President Goodluck Jonathan has?said that the late elder statesman, Amb. Matthew Mbu,?devoted his time and resources to drive the cause of? peace and stability in Nigeria.
In a message he sent to the burial of the elder statesman at Okundi in Cross River on Friday, Jonathan said that Amb. Mbu continued to devote his time and resources for Nigeria even in his later years.
The message was read on behalf of the president?by Gov. Liyel Imoke of Cross River at a funeral mass for the burial of Amb. Mbu in the deceased country home at Okundi, Boki Local Government Area of Cross River.
Jonathan said that?Mbu was one of the foremost political icons to have emerged from what is today referred to as South-South geopolitical zone of Nigeria.
He said the deceased was “an unwavering fighter for?the entrainment of growth, development, equity and justice across the nation''.
“In every high profile position in which he served our fatherland, even as a very young man in high office, he brought the same characteristic level of uncompromising diligence and commitment to excellence to bear on the discharge of his duties.
“In his later years, he devoted his time and resources to driving the cause of the nations peace and stability.
“M.T. Mbu, as he was more popularly known, no doubt leaves behind a rich legacy of selfless service, committed leadership and exemplary love.
“This?should inspire us all to greater commitment to service to God, country, community and fellow man.''
Jonathan also described the deceased as a consummate nationalist and patriot, an astute leader of men, an accomplished diplomat and steadfast defender of unity peace and stability of Nigeria.?
In his message Imoke, who was represented by his Deputy Governor, Mr Efiok Cobham, said the loss of a man of? Amb.?Mbu's?stature was colossal.
He said Mbu had also left to the great beyond “a huge part of the past, which people will never forget.''
The governor said that?Cross River would?continue to celebrate the good fortune of having in Amb. Mbu such an endowed and selfless man, who played a very significant role in the socio-political?development of Nigeria.
“It is laudable albeit, unusual trait that in spite of his national, international experience and exposure he never lost contact with his root.
“He attended quite religiously, every annual congregation of Boki people under the auspices of? “Ochibe Boki'',?a gathering that normally charts the course for the political and socio-cultural advancement of the Boki people.
“And the state takes consolation in the exemplary life, full of lasting legacies that he lived,'' he said.
He said that the people of Cross River were equally consoled that the deceased? positively touched the lives of many through his good deeds and philanthropy.
He said that the people of Cross River would also be guided by the ideals he lived for and be inspired by the achievements he attained.
In separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the occasion, Dr Peter Odili, former governor of Rivers and Sen, Barnabas Gamade said Amb Mbu had served Nigeria diligently in various capacities.
They also said that they expected the Federal Government to immortalise the late elder statesman.
The former Deputy Governor of Cross River, Dr Matthias Offoboche, also told NAN Mbu deserved all the accolades poured on him.
“He was relevant all these years in Nigerian politics, a great man, first in Nigeria, second in Ogoja,'' Offoboche said.
Tributes were also sent in by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Dahiru Musdapher, Gov. Martin Elechi of Ebonyi, Gov.?Theodore Orji of Abia, Gov. Peter Obi of Anambra.
The Ondo state Governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo and former Governor of Rivers, Dr Peter Odili also sent in their tributes.?
In his homily entitled: “This We Must Remember'',?Rev. Father Kekong Bisong, said that Amb. Mbu handled the rough and difficult times with uncommon serenity.
Bisong said that?Mbu would?be remembered for his simplicity, the open mind of true wisdom and the meekness of true strength.
He said that the deceased, while alive, was strong enough to know when he was weak and brave enough to face himself when he was troubled.
He described the deceased as `a man, a Christian, and a Knight who accomplished all these in life.
“And in death he will remain a giant in Nigeria and the world and as such public servants like Mbu do not die, they live on in the memories of those they have served,'' he said.
Dignitaries, who attended the burial included former Vice President?Alex Ekwueme, retired Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, a Constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, and a representative of the Oba of Benin.
The former Minister of Environment, Mr John Odey, former Senate President, Dr Joseph Wayas, former governor of Cross River, Mr Clement Ebri, Nigeria's Ambassador to Canada, Chief Ojo Maduekwe also attended the burial. (NAN)