President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Samuel Ortom, and former Senate President David Mark are among prominent Nigerians mourning the demise of Dr. Paul Unongo, saying that the country has lost an elder statesman.
Unongo, a former Chairman of the Northern Elders Forum and the country’s Minister of Steel Development during the Second Republic, was Chairman of the Board of the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council, NERDC.
In a tribute, President Buhari acknowledged the close relationship he had with the deceased, adding that “in all the positions he held as a politician and public officer, he displayed a high level of decorum. He was a colossus in public life, very articulate and witty. He served his community and the nation extremely well.
“My deepest condolences to the bereaved family, and the government and people of Benue State,” his spokesman, Mr. Garba Shehu quoted him as saying.
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom expressed deep pains over Unongo saying “we have lost a pathfinder and leader of an inestimable value.”
Lamenting the death of Unongo who died on Tuesday, November 29th, 2022 at the age of 87 years old, Ortom stated that the foremost nationalist was a father figure who championed the emancipation of the ordinary citizens without ethnic or religious barriers.
The Governor noted the leadership role of Pa Unongo in the political evolution of Nigeria pointing out that he was a mentor to many present day leaders who had great ideas for the socio-political and economic development of the country.
He said: “In Pa Unongo, our Iroko tree has fallen. He is one of the last icons of political leadership in Nigeria whose contributions to the politics of the country from post independence till date can notbr quantified. Benue State has lost a leader and mentor. His death has created a vacuum that would be difficult to fill .
“We shall miss his intellect, great ideas, oratory prowess and immense capacity for mobilization and organization of the people.”
Governor Ortom however expressed consolation that Pa Unongo’s legacies of patriotism, pan Nigerian and philanthropy will endure.
He promised that Benue State will do the needful to immortalize Pa Unongo for his selfless services and contributions to the development of the state.
He prayed that God grants the deceased eternal rest and the immediate family the fortitude to bear the loss.
Former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark described the death of Unongo as a huge loss to the nation.
Mark stated that Nigeria and Benue State in particular have lost a political giant and mentor who stood to be counted when it mattered .
He recalled the role of Pa Unongo in the political evolution of Nigeria as the pioneer National Secretary of Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) led by the first Nigerian President Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe otherwise called the Zikist movement .
According to Senator Mark : “As a minister of the Federal Republic, Pa Unongo demonstrated enormous capacity in leadership and contributed to the socio- political and economic development of Nigeria .
“ Pa Unongo was a leader without boundaries because he took the entire country as his constituency.
“We shall miss his political sagacity, oratory prowess , frank and Patriotic disposition to national issues. He called a spade its rightful name no matter whose ox was gored”.
Senator Mark added that Pa Unongo was an emancipator of sort because he stood for the oppressed and the down trodden.
Whether his goal in that respect was achieved or not, the former Senate helmsman noted that Pa Unongo craved for a society of equal opportunities for all irrespective of tribe or religion.
He enjoined the government and people of Benue State to take solace in the fact that Pa Unongo left good legacies and positive footprints in the sand of time.