Diplomat and foremost educationist, Ambassador Professor Lawrence Ekpebu, has reportedly died at the age of 86.
Prof. Ekpebu who hailed from Okoloba, Sabagreia in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, was the first African graduate of Harvard University, United States.
Born May 2, 1935 to Chief Naupa Ekpebu and Mary Geku, Prof. Ekpebu sacrificed a flourishing career at the University of Ibadan and came home to serve after the creation of the old Rivers State by General Yakubu Gowon on May 27, 1967.
He became the longest serving commissioner under Commander Alfred Diete-Spiff, and thereafter in 1984 General Muhammadu Buhari appointed him Nigerian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Cote d’Ivoire.
When Buhari was overthrown, General Ibrahim Babangida asked him to remain in Abidjan and complete his term before retaining him for a second term.
Professor Ekpebu’s achievements included reconciling Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire that were virtual enemies over divergence of policies on Biafra, recognised by Cote d’Ivoire; and Apartheid South Africa, which Cote d’ Ivoire had ties with. The Nigeria House, Abidjan, was completed by him.
He was also Foreign Policy Adviser to the Mohammed/Obasanjo regime; Member of Governing Council, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Member of first Governing Council, University of Ilorin; Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, former Rivers State University of Science and Technology; University of Ibadan representative in the Governing Council, Nigerian Institute of Management; among others.