Former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd), has mourned the late Chief Ernest Shonekan, describing him as an uncommon patriot and one of the cerebral minds of his regime.
General Babangida said this in a statement on Tuesday, adding that the news of his death was shocking and is a great loss to the country.
Read his full statement below.
The shocking news of the death of one of Nigeria’s finest brains and patriots came to me this morning with helpless awe.
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 the free-market economy which helped to open up the system for 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 stabilize 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 personal gratitude to him throughout his sojourn on earth as we maintained a very robust mutual relationship after his exit from the corridors of power.
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 the economy and made so many projections that helped us to bail the country out of the economic conundrum. We benefited from his immense knowledge, experience, and brilliance.
May the Almighty God console his family and other Nigerians who had a relationship with this gentle giant of quintessential orientation.
May God grant his soul eternal rest. Nigeria has lost a patriot, an urbane and refined gentleman, a thoroughbred boardroom maestro, and a cosmopolitan mind who was devoted to his country.
Rest in peace Chief Ernest Shonekan. May God grant the family, associates and friends the fortitude to bear with this priceless loss.