Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma and a host of other dignitaries on Friday rained tributes on the late president of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Amb. (Prof.) George Obiozor, who was laid to rest at his Awo Omamma country home in Oru East Local Government Area of the state.
In their separate remarks during the burial mass for the late Obiozor at the Maria Assumpta Catholic Cathedral, Owerri, President Buhari and Governor Uzodimma said the deceased would be sorely missed by Nigeria, the diplomatic community, and Ndigbo in general.
At the burial mass conducted by Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese, His Grace, Moses Chikwe, Uzodimma said “the Igbo race has lost a gem, Nigeria has lost a star, and the world has lost a man that can be described as a global encyclopedia”.
“The entire South-East has lost a consummate and compassionate leader, Imo State has lost one of her illustrious sons, a pacesetter, erudite scholar, advisor, councilor, and one of the pillars of the 3R government,” he said.
Governor Uzodimma said the late Obiozor represented a solid rock of support to his government, “the kind only a father provides to his son”.
He noted that as a rare breed academic, Prof. Obiozor attained the pinnacle of his career, served Nigeria as an Ambassador to Cyprus, Israel and United States of America, and played a key role in midwifing the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs to a global phenomenon, thereby helping to put Nigeria on the global map for positive reasons.
“Yet he was as humble as they came,” Uzodimma said.
He enjoined the bereaved family, the Igbo race and Ohanaeze Ndigbo in general to take heart, noting that “the legacies of Prof. George Obiozor will guide all who knew him to always remember him as a man who came and conquered his environment in all ramifications”.
President Buhari, in a condolence message read on his behalf by the Minister of State for Mines, Chief Henry Ikoh, described Prof. Obiozor’s passing as “a renowned academician, a diplomat par excellence who served Nigeria in different capacities as an ambassador in three countries where he gave a good account of himself”.
“Late Prof. Amb. George Obiozor was a Nigerian patriot of the highest order and a famous Igbo leader who, when it mattered most, led the Igbo socio-cultural group called Ohanaeze to carter for the interest of the Igbo Nation,” Buhari said.
He said the deceased left “an indelible mark in the sands of time”, emphasizing that “the Igbo Nation will indeed miss Prof. Obiozor, Nigeria will miss him and the diplomatic Community will miss him a great deal”.
President Buhari urged the Government and people of Imo State, Ndigbo, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide and Nigerians in general to bear the irreplaceable loss with fortitude.
In a brief homily, the Auxiliary Bishop of Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri, Bishop Chikwe reminded the congregation that “as Christians death is the beginning of a new life, what we owe ourselves is to be always prepared for the last day, because the world we are into is ephemeral since we are going somewhere”.
“We should always trust in God because our hope is in him. God is always interested in us and to be sure of us making heaven. Besides prayers we should reconcile with all now since we don’t know when the day will be,” he said.
He thanked those who came to honour the late Prof Obiozor and his family. He thanked especially Governor Uzodimma, the Owerri Archdiocese and all the people for their prayers as well as financial and moral support.
The Bishop also thanked the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo for the different arrangements they made “that culminated in the befitting burial of their husband, father, brother and uncle Amb. Prof. George Obiozor CON”.
The burial mass was followed by a reception ceremony held at the Rockview Hotel in Owerri. Both events attracted the who is who in the South East regardless of political persuasion, including former Military Administrator of Imo State, Gen. Ike Nwachukwu, former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ihejirika, elder statesman, Chief (Engr.) Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, former Senate President Adolphus Wabara, former Governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, former Minister of Health, Prof. ABC Nwosu, Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Ambassador Okey Emuchay, former INEC National Chairman, Prof Maurice Iwu, former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Sen. Ben Obi, Senator Chris Anyanwu, Dr. Ijioma Aregbuogu, APC governorship candidate in Enugu, Chief Uche Nnaji, APC senatorial candidate for Orlu, Sen Osita Izunaso, among others.