Ayogu Eze (1958–2024)


A deluge of tributes has been pouring in for one of Nigeria’s most active journalists who transitioned to politics and still rose to the top. From the presidency to state governors, and from his colleagues in the media industry and in the Senate to his successors in both, tributes to Senator Ayogu Eze have kept coming in prose and verse. Many politicians including former vice president Atiku Abubakar have taken to their X handles to eulogise one of Nigeria’s most vocal lawmakers.

The senator currently representing his district, Okechukwu Ezea, has issued a statement to mourn “a special friend, a strong ally, a gifted writer, a skilled orator, a leader par excellence, a gadfly of the struggle for the creation of Adada state, and a worthy son of Igbo Nsukka”.

A trained journalist, Ayogu Eze was one of the early reporters and writers for Nigeria’s then flagship newspaper The Guardian in the mid-1980s. He later joined another flagship newsmagazine (for many years), Newswatch, and rose to assistant editor before he got tired of “this ‘he said…they said’ thing”. He veered into politics in 1991.

A senator who represented Enugu North senatorial district in the 6th & 7th National Assembly (2007–2015), Eze made indelible marks in politics as he did in the media. He started as a special assistant to Enugu governor Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo from January 1992 to November 1993 when the Abacha coup happened. He was deeply involved in the Fourth Republic politics, leading to his emergence as commissioner for information in the government of Dr Chimaroke Nnamani in 1999.

When he ran for Senate, with the governor’s patronage, in 2007, the general election in the country was anything but free and fair. Candidates were selected by godfathers, mainly governors, and “results” were compiled in advance of polling day. The trend continued in 2011 when Eze sought reelection to the Senate.

The election fraud from which he benefitted in 2007 and 2011 was to haunt him when he ran for governor under the PDP in 2015 and as APC candidate in 2019. The former was won by Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who reportedly edged out his opponents in the PDP primaries with great financial muscle and the backing of Governor Sullivan Chime. Senator Eze left the PDP thereafter and had to run for governor as the APC candidate in 2019. Again, he was frustrated by vote thieves and corrupt INEC officials.

The sickness that took his life on April 24, 2024, has not been disclosed by members of his family, but one family member hinted that he was under a stroke (cardiovascular accident) for a long time. He disappeared from public functions about 2022.

A statement signed by Kenechukwu Ayogu Eze, his first son, on behalf of the family, says that Senator Eze took his last breath surrounded by family members. He was “a compassionate husband, devoted father and selfless sibling to all family members”, the statement adds. “Words cannot describe the pain in our hearts at this moment and we are devastated as a family as we break this news of his passing.”

Eze Jnr continues: “Senator Eze was a man with the warmest of hearts and a sincere patriot who diligently served the country and humanity in various capacities.

“Until his death, Senator Eze was the Enugu State representative at the RMAFC (Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission) and also served as a member on the board of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

“In his days at the National Assembly, Senator Eze was chairman, Senate Committee on Works, and also chairman, Senate Committee on Information & Media.

“The late Eze was once a commissioner for information & media, as well as special adviser in Enugu State.”

For his part, Senator Okey Ezea says in a statement made available on Thursday evening: “On behalf of the good people of Enugu North senatorial district, I mourn the passing of a special friend, a strong ally, a gifted writer, a skilled orator, a leader par excellence, a gadfly of the struggle for the creation of Adada state, and a worthy son of Igbo Nsukka, Distinguished Senator Ayogu Eze, this Wednesday, April 24.

“Senator Eze and I shared many beliefs, political views and aspirations. At a time, we belonged to the same political party. But at all times we fought in the same trenches for the transformation of our zone, our state and our country.

“On the floor of the Senate, Senator Ayogu Eze was very vocal, vibrant and efficient. In the 6th Senate he was chairman, Senate Committee on Information and Media, and in the 7th Senate, chairman, Senate Committee on Works. His contributions to debates during plenary were rich, thoughtful and illuminating.

“Our condolences go to Senator Eze’s wife, children and siblings. We share in the grief of the immediate and extended Eze family of Umuida, Enugu-Ezike, Igbo-Eze North LGA of Enugu State.

“Goodbye, Senator Ayogu Eze. We shall miss you forever.”

The date for his burial and funeral has not been announced. But sympathisers have been visiting his home in Abuja to sign the condolence register. Politicians from every nook and cranny of the country, traditional rulers, media owners, newsmen as well as other important dignitaries are expected to converge on Umuida, Enugu-Ezike, to pay their last respects during Senator Eze’s obsequies.

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