Exactly one year after the political maestro, Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe joined his ancestors, immediate past Deputy Governor of Imo State, Engr. Gerald Irona has honoured the late lawmaker, describing him as a hero and mentor.
Irona, in a 3-page tribute made available to newsmen, weekend, poured encomiums on late Senator Nzeribe, describing him as instrumental to his political rise and successes.
The tribute reads in part:
“It is with sadness that I mourn the death of Senator Francis Arthur Nzeribe. By his death, Oguta Ameshi has lost one of her finest sons; Imo State lost a great man, and Nigeria lost a great Nigerian who served for four terms in the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
“And for me personally, I have lost a father, a mentor, and a dear friend.”
“Senator Nzeribe was among the pioneer representatives of Nigeria’s golden age, who introduced the Nigerian dream to millions of Nigerians, and inspired many by his personal example, because his own life was an embodiment of that dream and a testimonial that it is possible to transgress all impediments and express the true definition of selfhood.”
“Senator Nzeribe showed us what was possible for our world and what capacities we carried within each of us. Before the age of thirty, Senator Nzeribe had built thriving businesses in the United Kingdom. He met the famous Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana; and through Nkrumah, formed friendships and acted as adviser and business associate to several African Leaders. He was officially a multi-millionaire in British Pounds Sterling before he clocked 30 years.”
“Senator Nzeribe always looked forward, not inward. Politically, it wasn’t just what Senator Nzeribe did that was remarkable – it was also how he did it. He was a pragmatic practitioner of power. His statements were circumspect, his language unambiguous and qualified.”
“I am in tears and in intense grief. My tears bear witness to my debt of gratitude to Senator Nzeribe. It was Senator Nzeribe who made me and shaped me into the person I am today. I don't think I would be exaggerating to say that the essence of who I am today is a result of the “adoption” by Senator Nzeribe and the training I received from him, and it goes way back to 1996 when Senator Nzeribe started me on a path of public life and politics.”
“Through Senator Nzeribe’s instrumentality, guidance and positioning, I was twice a Local Government Ward Councillor; the youngest ever State Secretary of a political party, the All Peoples Party (APP) that later became the All Nigeria Peoples Party; a member of Imo State House of Assembly; a caretaker Local Government Chairman and thereafter an elected Local Government Chairman; a member of the Federal House of Representatives; a national officer of our great party, The People’s Democratic Party; and finally a Deputy Governor of Imo State.”
“Senator Nzeribe provided everything that I needed to succeed. He blessed my life with a selfless devotion and generosity of spirit that was unparalleled. He certainly enhanced my life.”
“Ogbuagu! You made your life a gift to us all. I promise you that I will continue in your footstep to serve our community and all humanity with the same selfless devotion and generosity of spirit.”
Similarly, in a one-year memorial newspaper advertisement, the former Deputy Governor further eulogized late Senator Nzeribe, describing him as a mentor to many.
“Oshiji, you were my hero, a father and leader per excellence. You were a friend, teacher, and mentor to many.”
“The Igbo race is still lamenting your exit. They still say, if you were around………” “A compassionate soul; a champion of supporting the weak and vulnerable; a courageous leader, we miss you.”
“Today, as always, you are remembered for your life and legacy of inspirational leadership and service to humanity. You were a great man; our Strong Pillar and father-figure.”
In another development, the different chapters of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), friends and well-wishers of the Nzeribe political dynasty have poured encomiums on the departed lawmaker, reiterating that he is being missed.
Among the chapters of the PDP that took steps to honour the late Senator are his home local government area- Oguta, Oru West, both in Imo State, among others.