Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says Walter Carrington, a former United States ambassador to Nigeria, was Nigeria’s most selfless foreign friend.
Carrington died on Tuesday at the age of 90. President Bill Clinton appointed him US ambassador to Nigeria in 1993.
In a tribute on Saturday, Tinubu said the ex-US ambassador was both African and American “an identity he knew full well for it shaped who he was and guided what he did.”
He described Carrington as a citizen of one nation but son of two, saying “he refused to do less than what was right for America and for Nigeria”.
“We thank God for giving Nigeria Walter Carrington when He did. Ambassador Carrington came to Nigeria on a diplomatic assignment but his true mission was even more sublime. Walter was both an African and an American,” he said.
“This identity he knew full well for it shaped who he was and guided what he did. The best of both worlds was evident in him. This man may have been the citizen of one country but he was surely the brave and passionate son of two nations.
“He was a proud and noble black man who stood up for his convictions when it would have been easier to simply turn and look the other way.
“As American Ambassador to Nigeria (1993-1997), Carrington lived with us during a troubled and uncertain time. We were in the clutches of an epic battle between democracy and dictatorship, between freedom and oppression, between enlightened progress and authoritarian reaction.
“Carrington could have maintained a diplomatic distance. He could have acted cozily with the Abacha regime. His life would be been less difficult and safer. But he eschewed personal comfort for the higher prize of a greater mission. He lent himself to the fight against repressive government. He openly and unconditionally championed the advent of democratic freedom and constitutional governance.
“Among the many foreign friends Nigeria has known over the years, Carrington was the most selfless. He was also the foreigner who contributed the most to the end of military rule in our land. As such, he acted far beyond the call of duty. He acted as the rare human being he was – the son of two nations.”
The APC national leader added that the former ambassador acted beyond the call of duty — an act which Tinubu said led to attempts against his appointment, but added that “yet he (Carrington) marched onward”.
“Without the courage and contributions of Walter Carrington, democracy might not have come when, and as it did. Certainly, more of our democracy activists would have suffered and perhaps lost their lives but for his extraordinary intervention,” he said.
“Ambassador Carrington was a rare breed. He demonstrated the power and progress that could happen if only Africa and Black America recognized that bond that exists between them. He saw and nurtured it. That bond is what led him to do to for us as a brother, not just an Ambassador, would do. For this, he was to face danger and attempts against him in Nigeria.
“What many of you did not know is that he was also to pay a price in America. Many did not like the unabashed stand he took as a black man standing up for a black nation. They sought to hurt and impede him professionally, he know this was the danger he would face yet he marched onward. He knew the path he chose was not the easy one but it was truly the right one and thus it was the only path a man such as he was bound to take.”
Tinubu condoled with the family of the deceased saying “God’s tenderest mercies be with their children and the entire Carrington family over the loss of their father and patriarch”.
He said the ideals and principles upheld by Carrington before his demise must be expanded and strengthened for the benefit of the black race.