Death sneaked into the media on Monday, snatching former Information and Culture Minister Prince Tony Momoh.
The eminent journalist, politician and lawyer passed on at Abuja. He was 81.
Momoh, a prince of Auchi Kingdom, Edo State, was the national chairman of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), which merged with the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the All Nigeria Peoples Party(ANPP) and a section of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to form the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Momoh, who held the title of Yerima of Auchi, served as a minister during the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida between 1986 and 1990.
President Muhammadu Buhari, the APC leadership, Senate President Ahmad Lawan and former Ogun State Governor Olusegun Osoba, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, his Edo State counterpart, Godwin Obaseki, described Momoh’s demise as a huge loss to the polity.
Expressing grief, the President described him as his longtime ally, friend, and political loyalist.
The President’s message was contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
President Buhari said Momoh stood with him through thick and thin, adding: “His brand of loyalty is very rare in the politics of today. I will greatly miss him.”
The President recalled that as chairman, Media and Publicity of the ANPPCampaign Organisation in the 2003 and 2007 elections as well as Chairman of the CPC, the late prince contributed in no small measure to the growth and strengthening of the organizations, leading to the eventual formation of the APC.
President Buhari commiserated with the media industry on the loss of a veteran who put in a lot to raise the bar of the profession as editor, manager, administrator, President and Trustee of the Guild of Editors, urging them to sustain his legacies.
While also condoling with the Auchi Kingdom, the government and people of Edo State on this great loss, the President prayed that God will grant the departed eternal rest and comfort.
Lagos State Governor Sanwo-Olu described Momoh’s death as a colossal loss to Nigeria and the ruling party.
The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile, urged family, friends and colleagues of the deceased as well as the APC leadership to immortalised him.
Sanwo-Olu said: “The death of Prince Tony Momoh is a great loss to Nigeria. The late Momoh made lots of positive impact in Nigeria during his life time as a journalist, media manager, lawyer, politician and elder statesman.
“I sympathise with President Muhammadu Buhari, the entire leadership and members of our party. I also commiserate with government and people of Edo State on the loss of their illustrious son.”
Paying tribute to Momoh, the APC said his death was a monumental loss to the progressive fold.
The party in a statement by the Secretary Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Senator John James AkpanUdoedehe, said the ruling party was deeply saddened by the death of the frontline journalist.
He said: “A distinguished journalist, lawyer, the Yerima of Auchi, politician, publicist, author, the former Minister of Information and Culture truly lived a storied life which will be a source of inspiration to present and future generations.
“The late Prince Tony Momoh was a strong advocate for internal party democracy which allowed for open, consultative and fair party processes.
“His mindset and approach to politics was that of service, not business. This was evident in all assignments he was regularly called upon to serve on behalf of the party.”
Akpanudoedehen said that the late associate of President Muhammad Buhari will be remembered for his tough stance against corruption.
He added: “As CPC National Chairman, he made clear the defunct Party’s resolve to bar any of its aspirants to become candidates if they engaged in corrupt practices or thuggery during the primaries.”
Veteran journalist and former Ogun State Governor Osoba commiserated with the family and associates of the former ,minister.
He described his former colleague at Daily Times as a media intellectual and serious minded practitioner.
Osoba said in a statement in Lagos that the deceased earned the respect of great men as a journalist.
He said: “We have lost a consummate journalist. He was a strong and powerful member of the intellectual in the media. Great Dr Nnamdi Azikwe gave him the sobriquet of “Lawyer-journalist.” And he lived up to the nick name. Serious minded, deep in his thought and writings, through which he left an indelible mark in the media world. God bless his soul.”
Former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, who said Momoh was committed to the good of the country, prayed to God to grant him eternal rest. He called for the deepening of the ethos of journalism through the emulation of the departed media guru.
Also, Edo State Governor Obaseki lauded the contributions of the veteran journalist to the growth and development of Nigeria, describing him as a rare politician, who spoke truth to power, when it mattered most.
In a statement, he said: “It is with a heavy heart that I received the news of the death of veteran journalist and former Minister of Information and Culture, Prince Tony Momoh.
“Prince Momoh, though a great son of Edo State, was a total Nigerian. He was forthright, driven and spoke with candor. As a nationalist, he was unapologetic about the Nigerian project. His lasting legacy remains the enthronement of democratic values in Nigeria.
“A progressive and committed Nigerian, Prince Momoh’s wise counsel would be greatly missed, especially as we navigate our current challenges as a nation.
“On behalf of the government and people of Edo State, I commiserate with his family, friends and associates and wish that God grants them the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.”
Senate President Lawan condoled with the government and people of Edo State and the APC over the irreparable loss.
In a statement, Dr. Lawan said: “As Minister of Information, Prince Momoh, through his ‘Letter to my countrymen’ series, professionally and effectively disseminated and managed public information in a manner that was unique to him.
“As chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), he helped nurture the party to a very strong showing at the polls within months of its formation.
“Prince Momoh was also a key facilitator of the emergence of the APC in 2014.
“The APC will miss this principled political leader particularly in this period that the party is repositioning as a grassroots-based political party and for improved performance of its leadership of our great country.”
The Senate Chief Whip and former Governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Kali said the late media guru contributed to the social, economic and political development of the country in various capacities.
Kalu, who commiserated with the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and other stakeholders in media industry, stressed that the deceased left indelible footprints in the annals of journalism in the country.
In a condolence message, the senate chief whip urged the Momoh family to uphold the good legacies of the deceased.
He said the demise of former Minister of Information and Culture, Prince Tony Momoh is painful.
Kalu added: “The late chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) made invaluable contributions to nation building in different positions.
“He was a strong advocate of fairness, justice and equity which he demonstrated in his endeavours.
“The late former minister lived a remarkable life dedicated to the service of humanity.”
Former Delta State Governor James Ibori recalled that Momoh was an accomplished journalist and the first Chairman, Board of Directors of the Independent Newspapers Ltd (INL).
He described him as a an eminent public servant, a totally detribalised Nigerian, and a pillar of the APC.
In a statement, Ibori said: “Though Prince Tony Momoh and I were never in the same party all through, he was civilized enough to respect the boundaries of friendship”.