Sunday, November 3, 2013

Akhigbe’s body arrives today

The Nigerian Navy yesterday confirmed that the remains of the former
Chief of the General Staff (CGS), Vice Admiral Mike Okhai Akhigbe, who
died of throat cancer in an American hospital, last week, will arrive
the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos today aboard a
chartered aircraft direct from the US.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that President Goodluck Jonathan directed
officials of the Nigerian embassy in Washington to ensure that the
former number two citizen, who, along with former military head of
state, General Abdusalami Abubakar, midwived the current democratic
dispensation, was accorded the honour of a nationalist.
The body of Akhigbe, who was also a former Chief of the Naval Staff
and a former military governor of Lagos and Ondo states, and who
hailed from Fugar in Etsako Central local government area of Edo
State, on arrival in Lagos, is expected to be flown to Edo State where
he will lie in state before a ceremonial national burial.
It was gathered that Lagos and Ondo states would honour the former CGS.
Meanwhile, South-south leader, Chief Edwin Clark, has described
Akhigbe as a great democrat.
In a condolence message, yesterday, the elder statesman, who noted
that the South-south and Nigeria had lost a great leader with the
passage of Akhigbe, said, "The sad news of the death of a gallant
Soldier, Admiral Mike Okhai-Akhigbe came to us as a rude shock and
most devastating.
"Though we were not unaware of the state of his ill- health which kept
him away from Nigeria for a long time and intact, I visited him in
company of Alabo Graham Douglas and my wife at his residence in
London. We were happy that he was recovering and intact he came down
to the gate to receive us and also saw us down when we were leaving".
"He phoned me recently that he was in Nigeria and we agreed to meet,
but unfortunately, he rushed back to the United States of America only
to receive the sad news of his sudden death.
"He battled endlessly and courageously for his survival, but the cold
hands of death snatched him away. But who are we to question the will
of God. By his death, Nigeria has lost a gallant Soldier and a great
administrator whose vacuum will indeed, be difficult to fill.
"He was indeed a great democrat because as Chief of General Staff to
General Abdulsalam Abubakar's military administration, they ended
military administration within one year and organised a general
election which installed a democratic government which has now lasted
for over fourteen years.
"He was governor of Lagos and Ondo States and we very proud of his
activities as Military governor of these states. He identified himself
with his people of South South and was indeed one of our great leaders
in the South South Peoples Assembly.
"Coming nearer home, he was like a younger brother to me and showed
tremendous respect for me as his elder, by visiting me in my country
home, Kiagbodo in Delta State and my residence in Abuja and Lagos
respectively. He encouraged me to establish, "the Edwin Clark
Foundation" of which he was a member of Board of Trustees and
Governing Council. But unfortunately, he was not present with us for
the formal launching of the foundation because he was already battling
with his life in far away United States of America."

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