ELDER statesman and First Republic politician Chief Matthew Tawo Mbu aged 82, is dead. A statement from the family last night explained that he died in a London hospital.
Mbu, born on November 20, 1929 was a lawyer, politician and diplomat. Born in Okonde, Cross River State, he was at various times Nigerian ambassador to the United States, Minister of External Affairs, Minister of Defence for Naval Affairs and Minister of Labour.
He received his early education at Okonde Primary School from 1937 to 1940; the Kakwagon Seminary School between 1941 and 1943, before proceeding to Middle Temple and University College, London, from 1955 to 1959, where he received the first and second degrees in law. He was subsequently called to the Bar, Middle Temple. .
A member of the NCNC in the First Republic and Nigeria People’s Party (NPP) in the Second Republic, Mbu was a member of the Zikist Movement. He was appointed Chairman, Eastern Nigeria Public Service Commission in 1967, and became member, Constituent Assembly from 1977 to 1978. He was the first national vice-chairman of the NPP from 1979 to 1981. .
He also represented Nigeria as an ambassador to Germany and served as the Pro-Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife.
Mbu was a prominent member of the South-South Peoples Assembly, (SSPA), an organisation that promotes the interests of the people of the zone.
In a condolence message Monday to the family, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan expressed sadness following his passing.
Jonathan described him as “a nationalist, elder statesman, a globalist, and a true diplomat.”
Matthew Mbu, the President noted, lived an exemplary life of service to Nigeria. He was “an icon of the legal profession and the Diplomatic Corps, who served Nigeria selflessly as a Minister; as Nigeria's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and in several other capacities,” the President said in a statement by Spokesman Reuben Abati.
“Many,” according to President Jonathan, “will remember the late Dr. Matthew Mbu for his many diplomatic assignments, but I remember him for his calm disposition and mature contributions which helped Nigeria through difficult times between 1967 and 1970 and then again in 1993 during the June 12 political crisis when he served Nigeria as Minister for Foreign Affairs.”
President Jonathan further observed that the late Dr. Mbu’s contributions to Nigeria are enormous and that he was indeed one of Africa’s major voices in the global arena in the last five decades.
“His death”, the president added “is a great loss not only to the Mbu family of Boki in Cross River State, his immediate family and his extended political family but an irreplaceable loss to Nigeria as a nation. On behalf of myself, my family and the government and people of Nigeria, I extend my condolences to the Mbu family in general and to his wife, Katherine and the children. May his soul rest in peace.”
He is survived by Katherine Anigbo (wife) and six children, including Senator Matthew Mbu.