Shonekan Was A Man Of Destiny, Chosen For His Time, Says Osinbajo

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    Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, attends the Order of State Funeral Service for HIs Excellency, Chief Ernest Shonekan, GCFR, at the All Saints Cathedral Marina, Lagos State.

    Former Head of the Interim National Government, the late Chief Ernest Shonekan, was a man of destiny who was chosen for his time.

    The former Head of State proved by his life that destiny for one or for a nation is the manifest result of small choices made everyday by ordinary people doing the best they can and persevering in goodness.

    Those were the words of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in his remarks titled “A Life of Two great Halves Lived in Service: A tribute to Chief Ernest Adegunle Shonekan GCFR”, at the State Funeral Service for the late elder stateman on Friday at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos.

    Osinbajo said: “Just as we would also be right to think of Nigeria as a nation of destiny, uniquely positioned to be a rallying point and an inspiration for the entire black race, Chief Shonekan lived his life always conscious of, and motivated by a burden of duty, as a citizen of considerable privilege, to give back, either in his many philanthropic and civic pursuits or in public service.”

     Below Is The Full Text Of The Vice President’s Speech:

    Speech By His Excellency, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, San, Gcon, Vice President, Federal Republic Of Nigeria, At The Funeral Service For Former Head Of Interim National Government, Late Enerst Shonekan on Friday.

    PROTOCOLS:

    A Life of Two great Halves Lived in Service: A tribute to Chief Ernest Adegunle Shonekan, GCFR.

    If ever a man could be said to have lived a life of two equally consequential halves, and in service, that man would be Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan, GCFR.

    And so it transpired that within the first four and a half decades of his life, Chief Shonekan had established himself as one of the nation’s foremost corporate technocrats and a figure of renown in the boardrooms of many private companies: multinational and indigenous in which he served as Chairman and Director.

    It was in this position that he became known as the face of Nigerian free enterprise as the UACN under his leadership fully evolved from a trading outfit to a manufacturing colossus with interests in diverse sectors ranging from agriculture and automotive industries to cosmetics, electronics and textiles, among many other areas.

    Known in the business community for his personal integrity and reliability, and trusted in the corridors of political power for his counsel and guidance by successive governments, Ernest Shonekan had a position in Nigeria that few had before him or have now.

    But none could have written the script of the dramatic series of occurrences that thrust upon him the role of the Head of State and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, in one of the most turbulent chapters of our nation’s history and it became his lot to steer the ship of state in those extremely stormy waters.

    He was in his own words compelled by a sense of duty and responsibility to accept the role and to give his best in shepherding his country through an experience unknown and unprecedented in our history.

    He once said in an interview shortly after he was named Chairman of the Transitional Council and Head of Government, “If your country needs you, leave everything that you are doing to go and help.”

    He saw the government that he had been chosen to lead -as he himself described it “a child of circumstance” and his mission as that of ending a cycle of instability that was, as he said “leading progressively to a catastrophe.”

    Chief Shonekan lived his life always conscious of and motivated by a burden of duty, as a citizen of considerable privilege, to give back, either in his many philanthropic and civic pursuits or in public service.

    It is a testament to that sense of duty that even while out of office, Chief Shonekan remained deeply vested in the fate of his country.

    In 1994, he founded the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) – a continuation of his life-long advocacy of free enterprise as well as a demonstration of his belief that national development is attainable only if the private sector and the public sector collaborate deeply. It summed up the professional duality of his own life as a businessman and statesman.

    In December 1996, he was appointed Chairman of the Vision 2010 Committee – a group of distinguished Nigerians from all sectors of national life charged with developing a blueprint for the country’s transformation by its fiftieth year of independent nationhood.  It was an assignment to which he applied his customary dedication and diligence.

    In the latter chapter of his life, Chief Shonekan seamlessly assumed the mantle of an elder statesman. He was supportive of all governments and served his nation in this role far above the trenches of partisanship. His was a consistently calm and dignified presence in the sanctums of the National Council of State and a steady voice of measured counsel to all that sought him out.

    But he was also a man of great wit and humour. I remember he laughed when I invited him and some other heads of States and Vice Presidents to do a recording of the hymn ‘o God our help in ages past’ for the archives. And when I asked him why he was laughing he said “when you hear me singing you too will laugh!

    Afterwards, he said after hearing the others he didn’t think he did badly, we both laughed. We had in that grand choir, General Yakubu Gowon, Baba Olusegun Obasanjo, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, Dr. Alex Ekwueme and General Oladipo Diya.

    I also told him he had a great baritone and with a little more grooming he could make the world stage. We both laughed again!

    Today, we stand in the light of this great man. The inevitable transition of the people we love, sad as it is, gives us a somber opportunity to celebrate the lives they led, and in the light of that, to reflect on our ongoing human experience. That Chief Shonekan lived an extraordinary life is self evident. His accomplishments as a businessman, political figure, and bridge builder are already the stuff of legend and will be talked about for generations.

    But perhaps what deserves greater attention is the way he carried himself through life and -the high values he exemplified, that genuine respect he had for people of all classes, religion, tribe or gender. His unflinching belief in the inherent goodness of everyone. His love and generosity not just to his family, but to all, the knowledge and experience driven leadership and counsel he provided, always with unfailing humility and courteousness, were all the unique virtues that underpinned his extraordinary achievements.

    Your excellencies, Ernest Shonekan leaves a life lesson for the nation he leaves behind. What might that be? We would be right to think of Chief Ernest Shonekan as a man of destiny, a man chosen for his time.

    Just as we would also be right to think of Nigeria as a nation of destiny, uniquely positioned to be a rallying point and an inspiration for the entire black race. He proved by his life that destiny for one or for a nation is the manifest result of small choices made everyday by ordinary people doing the best they can and persevering in goodness. May his example endure in our individual and collective memories as we continue our own journeys through life and nationhood.

    On behalf of the President, President Muhammadu Buhari, the government and people of Nigeria, I extend sincere condolences to his immediate family, Mama Mrs. Margaret Shonekan, their children, Adeboye, Korede, Kemi Yele (and indeed the entire family.) Thank you for giving him room to serve the nation, and humanity at large.

    And we pray that the Lord will comfort you all in Jesus name and bless the memory of your father and a father of our nation, Chief Ernest Adegunle Shonekan GCFR, forever.

     

     

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