President Muhammadu Buhari and former Military President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), yesterday paid tribute to ex-Minister of Finance Prof. Chu Okongwu, who died in Enugu yesterday aged 87. In a statement issued by his spokesman Femi Adesina, Buhari lamented the passing of the ex-broadcaster with the Nigerian Broadcasting Service, sub-editor, lecturer, University of Nigeria, and erstwhile Minister of National Planning and later Minister of Finance. The President believed that the perspectives the late Professor brought to governance and economics centring on improving the lives of Nigerians would not be forgotten.
He extended his heartfelt condolences to the Okongwu family and prayed for the repose of the soul of the departed. Also, Babangida in a statement he personally signed and titled: ‘Chu Okongwu: Death, But Why?’ , said: “No matter how old, when dear ones depart from us, we feel a deep sense of loss and pain. The nostalgic feelings invoke in us grief and some sort of emotional torture.
“Death, the ultimate end of man has its hurtful claws clutching at humanity, each time it strikes. The death of Chu Okongwu, even at age 87, leaves me with a painful pang. Chu, was one Nigerian, who was devoted and committed to nation building, using his expertise and rich knowledge to create templates for national development. “Nigeria has lost another brilliant and intellectually fecund professional, with an amazing understanding of the world around us.
“A super economist, Harvard trained, and also a lecturer with a deep knowledge of economics, Chu Okongwu was an exceptional brain that helped to shape the direction of our government. As a Minister of National Planning, he helped to create policy implementation strategies that facilitated our achievements in government.”
Okongwu, who died in Enugu yesterday morning at the age of 87, was the first of eight children, having been born on September 23, 1934, in Anambra State. The deceased, who studied economic theory at Boston University and attended Harvard University from 1961 to 1965, served under the Ibrahim Babangida regime. Okongwu fiercely defended the administration’s Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP). SAP’s main objective was to keep the Nigerian economy afloat as oil prices dropped below $10 per barrel. The policy was launched in partnership with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.