PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare has described the late Sir George Lepping as a meritorious statesman and commended the people of Pirumeri in the Shortland Islands for the service he rendered to the state.
Mr Sogavare made the remarks yesterday when paying tribute to the late Sir George at a state funeral held for the country’s second Head of State at the Holy Cross Cathedral of the Roman Catholic Church in Honiara.
The late Sir George, a devout Catholic, died at his residence in Honiara last Wednesday after a long illness.
He served in the position of Governor General from 7th July 1988 to 6th July 1994.
“The Late Sir George was our second Governor General, a position in our society that we reserve only for locals with admirable integrity and merit. He was a man of integrity and is a meritorious statesman,” Mr Sogavare said.
“To the people of Pirumeri and Shortland Islands, Solomon Islands says thank you for sharing the life of the late Sir George with all of us.
“His service to the Government of Solomon Islands was your contribution to the people of this nation.
“His elevation as Head of State was your pride. His reign as your Paramount Chief was your blessing of hope.
“Your dignity and hope found expression on his life and your mourning will find comfort in his cherished legacy,” Mr Sogavare said.
He also alluded to the late Sir George’s contribution to the State as Director of Rural Services Project, a Government Permanent Secretary and founding chair of the Eminent Persons Advisory Council which plays an advisory role to the Constitutional Reform Congress.
Mr Sogavare said under the directorship of Sir George, the Rural Services Project expanded and improved agricultural support services in research, education, training and extension services and this fostered development of rural enterprises.
“Lessons learned from Rural Services Project gave birth to Rural Development Programme and Rural Constituency Development Fund.
“The Rural Services Project supported many rural entrepreneurs, similarly, RDP and RCDF is making a difference to the lives of our people,” the prime minister said.
As Permanent Secretary, the late Sir George served in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and as the founding chair of the Eminent Persons Advisory Council, he led the eminent persons to chart the course of the country towards the proposed adoption of federal state government.
The late Sir George is survived by his wife, Lady Margaret, two sons, four daughters and several grandchildren.
The body of the late Sir George was transported to his home village in the Shortland Islands, Western Province for burial right after the funeral service by police patrol boat.
The deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs, Douglas Ete, is representing the government at the burial.