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Obiano mourns as ex-Gov Ezeife loses wife

3 min read

The Anambra State government led by Governor Willie Obiano has commiserated with former governor Chukwuemeka Ezeife over the death of his wife, Mrs Njideka Ezeife, which occurred three days ago.

Mrs Ezeife was the Anambra State First Lady from January 1992, to November 1993, when the husband was the state governor.

Her husband was the first elected Anambra State governor following the creation of the state on August 27, 1991, by the military regime.

“Mrs Njideka Ezeife played a significant part in making the husband become a role model to a generation of not just Igbo people but all Nigerians,” the state government said in a statement in Awka today signed by the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C. Don Adinuba.

“Ezeife couldn’t proceed to secondary school after his primary education, but he ended up with a doctoral degree in economics from Harvard, symbolising the Igbo spirit to not just succeed but excel despite all odds.

“Unable to return to Nigeria on completion of his studies, he became an academic at Makerere University in Uganda and when he eventually came back home, he joined the federal civil service where he rose to the position of permanent secretary.

“His wife was with him all the way during the years of tribulations and determination which ended up in praise”.

Adinuba noted that Mrs Ezeife would be remembered also for her role in making the Ezeife administration adhere strictly to prudent financial management and laying the foundation for the subsequent development of the state.

“The state had just been created when he assumed office, and it had practically no infrastructure, no offices, no facilities and no funds,” the commissioner observed.

“Dr Ezeife had to squeeze water out of stone, and he saved a lot of money which he planned to invest in the state’s rapid development in the last two years of the administration which would enable him to win reelection easily, but his lofty plans were truncated when the military struck, once again, in Nigerian politics on November 17, 1993”.

Adinuba recalled that following the military coup, Ezeife and his wife returned to Lagos where the family shared a small family house on Awolowo Road in Ikoyi which served as both their residence and office because they could not afford a bigger house.

“Far from bemoaning their fate,” stated Adinuba, “Mrs Ezeife and the family accepted their new condition with philosophical equanimity.

“In fact, Mrs Ezeife encouraged her husband to continue to take an active part in the affairs of the nation, beginning with Anambra State because of her strong conviction that charity must always start at home.

“Dr Ezeife accepted the counsel, contributing robustly to Anambra’s rapid development in the last few years, like most other former governors of the state.

“In appreciation of his sincere and energetic contribution, Governor Willie Obiano appointed him a member of the Anambra State Council of Elders when it was inaugurated, working alongside such distinguished Anambra sons and daughters as Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary General of the Commonwealth; Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, Obi of Onitsha and former director of Shell International; Iyom Josephine Anenih, a senior lawyer and former Minister of Women Affairs; Chief Simeon Okeke, former chairman of the Police Service Commission; Most Reverend Paulinus Ezeokafor, the Catholic Bishop of Awka; Archbishop Maxwell Anikwenwa, former leader of the Anglican Communion in Anambra State; Bishop Alexander Ibezim, the Bishop of Awka and leader of the Anglican faith in the state; and Sir Chris Okoye, the doyen of the civil engineering profession in Nigeria; as well as Chief Ogene Okeke, the vice chairman of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo.”

Governor Obiano has already personally condoled Dr Ezeife over the wife’s transition, pledging that he and his family would say special prayers for the repose of Mrs Ezeife’s soul.

“The state administration,” he promised, “will certainly participate effectively in her burial”.

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