By Aloysius Umalo, Makurdi.
As Nigerians converge on Makurdi the Capital of Benue State in North Central Nigeria to bid farewell to Senator Joseph Kennedy Waku, the Director General, Voice of Nigeria, Mr. Osita Okechukwu urged politicians to emulate the virtues of the late Senator.
In his tribute, Osita Okechukwu describes Senator Waku as a Pan Nigerian, a Democrat and parliamentarian who had fought for the common good of all.
Mr. Osita stated this during an interview with Journalists at Saint Mary’s Catholic Parish, North Bank, Makurdi, venue for the funeral mass in honour of the departed senator whom he referred to as a selfless man.
“We should learn selflessness, Waku never placed his own interest above the common interest. That’s what we have to learn from him. A lot of politicians have gone for their own pecuniary gains, Waku never did so.”
“He challenges whoever he wishes to challenge. As long as you are not for the common interest, if you are trying to tell Waku to go with you for what you will gain, Waku will say no and he will walk away. So, we have to learn from him.”
He says throughout his stay in the National Assembly, Senator Waku and his league of senators who served with him such as Senator Chuba Okhadigbo fought to strengthen the democracy of the country.
“... By then, there were anti Democratic forces who were fighting to truncate our democracy, Waku stood up with late Okhadigbo and others, for that, Waku was chuckled out of the Senate, but out of the Senate, he continued to advocate for the good of the People”.
Legacies to the younger generation
Osita says the little time he had opportunity to work with the senator, he discovered that Waku was a man who was ever willing to forfeit his own privileges in order to protect the common man.
In his funeral oration, Governor Samuel Ortom who hails from the same local government with the deceased, describes him as a man of uncommon courage with passion for truth, love and strong spirit of forgiveness.
“Chief JKN Waku was full of forgiveness. Even as his Political students, several times we rose against him, and each time we realized our mistakes and returned back, he was ever willing to forgive us,” he said.
Chief JKN Waku was my mentor and uncle who was a defender of the common man and was also known for forthrightness, courage and love for fellow mankind.
“One thing he stood for until he left was equity, truth, fairness and justice. He stood for selflessness, forgiveness and love. As his students, these are the virtues we learnt from him and we have a duty to bequeath these legacies to the younger generation.”
Governor Ortom describes the death of Senator Waku as quite painful to the government and people of Benue who have lost one of the modern fathers of the state.
He prays God to grant his gentle soul eternal rest and his family the strength to bear the loss.
The Chancellor of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja Province, Reverend Father Christopher Bologo in his sermon said the life of the late senator had come to an end when his counsels were most needed.
Fr. Bogo prayed God to preserve the soul of the departed senator and urged the family to look up to God for consolation.
The funeral mass attracted eminent Nigerians including the Executive Governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, former Senate President, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, former deputy Senate President, Senator Ibrahim Mantu, and a host of others.
Born on June 12, 1946, late Senator Waku hailed from Uvir Council Ward in Guma Local Government Area of Benue state.
Senator JKN Waku who represented Benue North West Senatorial District between 1999 and 2003 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, passed away at the National Hospital, Abuja on Sunday 3rd February, 2019 at the age of 73.
Until his death, Senator Waku was the Pro-Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Akure.