Godwin Ndubuisi Kanu
Prominent Nigerians and organisations have described the death of former military administrator of Lagos State, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd.) as a shock at a critical moment the country needed the intervention of people like him to resolve its challenges.
They include Afenifere, National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), National Consultative Front (NCFront), Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), and African Democratic Congress (ADC), among others.
Kanu, a foremost member of NADECO and advocate of restructuring and democratic governance, passed on at the age of 77 after a brief illness in his hometown in Imo State on Monday. He once fought on the side of Biafra during the Nigeria Civil War between 1967 and 1970 but was later reabsorbed into the military after the war.
He was one of the notable pro-democracy activists who fought the military, especially the late General Sani Abacha’s military regime to a standstill to ensure the return of democratic government in 1999.
He was a prominent voice in NADECO, an organisation dedicated to the revalidation of the June 12, 1993 Presidential mandate of the acclaimed winner, the late business mogul, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO), which was annulled by the Ibrahim Babangida-led military administration. He also played a prominent role in the demand for restructuring of Nigeria, true federalism and devolution of powers.
In his condolence message, former Lagos governor, Bola Tinubu, described Kanu as “a rare breed for his singular consistency and unwavering commitment to social justice, democracy and federalism in Nigeria. Sadly, this great man who so loved this country and its many people passed from us at a time his experience about the nation is needed most.
“Kanu was my brother and a very courageous partner in the struggle for democracy and enthronement of true federalism in Nigeria. In everything he did, from his work as former administrator of Lagos State to the sacrifices he made to help NADECO during the struggle for the actualization of June 12, he was highly principled. He provided democratic vision and meaningful ideas to advance that historic struggle.”
Tinubu added that Kanu was a Lagosian and true nationalist in the very best sense of that phrase. “After his retirement, he freely gave of himself to bring progress to Lagos State by lending creative ideas as well as the fruits of his ample experience to successive administrations, including mine from 1999 to 2007. He demonstrated true belief and interest in the progress of the state. He offered intelligent and meaningful advice, which always proved helpful in solving problems at critical times,” he said.
Describing Kanu as Abia’s pride with impeccable credentials, Governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu said the late naval officer was a proud son of the state and an outstanding Nigerian with impeccable credentials who also excelled in every aspect of his life.
Ikpeazu, in a condolence signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Onyebuchi Ememanka, said, “Kanu, from his military career where he served meritoriously in the Navy to his appointment as member of the Supreme Military Council in 1975, to his appointment as the first Military Governor of the old Imo State in March 1976, Military Governor of Lagos State in 1977, amongst others, exemplified the best ideals of public service.”
According to Ikpeazu, the democratic rule Nigeria enjoys today is one of the fruits of the sacrifices made by Kanu and other compatriots. Also mourning Kanu, Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi described the death of the NADECO stalwart as a monumental loss to Nigeria, saying, “The late activist was committed to the stability of the country.”
Fayemi also credited Kanu with contributing to the physical, social and economic development of Lagos and Imo states where he served as military governor and left worthy legacies that had endured decades.
“He was a gallant officer, highly detribalised leader, an altruistic patriot, astute administrator and one of the pillars of democratic movement that fought for the restoration of democracy in Nigeria. His death is a personal loss to me. He was a big brother and a fellow comrade in the struggle for freedom and democracy in Nigeria,” Fayemi said.
National Secretary of Project Nigeria, Mr. Olawale Okunniyi said eminent leaders of thought, statesmen and women, and leaders of the Civil Society, under the aegis of Project Nigeria Movement led by Elder statesman, Prof. Ben Nwabueze (SAN), condoled with the family and associates of Kanu.
Okunniyi said the active guidance of Kanu in the struggle to create a new democratic and prosperous Nigeria would be greatly missed by all leaders of conscience in the Project Nigeria Movement, NADECO and in the broad civil society constituency.
A former governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba said Kanu was committed to the philosophy of the handshake across the Niger especially between the Ibo and Yoruba. “He dedicated his life to the spirit of democracy in Nigeria such that he lost businesses, property and other vital things to ensure that Nigeria enjoyed the benefits of democratic rule.”
National Chairman of ADC, Chief Ralph Nwosu said if other prominent Nigerians, particularly retired military generals, dedicate their lives to the progress and good governance in the country like Kanu, the country would be better today.”
In similar vein, former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. General Alani Akinrinade (rtd.) said Kanu suffered too much for the country, to have died without seeing a Nigeria of his dream. “His people abandoned him for Southwest yet he never budged. He continued with what he believed in.
The Aare Onakankanfo of Yoruba land, Otunba Gani Adams said Kanu was a detribalised Nigerian who fought but never benefitted from democracy until his death.
For former President of Aka Ikenga, an Igbo Think Tank group, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, Kanu was an enigma. According to Uwazurike, “Kanu had a soft voice. Yet he became a commander. Physically, he didn’t look like a military man. What he lacked in physique, he gained in his brainpower. It is therefore not a surprise that he rose to the height of his profession. As the Governor of both Imo and Lagos states, he left his footprint in the sands of time; he was a complete Igbo man, very passionate, brooked no nonsense and never stood on ceremonies. He was the chairman of NADECO and was even manhandled by Abacha for his membership of the coalition. We have lost a great man.”
National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin also said the death of Kanu was painful at this moment. On his part, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Francis Nwaeze, described Kanu’s death as a big loss to the country, noting that his positive impact towards moving the country forward will not be forgotten.