Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, OFR, led a cream of prominent Nigerians and Abians as the body of the former President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Late Professor Joseph Ogbonnaya Irukwu, was laid to rest.

Prof Irukwu, who died in July at the age of 89, was buried on Saturday in his hometown, Amokwe Item, Bende Local Government Area, Abia State, after funeral ceremonies that traversed London, Lagos and Umuahia.

The body of the erudite insurer, lawyer and administrator was committed to mother earth after an inter-denominational church service at Jane Egbichi Oteh Mini-stadium, Amokwe Item, where the virtues of the late elder statesman were generously captured in tributes and eulogies.

Governor Otti recalled expressing shock at the news of the death of Prof Irukwu, regretting that he missed an opportunity to have “a sit down” with him to discuss the deceased’s desire to see a positive change in Abia. Prof Irukwu died barely one and half months after Governor Otti assumed office on May 29.

“I can tell you that the departure of Dee Ogbo got me with some kind of shock not because I expected he would be here forever, but at 90 with the kind of good health that God had blessed him with, the kind of effort he made to see a change in Abia, I thought he would be here for a longer while,” the Governor explained.

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Governor Otti acknowledged the significant achievements of late prof Irukwu in various fields, such as insurance, law, and his leadership within Ohanaeze, but stressed that the most profound accomplishment of the late insurance guru was his devotion to the Christian faith.

The Governor encouraged the guests to emulate Prof Irukwu, saying, “If you believe you’ve achieved great success in life but have neglected to sit and pray to God, it’s time to reconsider your priorities.”

He expressed hope that Irukwu would rise again on the resurrection morning alongside all those who had devoted their lives to Christ. He urged the family of the late Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) to bear the loss with fortitude.

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In his tribute, former President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Gary Igariwe, on behalf of the apex Igbo socio cultural group, said Irukwu was an exceptional leader who distinguished himself in service and prayed God to console the family he left behind.

Also, the President-General of Item Development Association (IDA), Sir Onwuka Orji, asserted that the late Prof Irukwu trained and mentored many Item professionals and captains of industry, who are excelling all over the world, maintaining that his passage had created a big vacuum in Item land and Nigeria as a whole.

The event attracted an array of dignitaries from all walks of life including former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel; former governor of old Imo State, General Ike Nwachukwu (Rtd); Sen Enyinnaya Abaribe, former senate president, Adolphus Wabara; President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu; a former Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and prominent daughter of Item, Arunma Oteh; a former gubernatorial candidate in Rivers State, Tonye Cole; as well as other distinguished Nigerians and sons and daughters of Item Okpi.

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