Governor Alex Otti of Abia has expressed sadness over the death of a former president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Joe Irukwu.
Mr Irukwu, who hailed from Amaokwe Item in Bende Local Government Area of Abia, reportedly died at 89.
His death was announced on Saturday by the president-general of Amaokwe Item Welfare Union, Harrison Okorie, in Enugu.
Mr Otti expressed his condolences in a statement by his chief press secretary, Kazie Uko, issued on Sunday.
The statement described Mr Irukwu as a great son of Abia who left indelible footprints in the insurance industry as the pioneer managing director of Nigeria Reinsurance Corporation and founder of the African Development Insurance Company.
It said the accomplishments of Mr Irukwu as a consummate lawyer, lecturer and author of several books on insurance earned him the sobriquet ‘Mr Insurance’.
Also, Nelson Nwafor, the executive director of the Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development, described Mr Irukwu’s death as a huge shock and a big loss to “Ndigbo” and Nigeria at large.
Mr Nwafor said Mr Irukwu was a bright and accomplished legal luminary, moral edifice, insurance and risk management wizard, an erudite scholar of world renown and a great Igbo leader.
The president of Southern Nigeria Youths Assembly, Chuks Njoku, also described the deceased as “a unifier and true elder statesman.”
According to him, Mr Irukwu’s death has left a huge, difficult gap to fill.
He said the deceased contributed to the development and industrialisation of Igboland and Nigeria through his achievements in the private and public sectors.
“His death is painful, especially as it happened at a time his fatherly advice is highly needed to help us navigate through issues bordering on economy and national unity,” Mr Njoku added.