Matthew Tawo Mbu
By Taiwo Akintunde
Activities signalling the commencement of the funeral rites of late Nigerian diplomat, Dr. Matthew Tawo Mbu, began in Lagos Tuesday, with the lying-in-state of his remains at his residence in Ikoyi, Lagos as well as tributes and songs of praise at the Harbour Point on Victoria Island, Lagos.
Chairman, Lagos sub-committee of the late Mbu National Funeral Committee, Lt. Col Paul Edor Obi (rtd), said the five-day funeral ceremony would end in Calabar, Cross River State, his home state, where Governor Liyel Imoke, had already pronounced the esteemed Mbu’s funeral a state burial.
Obi said the elder statesman would thereafter be laid to rest in his home community in Okundi, Boki Local Government Area of the state.
At his Ikoyi residence where the lying-in-state was held, the Mbu family received a high turn out of visitors, who came to pay their last respects.
Among the prominent citizens who called there yesterday were Former Vice-President, Chief Alex Ekwueme, former Ogun State Governor, Chief Olusegun Osoba, Foreign Affairs Minister, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru and many others.
According to Osoba, “He was a man of honour who served the country with so much diligence. We thank God for his life even though we will miss him greatly. He has achieved a lot for the country in the past 50 years. He held the distinction of being the youngest Nigerian ever to serve in the federal cabinet.”
On his part, Ekwueme wrote that Mbu was a friend he would dearly miss so much going by his achievement that has contributed to the growth of Nigeria today.
“He represented the country to his full capacity and he again served locally and his reputation as a top government official remained unchanged,” he said.
Ambassador Ashiru commented that going by his position in the country, he found Mbu a great patriot and his service to father land remains evergreen outside the shores of the country where he served in the capacity of a foreign minister.
However, at the Harbour Point in Victoria Island, there was presentation of traditional dance by the South-South People’s Assembly (SSPA), a non-political organisation created to help promote the interests of the people of the South-South geo-political zone, of which was the late Mbu was a founding father.
The dance presentation was followed by the ceremony of tributes by Chief Ernest Shonekan, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, Governor Uduaghan of Delta State, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Dr. Christopher Kolade, and a host of other dignitaries present at the ceremony.
A distinguished lawyer, politician and diplomat, late Ambassador Mbu passed on in the United Kingdom, to which he was Nigeria’s first High Commissioner, on February 6, 2012, aged 82 and is survived by wife and children.
The funeral rites continue in with a Valedictory Court Session at the High Court, Calabar, Mass at St. Bernard Catholic Church, lying-in-state and Memorial Lecture at the Cultural Centre, Calabar with cultural dances by various groups.
In Okundi Boki LGA, Cross River State tomorrow, a Mass at St. Benedict’s Cathedral, Ogoja and a Vigil Mass at Okundi Lodge in the same area. The funeral rites end on Sunday 1st April, 2012 with a Thanksgiving Mass at Sat. Mary’s Catholic Church, Oku Bushuyu in Boki as well.