President Goodluck Jonathan, former head of state, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola are among notable Nigerian leaders that have paid tributes to the literary icon, Chinua Achebe who died in the U.S Thursday night.
In his tribute through a statement signed by presidential spokesman, Mr Jonathan said he received with” immense sadness, news of the passing away of Nigeria’s globally acclaimed writer, scholar, tutor, cultural icon, nationalist and artist of the very first rank, Prof. Chinua Achebe.”
The statement also adds that “President Jonathan joins Prof. Achebe’s family, his friends, colleagues, past and present students, admirers and all who have learnt indelible lessons of human existence from his award winning works of literature in mourning the legendary author.
“As he mourns however, the President is consoled by the knowledge that Prof. Achebe will live forever in the hearts and minds of present and future generations through his great works which brought him enduring international fame and countless honours.
“The President believes that Prof. Achebe’s frank, truthful and fearless interventions in national affairs will be greatly missed at home in Nigeria because while others may have disagreed with his views, most Nigerians never doubted his immense patriotism and sincere commitment to the building of a greater, more united and prosperous nation that all Africans and the entire black race could be proud of.
“He recalls that with maturity and global stature, Prof. Achebe fearlessly spoke the truth as he saw it and became, as he advanced in age, a much revered national icon and conscience of the nation who will be eternally honoured for his contributions to national discourse as well as the immense fame and glory he brought to his fatherland.
“On behalf of himself, his family, the Federal Government and all Nigerians, President Jonathan extends heartfelt condolences to Prof Achebe’s family. He prays that God Almighty will receive Prof. Achebe’s great soul and grant him eternal rest from his outstanding earthly labours.”
A statement by CPC’s spokesman said “The National leader of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB) expresses shock at the news of the demise of Professor Chinua Achebe. Professor Achebe was a Nigerian writer that effectively combined intellectualism and simplicity. His debut literary work, ‘Things fall apart’ published in 1958, has continued to attract wide readership across the globe. He was known for an inimitable courage in freely expressing his personal convictions on prevalent National discourse irrespective of the desire of the principalities in the Land. He rebuffed two attempts by the PDP-led Federal Government to confer National honours on him because of his conviction that the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, as a Party, had not given Nigerians any hope of responsible governance.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, NEC and the party members across the Nation-space and the Diaspora, GMB sends his condolence to the immediate family members of Professor Achebe on this tragic loss. May the Almighty God grant the family and the entire Nation the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”
Also, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, said he received with a heavy heart, news of the death of literary icon, Professor Chinua Achebe. A release from his media aide said “ Tambuwal described the deceased as the conscience of the nation whose words and deeds mirror those of his country men and women.”
The Speaker noted that Achebe would be remembered as a very decent man of great integrity whose passion for the progress and development of his Fatherland served as an inspiration for his literary works and political commentary. He said Achebe did his best to uphold and propagate the ideals of a profession he loved and lived for.
Tambuwal said the death of the Professor was a colossal loss to Nigeria in particular and the whole world in general, adding that our country will forever be proud of giving the world Chinua Achebe. Tambuwal equally prayed to God to give Achebe’s family, relatives and friends the fortitude to bear his demise.
On his part, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), expressed grief at the passage of the literary icon, describing his death as a great loss not only to the literary world but humanity.
Governor Fashola, recalled his meeting with Professor Achebe last December at Brown University, Providence in Rhodes Island United States, where he had gone to deliver a keynote Paper at the 2012 Achebe Colloquium on Africa, saying he was particularly saddened by the fact that there was nothing that indicated that the meeting would be the last.
“I am particularly saddened by the fact that when I met him at Brown University last December, I never realized it will be my last with him. It is, indeed a great loss and given the great contribution he has made in shaping the course of African Literature, he will be sorely missed, especially by the literary world”, Governor Fashola said.
Describing the literary icon as “Father of modern African Literature”, Governor Fashola declared, “He is a towering African figure whose personality transcends the walls of ethnicity and religion and whose literary prowess has taken Nigeria and, indeed, the African Continent to the pinnacle of international recognition.
The Governor, who noted that he read the famous Things Fall Apart”, as a Literature student in secondary school, stated, “I must say, without any reservation, that Professor Achebe’s ingenuity as writer and the power behind his words influenced my generation to no small extent and opened our eyes to the rich culture, tradition and belief of our people.
“And here, perhaps, lies his greatest contribution to the Black Race; for through such world classics as *Things Fall Apart,* Professor Achebe was
able to keep our culture, tradition and belief alive in spite of the onslaught of other cultures”, the Governor said.
Governor Fashola said Nigeria, Africa and the Black Race owe Professor Achebe a wealth of gratitude and honour “for his uncompromising stand against all forms of colonialism and man’s inhumanity to man”, adding that both nationally and internationally, the literary don agitated for equality and objectivity.
“Indeed, Professor Achebe has left an indelible print in all our hearts but, especially, all literature lovers globally. He will continually live in our hearts as one who shaped and influenced African Literature and one who passed one of integrity’s truest tests, a constant abiding with principle”, the Governor said.
Condoling with the Achebe family and praying for the repose of the sole of the deceased, Governor Fashola enjoined his widow and other members of his family, the people of Anambra State and Nigerians in general, to take
solace in the rich legacy of integrity, dignity and honour which he has bequeathed to Nigeria, the African Continent and to the international human
community through his literary ingenuity.
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