A foremost chartered surveyor and Second Republic politician, Chief Hope Harriman, is dead.
Harriman, 79, died Thursday in the United States where he had gone for medical treatment, after a brief illness.
Although details of his death were sketchy last night, his associates and friends, including former Minister of State for Education, Chief Kenneth Gbagi, and Pro National Conference Organisation (PRONACO), paid him glowing tributes.
Until his death, he was the principal partner and chairman of Harriman and Company.
Gbagi, who expressed sadness at the demise of Harriman, said his death was a “rude shock” to him.
He said the deceased was with him in his house before jetting out to the US two weeks ago.
He described the late Harriman as “an outstanding and detribalised Nigerian, a bridge-builder and a genuine crusader against all forms of corruption and injustice”.
“His death will definitely create a vacuum that will be difficult to fill because he was a bridge builder and an upright thinking man who was blunt and would tell it the way it is irrespective of who you are. He will surely be missed by all upright thinking Nigerians and people the world over,” he added.
PRONACO, in a statement, commiserated with the Harriman family and the entire progressive movement in Nigeria.
The statement issued in Lagos by PRONACO spokesman, Mr. Olawale Okunniyi, described Harriman as the group’s strong ally and a member of The Patriots, a group of eminent Nigerians, and a leading light of the advocacy for a people’s constitution in Nigeria, who lived an honourable life.
“He has at several times lent his voice to the urgent need to restructure Nigeria for functional federalism and political stability in the country. He was also supportive of this noble cause until his last days, not compromising his stand on his advocacy for a people's national conference in Nigeria.
“He will be greatly missed in the current struggles to make Nigerians take ownership of their constitution and democracy,” it said.
Deputy Chairman, Delta State Leaders and Stakeholders Forum (DSLSF), Chief Godwin Ogbetuo, said with Harriman’s death, Nigeria has lost a gem.
Ogbetuo, who is a frontline member of the Chief Edwin K. Clark’s influential political pressure group, told THISDAY in Warri yesterday that the death of the businessman and elder statesman has brought him personal grief.
“I was with him (Harriman) at Chief Kenneth Gbagi’s house in Lagos when he travelled to America about two weeks ago,” Ogbetuo said, adding that they had no idea that the eminent Second Republic politician “was leaving us for the last time.”
“I'm very sad about this news; it is a personal loss to me because he had been a close political associate and friend of many years.
“Chief Hope Harriman was one of the architects of the present six geopolitical zones in the country, which began as the struggle for minority rights and political interest in Nigeria under Chief Tayo Akpata in the then Western Region. Harriman was in the elders’ forum in the struggle to advance the ethnic minority interests in this country,” Ogbetuo said amid tears.
He said he would always remember the central role the late Harriman played in the minority group’s struggle in Nigeria that led to the eventual emergence of the current six geopolitical zones together with others, including him (Ogbetuo) and Chief Graham Douglas.
According to him, the South-south and the Niger Delta will sorely miss the Warri-born Harriman who was a prominent member of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) in the then Bendel State.
The late Harriman, a renowned philanthropist, studied at the Government College, Ibadan and was at the Christ’s College, Cambridge between 1955 and 1958.
He was a chartered surveyor by profession and was a fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the Nigerian Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers as well as the Nigerian Institute of Management.
He was also an industrialist and had headed boards of numerous companies, including Evans Medical Plc.