…as millions of Nigerians mourn the death of Nigeria’s first aviation minister
Governor of Anambra State, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, CFR, has expressed sadness over the death of Elder Statesman and Nigeria’s First Republic Aviation Minister, Dara Mbazulike Amaechi, who died at 93 years.
Soludo described the late Amechi who died at the early hours of Tuesday, November 1st, 2022, as an outstanding patriot and nationalist who served the nation diligently.
In a statement by his Press Secretary, Christian Aburime, the governor said the late elder statesman lived an impactful and exemplary life worthy of commendation
“He was a renowned Nationalist, an active and staunch voice in the zikist movement as well as an accomplished elder statesman.
“The death of Mbazulike Amaechi was not just a loss to his community, Ukpor, in Nnewi South Local Government Area and to Anambra state but also a monumental loss to Ndigbo and the Nigerian Nation.
“The Governor, therefore, on behalf of the Government and people of Anambra State commiserates with the Mbazulike family over the irreparable loss.”
Also speaking, Valentine Ozigbo, a prominent Nigerian business leader, has joined millions of Nigerians in mourning the death of Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, Nigeria’s first aviation minister and a prominent Zikist Movement member who passed away in the morning of Tuesday, November 1, 2022.
“With total deference to the will of the Almighty God, the Ume Amechi, Ezeana Ihinede families and the Umu Mmara kindred of Amihe Ukpor in Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State announce the peaceful transition of our illustrious son, father and grandfather, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi (Dara Akunwafor), Nationalist and First Republic Minister of Aviation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who transitioned peacefully in the early hours of today November 1, 2022,” the statement read in party.
In extolling the late nationalist, Mr Ozigbo said that his passing was an “end of an important era in Nigeria’s history” as Chief Amaechi was the last surviving cabinet member from the First Republic.
Ozigbo, who came 2nd in the keenly contested 2021 Anambra Governorship election, also acknowledged the support and fatherly blessings he received from Chief Amaechi during his campaign, and prayed that the soul of the departed would find rest in the bosom of the Lord.
“My family and I received with sadness the news of the death of Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, is a highly respected elder statesman who was elected a member of the Federal House of Representatives in 1959 and was appointed as Minister of Aviation and Transportation in 1962.
“Chief Amaechi’s passing marks the end of an important era in Nigeria’s history as the only surviving cabinet member from the First Republic, he was the custodian of the history of significant political events in our country.
“Chief Amaechi, popularly known as “The Boy is Good”, was a staunch ally of Nigeria’s first President, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe. He famously housed Nelson Mandela, a prominent anti-apartheid leader, when he fled to Nigeria to escape arrest by South African authorities.
“My governorship bid of last year benefited from Chief Amaechi’s wisdom and fatherly blessings. He courageously endorsed my candidacy in his country home in Ukpor, Nnewi South, on Thursday, December 24, 2020. It is a day I will never forget.
“I extend my condolences to the entire Amaechi family. I pray that the soul of the great statesman will find its way home to the bosom of the Almighty and that the Holy Spirit will comfort the family he left behind. Amen,” Ozigbo ended.
A political analyst, Chima Christian regretted that although Amaechi worked for peace, it didn’t come in his time.
“Mr President, I want you to be remembered as a person who saw Nigeria burning, and you quenched the fire.”
Those were the exact words of Chief Mbazulike Amaechi during the visit of select elderstatesmen of Igbo extraction to President Muhammadu Buhari in November, 2021. The visit was to dialogue with the president and impress it on him to consider a political solution to the case of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and the insecurity in the southeast.
For some reason that counsel was not heeded. Nigeria’s ruling class instead continued to concoct what they said will be a medicine for madness with alligator pepper.
It must have broken Amaechi’s heart to continue getting the depressing news that come out of Nigeria daily, including the commercialisation of violence in the southeast. It must have broken his heart that his efforts at peace were sabotaged.
He was to grant a press interview on the matter in July 2022.
“On the 18th of November 2021, at the age of 93, I traveled to Abuja with some other Igbo leaders and a Bishop relation of Mazi Kanu to plead with the President to release Nnamdi Kanu to me and to commence dialogue to find a solution to the problem.
“The President carefully listened to me, put aside a reply which they had written for him, and spoke his mind to me. He assured me and I verily believed him that he would look into the matter, for my sake. The Presidency arranged for me to visit Nnamdi Kanu in detention and get some assurances from him. This I did in the company of Nnamdi’s relation, Bishop Onuoha and his lawyer.
”We reached an agreement with Nnamdi Kanu which could have gladdened the hearts of the government and Ndigbo and on the 6th of December 2021, I forwarded a copy to the President by DHL Mail with proof of delivery. That was the last the Presidency communicated with me but I doubt if they allowed the President to see a copy of the mail I forwarded to him. I seriously doubt if they allowed him to see it.
“Sometime last year, the Chairman of South East Governors Forum, telephoned me and told me that he visited the President and asked him about my case and the President told him that the ball was at my feet (Mbazuliki Amechi’s feet). The Governor told me he had arranged a meeting with the Attorney-General of the Federation, myself, himself and Nnamdi’s lawyer. At my age, I took the trouble and pains to travel to Abuja. The Governor was a day late and after dribbling me and the lawyer, he told us that the Attorney-General had traveled and requested me to wait till next week. I had to return home after wasting three days with my aides in a hotel.
”As for the insecurity in the southeast, the solution is simple if only the authorities and those who benefit from the situation will listen. You do not catch a fly with vinegar, you catch a fly with honey or something good and edible. You can never win peace with the gun, you gain peace by dialogue, understanding, give and take.”
Mbazulike Amaechi, according to a press statement from his family, has joined his ancestors. He didn’t live to see the version of Nigeria he worked so hard for. But the seeds have been sown: Africa’s morning will come.