By Adejoke Adeleye
Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has described Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd) as a real patriot who remained focus in fighting for enthronement of democracy even when the late despotic leader, Gen. Sani Abacha jailed him and others in 1995.
Obasanjo, in a condolence message to the widow of Kanu, Mrs. Gladys Ndubuisi-Kanu, said it was with a heavy heart that he wrote to commiserate with her and other members of her family on the unfortunate passing of her beloved husband and patriarch, Kanu.
“No doubt, the ranks of the nation’s leadership have been depleted by the loss of a dedicated and resourceful patriot who served the nation in various capacities as a Naval Officer, Community Leader and Military Governor of Imo State and Lagos State in 1975 and 1977 respectively.
“Over the years, I had followed and watched, with keen interest, Admiral Kanu’s inspiring career which traversed soldiering, public administration, pro-democracy activism and business.
“It is noteworthy that in the course of his military service which straddled more than two decades, he acquitted himself as a dedicated officer, a gentleman and a real patriot. From the thick of the Nigerian Civil War where he commanded various regiments and corps, to the post-war re-organisation of the military, he distinguished himself as a seasoned military officer to which I could bear witness,” he said.
Obasanjo said Kanu was acknowledged as a disciplined, detribalised, transparent and humane public officer with an enviable track record, saying he left behind an impeccable record of leadership, a legacy of forthrightness, thoroughness and unwavering commitment to public good.
“I recall that he was a pillar of trust and an iconic reference point when in 1975 the Murtala/Obasanjo’s regime appointed him as MilitaryGovernor of Imo State and later also as Military Governor of Lagos State in 1977. He was, indeed, a great man who wrote for himself an enviable page in history with his service to the nation and humanity.
“In retirement, he contributed to national development as a private businessman and a provider of employment for many of our people. He also deployed his good offices and goodwill to contribute to the attainment of relative peace and stability in the South-Eastern part of the country which can rightly be described as “home-grounds” for him.
“Until his death, the nation savoured much of his wisdom, experience and resourcefulness through his direct involvement in the national socio-political scene,proffering solutions to various challenges confronting our dear country. Like many of our compatriots who could not cope with the fistic rule of the time, particularly during the regime of General Sani Abacha, he was an active pro-democracy campaigner.
“As one of the respected leaders of the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, he refused to be cowed and fought tooth and nail to ensure the enthronement of genuine democracy in Nigeria. I recall that even when some of us were incarcerated in 1995 till 1998, he remained focused, unbowed and committed to the people’s right to choose their leaders as a fundamental right that must not be sacrificed.
“Indeed, people like him and some of his colleagues with professional background in the Armed Forces have demonstrated that military experience can be positively deployed in the solidification of democratic rule. Built around him wasa truly detribalized polity, where nobody would be undermined on account of being an aborigine or a settler, where religious preferences do not impact on our sense of objectivity and fairness. He brought his track record of purposefulness, honesty and integrity to bear in promoting the cause of national unity,” he extolled.
Obasanjo added: “Admiral Kanu is, therefore, being mourned beyond his immediate family and community. I believe the entire nation shares your pain and grief for the irreparable loss of a distinguished son of Nigeria indeed.We, however, have cause to thank God that his life was a great success and many of his accomplishments will for long be remembered after him. By dint of hard work, he had immortalised his name long before he died.”