By Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
Abia State has declared Friday July 1 and Monday July 4 as work free days to honour the memory of Chief Ojo Maduekwe, who passed away on Wednesday on return from overseas trip.
The announcement was made at a joint press conference by the secretary to the state government, Dr. Eme Okoro and the commissioner for information and strategy, Mr. Bonnie Iwuoha, saying that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu approved the public holidays.
“This is a time for mourning; a kind of mourning that has cast depressing shadow on us,” Iwuoha said.
He said that the former High Commissioner of Nigeria to Canada was an eminent son of Abia, who had achieved so much in life and served the nation meritoriously hence he deserved to be honoured by the people of Abia.
Meanwhile Governor Ikpeazu has expressed great shock over the news of the death of Maduekwe, who hailed from Asaga in Ohafia local government of Abia State.
The governor’s grief was contained in a statement signed by his chief press secretary, Mr. Enyinnaya Appolos, describing the late former minister as his “personal mentor, confidant and father”.
According to him, with the death of the elder statesman Nigeria and Abia state in particular had lost a great and worthy leader, adding that he was one of the strongest pillars of his administration offering invaluable advice and guidance.
The Governor recalled his last moments with Chief Maduekwe, saying that he was constantly in touch with the late Ambassador even up until last weekend when he called on phone from abroad and apologised for his absence at the meeting between the governor and the Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Okechukwu Enelama, as well as Abia caucus in the National assembly.
Maduekwe’s last official outing in the state with the Governor was Abia North Senatorial Zone Town Hall Meeting held at his native Ohafia where the late Leader gave the vote of thanks and urged political elites in Abia State to allow the Governor continue on his path of remarkable development and not to distract him with undue financial requests.
Governor Ikpeazu condoled with Maduekwe;s immediate family and assured them of the prayers and support of the Abia State Government as they prepare to bid the late colossus a befitting farewell.