The Anambra State Government has noted with sadness the passage of the erstwhile Minister of Information and Culture, Prince Tony Momoh, and a former member of the Anambra State House of Assembly, The Honorable Simon Uzama Okpalaeke.
Prince Momoh was not just a former minister and one of Nigeria’s greatest journalists as well as a leading lawyer, but also a true lover of the people of Anambra State.
When in the late 1980s he set up a committee to fashion out Nigeria’s first information and communication policy, he promptly made a worthy son of our state, Dr Tony Nnaemeka, then the Director of the Institute of Journalism in Lagos, the co-chairman of the committee to lead the work.
There were on the committee such other eminent scholars from Anambra State as Professor Ikechukwu Nwosu, one of the most prolific mass communication writers in Africa. At the end of the day, the committee did a splendid job, further consolidating Dr Nnaemeka’s reputation as arguably Africa’s most rigorous mass communication researcher.
On the two occasions former Vice President Alex Ekwueme made brave attempts at becoming Nigeria’s leader, Prince Momoh was with him every inch of the way. He held the position of Director of Publicity at the Alex Ekwueme Campaign in 1998/9 and 2002/3. He was genuinely convinced, like millions of other Nigerians, that Dr Ekwueme was far more qualified and prepared to take Nigeria in a different and better direction than any other presidential aspirant in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
When the PDP betrayed Dr Ekwueme who sacrificed so much to found the party and give it a veneer of national purpose and credibility, Prince Momoh left the party on principle. He joined hands with other prominent Nigerians to establish the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) which was to merge with others to form the All Progressives Congress, (APC) today Nigeria’s national ruling party.
It is a measure of his love for the people of Anambra State that though Prince Momoh attended both the University of Nigeria at Nsukka and the University of Lagos at Akoka where he studied mass communication and law, respectively, he identified more with the UNN, which was founded by the Great Zik of Africa, the man who led Nigeria to independence in 1960.
With the death on February 1 of Prince Tony Momoh, the country has lost one of its finest journalists, a philosopher, a highly principled citizen, a most unassuming public officer, a detribalized Nigerian and, of course, a lover of the people of Anambra State.
The Anambra State Government feels no less sense of loss in the death three days ago of The Honorable Simon Uzama Okpalaeke, who represented Ihiala Two in the Anambra State legislature from 2007 to 2011.
Though he was in the House of Assembly for only one term, he made a huge impact on his constituency, especially in the provision of infrastructure.
Even when he ceased to hold a public officer, Chief Okpalaeke, a lawyer, industrialist and knight of the church, continued to play a pivotal role in the affairs of not just in his Azia or Ebonesi community but the whole of Ihiala Local Government Area, one of the largest local government areas in the country. His commitment to peace and harmonious social relations is well recognized. He remains an example that a person need not hold a position to be considered a leader anywhere. Indeed, his death at 64 years of a heart attack is tragic.
The Anambra State Government condoles with the Okpalaeke family of Azia and the people of Ihiala LGA on the passage of this important son. As in the case of Prince Momoh, we pray for the repose of his noble soul.
C. Don Adinuba
Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment.