The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worlwide, weekend, described the death of its former president general, Prof Joe Irukwu, as a big loss to Ndigbo.
Prof Irukwu, a senior advocate of Nigeria, headed Ohanaeze from 2003 to 2007.
The president general of Ohanaeze, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, in a tribute to the late icon, said, “We have lost a well fulfilled man with a large heart; unassailable friendly finesse and amazing public relations. Professor Irukwu was a quintessence of courage and character whose legacies in Ohanaeze Ndigbo will always be remembered with deep emotional attachments. He left him when his wise counsel is most needed.”
Dr Alex Ogbonnia, Ohanaeze’s national publicity secretary, in a release, said, “We received with rude shock the sad news on 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 Ndigbo Worldwide, Professor Joe Ogbonna Irukwu, SAN.
“Irukwu was elected the president general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in 2003 and he served meritoriously and bowed out in 2007. During his incumbency, 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. In the same year, 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 “as part of his own legacy to the Igbo man’s quest for equitable recognition and accommodation in the Nigerian polity.”
Ohanaeze recalled, with nostalgia, the social skill, wisdom and organizational acumen that Irukwu displayed in the face of the turbulence which was occasioned by the political intrigues that confronted his tenure as the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Professor Joe Ogbonna 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 has held many top positions in both private and public sectors of the Nigerian economy. He was 89.