Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed shock over the death of his former Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Obong Joseph Ufot Ekaette.

Concise News had reported that the former Minister for Niger-Delta Affairs died on Wednesday, after a brief illness at the age of 80.

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In a release by his Special Assistant Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, the former President described Ekaette as someone whose experience in the Civil service assisted him a lot in the transformation recorded in the public service during his administration between 1999-2007.

Obasanjo said that Ekaette who served Nigeria in several capacities would be greatly missed, having left behind worthy legacy.

Obasanjo said: “He would be missed not only be his immediate family and the people of Akwa Ibom state, but the entire country.

“We had a very robust environment when he was chosen as the SGF in 1999 and I decided to retain him in 2003, because of his experience. He is industrious, hardworking and a special breed of civil servant whose experience in the civil service assisted me a lot.”

“By all standard, he did his best to my admiration. He was a great man who I could easily describe as my ‘Encyclopedia’. He saw through our administration’s policies and programmes from their initiation, nurturing and implementation. As the SGF, he was an advocate of human capital development and he so demonstrated it through his interests in improving the welfare and quality of life of everyone around him. He was so loved and revered by all his colleagues and staff. Indeed, he was a God-sent.”

In the political front, Obasanjo said that the late SGF “was never a novice in politics, remember he was a deputy governor in Akwa Ibom State. He did his job conscientiously.

He said: “As pioneer Minister of the Ministry of Niger Delta, under the administration of President Musa Yar’Adua’s in 2009, he also helped to lay the foundation for this strategic Ministry that is at the forefront of transforming the Niger Delta Region.

“Ufot was a prominent patriot and a detribalized Nigerian, who was well regarded not only for the great commitment that he had for the progress of the country, Nigeria, but also for his abiding faith in national unity. He belonged to the rare group of Nigerian politicians who eschewed ethnic chauvinism even at the risk of incurring the displeasure of his kinsmen. It was quite fitting, therefore, that his invaluable contribution to building a better society was well-acknowledged via the conferment on him of the national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic, CFR, in 2000. I must say, both Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria should be immensely grateful to this great man.”

Obasanjo urged his family and the people of Akwa Ibom, “to take solace in the memory of his total dedication and commitment to the service of his people and for the country’s public/civil service. We salute his achievements in laying the foundation of the reformed civil service in the country.

“We pray that the Almighty God will give the entire Ekaette family, the good people of Akwa Ibom and the rest of us, his admirers the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss and grant Obong Ekaette eternal repose in His bosom,” Obasanjo prayed.