Wayas dies at 80, Buhari, Obasanjo, Ayade, others pay tributes
Prominent Nigerian leaders, yesterday, lamented the death of Second Republic Senate President, Dr. Joseph Wayas, even as they extolled his sterling contributions to the nation.
Among the leaders were President Muhammadu Buhari, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; and Cross River State Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade.
Others were former presidents of the Senate, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Mr. David Mark.
Also, the former Lagos State governor and All Progressives Congress National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, paid tributes.
Wayas served as third Senate President from 1979 to 1983 before the military, led by then General Muhammadu Buhari, truncated the democratic rule.
He was born on May 21, 1941, in the Obudu Local Government Area of the state.
Prior to becoming the Senate President, he was a member of the Nigerian Constituent Assembly between 1977 and 1978.
In his later years, Wayas served as deputy chairman of the 1994/1995 National Constitutional Conference Commission that was in charge of organising the National Conference.
IN his condolence message to the family of Wayas, Buhari noted that the ex-Senate president’s influence and contributions to Nigeria’s democracy would remain indelible.
He observed that Wayas started taking up leadership responsibilities at an early age, becoming the Senate President at 38, and remaining vibrant and dynamic in mentoring leaders long after he retired from politics.
The President, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, yesterday, prayed that his soul rests with the Lord.
Ayade, who announced his death, yesterday, in Calabar, said Wayas died in the early hours of Tuesday in a London hospital after a protracted illness.
He described the death as “a monumental loss to Cross River State in particular and Nigeria as a whole.”
In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Christian Ita, and made available to newsmen yesterday, Ayade said Wayas left indelible footprints on the sands of time.
He said: “As a state, Cross River is in pains as we mourn the passing of our illustrious son. He was a rare gem. Dr. Wayas’ demise is indeed a monumental loss to our dear state and Nigeria.
“As Senate President, Dr. Wayas contributed to the deepening of Nigeria’s democratic ethos through his robust and vibrant leadership of the upper legislative chamber.
“And since his retirement from active politics, the former Senate President had been playing a fatherly and stabilising role in the politics and affairs of our state.”
The late Senate President, Obasanjo noted, lived for the welfare and security of the common man.
In a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, Obasanjo noted that Wayas would “be sorely missed in view of his giant political strides and contributions to the building of the Nigerian nation, starting from his birthplace, Bassang, in Cross River State, to every nook and cranny of the country.”
The former President described Wayas’ death as painful and urged the government and people of Cross River State, “to be comforted by the fact that Dr. Wayas served God and mankind diligently and worked hard to make his country great.”
LAWAN, through a statement issued by his special adviser on media, Ola Awoniyi, described the death of Wayas as a great loss to Nigeria.
He said Wayas led the upper chamber with competence and passion and was a great symbol of his political era.
“Senator Wayas continued to contribute to nation-building, democracy and socio-economic development of Nigeria even after he left public office in 1983.”
“He played a significant role as deputy chairman of the 1994-95 National Constitutional Conference and took part in many other national assignments.
“Nigeria will surely miss his wealth of experience,” Lawan said
SARAKI described Wayas as a true statesman and father figure.
In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Yusuph Olaniyonu, Saraki recalled that Wayas was the President of the Senate at a time his father, Dr. Olusola Saraki, served as Senate Leader.
“I remember when I was younger, whenever Oloye visited Dr. Wayas or Dr. Wayas came to our home on visits, he always had a knack for wanting to ensure that everyone was carried along in finding solutions to the problems of the day.
“During my time as Senate President, knowing fully well how closely he and my father worked, based on his experience, I consulted with him regularly on issues relating to the running of the Senate. He was a guest at a few of our anniversary events in the 8th Senate,” Saraki stated.
AYU, who was Senate president in the botched Third Republic, described the late Wayas as a quintessential democrat, who left bold prints on the politics and political history of Nigeria.
In a statement from the Dr. Iyorchia Ayu Media Office, Maitama, Abuja, the former Senate President recalled the role Wayas played during the Second Republic.
“Wayas brought stability, colour, style and depth to his leadership of the National Assembly.
“Even after the collapse of the Second Republic, Wayas continued to be a stabilising force. We recall his work as a statesman at the 1994 Constitutional Conference.”
MARK described the demise as a sad end of an era.
Mark, in a statement signed by its Special Adviser, Mr. Paul Mumeh, said Wayas was a great nationalist, whose diligence, honesty and uncommon dedication to the ideals of nationhood remain reference points.
“He brought dignity and respect to the legislature by adhering to the rule of law, separation of power and collaborating with the executive arm of government without compromising the independence of the legislature,” he said.
SIMILARLY, in a condolence message released by his Media Office in Lagos, Tinubu, who is also a former Senator, noted that Wayas was an excellent patriot, who served the country brilliantly in and out of public office
“The passing on Thursday of Dr. Joseph Wayas at 80 is the end of an era in the socio-political evolution of Nigeria, The late former Senate President was until his death one of the few remaining notable politicians who played important roles in the politics of the Second Republic,” he said.
Former governor of Enugu State and senator representing Enugu East in the Senate, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, noted that Dr. Wayas was a pathfinder who believed in the sanctity of the ballot as a vehicle for electing leaders at all levels.
He recalled that as President of the Senate, Dr. Wayas demonstrated competence, character and discipline in running affairs of the upper legislative chamber and by extension the National Assembly.
“We have lost a patriot and committed democrat, who took the entire country as his constituency,” he said.
Get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox every day of the week. Stay informed with the Guardian’s leading coverage of Nigerian and world news, business, technology and sports.