Gov. Alex Otti of Abia has expressed sadness over the death of a former President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Prof. Joe Irukwu.
Irukwu, who hailed from Amaokwe Item in Bende Local Government Area of Abia, reportedly died at the age of 89.
His death was announced on Saturday by the President-General of Amaokwe Item Welfare Union, Mr Harrison Okorie in Enugu.
Otti’s condolences is contained in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Kazie Uko, and made available to newsmen in Umuahia on Sunday.
The statement described Irukwu as a great son of Abia, who left indelible footprints in the insurance industry as the pioneer Managing Director of Nigeria Reinsurance Corporation and Founder, African Development Insurance Company.
It said that the accomplishments of Irukwu as a consummate lawyer, lecturer and author of several books on insurance earned him the sobriquet, ”Mr Insurance”.
Otti thanked God for blessing Abia with a distinguished professional like Irukwu, who lived a life worthy of emulation.
He urged his family to find comfort in the legacies he left behind.
He also prayed God to give the bereaved family and Ohaneze Ndigbo the fortitude to bear the loss as well as the repose of the soul of the deceased.
He promised that the State Government would work with other South-East states and his family to ensure that the late insurance icon got a befitting burial.
Also, Mr Nelson Nwafor, the Executive Director of Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development, described Irukwu’s death as a huge shock and a big loss to “Ndigbo” and Nigeria at large.
Nwafor said: “Prof. Irukwu was a bright and accomplished legal luminary, moral edifice, insurance and risk management wizard, erudite scholar of world renown and great Igbo leader
“During his tenure as President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Irukwu made contributions to the development and unity in the South-East as well as the nation.
“This was part of his own legacy to the Igboman’s quest for equitable recognition and accommodation in the Nigerian polity.
“The Igbo people all over the world have lost a man with a large heart and I pray God to give his family the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.”
The President of Southern Nigeria Youths Assembly, Mr Chuks Njoku, also described the deceased as “a unifier and true elder statesman”.
According to Njoku, Irukwu’s death has left a huge gap that will be difficult to fill.
He said that the deceased contributed to the development and industrialisation of Igboland and Nigeria through his achievements in the private and public sectors.
“His death is painful, especially as it happened at a time his fatherly advice is highly needed to help us navigate through issues bordering on economy and national unity,” he added. (NAN)