Reactions Greet FG Renaming Of Ebonyi Varsity After Ekwueme
By Nedum Noble
The Federal Government of Nigeria on Friday renamed the Federal University, Ndufu Alike Ikwo in Ebonyi State to Alex Ekwueme University, Ndufu Alike Ikwo, Ebonyi State.
The Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who announced the renaming on Friday at Oko, Anambra State during the burial of Ekwueme, said the renaming which has already been approved by President Buhari, who was in honour of his (Ekwueme) contributions to national development.
The pronouncement, however, was greeted with mixed reactions from the congregation who graced the occasion with many applauding the news while others expressed dissatisfaction which was evident on their faces.
Among the groups that were not happy with the decision of the federal government, our correspondent observed, were mainly from the Oko community who had anticipated and prayed the polytechnic be upgraded and named after their illustrious son.
While those who were excited by the announcement described the renaming of the institution as a recognition well deserved, those who received the news with reservations said it was a wrong choice.
“It is not as if we were not happy with the decision of the federal government to immortalise our own son, but we would have been happier if the Federal polytechnic, Okoh was the one named after him,” an Okoh indigene who preferred anonymity said.
While delivering his vote of thanks at the occasion, the first son of late octogenarian, Pastor Goodheart Ekwueme, expressed appreciation to the federal government for the honour accorded to his father, but said they were expecting more than that.
“We thank the federal government for the recognition given to our father by immortalising his name, but like the proverbial Oliver Twist, we will want more to be done to honor him and his community in view of his immense contributions to the community, state and nation at large,” he said.
Recall that many prominent personalities have called on the federal government to immortalise the elder statesman since after his death, by naming a national monument after him, with some specifically narrowing it down to the polytechnic.
They argued that he was instrumental to the establishment of the institution and had continued to contribute significantly to its growth and development.
Meanwhile, the Primate of the Church of Nigerian, Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh has described Ekwueme as a loyal and grassroot politician who had the interest of his people at heart.
He said he apparently transformed his community from a typical village into a city by attracting basic infrastructure and other dividends of democracy to his people.
The cleric however regretted that such leaders are rare in today’s society as the nation’s political space is littered with what he referred to as new generation politicians who only visit their communities during elections.
“Our nation is full of new generation politicians who keep running away from their community only to return to them when they need their votes.
“They only climb on their backs to win elections and return to their air-conditioned cars, offices and houses, with few of them coming back to offer their people stomach infrastructure,” he added.
The primate also bemoaned the spate of foreign medical treatment the nation’s leaders enjoy anytime they fall ill, insisting that the trend must stop.
He said it was a shame that the late vice President died outside his country home and was flown back dead.
“I still believe that our medical personnel are more qualified than those we are running to. They would only decide not to travel outside to practice if they would be provided with the facilities they require to work with,” he added.
The funeral service was attended by several dignatories including former President Goodluck Jonathan and wife, Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Uche Secondus, and his the All Progressives Congress, Chief John Oyegun, Sen. Bola Tinubu, and all the South East governors.
Others were former and serving ministers and members of the National Assembly, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, former Vice President Namadi Sambo, and a host of others.