Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday received the body of former Vice President Alex Ekwueme at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja.
Ekwueme, who died in a London hospital on November 19, 2017 at the age of 85, was honoured with a parade mounted by men of the Nigeria Police Force at the airport.
Osinbajo received the body on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Other dignitaries at the parade included the Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of the Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Nkem Okeke; representative of former President Shehu Shagari, Aminu Shagari; and Senator Andy Uba.
Members of the Federal Executive Council present included the ministers of Agriculture, Federal Capital Territory, Labour and Productivity, Education, Budget and National Planning and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
Also present were representatives of the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, and the Inspector-General of Police, Idris Ibrahim, Corps Marshal Federal Road Safety Corps, Boboye Oyeyemi, representatives of Civil Defence, Nigeria Customs Service as well as other paramilitary services.
The ceremony, which began at 12.19pm, featured the inspection of the parade by Osinbajo, movement of the corpse by pall-bearers at 12:26pm, as well as handing and taking over of the corpse by the Body of Commissioners of Police, among others.
In his remarks, Osinbajo noted that Ekwueme was committed to selfless service to the nation, Africa and the world.
He said the nation was reminded of the late elder statesman’s timeless ideals of integrity, loyalty and kindness to all.
“As we receive the body of the first elected Vice-President of Nigeria, Dr. Alex Ekwueme (GCON), this morning, we are reminded of his selfless service to the nation, to our region, to Africa and indeed the world. We are reminded of his commitment of the timeless ideals of integrity, of loyalty and kindness to all.
“We thank the almighty God for giving us 85 glorious years of Dr. Alex Ekwueme.
“When he was asked what his vision was for the country, he said, ‘I will want to see Nigeria become a nation not just a country.’
“Those words tell us how committed he was to the unity of this country and I pray that in death and as we remember him, that this will not only encourage us but also cement the relationship between all of the people and nationalities of this country, so that we become and remain one.
“We thank the almighty God for his family and for all of us who he left behind and we pray that his great wishes for this nation and all that he sacrificed for will not be in vain,” Osinbajo.
Ekwueme’s body later arrived the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu for another reception led by south-east governors.
The final burial will be held in Oko, Anambra State on February 2.