With less than seven days to the burial of the former vice president, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, all roads leading to his country home, Oko in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State are beginning to wear a new look.
The roads include Amansea-Amawbia; Nise –Agulu; Umunze-Ajali; Nnewi-Igboukwu-Ekwulobia; and Akokwa (Imo State) –Ugah roads. Programmes for Ekwueme who died in a London hospital after he slumped in his Enugu home in November last year kicked off on January 19, 2018.
Addressing journalists after inspection of some of the facilities for the burial including Agulu-Nise road, the Minister of Labour and Employment and member of the national burial committee, Dr. Chris Ngige, expressed satisfaction with the level of work already done.
“I am reasonably satisfied with the preparations so far. I was here last week for inspection and between then and now, work has progressed. “The contractors have assured us that all the roads leading into Oko will be in good state and very motorable before the burial ceremonies start on February 1 at Oko.
“The tomb, which is being financed by the Federal Government, is okay and the contractors have assured us that it will be handed over to us on Tuesday. The helipad, which the vice president will use, has also been identified.
“Anambra State government is also cooperating because it is constructing some internal roads in Oko and its environs to facilitate movement. The leader of the medical team, Professor Igwegbe of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi is already on ground with his men and I believe that in the next 48 hours, everything will be in place.
”Ngige said that although President Muhammadu Buhari may not attend the burial, that the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and other top Federal Government officials would be attending the burial.
While noting that President Buhari was determined to give the former vice president a befitting burial, he gave details of efforts being made by the Federal Government to ensure a successful burial for the late elder statesman.
He went on: “I know how much the road rehabilitation is costing us. I know how much we spent to take him abroad for treatment on air ambulance and how much that was spent to bring his body back. I know how much we are committing in the construction of the tomb”
Ngige dismissed some insinuation in some quarters that government had not done much, adding that what the Federal Government has committed into the burial of Ekwueme was not for public consumption and “I will not say it.”
“The family can also not say that it is not carried along because they are represented in all the burial committees. “The first son of the late vice president, Pastor Obi Ekwueme is a member of the national burial committee and the committee permitted him to send a member in all the sub-committees we have”, the Minister stated.
He maintained that President Buhari has done for Ekwueme what he had not done for other military vice presidents based on Ekwueme’s status as a democratically elected vice president. “President Buhari has given human face to this burial by doing some unusual things. I am quite happy and I expect Igbo people to be happy.”