I’ve Lost My Best Friend of 40 Years, Ikpeazu Laments

Okezie Victor Ikpeazu

Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia

Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has expressed deep pains following the death of his Commissioner for Environment and closest confidant, Dr. Solomon Ogunji, saying his death “is definitely very hard for me to swallow.”

“I didn’t just lose a commissioner, I lost my best friend of over 40 years,” he lamented, adding that Ogunji’s demise was “a deeply profound personal loss.”

Ogunji passed away on May 23, 2020, at the Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH), Aba, after a brief illness linked to high blood pressure.

The governor, who was emotionally distraught for losing a longstanding friend, said his friendship with late Ogunji started when the deceased was 13 and it had blossomed ever since.

According to him, their friendship grew and solidified to the extent that no one else has come closer to him in terms of personal relationships other than the late environment commissioner.

In his poetic elegy, the mournful Ikpeazu recounted with fond memories his long span relationship with Ogunji.

According to him, “We grew up together; attended the same secondary school where we were classmates. I cannot remember any other person that shares with me the kind of relationship I had with Solo.

“Many years ago, we both lost our fathers and incidentally, the two burials were fixed for the same day. While the funeral service for his father was still on before the burial proper, he left his village at Ohambele Ndoki and joined me at Umuobiakwa.

“He got to my village while we were getting set for the funeral service of my late father. I asked him why, and he told me that he had two elder brothers who could take charge at home while I was not just the first son but the first child, and so needed all the psychological support I could get.

“He stayed with me till the next day before returning to his village to join his family. That is the kind of friend Solo was to me. It went beyond mere friendship.”

The governor further stated that “as young boys, we shared dreams of our future at a time when no one knew that we would find ourselves at the top echelon of public service.”

The late Ogunji, who was a senatorial aspirant for Abia South in 2015, played important roles in Ikpeazu’s government, serving as special adviser and commissioner as well as heading special task forces.