Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan, GCFR, CBE, 1936-2022

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Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha, Olawale Ajimotokan, James Emejo in Abuja, James Sowole in Abeokuta, Laleye Dipo in Minna, Fidelis David in Akure, and Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt

Former Head of Interim National Government (ING), Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan, has died. Shonekan died yesterday in Lagos of natural causes, his family said. He was aged 85 years.

A statement by the family, signed by one of his children, Adeboye Shonekan, said, “To the glory of the Almighty, the Shonekan family announces the passing of our patriarch, loving husband to Margaret, dutiful father to us all and former Head of State, Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan, GCFR, CBE, the Baba Sale of Egbaland.

“He passed this morning of natural causes at the age of 85. The family will release further details in due course.”

President Muhammadu Buhari said he received the news of Shonekan’s passing with sadness. In a release by his media adviser, Femi Adesina, on behalf of the federal government, Buhari extended deepest condolences to Shonekan’s wife, Margaret, loved ones, as well as the government and people of Ogun State.

The president paid tribute to Shonekan, saying though an internationally respected statesman, with courageous wisdom, he left his flourishing business to become the Head of Government at a delicate time, when the country needed someone of his calm mien and pedigree to save the ship of state from sinking.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said Shonekan was a unifying force that helped to bind the country together at a time of great uncertainty.

Former military president Ibrahim Babangida, who had appointed Shonekan head of the interim government, extolled his sterling qualities, saying they qualified him for the tough job.

Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Senate President Ahmed Lawan, and All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, were also among prominent Nigerians who paid tribute to the departed leader.

Buhari said Shonekan demonstrated to all that his love for country and commitment to its development, peace, and unity transcended the trappings of office and the transient nature of political power.

“Buhari believed that Nigeria owes a great debt to Chief Shonekan, the peacemaker, who even at the twilight of his life time never stopped believing and working for a prosperous and democratic country,” the statement said.

The president prayed that the memory of the departed would remain a blessing to Nigeria even as he finds perfect peace with the Almighty God.

Buhari Directs National Flag to Fly Half-Mast for Shonekan

The president directed that the national flag should be flown at half mast from January 12 to 14 as a mark of respect for the former Head of State. Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, announced the directive in a statement last night.

Obasanjo: He Was a Unifying Force for Nigeria

Obasanjo, yesterday, described Shonekan, as a unifying force for the nation.

Obasanjo, who was on an international assignment as the High Representative of the African Union for the Horn of Africa, said he received with great shock the news of the death of one of Africa’s illustrious sons. He declared that Shonekan’s contribution to the growth and development of democracy in Nigeria could not be forgotten in a hurry.

Obasanjo sent a condolence letter to the wife of the deceased, Mrs. Margaret Shonekan, copy of which was made available to newsmen in Abeokuta by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi. In the letter, the former president said the late business mogul was “a role model and an epitome of the good in the nation’s business firmament of mixed blessings.

“He would be remembered as a man of sustained strong will to succeed. Coming from humble background, rising, stepping and peaking at the topmost plum in corporate management, and the very top of the giant United Africa Company (UAC) ladder, attest to his sagacity, tenacity and steadfastness.

“He founded, in 1994, the Economic Summit Group, an advocacy group and think tank for private sector-led development of the Nigerian economy, and it remains, till today, sustaining the legacy of helping to support stakeholders in the execution of policies, programmes and strategies in response to any emerging trends in national and global economies.”

On the political scene, Obasanjo noted that Shonekan, as head of the ING in 1993, which was short-lived for three months through the palace coup orchestrated by General Sani Abacha, “rendered outstanding service to our country, and we will never forget that.

“It is also worthy of note that as Special Envoy on the Implementation of the Abuja Agreement on Zimbabwe in 2001 under my administration as the President of Nigeria; and Chairman, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) under Yar’Adua’s administration in 2008, he was forthright, dedicated and showed great patriotism in the discharge of his duties.

“He was a unifying force for the nation and his contribution to the growth and development of democracy in Nigeria cannot be forgotten in a hurry. In all situations, he lived nobly and he died in nobility. He was an achiever.

“Indeed, Chief Shonekan died at a time the country is in dire need of his leadership, wealth of experience and wisdom to tackle the multifaceted challenges facing the nation.”

IBB: Why I Made Shonekan Head of Interim Government

Former military president Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, while mourning the passing of Shonekan, also explained why he appointed him head of the interim national government, when he stepped aside as military president.

IBB, as Babangida is called, said Shonekan was a man of ideas and ideals, who was prudent and preached a lot about fiscal discipline. “It was, therefore, timely for us to appoint him as Head of the Interim Government to help stabilise the polity at a most trying period of our country’s political evolution.,” Babangida stated

In a condolence message, Babangida expressed shock over the news of Shonekan’s death and described him as one of Nigeria’s finest brains and patriots.

Babangida said, in a statement, “I hadn’t the faintest idea that Chief Ernest Shonekan would depart this sinful world too soon, even at 85. He was a man, a leader and an uncommon patriot, who had a presence of mind and whose understanding of Nigeria was profound and remarkable. It is, indeed, a personal loss to me.

“Chief Ernest Shonekan was one of our cerebral minds during our time in government. He was the architect of our principle of free market economy, which helped to open up the system for a robust participation by the private sector. The liberalisation of the economy, the investment and boost in the agricultural sector and budget management approach were part of his brainchild.

“I recollect very vividly how he used to give us tutorials on budget, planning and management of national resources, each time he was invited to our session. At each budget year, Chief Shonekan would be invited to critique our budget proposals, and gave us further input to enrich the final budget. He was a man of ideas and ideals. He was prudent and preached so much about fiscal discipline.

“It was, therefore, timely for us to appoint him as Head of the Interim Government to help stabilise the polity at a most trying period of our country’s political evolution. He was a calm personality, whose managerial skills were foretold in the way and manner he managed a lot of blue chip companies.

“As Head of the Interim Government, he was able to consult with a broad spectrum of the Nigerian populace in charting a roadmap out of the political impasse at that time. His brilliance and meticulous interrogation of situations helped in large measure to forge ahead during the period.

“I owe a personal gratitude to him throughout his sojourn on earth as we maintained very robust mutual relationship after his exit from the corridors of power.”

The former military president added regarding Shonekan, “Given the achievements we recorded during our time in government in the area of infrastructure, economy and social rebirth, I owe a word of gratitude to him for his experienced intervention in helping to dissect our policy frameworks each time we called upon him to do so.

“He was an engaging personality, whose sense of patriotism was total. He was friendly and sociable. He understood economy and made so many projections that helped us to bail the country out of economic conundrum. We benefited from his immense knowledge, experience and brilliance.”

Jonathan, Atiku, Ayu Mourn, Pay Tributes

Former President Goodluck Jonathan, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, joined other Nigerians to mourn the passing of Chief Ernest Shonekan.

Jonathan, in a condolence message to his family and the government of Ogun State, described Shonekan as “an elder statesman, well-loved for his sincerity and sense of purpose.

“As a leader, Chief Shonekan was well-respected, because of the enormous goodwill he brought into governance. He was a compassionate and determined administrator, a peacemaker and bridge builder, who stepped in to lead the nation at a very difficult time in the history of its political evolution.

“Before he assumed office as the head of the Interim National Government in 1993, Chief Shonekan had become a boardroom guru, having established himself as a foremost industrialist and one of the leaders of the business world.

“He left enduring legacies, part of which was his considerable effort towards mainstreaming the private sector in the development drive of the nation, especially, with the institutionalisation of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), which he founded.”

Jonathan said Shonekan would be remembered for his great wisdom, peaceful disposition, the goodwill he extended to all, as well as his significant contributions to the growth of the economy of the nation.

Atiku said, in his own message, “It is with a sad heart that I received the news of the death of the former Head of State and Chairman of the defunct Interim National Government, Chief Earnest Shonekan.”

In the statement he personally signed, Atiku stated, “My grief is predicated, not just on the demise of the elder statesman, because he died at a prime age,” but on his exit at a time, when the country needed his skills and global connections find solution to its multifarious challenges.

The former vice president stated, “Either as a politician or a boardroom guru, Chief Shonekan possessed a unique set skill of bringing stability to a tumultuous situation. That obviously was the consideration that made him become Head of the Interim National Government following the crises that greeted the events after the June 12 presidential election.

“Although his reign as Head of State was interim, Chief Shonekan’s contribution to the peace and development of Nigeria in those days and latter years, remains enduring.

“My condolences go to his immediate family, the people and government of Ogun State and the entire nation for the loss of a man of industry and intellect, who lived a life of service to the country and humanity. It is my prayer that God Almighty receives his soul in a peaceful repose.”

Ayu, while condoling with the federal government, the government of Ogun State, and the family of the departed corporate giant, described Shonekan as “a detribalised Nigerian and elder statesman, who gave Nigeria his best.”

The PDP chairman also said of Shonekan, “His death is a sunset on an illustrious career that straddled both the corporate sector and the public service. We are consoled that he lived a fulfilled life, and that his legacy of public service will outlive him.”

Lawan: He’ll be Remembered for Heeding Nigeria’s Call to Duty

President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, yesterday, said Shonekan would be remembered for heeding the nation’s call to duty at a critical time.

Lawan, in a statement, condoled with Shonekan’s family and the government and people of Ogun State over the death of the former Nigerian leader.

The senate president’s message read, “My condolences go to the family of Chief Shonekan, the government and people of Ogun State and entire Nigeria over this great loss. Chief Shonekan was a lawyer, business captain, boardroom guru and statesman.

“But he will be most remembered for heeding the nation’s call to duty at a very turbulent period in the history of Nigeria.

“Chief Shonekan’s services as Chairman of the Transitional Council and later as Head of the Interim National Government were selfless and contributed greatly to saving the Nigerian ship from hitting the rock”.

Abiodun: His Death is a Colossal Loss

Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun, described the death of Shonekan as a huge loss. Abiodun, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, lamented that Shonekan, a former chairman of UAC Nigeria Plc., passed on at a period Nigeria needed his experience most as a technocrat.

The statement said, “Chief Shonekan was a first-class administrator, boardroom guru and astute leader, whose imprint in the business and political firmaments cannot be erased. His commitment to peaceful resolution and patriotic fervour will live after him.

“Chief Shonekan, an Egba traditional chief (Babasale of Egbaland), was a true Nigerian, who spent most of his life for the betterment of the country.”

The governor lamented the huge vacuum created by Shonekan’s death.

Tinubu: He’d Have Led Nigeria Same Way He Led UAC

National leader of APC, Bola Tinubu, yesterday, said were the circumstances of his ascension to power different, Shonekan would have led Nigeria the same way he led the United Africa Company (UAC).

Tinubu, in his condolence message, released by his media office and signed by Mr. Tunde Rahman, commiserated with Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun, Shonekan’s widow, Mrs. Magret Shonekan, and the people of Ogun State over his passing.

The APC leader stated, “I received with great sadness the news of the passing of the former Head of the Interim National Government, Chief Shonekan, at the advanced age of 85. I join his immediate family in mourning his passing, but also in celebrating his lifelong contributions to our great nation.

“With his passing, the country has lost another important elder-statesman; a man of peace, who tried to bring unity and concord during one of the nation’s most trying moments.

“Chief Ernest was a technocrat and boardroom guru. He performed excellently as Chairman of United African Company, a vast Nigerian conglomerate. Indeed, were the circumstances of his ascension to the top position in our country different, I have little doubt that Chief Shonekan would have led Nigeria with the same vision and skill with which he guided UAC.

“He had the character, competence, capability and the technical background to undertake the job. In his brief time as Head of State, Chief Shonekan tried his best to advance peace, stability and development in Nigeria.

“Chief Shonekan will be remembered as a peacemaker and Head of State, who took office at a most difficult time. I commiserate with his immediate family, most especially, his loving wife, Mrs. Margret, Governor Dapo Abiodun, and all the people of Ogun State and Nigeria.”

Akeredolu: He was Committed to Nigeria’s Peace, Unity

Chairman of the South-west Governors’ Forum and Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, called Shonekan a nationalist, who was committed to the nation’s peace and unity. in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary Richard Olatunde, Akeredolu described Shonekan’s death as a huge loss to the country, noting that the vast experience of the elder statesman was an asset to the country, particularly, with the array of challenges confronting Nigeria.

The governor said Shonekan was committed to the peace and unity of the country, and pursued it with vigour and dedication as a patriot. He said the service of the former Head of Interim National Government would never be forgotten in the country’s history.

Akeredolu stated, “Chief Ernest Shonekan was a nationalist per excellence. His belief in a united and peaceful Nigeria was unparalleled. He was dedicated to the progress and development of the county. He will be sorely missed.

“His historic and patriotic role in maintaining the unity of the country was one of the many things that endeared him to many. He was, indeed, an asset; his counsels were useful for national cohesion and progress.”

Wike: Shonekan Boasted Topnotch Administrative Credentials

Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, while mourning the passing of Shonekan, said his excellent administrative credentials helped in steering the ship of the country at a very critical time.

In his condolence massage, signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, Wike also described Shonekan as a dedicated Nigerian, who was committed to the peace and stability of the country. He said Shonekan’s strong credentials as an astute administrator enabled him to steadfastly steer the country through one of its most turbulent times.

Wike said in the message, “On behalf of the government and good people of Rivers State, I offer our deepest condolences to the family, relatives of the former Chairman, Interim National Government and the people of Nigeria.” The governor said Nigeria had lost an elder statesman whose wisdom, foresight, and steadfast commitment would always be remembered.

Uzodimma: in Shonekan, Nigeria Lost a Patriot

Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, said the death of Shonekan was painful, stressing that the country has lost a great patriot.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser, Oguwike Nwachuku, Uzodimma said Shonekan was one of Nigeria’s statesmen and legal luminaries, who believed in the unity, progress and development of the country and actually worked hard in private and public sectors for the realisation of that dream.

Uzodimma added that Shonekan’s legacy at the United African Company (UAC) would always speak volumes. He said Nigerians would not forget his contributions in a hurry.

While regretting that the country had lost a boardroom icon, when his fatherly and statesman pieces of advice were highly needed, Uzodimma specifically commiserated with his widow, Mrs Margaret Shonekan, the entire Shonekan family, his friends, and the government and people of Ogun State over the loss.

On behalf of his family and the people of Imo State, the governor also condoled with President Muhammadu Buhari and Nigerians over Shonekan’s death, and prayed God Almighty to grant the soul of the deceased a peaceful repose, and those he left behind him, the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.

PDP: Shonekan, a Bridge-builder; His Death, a National Tragedy

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, mourned the death of Shonekan, describing him as a bridge-builder, and his passing, as a national tragedy.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Shonekan, PDP said Shonekan was a courageous, humble and patriotic leader. The opposition party said the departed leader was a bridge builder and an extraordinary statesman, who dedicated his life and made immense sacrifices to ensure the unity and stability of the country in the heat of the political crisis that threatened the corporate existence of the country following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.

The main opposition party said Shonekan was an accomplished personality and a visionary leader, whose efforts in applying his vast experience as a consummate lawyer and businessman to reposition the nation, despite the daunting challenges faced by his three-month regime between August and November 1993, could not be forgotten.

PDP said, “Chief Shonekan’s commitment to the entrenchment of democracy was evident in his determination to restore the rule of law and transparency in governance.

“Even outside office, Chief Shonekan remained committed to the unity, stability and development of our nation. Our party grieves that he left the stage at the time the nation needed his wealth of experience and wise counsel the most.”

PDP commiserated with the federal government, the government and people of Ogun State, and the Shonekan family, praying God to grant the nation and the bereaved family the fortitude to bear the huge national loss.

‘He’s One of Last Generation of Pioneer Business Leaders’

Stakeholders in the private sector, yesterday, reacted to the passage of Chief Earnest Shonekan and described him as one of the last generation of pioneer business leaders in Nigeria, who contributed immensely to the growth of the various sectors of the economy.

President, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Dr. Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, said Shonekan’s demise was a “big loss to the private sector.

“His was a life well spent; a life of extraordinary achievements from the boardroom to the highest office in the land.”

Executive Director, Nigeria Private Sector Alliance (NiPSA), Mr. Nwiabu Legborsi Nuka, said, “Nigeria has lost a leader of repute and builder of businesses”.

In the same vein, former Director General, ACCI, Dr. Chijioke Ekechukwu, described Shonekan as an enigma in the corporate world, having served on the boards of many blue chip companies as chairman.

Ekechukwu said, “Chief Ernest Shonekan was an enigma in the corporate world, as he served on the boards of many blue chip companies as Chairman. He distinguished himself as a role model for directors of companies on what running private sector boards should look like.

“It was on the strength of these leadership qualities that he was appointed an Interim Head of State in Nigeria. Some of the board structures set out by him are still in place today. He will be missed by the corporate world. May his soul rest in peace. Amen.”

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