The governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has said that the state government will organise a state burial for the late Ambassador Baraebibai Ekpebu.
Ekpebu, a former Nigerian Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire, died at the age of 90 at the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital on January 2, 2021.
The deceased, who was the first African to graduate from the prestigious Harvard University in the United States, also attended Princeton University.
He hailed from Okoloba Community in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area.
A statement by the chief press secretary to the governor, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted Senator Diri as having dropped the hint when he paid a condolence visit to the family of the late scholar, diplomat and public administrator in Yenagoa.
Senator Diri described the death of Prof Ekpebu as a painful loss to Bayelsa, Ijaw nation and Nigeria.
The governor said the deceased, who was a pioneer executive council member of the old Rivers State when it was created in 1967, would be remembered for his distinguished service to the Ijaw ethnic nationality and the Nigerian state.
He said Ambassador Ekpebu wrote his name in gold in the academia and left very large shoes in the country.
“Let me thank God for the life and times of our late icon, leader and father. His history is laced with blessings not only to his family but also his immediate community, local government area, his state and the entire country.
“We are indeed very proud of him having contributed immensely to the growth of this country, his state and his ethnic nationality.
“The late Professor distinguished himself academically and is seen as the first African that graduated not just from a foreign university but one that is reputed to be among the best in the world, the Harvard University.
“The late Professor was a founding member of the old Rivers State and started his service in that state. His death is not only for Bayelsa but indeed the old Rivers State and the nation at large, having served this country in an ambassadorial capacity.”
The first child of the late academic icon, who responded on behalf of the family, Mr. Ebiweni Lawrence-Ekpebu, thanked the governor for the honour and recognition accorded his father even in death.
He said that the family was honoured by their father’s legacies, especially in education and quality leadership he rendered to humanity.