Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worlwide has expressed sadness over the death of the former President-General of the group, Prof. Joe Irukwu, describing his demise as a shock.
Ohaneze Ndigbo expressed its grief on Sunday in Enugu in a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Dr Chiedozie Ogbonnia.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Irukwu’s death was first announced by his kinsman, Prince Harrison Okorie, the President-General, Amaokwe Item Welfare Union on Saturday in Enugu.
“Ohaneze received with rude shock the sad news of the passing of one of our brightest, an accomplished legal luminary, moral edifice, insurance and risk management wizard, erudite scholar of world renown, Igbo leader and former President General of Ohanaeze Prof. Joe Irukwu”, he said.
He said Irukwu was elected the President -General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in 2003 and served meritoriously before bowing out in 2007.
According to Ogbonnia, during his tenure, Irukwu added colour, glamour, zest, robust intellect and panache to the Igbo umbrella socio-cultural organization.
“One of his works- Nation Building and Ethnic Organization: A Case Study of Ohanaeze in Nigeria, published by Spectrum, is an intellectual Magnus opus that fascinated the scholarly community in 2007 as one of the best sellers.
“Before the expiration of his tenure, Irukwu led other Igbo leaders to commission a multi-million naira complex comprising of a 1,500 -seater auditorium, library and conference room which he built single-handedly. This was part of his own legacy to the Igbo man’s quest for equitable recognition and accommodation in the Nigerian polity,” he said.
He said that Irukwu was called to the English Bar in 1962 and enrolled as a Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the same year.
He said that the late Irukwu held so many top positions in both private and public sectors of the Nigerian economy during his active days, adding that although Irukwu was given to the service of mankind, he resisted the lure by Dr Michael Okpara, the then Premier of the Eastern Region, to join partisan politics.
“Instead he chose to pursue his dream of applying his knowledge in law to build an enviable insurance industry in Nigeria. Irukwu painstakingly achieved his set goals and became a foremost risk management expert. He was also a professor of Insurance, educationist, award-winning author and holder of many distinguished fellowships and academic awards,” Ogbonnia said.
The publicity secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo also said that Irukwu showed remarkable patriotism as a delegate at the National Political Reform Conference in 2005.
Ogbonnia quoted the current President- General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu as saying that through Irukwu’s death Ndi Igbo lost a man with a large heart.