Tributes have continued to pour in for the late Nigerian leader, Ernest Shonekan, who died Tuesday morning.
Shonekan, 85, died of natural causes, according to a statement issued by his family.
The Ogun-born statesman was the head of the interim government that led Nigeria between the military governments of Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha, from August 26 to November 17, 1993.
In a condolence letter to Mr Shonekan’s widow, Margaret, former President Olusegun Obasanjo described him as a role model who would be remembered as a man of sustained strong will to succeed.
Obasanjo, in the letter, recalled how Mr Shonekan, in 1994, founded the Economic Summit Group, an advocacy group and think–tank for private sector-led development of the Nigerian economy.
He noted that the body had continued to sustain the legacy of helping to support concerned parties in the execution of policies, programmes and strategies, in response to any emerging trends in national and global economies.
The former president noted that at the hour of great achievement and undisguised success, Shonekan did not lose the common touch and sense of service to his family and his wider community.
“On the political scene, Chief Shonekan, as the Head of the Interim National Government in Nigeria, in 1993, though short-lived for the period of three months, through the palace coup orchestrated by General Sani Abacha, rendered outstanding service to our country, and we will never forget that.
“It is also worthy of note that as Special Envoy on the Implementation of the Abuja Agreement on Zimbabwe in 2001 and Chairman, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) in 2008, he was forthright, dedicated and showed great patriotism in the discharge of his duties.
“He was a unifying force for the nation and his contribution to the growth and development of democracy in Nigeria cannot be forgotten in a hurry.
“In all situations, he lived nobly and he died in nobility. He was an achiever.
“Indeed, Chief Shonekan died at a time the country is in dire need of his leadership, wealth of experience and wisdom to tackle the multifaceted challenges facing the nation.
“While expressing, on behalf of my family and on my own behalf, our sympathies to you and the entire members of your family as well as to the government and the good people of Ogun State, it is our prayer that the Almighty God will grant him eternal rest and comfort all those he left behind,” the letter read.
Similarly, the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, said he received the news of Mr Shonekan’s passing with “great sadness.”
Tinubu’s condolence was contained in a statement issued by his media aide, Tunde Rahman, on Tuesday in Lagos.
“I received, with great sadness, the news of the passing of Chief Shonekan and l join his immediate family in mourning his passing, but also in celebrating his lifelong contributions to our great nation.”
The former governor of Lagos described the deceased as a peaceful man, who tried to bring unity and concord during one of the nation’s most trying moments.
“In his brief time as Head of State, Chief Shonekan tried his best to advance peace, stability and development in Nigeria.
“With his passing, the country has lost another important elder statesman; a man of peace, who tried to bring unity and concord during one of the nation’s most trying moments.
“Chief Shonekan will be remembered as a peacemaker and Head of State who took office at a most difficult time,” he said.
Reeling out some of his achievements, the former governor of Lagos noted that the deceased was a technocrat and boardroom guru who performed excellently as Chairman of United African Company (UAC).
According to him, the late Mr Shonekan would have led Nigeria with the same vision and skill with which he guided UAC.
“He had the character, competence, capability and the technical background to undertake the job.
The APC leader also extended his condolences to the wife of the deceased, Margaret, and the people of Ogun State over the loss.
In the same vein, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has lamented the death of former Head of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan describing him as an icon.
The governor in a statement on Tuesday in Makurdi by his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur said “Shonekan was an outstanding role model who stood to be counted when it mattered.”
Chief Shonekan was Head of the Nigerian Government between August 26 and November 17, 1993, and was overthrown in a bloodless coup led by late General Sani Abacha.
Ortom said, “Shonekan was a vibrant and courageous leader who left his positive footprints in the sands of time.
“Though his stint in office was short, he made great impacts. Nigerians felt his contributions within that time giving his experience as a technocrat in the organized private sector. He prioritized the welfare and security of all citizens without prejudice.
“His invaluable contributions to the ideals of nationhood remain a reference point in many years to come. Posterity will be kind to him.
“Chief Shonekan was a great nationalist. It is sad to lose him at a time like this when Nigeria needed his wealth of experience and wise counsel to navigate through the murky political waters.”
Governor Ortom prayed for the peaceful repose of his soul and also prayed God to grant his family the strength to bear the irreparable loss.