Jonathan, Mark, Obasanjo pay tribute to Lar family
• Jonathan, Obasanjo, Mark, Tambuwal, others pay tributes
FIRST Civilian Governor of Plateau State, Chief Solomon Daushep Lar, died Wednesday evening in a United States hospital.
He died after a protracted illness, which had kept him out of national limelight for months.
Details about his death were still sketchy at press time.
Sympathisers trooped to his Jos residence to pay tributes Wednesday.
President Goodluck Jonathan, on behalf of himself and the Federal Government, condoled the the Lar family, Governor Jonah Jang, the people of Plateau State, the people of the Middle Belt and all others for whom Lar 'was a much beloved, charismatic and inspirational political leader.'
The president said they should take solace in the knowledge that Lar lived a long and most fulfilled life, and that his immense contributions to communal, state and national development had assured him of a place amongst the eternal heroes of the Nigerian nation.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said Lar was a man whose political career stretched from the military era through the existing democratic dispensation.
'With over 50 years of participation in Nigerian politics, Chief Lar's knowledge, experience, wisdom and foresight set the foundations for the success that our party, the Peoples Democratic Party, enjoys today.
'For several decades, Chief Lar contributed to the development of the Nigerian state while serving in various capacities. In 1999, he made significant contributions to the re-establishment of democracy in Nigeria.
'Chief Lar was a noble statesman, a lover of peace, a firm believer in the Nigerian project. His place will be very difficult to fill within his community, the state, the party and the nation.'
Senate President David Mark lamented the demise of Lar. He described him as a rare Nigerian who propagated the tenets of democracy and lived to see the actualisation of the people's will.
Mark noted that Lar would be remembered for fighting for democracy and enthronement of the people's mandate against all odds.
He recalled that it was Lar who led the group of G-34 which later metamorphosed into today's People's Democratic Party (PDP).
Mark said: 'We owe him a great deal of gratitude. He surely has a place of pride in the political history of Nigeria. Lar was a different kind of leader. He put the people and the nation first before self.
'He was an easygoing man. He was a calculative, gentle and result-oriented leader. Regrettably, the nation has lost one of her shinning stars. We shall miss his robust contributions to national issues. We shall miss his humour.'
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, said he received with immense sadness and a feeling of great national loss the news of the passing of Lar.
Tambuwal remarked that Lar would always be remembered as a man of integrity whose forthrightness and wisdom stood him out among his peers.
In a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Malam Imam Imam, Tambuwal said the late former Plateau State governor lived a fulfilled life full of accomplishments and notable contributions to national unity.
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, expressed shock and sadness.
He said: 'We have lost one of the finest political figures of our time and a hero of our current democratic dispensation. His death marks the end of an era.'
Also mourning Lar was Ali Ndume (PDP, Borno South). He described him as a frontline politician, detribalised and generous progressive who laid solid foundation for the party.
Former Minister for Transportation and member of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Ebenezer Babatope, described Lar's death as a big blow not only to members of the ruling party but entire Nigerians.
Noting the fact that the death of the first PDP national chairman would remain a rude shock to all who had the opportunity of getting very close to him while he was alive, Babatope said: 'Lar was a highly principled man, visionary and a dogged fighter for democracy.'
The Lagos State chapter of the PDP also regretted the passing of Lar 'particularly at this particular period in the life of the party's history.
In a statement yesterday, Chairman of the party, Tunji Shelle, said the pioneer national chairman of the party was a distinguished leader, impeccable character and political colossus whose methodology actually enshrined the party as the only national party which has remained in power since 1999.
Shelle further described the late politician as a true nationalist who until his death believed in 'One Nigeria.'
Kano-based politician, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, described Lar as one of the fair-minded leaders from the northern part of Nigeria.
Mohammed, who recalled how Lar played an active role as one of the leaders from the Middle Belt in the First Republic and one of the nine progressive governors in the Second Republic, said the late politician worked assiduously to keep the peace in his domain.
A leader of the PDP, Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, described his death as a monumental loss not only to his family, Plateau State, but the nation at large.
According to him, 'he was a very generous man and a committed middle belter.
'His personality was very typical. He had been a politician from youth and consistent also. His role when he was the National Chairman of PDP was something to be admired. I am sure he wasn't himself when PDP started failing. We will miss him in the political arena of this country.'
In his own reaction, former governor of Plateau State, Ambassador Fidelis Tapgun, described his death as very sad.
'We lost a political giant, particularly in the Middle Belt. It is unfortunate. A big loss in the country. He was the mother hen who usually covered us. We thank God for his life, and we want to pray to God for the repose of his soul.'
Lar, who was born in April 1933, was a Nigerian politician who held various offices at the national level for over 50 years. He was a member of the first national parliament when Nigeria gained independence in 1960. He was elected governor of Plateau State on the Nigerian People's Party (NPP) platform during the Nigerian Second Republic, holding office from October 1979 until the military coup of December 31, 1983 that brought Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to power.
Later, he was founding chairman of the PDP which has held power since the return to democracy in 1999.