Prominent Nigerians who died in 2017
As we approach the new year, Naijakings examines a list of prominent Nigerians who lost their lives in 2017
Dr. Alex Ekwueme
Former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, GCON, was one of the dignitaries snatched by the cold hand of death. After celebrating his 85th birthday in October, Ekwueme was said to have had a fall at his residence in Enugu, which caused his health to deteriorate. After some domestic battles in spite of which he fell into coma, he was flown abroad on the ticket of the federal government for urgent medical attention. But he eventually gave up the ghost in a London hospital on Sunday, November 19.
A product of Kings College, Lagos, Ekweme studied Architecture and City Planning in the US and later got degrees in other disciplines, including a Law degree from the University of London. He obtained a Ph.D. in Architecture from the University of Strathclyde. He was a founding member of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) which eventually produced the President (Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Shagari) in the Second Republic, with Ekwueme as the Vice President.
Dr. Ekwueme became one of the founding fathers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and later vied for the party’s presidential ticket but lost it to Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd) who later became the President. Reputed as a peacemaker and a philanthropist, he was later called upon by the party to head its Reconciliation Committee in the wake of PDP’s intra-party discord.
Dr. Yusuf Maitama Sule, the Dan masanin Kano and Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations passed away on 2 July 2017 in a hospital in Cairo, Egypt, after suffering from pneumonia and a chest infection . He was 87 years old.
Prior to his appointment as the country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, he was a presidential aspirant of the National Party of Nigeria in early 1979 but lost to Shehu Shagari. After the re-election of President Shagari in 1983, Maitama Sule was made the Minister for National Guidance, a portfolio designed to assist the president in tackling corruption.
Before his passage, the elder statesman who was born on October 1, 1929 was on two occasions- 2013 and 2016, speculated to have died but the rumour was subsequently dispelled.
As a politician, Maitama frowned at the use of religion and ethnicity as political tools to attain power. He was critical of using them by politicians because he believed that they undermined the unity of the country.
He came to national limelight as a member of the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) and was elected into the House of Representatives, becoming the Minister of Mines and Oil from 1959 to 1966.
Senator Isiaka Adeleke
He was the first civilian governor of Osun state and a two time Nigerian Senator who represented the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun State from 2007 to 2011 and was elected again under the banner of the All Progressives Congress in 2015. Sen. Isiaka Adeleke decided to aspire to lead the people of Osun in the next gubernatorial election. But little did anyone know that his dream will never be fulfilled. He returned from a political outing and met his death. His death raised a loud controversy which led to riots in Ede where he hails from. Mr Alfred Aderibigbe, a nurse, who was alleged to have administered overdose drugs on the late senator representing Osun West Senatorial District, denied the allegation before Coroner Inquest Panel, set up by the government, which was also suspected to have known something about his death.
The death of Isiaka Adeleke, was eventually declared by Dr. Solaja Olufemi, the pathologist who conducted the autopsy examination on the late senator, aBy Paul Ukpabio
nd who testified before the coroner inquest in Osogbo, to be linked to excessive dose of analgesics, sedatives and alcohol. Contrary to the claim of some people, who thought he was poisoned.
Adeleke In March 2008 instituted a scholarship award for about 100 indigent students in tertiary institutions across the country. He held a Bachelor of Arts Degree, and a master’s degree In Public Administration. He was Chairman, Governing Council, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, University of Calabar, Nigeria.
Gen. Adeyinka Adebayo
He was a soldier, an elder statesman and a leader of the Yoruba Council of Elders. He was appointed Military Governor of the western Region, after the death of Colonel Adekunle Fajuiyi. After the civil war, he became chairman of the committee for the Reconciliation and Integration of Biafra.
He retired in 1975. As a politician, he joined the National Party of Nigeria. He was in year 2013 appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan as the Pro Chancellor of the University of Ibadan. He is one lucky Nigerian leader whose son Niyi Adebayo became a governor of Ekiti state. He is said also to have been a notable leader who showed exemplary leadership and died on March 8, 2017, on the eve of his 89th birthday.
Dr. Sam Ogbemudia
Ex-Military Governor of Mid-West State, which later became Bendel State, and Edo state, Dr Sam Ogbemudia, was one of those who joined his ancestors this year 2017. A soldier and politician, he was highly revered in Edo state and it was not a surprise to many, when Governor Obaseki, the present governor of Edo state, declared a seven day mourning after his death was announced.
A political colossus who left his footprint in the sands of time, Dr Ogbemudia was also known for his peacemaking efforts among his kinsmen and Nigerian politicians. And many did seek out his advice, while he was alive.
He was said to have battled diabetes and high blood pressure since 1970. Suffered partial stroke in year 2016 and he died on March 7, 2017 at the age of 84. He was buried in the grave he prepared before he died, besides his late wife’s grave.
Dr. Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo
Perhaps he wouldn’t have died if armed robbery had not turned to a huge social menace in Nigeria. Perhaps Dr. Adinoyi Ojo, the ex- Managing Director of Daily Times would have been alive to spend this festive end of the year season with his friends and loved ones. But no, he fell to the attack of armed robbers on the Illesa – Akure road on his way back from Abeokuta to Abuja, after attending the 80th birthday celebration of former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
Dr. Adinoyi-Ojo, who was former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s Senior Special Assistant, Public Communication, is said to have at a point in his life got what is general known as a good job with the United Nation. But he opted to be in Nigeria, working to help the development of the country.
As a journalist, he was known to have had a good relationship with his professional colleagues, and was an author and playwright.
Prof. Abubakar Momoh
Fondly known as the political whiz kid of the Department of Political Science, Lagos State University, Prof. Abubakar Momoh, the Director-General of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Electoral Institute, in Abuja, died at a time nobody expected he would.
A renown Professor of Political Science, Momoh started his lecturing career in the year 1988. He went on to become the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences in LASU. At his death, the Vice Chancellor of Lagos State University described his death as a huge loss and that the whole University Community is deeply saddened by the demise of the renowned Professor.
Momoh served in several capacities on various boards and scientific committees in Nigeria and abroad. A former Vice President of the African Association of Political Science (AAPS), and National Treasurer, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), 1991-1995. He has been a researcher and lecturer at many universities across the world, as well as being a research Fellow.
He served as Election Observer to several African countries on behalf of ECOWAS and the African Union, as well as to some European countries. Unfortunately, Momoh, lost his father earlier in the year. He was buried on May 29th 2017 at Auchi, Edo State, where he hailed from.
Prof. Andrew Nok
He was the Kaduna State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Kaduna, who died at the age of 55 on November 21, 2017. Prof Andrew Nok was said to have been rushed to National Hospital, Abuja due to sickness, three weeks before his death. But he had recovered and he was expected to return to work.
A former university don, he left the Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Science, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, when on July 29, 2015, he was appointed Commissioner for Health and Human Services, and later became the commissioner of education, science technology on May 4, 2016.
Nok who held a master and doctorate degree in biochemistry from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, was noted to have made some revolutionary contribution to the ministry of health in Kaduna state, whule there as a commissioner.
He was a recipient of the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award in 2010 in the science category and several awards and research grants, including Alexander Von Homboldt Prize in 2013 for his work in finding a cure for Trypanosomiasis.
He was also a Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Alexander Von Homboldt Foundation and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.
Alhaji Gidado Idris
Alhaji Gidado Idris was the former Secretary to the Government of Federation (SGF). A well-known technocrat, he died this year at the ripe age of 82 year in Abuja after a brief illness. At his death, his friends described his as having been a “humble, thorough and simple man who was very accessible to whoever stepped into his office as SGF.”
Alhaji Gidado Idris hailed from Zaria in Kaduna State. He was appointed SGF in 1993 and he retired in 1999 after a civil service career that started before Nigeria’s independence. He served variously in the military and civilian government in Nigeria before his retirement.
Nigerian Navy lost one of his able personnel when in April of this year, the Fleet Commander of the Western Naval Command, Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Daniel Ikoli, was found dead at his Apapa, Lagos residence.
Lieutenant commander Chinwe Umar, the spokesperson for the Western Naval Command, confirmed that gunshots was said to have been heard in the early hours of Wednesday April 5, 2017, in the vicinity where Rear Admiral Teikumo Daniel Ikoli resides in Apapa, Lagos.
And when his room was opened, he was found dead. Ikoli, a rear admiral, was Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT and later appointed into the Presidential Committee on the probe of arms deal before he became Fleet Commander, Western Naval Command. It was gathered that the naval officer left the office, on Tuesday afternoon, after complaining he was not feeling too well. It was also suggested that he was depressed and had fears of possibly being assassinated due to his involvement in the arms probe.
A suicide angle was also raised as he was found in the pool of his own blood. He was 52 years old.
Alhaji Kabir Umar
The Emir of Katagum Emirate in Bauchi State, Alhaji Kabir Umar was also one of the prominent Nigerians who departed this year. He died at age 89. His death was announced by the state governor, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, who declared that the royal father was upright, just and kept the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad whose death is a great loss to the state and Nigeria as a whole.
The late Emir it was recorded had 49 children as at the time of his death. He struggled with a protracted illness for a period of five years. He was buried at his palace in Azare.
AVM Olufunsho Martins
The death of Retired Air Vice-Marshal Olufunsho Martin was indeed a painful one. Martins who lived at Park view estate, Ikoyi, Lagos, died in a lone accident in a Ford Explorer Sports Utility Vehicle with his driver on the third Mainland bridge, after his car somersaulted and plunged into the lagoon.
The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA which swung into a rescue action along with efforts of local divers, was fruitful in recovering the remains of the air Vice Marshal and his driver from the Lagoon many hours after the incident occurred.
He was said to have just returned from the United Kingdom for a burial in Nigeria. AVM Olufunsho Martins held several appointments within the Nigerian Air Force. He was the commandant, Rehab Oshodi and AOL HQ NAF. As a businessman who owned and event centre and was also into estate business.