After initial denials by families and colleagues, the rumoured death of Mike Okhai Akhigbe, a Vice Admiral and former Chief of General Staff (CGS), was finally confirmed. Akhigbe died at 68 in a New York Hospital where he had been admitted for cancer.
The late Admiral Akhigbe hailed from Fugar, Edo State. He rose to the pinnacle of his career as Chief of Naval Staff. He was also the Military Governor of Ondo and Lagos States.
President Goodluck Jonathan in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, on Tuesday, Jonathan extended sincere condolences to the wife, children and relatives of the former Chief of General Staff.
He commiserated with officers and men of the Nigerian Navy which Akhigbe once led as Chief of Naval Staff, and with the government and people of Edo on the passage.
He described Akhigbe as a “very courageous officer who patriotically served his nation to the best of his God-given abilities through-out a most distinguished career in the Nigerian Armed Forces’’.
The president joined the Akhigbe’s family, colleagues and subordinates in the Nigerian Navy, friends, associates and all who knew him in mourning the former Chief of General Staff.
“President Jonathan believes that he will live on forever in the hearts and minds of all whose lives he touched positively during his long and remarkable career of national service in military commands and in the political offices he held as a military officer.
“The president believes that Akhigbe will be especially remembered and honoured by present and future generations for serving with distinction as military governor of Lagos and Ondo States.
“He will also be remembered for serving as Chief of General Staff in the military administration that midwifed the present democratic dispensation in Nigeria and began the commendable re-professionalisation of the Nigerian Armed Forces after decades of involvement in politics.’’
He said that the president prayed that God would comfort all who mourn Akhigbe and grant his soul eternal rest.
President of the Senate, David Mark, described Akhigbe’s death as “the loss of a brother, confidant, friend and comrade-at-arms.”
Senator Mark in a statement by his spokesman Kola Ologbodiyan, recalled their days at the Nigerian Defence Academy, noting that “Mike was fearless and very diligent in our course.
“He took these attributes to all the formations where he was privileged to have been posted either in his core military postings or political offices.
“He was one of the poster boys of our Course 3 and we were all very proud of him. His death is a huge personal loss to me, the members of Course 3, the Armed Forces, Edo State and the nation.
“But we cannot question God. He alone gives life and takes same when he so desires. We are bound by his decision to take our brother and friend at this time.
Senator Mark, who is the Chairman of Course 3 Alumni of the Nigerian Defence Academy, said: “We are however consoled that while Mike was with us, he lived his life in the service of God and mankind. May the Lord grant all of us the fortitude to bear this very painful departure.