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Chuba Okadigbo Dies at 61

Posted by By Yusuph Olaniyonu in Lagos, Paul Ibe and Kola Ologbodiyan in Abuja on 2003/09/26 | Views: 865 |

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Chuba Okadigbo Dies at 61

Former Senate President and the vice presidential candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in the April general elections, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, is dead. He was 61 years old.

Former Senate President and the vice presidential candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in the April general elections, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, is dead. He was 61 years old.

Okadigbo, a colourful politician and gifted orator, was last seen publicly on Tuesday when he accompanied the ANPP presidential flagbearer, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) to a solidarity rally held in Kano by the party members to shore up support for his court battle against the declared winner of the April 19 presidential polls, President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He was said to have returned to his house, 1 Jerome Udoji Close in Asokoro area of Abuja about 2a.m on Wednesday morning and complained to his aides that he was tired, having inhaled too much tear gas at the rally. He woke up yesterday morning still feeling clumsy and fatigued.

When his cousin went to him yesterday morning to ask if he would be attending the hearing of the ANPP appeal on the presidential election results at the Court of Appeal, Okadigbo was said to have replied that he would but needed to rest a little more.

But when he did not get out of bed in time, his cousin went back to him and asked if he should call in a doctor to examine him. Okadigbo at this point agreed that he should be examined by a doctor.

The doctor later came in and took his blood pressure. The doctor, however, advised that the former Senate President should move into the hospital to enable him have a thorough check-up.

He then dressed up and got into the car for the journey to the hospital. In the car, he was said to be feeling very uncomfortable and died on his wife's laps on his way to the hospital about 9p.m. yesterday.

His body has, however, been transferred to the National Hospital mortuary, Abuja.

Early callers to his Abuja house included Mr. Terry Waya, Benue State born politician, Chief Tom Ikimi, former minister of foreign affairs, Senators J.K.N. Waku, Gbenga Aluko and Sylvanus Ngele, who were his supporters in the last Senate.

Others who had visited the Okadigbo house early this morning are Mr. John Nnia Nwodo (jnr) and Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, Okadigbo's former special assistant now a member of the House of Representatives.

Others are ANPP chairman, Chief Don Etiebet, Second Republic House speaker, Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke and Mr. Segun Awolowo.

ANPP presidential candidate, General Buhari was being expected at press time.

"Nigeria has lost a leader, politician, orator and great philosopher," Senator Waku told THISDAY about 1.30a.m this morning.

Born on December 17, 1941, Okadigbo popularly known as Oyi of Oyi, an appellation carved from his traditional title in his hometown in Anambra State was educated in Germany and the United States of America.

He bagged a diploma in trade economics from the Blackenburg College of Technology in Germany (1963), and later went to get a master degree in Philosophy from the Karl Marx University, Leipzig, Germany in 1967.

Okadigbo later moved over to the US where he got another master degree in Philosophy from the Catholic University of America, Washington DC in 1972. He eventually bagged a doctor of Philosophy degree from the same university in 1975.

Between 1973 to 1975, he was appointed associate professor of Philosophy by the University of the District of Columbia, Washington D.C. He also served as adjunct assistant professor of politics, the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C. Between 1974 and 1975, he lectured at the Howard University, Washington D.C.

He later returned to Nigeria where he became a lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and also served as the director-general of the university's Centre for Inter-disciplinary and Political Studies.

Okadigbo later served between 1984 and 1987 as Academic visitor and research scholar (visiting professor), London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Government, London.

Okadigbo who authored about eight books on political philosophy had his first stint in politics, the vocation that brought him fame and national recognition, in 1959 when he served as organisation secretary of the National Council for Nigeria and Camerouns (NCNC). Between 1960 and 1963, he was secretary of the Academic Board of the party.

He was in 1961 the assistant publicity secretary of the Zikish National Vanguard, Lagos branch 1981 - 1963.

In 1977, he was elected member, Constituent Assembly and later became the deputy national secretary of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) which later became the ruling party in the Second Republic. In the advent of the Second Republic, he was appointed as special adviser on political affairs to President Shehu Shagari between 1979 to 1983.

After the demise of the republic, Okadigbo tried his hands at magazine publishing by establishing The Platform. In 1992, when the Babangida administration held the National Assembly polls, he was elected senator representing Anambra State. In the Senate, he chaired Senate committee on foreign affairs after his bid for the Senate Presidency failed. By that time he had become a known politician and member of the Shehu Yar'Adua led Peoples Front which later became the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM).

In 1999, he was re-elected senator and he sought the position of Senate President. He lost this time to his kinsman, Chief Evan Enwerem. But on November 18, 1999, he was elected Senate President after Enwerem's impeachment.

He himself was impeached as Senate President on August 8, 2000. He was consequently appointed chairman of the committee on riots, crises and conflicts.

Okadigbo decamped from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) late last year and was made vice presidential candidate of ANPP.

He held several chieftaincy titles and international honour.

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