Former President Shehu Shagari has described late Dr. Alex Ekwueme as a vice president he trusted while their service to the nation lasted.
Shagari also said because of the deep trust he had for Ekweme, it was difficult for mischief makers to drive a wedge between them.
The Second Republic president of Nigeria said this in a tribute made available to the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Enugu.
The deceased was a close ally of Shagari and first democratically elected vice president of the country between 1979 and 1983 on the platform of the National Party of Nigeria.
Shagari said in the tribute: “Dr. Ekwueme was a deputy I trusted. We understood each other well and it was impossible for mischief makers to drive a wedge between us.
“He was a loyal lieutenant and because of his excellent contributions to the success of our administration during our first tenure, I had no hesitation to nominate him to run with me again for second term.”
Shagari recalled how their administration was infamously terminated through a military coup in December 1983.
The former president said the deceased was a very courageous man, who suffered several months of imprisonment and house arrest with a number of politicians who served in the Second Republic.
He added: “This great democrat dared the military government of General Sani Abacha, by demonstrating against the infamous agenda to transmute from military head of state to civilian president via a contrived political transition programme.
“Taking a great risk, Dr. Ekwueme, together with other nationalists under the aegis of G34 doggedly withstood the military rule of General Abacha, and later mid-wife the Peoples Democratic Party.”