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NIGERIA: A Politician and Gentleman Goes Home

 The late Ewherido (right) with wifeUntil his death, Senator Pius Ewherido, who represented Delta Central Senatorial district, was a gentleman in politics. Anayo Okolie pays tribute to the late lawmaker

Senator Pius Ewherido, a first term senator, died penultimate Sunday at the Abuja National Hospital where he was rushed to after he reportedly collapsed at his home in Abuja. Ewherido was the Vice chairman, Senate committee on Marine Transport and member, Committee on Trade and Investment.  He was the only Senator elected on the platform of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP).

The late Ewherido, who left behind his wife and six age children, turned 50 years old on May 4. Born in Ughelli, he attended Notre Dame College, Ozoro and Urhobo College, Effurun, Delta State, and went on to the University of Ife, Osun State, where he studied Philosophy. After his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Ewherido ventured into business and domiciled in Warri. He would later study law at the University of Benin, after which he was called to the Bar.
Ewherido joined the United Nigerian Congress Party (UNCP) during the Third Republic. But when the transition programme was aborted by the late Gen. Sani Abacha, he temporarily quit politics and faced his business. He later joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 1998 and was elected to represent the Ughelli South constituency in the Delta State House of Assembly in 1999, where he was appointed Deputy Speaker.

Following his outstanding performance, Ewherido was re-elected in April 2003, and continued as the Deputy Speaker of the Assembly from May 2003 till May 2007. However, in the 2006, he contested for the governorship of the state and lot the primary election. He then took a leave from politics to restrategise for another outing.
In order to achieve his prolonged governorship ambition, Ewherido decided to vie for the Delta Central Senate seat on the platform of DPP. He emerged the DPP senatorial candidate by a narrow margin 125 votes against his opponent's 108.
He went ahead to win the April 2011 election with 102,313 votes against his opponent, Amori Ighoyota, the PDP candidate in the election who polled 85,365 votes.

Until his demise, Ewherido was a man after the heart of his people, especially his constituents. This was on account of his many efforts that had positively affected countless lives within his state and beyond.
He is described by some, as “King Generosity” because he never stopped giving. Ewherido, no doubt, is a name that would continue to resonate in the memory of his people. Of course, his absence from the political space has left behind a vacuum. He always had the interest of his people on his mind. He made his people’s problems his and regarded all irrespective of age or social status. He was a quintessential politician.

According to the leadership of the Senate, “We lost a vibrant and a very articulate senator. We have lost a patriotic Nigerian who stood to be counted when it mattered,” assuring that the Senate would do the needful to care for his immediate family.
President of the Senate, David Mark who was in Accra, Ghana for a golf tournament, had to cut short his trip upon the news of his death. He also reiterated the promise of the senate leadership.

In a move to make his brief sojourn on earth linger, his family has called on the Senate leadership to help pass into law, the two pending bills the late Ewherido had in-wait. The bills, according to the family, are Welding Standards Regulatory Council of Nigeria Bill 2012 and Corporate Manslaughter Bill 2013. The bills were well received in the Senate and it has passed second reading and awaiting public hearing.
His elder brother, Rev. Father Ewherido who spoke on behalf of the family while receiving the progressive Senators said “the family will very much appreciate this as an honour to the memory of the late Senator Pius Ewherido.”
The visit to Ewherido’s residence was led by Senator George Akume, the Minority leader of the Senate.

According to him, Ewherido was a valued member of the Senate who was respected by all for his brilliance and progressive ideas. Akume, on behalf of the senators, assured the family that they would participate fully in his burial.
The Senators are: Senators George Akume, Domingo Obende, ’Gbenga Ashafa, Gbenga kaka, ‘Gbenga Obadara, Chris Ngige, Olufemi Lanlehin, Akin Odunsi, Mudashiru Husain, Ganiyu Olanrewaju Solomon, Anthony Adeniyi,  Oluremi Tinubu, Ehigie Uzamere, Olubunmi  Adetunmbi, Robert Boroffice, ‘Jide Omoworare,  Muhammed Bindowo Jibrilla, 'Femi Ojudu, Ibrahim Musa and Abdulkadir Jajere.
But on a personal note, Solomon who is Senate Minority Whip and Senator representing Lagos West senatorial district, described as a personal loss somewhat, the demise of Ewherido because he witnessed the start of the crisis that eventually claimed his life.
Solomon who claimed he was still in shock as at the time he issued the release because he could not believe it was the last he would see of him, said he was with Ewherido at the National Hospital, Abuja, where he had his first operation before the plan to fly him abroad but eventually gave up the ghost.

“I’m still self-abnegating that he possibly couldn’t have died. He gave no inkling he would not survive it. It didn’t seem to me that it was the end; that I possibly won’t see him again but his remains is troubling! I am, however, struggling to come to terms with my religious doctrine, that God only gives and takes and I pray the Almighty God grants him eternal rest.

“I particularly want to commiserate with his wife and children, the people and government of Delta State because this is a huge loss for them, coming at a time that he had a role to play in the political development of the state and country.
“I also know that the news of his death has not been received well by the President of the Senate, distinguished senator David Mark and other senators who have been struggling to accept this as an act of God. My prayer is that Ewherido’s death will mark the end of such misfortune, both to us as an institution and a people. Amen!”

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