The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has said President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to giving a former Vice President, late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, a befitting burial.
Ngige spoke on Sunday at Ekwueme’s hometown in Oko, Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State after inspecting facilities for the burial of the late VP.
He said Buhari had committed about N1bn on Ekwueme from the day the Federal Government took over his medical bills to date.
While saying that road rehabilitation alone in Anambra State and neighbouring communities of Imo and Abia states in preparation for Ekwueme’s burial had gulped about N480m, Ngige said Federal Government was not leaving anything to chances in ensuring that the Ekwueme family enjoys the role their late patriarch played in building a better Nigeria
He said, “You know that I belong to the Ekwueme family; I’m part of that family.
“I’m in various committees and subcommittees for the burial of this great statesman. I can tell you authoritatively that Mr President (Buhari) is committed and passionate in ensuring a befitting burial for Ekwueme.
“If he doesn’t come for the burial himself, I’m sure the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, will be here for the burial as a matter of right.
“So, I’m here to inspect the facilities in preparation for his burial; and I can tell you that I’m satisfied with the progress of work.
“The Federal Government is doing rehabilitation works on Amawbia/Ekwulobia road, up to Uga and Akokwa in Imo State.
“We’re also doing road rehabilitation on Oko/Umunze road up to Ibinta in Abia State.
“I know the cost of all this, not less than N480m.
“The Federal Government is building the mausoleum, which will contain a modern library and other facilities and I also know the cost of that too.
“And remember that the Federal Government took up all the medical bills of flying him abroad and bringing him back to Nigeria from London upon his death.
“The cost of hiring an air ambulance is not a joke. So, Buhari has honoured this Igbo son in all ramifications.
“He has committed not less than a billion naira in this project because he is passionate about it,” Ngige stated.
The Minister added that the Federal Government was considering naming a national monument after Ekwueme to immortalise him.
Similarly, the Anambra State Government has commenced works on internal roads in Oko and environs, preparatory for the burial.
Briefing reporters, a Senior Special Adviser to Governor Willie Obiano on Inter-Party matters, Chief Ben Obi, said a virgin four-kilometre road had been created in the area for easy movement during the funeral.
He said parking bays had been created in about six points, where shuttles would be provided to ferry mourners to the funeral venue, while St Mary’s Catholic Church, Oko, playground would serve as a helipad for the Vice President’s visit.
Meanwhile, the Anambra State Government has declared Thursday this week as a work-free day.
In a public service announcement by the Secretary to the Anambra State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, all markets and businesses in the state would be closed on that day.
The announcement read in part, “As part of the funeral arrangements for the late Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Dr. Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme (GCON), Anambra State Government hereby announces that … Thursday, February 1st, 2018 is work-free day in Anambra State.
“All markets and businesses will be closed on that day to enable Ndi Anambra, friends, associates and well wishers to pay our last respect to the late Vice President.
“All those attending the commendation ceremony, including various social, cultural, religious, political, professional, educational, market men and women, and all other groups are to be seated by 10am prompt.”
Born October 21,1932, Ekwueme died on Sunday 19th November 2017 at a London hospital
He served as first elected Vice President of Nigeria from 1979 to 1983 under a former President, Shehu Shagari.