A great Iroko has fallen in our forest and we deeply mourn him. Goodnight, great patriot.”
The Lagos State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also commiserated with the state government and the Igbo community on Kanu’s death.
A statement by its Chairman Adedeji Doherty, said: “With Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Godwin Kanu’s death, another of the greatest Iroko tree in the forest of Igbo land and indeed Nigeria has fallen.
“The political history of Nigeria, especially the country’s return to democratic governance in 1999, will never be complete without the mention of Rear Admiral Kanu, who was among the key figures in NADECO then.
“His footprints will forever remain indelible in the sands of pro-democracy movement in Nigeria, especially agitation for the actualisation of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election.
“It is our prayers in the Lagos PDP that his patriotic soul will rest in peace and God will grant his family and friends the fortitude to bear the irreplaceable loss