President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday led members of the Federal Executive Council in extolling the virtues of the late Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Olugbenga Ashiru.
Jonathan and some ministers paid tribute to the late minister at a special valedictory session held in his honour at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Ashiru, who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs between July 2011 and Sept. 2013, died on Nov. 29, at the age of 66.
“As a foreign minister, Amb. Ashiru did very well. Within the period he served we had a lot of challenges in West Africa.
“We had the Ivorien crisis, we had the Libyan crisis, and we had the military coup d’etat in Niger.
“Incidentally, within that period, I was the Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government.
“And without a foreign minister that knew his onions, I wouldn’t have been able to manage the situation. With Amb. Ashiru by my side, we were able to pull through.
“When the President of Sudan, Omar Al-Bashir, visited Nigeria, the world was alerted and they were all looking at Nigeria.
“He (Ashiru) had to move with the Attorney-General and they were able to calm the situation because of the personal relationship he had with some of the global players.“
NAN recalls that the United Nations had threatened to sanction Nigeria for failing to arrest Al-Bashir during the visit in spite of subsisting warrants issued by the International Criminal Court for his arrest.
Jonathan described the late minister as a patriotic diplomat who helped the country to streamline its foreign relations within and outside the African continent.
He said the country had lost a rare gem in the late Ashiru and urged serving ministers of foreign affairs to emulate his commitment and dedication to the protection of the nation’s interests.
Vice President Namadi Sambo described the deceased as a quintessential gentleman and an experienced diplomat who had dedicated his life to the service of the nation.
Some of the ministers who spoke also described Ashiru as a true patriot, a nationalist and fine diplomat who put the nation first in all he did.