Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
As the Senate paid last respect to two former members, who died within one month to cancerrelated ailments yesterday, two senators made special appeals to the incoming Muhammadu Buhari-led government to establish specialist hospitals for cancer treatment. The Senate reconvened from Tuesday’s adjournment to a valedictory session for late senators Uche Chukwumerije and Ahmad Khalifa Zannah. During the session, Senator Bello Tukur observed that Chukwumerije did not live and die in vain.
“He left legacies worthy of emulation. The next Senate should find a means of detecting early cancer treatment,” Tukur added. In his contribution, Senator Adegbenga Kaka, who also towed Tukur’s line, called for the establishment of specialist hospitals for cancer treatment. “I want to urge the Eighth Senate to facilitate the establishment of specialist hospital for the treatment of terminal ailments like cancer and other heart-related diseases,” he said. In a motion moved by 106 senators, the Senate Majority Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, declared that Chukwumerije’s death is a monumental loss to the country at large.
Ndoma-Egba particularly noted that Chukwumerije would be greatly missed for his immense contributions to debates at the plenaries and his robust representation to his constituents. Ndoma-Egba also noted that late Zannah was an amiable, articulate, resourceful politician and nationalist by his outlook to national issues. “He was bold and passionate in the defence of his people and often spoke on the security situation in the North-East,” he added.
In his contribution, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, observed that the late senators share a common love for the ordinary people. “They were two great distinguished: Chukwumerije and Zannah; all of us are losers in their deaths. Both shared so much in common: one, they died towards the end of this particular Senate, but the important thing is that they share a common love for the ordinary people. They share the love and service to their respective peoples. Chukwumerije would be fondly remembered by people of timber extraction,” he said. In his remarks, the Senate President, Senator David Mark, observed that it would be difficult to express one’s innermost feelings on the death of Chukwumerije, whom he described as the enigma and nationalist par excellence.
“It’s even harder to attempt to express an opinion in a single narrative. We can sit down here for the whole day, and we talk about Uche Chukwumerije. As much as one tries, you’ll find that there is always something that you have left out. He was an economist, an educationist and a journalist of repute. Chukwumerije left no one in doubt as to where he stood on in any particular issue, regardless of the nature of the issue.
“He stood firmly to be counted, especially when it concerned the security and the welfare of the Nigerian people. His unwavering commitment to the ideals of nationhood was unparalleled. “Truly, he was passionate about raising the standard of education in this country. During the ASUU strike, he (Chukwumerije) called several meetings and met with the Committee on Education and the ASUU members for a very long time. Eventually, we were able to resolve the problem; and thanks to the dexterity of Senator Uche Chukwumerije.