Nigeria as a nation was greeted on Thursday with the shocking news of the death of the first civilian governor of Abia State and former Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu.

Following the new, political leaders, business associate, friends and family members have expressed their grief over the passing of the APC chieftain.

President Bola Tinubu, in his condolence message, extended his deepest condolences to the Onu family over the passing of the ex-minister.

The president, in a message through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, described Onu as a luminous star in Nigeria’s political firmament, a man of proven integrity, defiant of indiscipline.

The statement reads, “President Bola Tinubu extends his deepest condolences to the Onu family over the passing of Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, CON.

“Chief Onu passed away on Thursday at the age of 72. The President mourns a luminous star in Nigeria’s political firmament. The first civilian governor of Abia State; former minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, a principal draughtsman in the founding of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and a valiant partner in the victory of the party in the 2015 elections.

“Most importantly, the President celebrates the life of an accomplished scholar, first-class engineer; a man of proven integrity; defiant to indiscipline, but ever yielding to the highest standards of rectitude.

“President Tinubu affirms that Chief Onu epitomizes Nigeria in concord; in wholeness, as the late statesman believed in and defended Nigeria’s unity, advocated peace, and promoted fellowship across the Niger.

“The President also condoles with the friends and associates of Chief Onu, Ebonyi and Abia State Governments, and all Nigerians grieving this gaping loss.

“President Tinubu prays to God Almighty to grant repose to the gentle soul of this great leader.”

Also, former President Muhammadu Buhari said the nation had lost “one of its most outstanding scientific minds and intellectuals”.

The former president, in a statement through his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, described Onu as an intellectual giant who contributed massively to his administration as the minister of science and technology.

“He was an intellectual giant. My heart goes out to his family, the government and people of Abia State and the country at large. May his soul rest in peace,” he said.

Similarly, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 general election, Peter Obi, who posted on his X account, expressed sadness over the passing away of the former minister.

The former Anambra governor described Onu as a gentleman who stood for peace and interest of the nation, a patriotic and detribalised Nigerian who served the country in different capacities.

“Dr Onu was a gentleman par excellence, a patriotic and detribalised Nigerian who served the nation in different capacities. His contributions to our educational growth as a lecturer and author remain commendable,” Obi said.

“Dr Onu was a leader who stood for peace and progress of the nation. He pursued justice and courageously stood up for equity and good governance. He was committed to the development of the nation.

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“As one who understood the critical need to move our nation from consumption to production, he pursued many initiatives to boost local production for the development of the nation.

“His death is, undoubtedly, a huge loss to the nation. May God console his family, and all of us who mourn him, and grant us the fortitude to bear his sad irreplaceable loss. May God grant him eternal rest,” he stated

Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, described the death of the former governor of old Abia State and ex-minister as shocking.

A statement by Oguwike Nwachuku, chief press secretary and media adviser to the Imo State governor, said his principal received with shock the sad, devastating, and unexpected news of the passing of Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, a man he loves to describe as one of Nigeria’s intellectual and political giants with extraordinary gentility.

The statement said that with Dr. Onu’s death, Southeast, Nigeria, and the global community have lost a statesman who believed so much in the unity, peace, progress and development of Nigeria.

Former Abia State Governor and Chairman, Senate Committee on Privatization, Orji Uzor Kalu, in a message he personally signed, described the late politician as a nationalist who had passion for unity and progress of Nigeria.

Kalu acknowledged the invaluable contributions of the former minister to nation building.

The lawmaker, while admonishing the family of the deceased to take solace in the fact that their late patriarch lived a purposeful life, urged them to sustain his worthy legacy.

“The demise of former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, is a huge loss to Ndigbo and Nigeria in general.

“The late statesman was a consummate politician and selfless philanthropist who was committed to nation building.

“Having served meritoriously in various capacities in the public sector, his wise counsel on national issues will be greatly missed.

“He will be remembered for his outstanding leadership qualities. The former governor will be greatly missed,” Kalu said.

A graduate of the University of Lagos, Onu became a teacher at St. Augustine’s Seminary in the Ezzamgbo area of Ebonyi State.

After the completion of his doctoral studies at the University of California, he became a lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Port Harcourt, where he rose to become the pioneer head of the department.

The ex-minister began his political career as an aspirant for a senatorial seat in the old Imo State under the umbrella of the National Party of Nigeria.

In 1991, he contested for the position of Governor of Abia State on the platform of the National Republican Convention and won.

Onu was sworn in as the first executive governor of the state in January 1992.