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Ikemba Nnewi
Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu
(1933-2011)

Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu

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National Funeral Ceremony of Late Ikemba Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu
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Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu Arrives in Imo State
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Ikemba - Ojukwu from London to Abuja Goes Home to South East
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Funeral Mass Service for Ikemba Nnewi -
Ojukwu in London

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Lagos pays tribute to Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu
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Nigerians in China Pays Tribute to Ojukwu
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Ojukwu: I Distinguish A Hero

Ojukwu: The Poster Face of Igbo Spirit

Ojukwu: Setting the records straight

Ojukwu’s shoes too big for me – Son.

Fare thee well, Emeka Ojukwu

The Essential Ikemba: Tribute To A Soldier-Statesman

Ojukwu understood Nigeria but Nigeria did not understand Ojukwu

Issues that caused civil war are still alive – Ekweremadu

How Ojukwu visited prison for the first time, by Ralph Uwazuruike, MASSOB leader

Ojukwu and I made Igbo nation our focal point —Achuzia

Ojukwu: Fall of the iroko

Ojukwu: Day the exile returned home

Ekweremadu Demands Befitting Burial for Ojukwu

Ojukwu: The exit of mercurial, eloquent icon

Odumegwu Ojukwu: Final Death Of Biafran Republic (1967-2011)

Ojukwu’s death, not end of Biafran dream

OJUKWU: He loved beautiful women and cars – Cousin, Udemefuna

Name P/Harcourt Airport, 2nd Niger Bridge after Ojukwu, FG Told

Like the Phoenix 

Ojukwu: The hero of Nigeria’s minorities

‘Immortalise Ojukwu by stamping out injustice’

Honour Ojukwu with another state in S’East -Okorocha 

Ojukwu: Any phoenix amongst Igbo politicians?

Why I love Odumegwu-Ojukwu 

Jonathan, S-East govs to take part in Ojukwu’s burial – Umeh

Last of the titans?

Ojukwu: The Death Of Biafra

Why Ojukwu Took up Arms against Nigeria

Ojukwu: when someone you love dies

Ojukwu was in love with one Nigeria – Akinyele

Ojukwu: Profiling striking condolences

In London, Ojukwu was lonely, dumb – Igwe Nwokedi

The Man Who Freed Awo

CHUKWUEMEKA ODUMEGWU OJUKWU, 1933-2011: Symbol Of Igbo Struggle

Ohaneze Ndigbo visits Ojukwu's family

Tribute to Ikemba Nnewi

Ojukwu to be buried Feb 2

Ojukwu for Burial Feb 2, 2012

The Exit of Ijele Ndigbo

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu (1933-2011)

Ojukwu: Biafra would have been the toast of Africa – Ogbemudia

Tribute to General Emeka Oduegwu-Ojukwu-1934-2011

Izu Umunna mourns Ojukwu, insists on state burial 

Entertainers mourn Ojukwu

Ojukwu did not declare war on Nigeria – Ex-Biafran veterans

…Ojukwu’s Death, End of an Eventful Era, Says Imoke

Ojukwu’s demise: Igbo leadership succession talk premature –Obi

Ojukwu: Igbo Yet To Ascend Political High Table In Nigeria —Uwechue

The house that tested Ojukwu’s fighting spirit

Ex-Biafran commander, MASSOB defend Ojukwu’s civil war role

Ojukwu was in death throes for 3 hours – Uwazuruike

OJUKWU: Uneasy calm at his country home

Why Ojukwu was misunderstood – Ejike Asiegbu

What Ojukwu told me before, during and after the war —Sam Aluko

OJUKWU

Why we gave Ojukwu Ikemba Nnewi title – Igwe Orizu

Ojukwu is not dead – Nzeribe

War veterans ‘invade’ Ojukwu’s country home

Uduaghan, others pay tribute to Ojukwu

Dim Odimegwu Ojukwu is Dead

Nigerians in diaspora eulogise Odumegwu-Ojukwu

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu is dead

Nnewi, his ancestral home mourns

Ojukwu: His last 24 hours

Nigeria mourns death of civil war leader

Ojukwu excelled in the north – North govs

Former Biafra Leader Ojukwu Dies in Britain

It’s a big loss to Nigeria - Fashola

How Ojukwu’s health waned before his death

How Ojukwu died in London

Sylva, Uduaghan, Fayemi: He was a patriot, great leader

Tinubu: His death reminder of Nigeria’s federalism problem

Ohanaeze, Nwodo mourn

Ojukwu is irreplaceable, says Atiku

The general as ladies’ man

Rebel, soldier, leader

He was an iconic figure - Amaechi

Ojukwu – A Hero Is Gone

The meaning of Emeka

Ojukwu: The end His last moments in London hospital How death news was broken

His place in Nigeria’s history assured -Jonathan

Ojukwu Would Have Defended Nigeria, If... - Gowon Speaks On Ojukwu's Death At 78

Igbo Politics Without Ojukwu

 

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WIC PR

IWA (IGBO WORLD ASSEMBLY) Mourns Ojukwu

ASA Women USA Mourns Ojukwu

Enugu Association, USA Inc

Anambra State Progressive, Toronto Communiqué on Dim Odimegwu Ojukwu

The best Senator Nigeria never had

Igbo leaders launch Ojukwu’s dream today in Ahiara

Ojukwu: Nigeria’s most controversial patriot

Onyekakeyah: Born in the war front

Ojukwu Was Ndigbo’s Churchill – Uzoh

General Chukwuemeka Ojukwu: Head Of State, Republic Of Biafra

Biafra will be realised without war – 73-year-old ‘war veteran’

Ojukwu personally fought to stop Nigerian soldiers from taking over Uli Airport – Emma Okocha

OUR AGONY –Veteran Biafran soldiers

OJUKWU: Before another leader comes

Azikiwe varsity immortalises Ojukwu

Unizik immortalizes Ojukwu, names hostel after him

Ojukwu, statesman of all times —Ogbemudia

South-East after Ojukwu’s exit

The ojukwu symbolism: From personal reminisciences

Ojukwu: The Mighty Iroko has fallen

Ojukwu - A Leader Like no Other

‘We can honour Ojukwu by uniting under APGA’

Ojukwu’s leadership qualities unmatched — Obi, Oyo Onyendu Ndigbo

Ojukwu was in love with one Nigeria – Akinyele

Immortalize Ojukwu, Senate tells FG

Senate rejects state burial for Ojukwu, Urges FG to Imortalise him

Ojukwu refused to open armoury for coup plotters in 1966 – Okwuosa

Senate , Makinde, Akunyili , others mourn Ikemba

Senate honours Ojukwu 

Mbadinuju, Iheanacho, Agbakoba speak on Ojukwu

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu (1933- 2011)

Revisiting Biafra - Civil War Leader Ojukwu Dies

Ojukwu was sent to expose Nigeria (1)

Ojukwu: The philosophy that defined his politics

I enjoyed a father-son relationship with Ojukwu — Kalu

He brought credibility to the Nigerian Army — Ogbuewu

‘Ojukwu’s Body To Remain In London For Security Reasons’

FG, nine states will be involved in Ikemba’s burial — Umeh

…Corpse to remain in London

South-East Govs, MASSOB Declare 7 Days of Mourning, Prayers for Ojukwu

IBB: Igbo president will gladden Ojukwu’s heart

...Igbo nation without him

FG Considers State Burial for Ojukwu

MASSOB declares 7-day mourning for Ojukwu

Ojukwu: MASSOB orders sit-at-home on burial day

He saw the future of Nigeria –Chukwumerije

His last moments, by wife

Okorocha, Clark, Northern governors, others mourn

Andy Uba eulogises Ojukwu

Ojukwu’s death marks the end of an era in Nigeria – Obasanjo

I saw Ojukwu through bad times, says Bianca

Ojukwu was a courageous leader -- CPC

Ojukwu Was Soldier for Unity, Progress – Buhari

Former Nigerian Leader Pays Tribute to Late Secessionist Ojukwu

Okorocha, Annie Okonkwo, Onyeneke lament Ojukwu’s passage

Ojukwu’s burial, a collective decision -Gov Obi As IBB, Buhari, Anyim, PDP, others pay tribute to late ex-Biafran leader

Yakowa, ACF mourn

My life in exile, by Ojukwu

His last moments, by wife

‘How I brought him into Army’

CJN pays tribute to Ikemba

Ojukwu: The Unfulfilled Dreams of a National Hero

Obasanjo: I Talked with Ojukwu on His Possibly Expressing Remorse on Biafra

Ojukwu’s body to tour 4 countries before burial

What future for APGA without Ojukwu?

He stole fire from the gods

Great men don’t die –Kalu

Ikemba: The man and his struggles

Ojukwu’s place in history assured –Jonathan

His last interview

Ojukwu’s life and times

Ojukwu: The Final Surrender

Odumegwu-Ojukwu Passes

Nigerians in the UK extol Odumegwu-Ojukwu

BREAKING NEWS….OJUKWU IS DEAD

Ojukwu lived a most fulfilled life – Jonathan

Ohaneze, Ayogu Eze, others mourn Ojukwu

Ikemba Nnewi, Odumegwu-Ojukwu is dead

Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, is dead

 

Ojukwu Was Soldier for Unity, Progress – Buhari

Buhari5

It is with great shock that I received the news of the passing away of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu this morning. Though he had been sick for some time, we were all hoping and praying that we would welcome him back home in good health; but, unfortunately, this was not to be.

Former head of state General Muhammadu Buhari stated that, “I would like to offer my heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu and the Ojukwu extended family, the governments of the South-Eastern states, Ndigbo in Nigeria and in the Diaspora, and to the entirety of the people of Nigeria on this great loss.

In his life, Dim Ojukwu had been many things to many people—a soldier, a leader, a rebel and a politician. It was in his role as rebel to the nation and a symbol to his people and fighter for their rights that he came to play a pivotal role in the tragic civil war in which we found ourselves in trenches facing each other as brother-enemies fighting to preserve the unity and territorial integrity of our fatherland. Later, we would still be fighting, this time together in the trenches of Nigeria’s politics, to finish the battle for unity and progress.”

In the course of these years, we came to understand ourselves well and respect each other deeply, as compatriots searching for solutions to the problems confronting our country, as concerned leaders of our respective political groupings; and, in the process, as friends and guests in each other’s homes. And in all our transactions and engagements on and off the political scene, I found Dim Ojukwu a most forthright and honourable player. He was a tireless, intelligent, focused and frank negotiator who would never give a word he wouldn’t keep.

No doubt, the understanding and trust that developed between us and between him and other political actors contributed in no small measure to the overall success of the process of national integration on the political front. And with his passing away, the nation has lost a leader of great humanity and a political actor of great colour and character and a voice for moderation; and Ndigbo has lost a brave captain who has now passed to the status of a legend.

Dim Ojukwu will be greatly missed. I pray to God to give his family, Ndigbo and the nation the fortitude to bear a loss that can in many ways be said to be truly irreparable.

Source: Leadership, 27th November 2011.

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Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu (1933-2011)
He stole fire from the gods
By Amanze Obi
Sunday, November 27, 2011

He had a protean disposition. In his life time, he was variously described as a demagogue, a rabble-rouser, a megalomaniac and even a war-monger. But Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the leader of the defunct Republic of Biafra, could not be pigeon-holed. His life remembered an open enterprise with a wide receptive canvass until he succumbed to the cold hands of death at the age of 78. 

As an ideologue of the first order, Odumegwu-Ojukwu, at the prime age of 34 became the symbol of a struggle. The quest by Eastern Nigeria to become an independent Republic at the time he was the Military Governor of the Region has remained till this moment, the epic of a race. Even in his death, the struggle of the Igbo in a fractured Nigeria which began with the Birafran revolution will remain a philosophy, even a belief system. 

His life and times were those of a titan. He happened upon the Nigerian scene in the manner of a Prometheus. But whereas the legendary Greek god stole fire from heaven and was chained and tortured, Odumegwu-Ojukwu was daringly original. He shunned subjugation and broke loose from the shackles of degradation and dehumanization.

By so doing, he stole the soul of Nigeria, leaving the entity groping endlessly in search of relevance. The Igbo struggle which he led left Nigeria as a fraction. The country has, ever since, continually laboured to find its integer.
Forty four years into the struggle, Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the author and progenitor of the revolution, has bowed out with grace. But he did not do so without leaving his footprints on the sands of time.
But exit will thrown up a lot of concerns from the watching world. As the Igbo icon who led his people to a war whose memory is deeply etched in their imagination, what will the Igbo make of Ojukwu’s absence from the scene? Will be struggle end with him? Will the absence foist on the Igbo a deep sense of loss to the point of inertia?

Analysts see these possibilities as far-fetched, As a people with an indomitable spirit, the Igbo are likely to be supremely challenged by Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s absence. But rather than relapse into mournful surrender, the people are likely to ensure that his iconic image remains the rallying point or a point of reference with which the Igbo can wake themselves from slumber. This is because, Odumgwu-Ojukwu, until his death, remained the only Igbo man who was truly lionized and revered by the people. Not even the legendary Nnamdi Azikiwe occupied such a prime place in the heart of the Igbo.

Indeed, Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s preeminence in the imagination of the Igbo should be well understood for what it is. The real story of the Igbo people of Nigeria is the story of Biafra. Even though the Republic collapsed less than three years after its declaration, its birth and death seem to summarize the place of the Igbo in today’s Nigeria.
As an Igbo, indeed a Nigerian, you do not need to be born before 1967 to know that Nigeria went to war with the Igbo nation over the secessionist bid of the latter. Even though the attempt failed, the Igbo have imbibed all things Biafran. The people believed and still believe in the struggle. They are constantly reminded by the state of affairs in Nigeria that Biafra is a dream deferred. Sometimes the Igbo moan and groan, albeit quietly, over the loss of their dream Republic. They know that things are what the are because they lost their Biafra.

The corollary of this is that the Nigerian federation managed by non-Biafrans have tended to isolate the enclave that was Biafra. The post-War Nigeria is suspicious of the Igbo nation. The promoters and beneficiaries of post-War Nigeria see Igboland as a conquered territory and the people as a defeated lot. The Nigerian leadership, in line with this thinking, adopted a scorched earth policy that was meant to constantly remind the people that they are yet to be reintegrated into the mainstream of Nigerian affairs.

Odumegwu-Ojukwu, in his life time, was a witness to this deliberate effort at undermining the people he led to war. Since it is the prerogative of the victor to rewrite history, there have also been invidious attempts by anti-Briafan elements to give the defunct Republic a bad name. But Odumegwu-Ojukwu rebuffed all of this. He remained faithful to the struggle he led. He never wavered or equivocated. He lived and dreamt Biafra. He stood by the struggle till the last moment.
As he journeys along into eternity, Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the graduate of History at Oxford University, England, will be remembered as the true man of the people. His early exposure to wealth and education helped to give his life the meaning that culminated in Biafra. It also helped to keep critics at bay.

This is because the man knew his onions and could not be led by the nose. He had an oratorical prowess that even his glib critics could not ignore. But all the gift of excellence that he had could not have been for the sake of it. He was sent from Heaven by the creator to give expression and meaning to the beliefs and convictions by his people.

He carried out the assignment to the best of his ability. Therefore, no matter what anybody may say of him, Odumegwu-Ojukwu was the true symbol of the Igbo quest for a just and equitable Nigeria. This ideal could not be achieved in his life time. But certainty, the Igbo will hold aloft the torch of forbearance which Odumegwu-Ojukwu lit in their hearts 44 years ago. Certainly, the dream shall not die.

Source: Sun, 27th November 2011.

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Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu (1933-2011)
Great men don’t die –Kalu
By Alvan Ewuzie, Peter Agba Kalu WILLY EYA, OMONIYI SALAUDEEN, SAMUEL OLATUNJI, and CHUKS EZE 
Sunday, November 27, 2011

Former Abia State governor, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, was philosophical on the passage of the Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, saying great men do not die as they only exit planet earth.
Dr Kalu in a statement issued by his aide, Emeka Obasi, said: “Chief Ojukwu may not be with us anymore but he cannot die. That is one name that re-branded Nigerian history. That we are still one today as a country is because Ojukwu fought to protest the plight of the Igbo. Today no group can be taken for granted. 

“When the Yoruba threatened to pull down Nigeria because of June 12, Nigerians handed over the Presidency to them in 1999. Niger Delta was going to swallow us until President Goodluck Jonathan began his journey to the top. When war stares us all in the face, we remember Ojukwu and Biafra. No nation survives a second civil war. So, in that sense Ojukwu is a symbol of national unity.” 
The ex-Abia governor described Ojukwu as an exceptional man that was born in November and passed on same month.

He further eulogised Ojukwu as “the Peoples’ General, Eze Igbo Gburugburu, first indigenous Quarter-Master General of the Nigeria Army, teacher of the late General Murtala Muhammed, first Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria, son of Nigeria’s first millionaire, who chose the hard way to the top, and an uncle to a former Miss Nigeria who married the most beautiful girl in Nigeria.” 
“The light of the Igbo nation has been extinguished,” Kalu added.

An Iroko has fallen - Nwobodo, Okiro, Islamic cleric, others 
Prominent Igbo leaders, including Chiefs Jim Nwobodo, Mike Okiro and Maxi Okwu on Saturday described the death of Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu as the fall of an Iroko tree.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ojukwu, the leader of defunct Biafra, died on Saturday morning in a London Hospital at the age of 78.

In a telephone interview, Senator Nwobodo, a former governor of old Anambra State and ex-Minister of Sports said: “A great Iroko has fallen. The Igbos have lost an Iroko tree. Ojukwu’s death is a loss to Nigeria and to Ndigbo.”
In his reaction, presidential candidate of the Citizens Popular Party in 2007, Chief Maxi Okwu, said: “Like a comet that streaks through the sky’’, Ikemba came and blazed the trail for justice, equality and emancipation. Okeosisi Adago, meaning the great Iroko has fallen.”
Okwu lamented that there can never be another Ikemba, who staked all he had including his life for the Igbo.
“I served as a boy-soldier in the Biafran Army. Ikemba was a Peoples General who led from the front and the rear.’’
Also speaking, Chief Mike Okiro, a former Inspector General of Police, described Ojukwu’s death as a great loss to the Igbo.
“Ojukwu was a symbol of Igboland and a symbol of struggle against marginalisation,” Okiro said in a telephone interview.

Nigeria has lost a great hero - Sylva
Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, has described the late Chief Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu as a great man who devoted his life to the fight against injustice and promotion of equality among Nigerians. 
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Doifie Ola, Sylva said: “Chief Odumegwu-Ojukwu was a man of principle, a great Nigerian who remained dedicated to his convictions until death. Even when he was forced by the circumstances of his day to lead his people into a war, and later went into exile, he returned to the country after a national pardon to join other Nigerians in a broad political platform for nation-building. 
“When another political opportunity called, he formed a platform through which he intended to accomplish his long-held dream for an egalitarian Nigeria. Though his presidential bid did not succeed, Odumegwu-Ojukwu stayed committed to his dream by helping in the emergence of governments and politicians that share his political ideals for the Igbo nation and Nigeria. He never gave up.”

A great Iroko has fallen -Nnaemeka Achebe, Obi of Onitsha
It is sad to learn that Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu has been translated to the higher realms. He lived a purposeful life in line with his compact with our Creator. It is now for us-Ndi Igbo, Nigeria, and the world at large-to immortalize him by emulating his footprints in the quest to build a better society for posterity. May his soul rest in peace.

He served Ndigbo with all his heart - Dr Sam Egwu, former governor of Ebonyi State
“What? Oh sorry! I feel so sad about his death. He was a great man, and he lived and served the Igbo race with all his heart. At the time Nigeria was at a crossroads, he took a position. Whether that position is right or wrong is left for posterity to judge. But, he took a position expected of him because the Igbo were oppressed and rejected and he took a position on the side of his people. He was pardoned and he got himself integrated into Nigeria. I wish his soul to rest in peace’’
He was like an elephant - Achike Udenwa, former Imo governor
“Chief Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was a man of destiny. He was like an elephant. You can only describe him depending on the part of the body you touch. You must concede him his courage, intellect and stubbornness. Nigerians will him. Sleep well Ikemba.

Ndigbo’ll mourn forever - Prof. Mkpa Agu Mkpa, Secretary to Abia State Government
“A tragic loss to Ndigbo, Nigeria and to humanity. Nigerians will forever regret the loss of this great patriot. Ndigbo shall forever mourn the man who gave our people the pride of place in the context of the Nigerian nation’’

Bishop Chukwuma, Okorie mourn
From CHIDI NNADI AND OGOCHUKWU UZOAGBA, Enugu
The Bishop of the Anglican Church of Enugu, Most Rev Emmanuel Chukwuma, told Sunday Sun that it was shocking to hear that Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu is dead.
Bishop Chukwuma, who led other prominent men of God to officiate at the 78th birthday of Ojukwu, said it was unfortunate that he died about two weeks after the birthday was celebrated.
The bishop who spoke to Sunday Sun yesterday from the Enugu State University (ESUT) convocation ground said that Governor Sullivan Chime announced the death there and they had a minute silence for the repose of the former Biafran warlord.

For the founder of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Chekwas Okorie, one of the living apostles of the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, it was very sad that the warlord died.
“It is with a heavy heart that I received the sad news that great Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu has finally succumbed to the cold hands of death.
“I feel a personal sense of loss. I had an intensive and close association with the Eze-Igbo Gburugburu for an unbroken period of more than two decades.
“During these periods, I had the uncommon privilege of drinking from his fountain of wisdom. Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu had left a rich legacy of patriotism, courage, gallantry, fearlessness and sacrifice,” Okorie said.

Our father is gone- Peter Obi
Amuma na Egbeigwe edelu juuuu; Udo eji akpu Agu agbabie; Odenigbo Ngwo anabago; Ikemba Nnewi a gaba goo; Dikedioranmma nweru ka osi noru kitaa, Ezeigbo Gburugburu , enwooooo! Obu inaba ka anyi mezie gini? Onye ga na-ekwuru anyi? Onye ga abamba ka Agu ma oburu na ana emegbu anyi? Enwoooooooo! Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, enwoooooo!
In the traditional Igbo society, the death of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu would be announced by the famous Ikoro drum, reserved for outstanding people in the society once in a century. This is what I have just done in the foregoing. We hereby, in consultation with the immediate family of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, announce his death which occurred in the early hours of yesterday, November 26, 2011.
With Ojukwu’s death, the entire Igbo race, at home and in the Diaspora as well as Nigerians have lost a treasure. He was one of the most forthright personalities Nigeria has ever had. He believed in a Nigeria where justice and equity should reign and devoted his life to the pursuit of that ideal as if he was under a spell.
While alive, Ezeigbo Gburugburu was such a subject of history that it makes little sense to start contemplating how history will remember him.
He is worthy of Ceaser’s own summary of his victory in Pontus (former Asia Minor), Veni, vedi, vici, (I came, I saw, I conquered). Ojukwu came, saw and conquered, leaving for us vital lessons in patriotism and nationalism.
With his death, part of every Igbo man has also died. We shall continue to remember him in our prayers as we work out further details in consultation with his family and other stakeholders.

The shocking news of the sudden demise of Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu has continued to generate more reactions from eminent Nigerians across all walks of life. In an outpour of emotions, most prominent politicians who spoke with Sunday Sun described the late Ojuwu as a courageous patriot and dogged fighter who fought for what he believed in. Excerpts: 

He was a rare gem- Tanko Yakassai
He was a Nigerian of rare gem who had a touch of every part of the country in him. He was born in the north by a parent from the South-east origin and he schooled in the Southwest. He was a very courageous man by admitting his mistakes in trying to secede from Nigeria with the Biafran war. When he returned to Nigeria, he did his best to reintegrate his people into the common wealth of the Nigerian nations. I pray Almighty to grant his family and the entire nation the fortitude and courage to bear the loss.

Courageous soldier-Adebanjo
He was one of the great leaders of Nigeria. The country will miss him dearly. He was a dogged fighter, a courageous Nigerian and a great soldier. Although some Nigerians have negative feelings about his role in the Biafran war, I will not blame him for that. He believed his people were being oppressed and he took it up upon himself to redress it. And that is what they are still fighting for till today. So, I wouldn’t blame him for believing what he believed in.

A nationalist-Balarabe Musa
He was one of the Nigerian nationalists. Even though he was associated with Biafran secession, after his return to Nigeria, he played a prominent role in the unity of the country just like every other person. In fact, in spite of negative consequences of the Biafran war, he went and joined National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the hope that it would help to reinforce the unity of the country.

He was fearless-Chekwas Okorie
It was with heavy heart that I received the sad news that the Great Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu has finally succumbed to the cold hand of death. I feel a personal sense of loss. I had an intensive and close association with Eze Igbo Gburugburu for an unbroken period of more than two decades. During this period, I had the uncommon privilege of drinking from his fountain of wisdom. Dim-Odugegwu has left a rich legacy of patriotism, courage, gallantry and fearlessness and sacrifice. I pray that the Almighty God shall be merciful to his soul and receive him in heaven.
Source: Sun, 27th November 2011.

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Ikemba: The man and his struggles

By Alvan Ewuzie

Dim Ojukwu32

When Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu made a request from the Igbo nation over Governor Peter Obi, the great icon was probably being prophetic. Raising Peter Obi’s hands at a rally in Onitsha , prior to the February 6, 2010 gubernatorial elections in the state, Ojukwu told the crowd that they should return the governor for a second tenure. 

‘This is my last wish’ Ikemba said. Anambra people granted him that wish and it has turned out his last. His involvement with All Progressive Grand Alliance[APGA], the party on whose pedestal Peter Obi has stood to govern Anambra for over five years, is Dim Ojukwu’s last but peculiar involvement in Nigerian politics.

But that would be starting Ojukwu’s story from the tail. His story began way back in Zungeru, in Northern Nigeria where he was born on November 4, 1933 to Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu who was just moving through the process of a prosperous but unremarkable business man to the owner of the nation’s largest road haulage empire and a multi millionaire,

Ojukwu’s mother was estranged to his father shortly after he was born, leaving him without the tenderness of a mother. It would seem, however, that that absence proved a challenge to his wealthy father, which he now made up with giving his son the best education and general comfort money could buy.
At the age of ten in 1944 Emeka became the youngest to be enrolled in King’s College Lagos, the first of his many records. But by 1946 the senior Ojukwu decided that his son should ideally be educated in England and after consultations, settled for Epson College in Surrey.

Emeka’s first battle was in the family. His enormously wealthy father wanted him to study law on his admission to Oxford university but Emeka was fascinated with Modern History. He studied law for one year and followed his heart. At barely 22 in 1955 he emerged with Master’s degree from the prestigious college. More battles followed. Rather than join his father to run his sprawling business empire, he opted for the civil service and wished to serve in northern Nigeria but for the rule at the time which made graduates to serve in their region of origin. That was how Chukwuemeka took his rare academic accomplishments to a rustic rural town called Udi in Enugu to assisit the District Officer at the time. 

In Udi Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu became aware of a rather curious fact; that he was an Englishman in black skin. He spoke English like the Englishman, spoke fluent Yoruba and smattering Hausa and could hardly speak his native Igbo. That was it. He literally threw himself deep into the village, mixing so freely with the natives that he was nothing near the ‘been to’ he was said to be.
His affinity with the local people has thus commenced. This deep interaction took him through Udi to Umuahia and Aba ,his two later postings between 1955 and 1957.

When he was posted to Calabar Ojukwu junior engaged in yet another battle with his father. Acting on the superstition that Calabar women had something about them that attracted and ‘confused’ young men, more so a dashing young Oxford trained man, Ojukwu senior pulled the strings. It took just a phone call to his friend Lord Macpherson who was Governor-General for Emeka’s posting to be reversed within an hour. Emeka was virtually frustrated. It became evident that the more he wanted to be his own man the more his father’s image loomed large.

A lot of people have given reasons why the highly educated Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu opted to join the Army in 1957 but few have hit on the real reason. Emeka wanted an organization where his father’s enormous influence would be minimal or non-existent. But for his determination he would have been frustrated out when in spite of his Master’s degree his father pressed buttons to make him begin as a recruit in fervent anticipation that his son would feel demeaned and thus storm out. He was wrong. If being a recruit was what it took to be true to himself Emeka was ready to stick it out. 

That was how this good-looking, highly educated young man made history as the first graduate to join the Nigeria Army. But his father was so furious he banished Emeka from his house. Father and son never spoke to each other for three years. He was willing and ready to hang in there as a recruit until the authorities saw that in spite of orders from above, no one could break his will and now decided to place Emeka where he rightly belonged. He became a cadet officer and was promptly dispatched to Eton Hall England for further military training. On his return he was sent to a military school in Ghana to teach infantry tactics, among his students was one second Lieutenant Murtala Mohammed. That was in 1958.

Two years later as the British flag was lowered and that of an independent Nigeria hoisted, Ojukwu was asked home from Ghana to the military headquaters in Lagos. He arrived in Christmas of 1960 and was promoted rapidly through Captain to Major. In his usual drama, sir Louis arrived with bottles of champagne to the Military headquarters to celebrate the promotion with his son. They were reconciled, perhaps never to quarrel again.

At 29 and a Liuetenant Colonel Ojukwu scored yet another first. He took over as the Quarter Master General, the first Nigerian ever to be in that position. Until he got there the Army got its equipment from Britain until Ojukwu observed that they were being given obsolete equipment discarded by the British Army. Since the decision was under his purview he began to source and buy equipment from wherever he found good ones. He saw them in Italy. West Germany and the United states. Thus it became an irony of fate that when he led Biafra, it was most of the equipment he had purchased that were deployed to mow down his own Army. It was Ojukwu who got the Germans to build the ammunition factory in Kaduna, still existing till today.

In the midst of his duties Lt. Colonel chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu got married to Njideka Onyekwelu in 1964. She hailed from Awka in Anambra state and by March 1965 she bore him a son named Chukwuemeka like his father.
Ever so foresighted and consequent upon political skirmishes in the Western Parliarment at the time, Ojukwu called a meeting of Nigerian officers in lagos to resolve a matter to which people never averted their minds. It was a question he put to them: in the event of any problem who should the Army obey given that there was a President and a Prime minister? The officers agreed that such a question was beyond them, resolving to raise the matter 00.with the Chief of Army staff who was British. But Lt Colonel Gowon went ahead to tell the chief that Ojukwu had organized a meeting with ‘political’ motives. It was General Welby Everrad who commended Ojukwu for raisng the matter. The Army boss got the Attorney-General at the time to resolve it on the side of the Prime Minister who was an elected person against the President who was appointed.

That incident marked the strain ln the relationship between both officers which was to grow wider with time.
It was the monumental incident of January 15, 1966 that changed the course of Ojukwu’s career. In Kano his official quarters was unusually hot , a source of great discomfort for his wife and kid. He solicited the help of Emir of Kano, a long standing friend, to get an apartment in town to provide comfort for his family. It was to this private home that he retired after work at the barracks everyday. The foregoing was the twist in fate that saved his life. The coup plotters had dispatched two of their members including an igbo officer to kill Ojukwu in the wake of that coup. They found his house empty, yet he showed up the next morning to command the parade even as his fellow General Officers Commanding had been sent to the great beyond, fuelling speculations that Ojukwu had pre knowledge of the coup and had thus escaped. But such speculations fall flat on the face of reason and even logic. It is inconceivable that rather than escape, a man with pre-knowledge of his impending death, as it were, would come back to meet with his would be assassins. The real truth, although contentious for understandable reasons, was that he actually helped quell the coup. The details may serve no useful purpose here, as the country has moved beyond those incidents. It would be one controversy now following Ikemba to his grave.

Ojukwu encouraged Kaduna Nzeogwu to surrender to the authorities when the January 15 coup was foiled in spite of its partial success. When General Aguiyi Ironsi got back in power he asked Ojukwu to proceed to Enugu and take charge of Eastern Nigeria. He did and moved fast to douse the growing tension in the polity. But he was probably too optimistic to know that things had already fallen apart. The countercoup occurred and Ironsi was killed and Yakubu Gowon took over amid mass killing of Igbos residing in the north. By September 1966 the flame of killings had become wild fire. Igbos were being massacred all over northern Nigeria. Streams of easterners began to flee the north in terror, leaving behind most of their possessions.

The foregoing was to bring the other part of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. He would not sit idly as chief security officer of Eastern Nieria and watch his people slaugterd in droves. He needed to do something. What he did became the ultimate seccession of Eastern Nigeria leading to the most gruesome violence Nigeria ever knew. An event for which the man would forever be etched in history. For now the era has come for an icon.
Source: Sun, 27th November 2011.

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Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu (1933-2011)
Ojukwu’s place in history assured –Jonathan
From JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja
Sunday, November 27, 2011

President Goodluck Jonathan said he received with much sadness and a deep feeling of great national loss news of the passing away of Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu in the United Kingdom.
He said Ojukwu  lived a most fulfilled life and had in passing on left behind a record of very notable contributions to the evolution of modern Nigeria, which will assure his place in the history of this country.

In a statement signed by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, the President said he joined Ojukwu’s family, the government and people of Anambra, his home state, the entire Igbo people of Nigeria and his friends, associates and followers across the country in mourning him.

According to the statement, “President Jonathan believes that the late Chief Ojukwu’s immense love for his people, justice, equity and fairness, which forced him into the leading role he played in the Nigerian civil war, as well as his commitment to reconciliation and the full reintegration of his people into a united and progressive Nigeria in the aftermath of the war, will ensure he is remembered forever as one of the great personalities of his time, who stood out easily as a brave, courageous, fearless, erudite and charismatic leader.
“He prays that God Almighty will grant Chief Ojukwu’s soul eternal rest from his earthly labours.”

A bright, courageous military officer -Gov Uduaghan
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State has expressed shock at the untimely death of Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. 
Governor Uduaghan lamented the death of Chief Ojukwu as a sad loss to the country whose initial news of recovery had gladdened his heart, only for the shock announcement of his demise.
Governor Uduaghan in a condolence message to the family, government and people of Anambra State recalled that he was in his lifetime a colossus, who made significant contributions to the growth and development of the country.
“Chief Ojukwu was in his lifetime a bright and courageous military officer, politician of immense talent, capable administrator, who even though led a secessionist struggle, came back from exile to participate in deepening the process of healing and reconciliation of the country.
“Ojukwu until his death was a strong proponent of handshake across the Niger, a vision he promoted to reconcile the peoples of the South-South and South East as part of efforts to heal the wounds of the civil war. I am sure history will be kind to him,” Governor Uduaghan said.

A national icon is gone -Chime
Governor Sullivan Chime has expressed profound shock and sorrow over the death of former Biafran leader, Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu, saying his passage has robbed the country of one her most notable historical and political figures.
The governor in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Chukwudi Achife, described Ojukwu as  a foremost nationalist and activist whose contributions to the political and constitutional development of the country are not only indelible but in some ways inimitable.
He further described the deceased as a symbol of the struggle against injustice, segregation and oppression against any group of people in the country, adding that his epic efforts had helped to lay the foundation for national integration and the sense of equality and unity that prevails in the country today.

He said Ojukwu was an icon who, despite his affluent background, was never afraid to speak out on critical national issues or challenge policies that tended to infringe on the rights of the people, adding that this disposition had helped him remain a highly influential and charismatic political figure in his lifetime.
“The history of this country cannot be complete without profound mention of the contributions of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. He was a vocal and forceful advocate against injustice and oppression, an activist who was prepared to risk all, including his life, to ensure that everyone was accorded his rightful place and due. He was a friend to all who believed in national integration and equality of all races. Nigeria will certainly miss him.”

He fought for justice -Sam Egwu (ex gov, Ebonyi State)
It is a great loss both to the Igbo and Nigeria generally. He was a man specially created to work for the nation. He fought for justice and was never intimidated. He was Ndigbo’s true leader. We will miss his absence.

He was Nigeria’s MC-General  -Adegbite
He was Nigeria’s MC-General. He was very, very useful to Nigeria, he was always on the side of justice. He never shied away from speaking his mind on any matter concerning the country. It is unfortunate that he died at a time when the country needs honest contributions from people like him.
 
It is really painful -Leo Stan 
Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was a great man, he stood for justice, he was a voice to the voiceless. He acted always in the interest of the country and the Igbo in particular. He left a legacy for us to follow. I pray God to grant him eternal rest.

It’s a national loss -Tony Momoh 
He will be remembered as one who registered contempt for injustice in Nigeria. Ojukwu was one of the authors of true federalism. He fought for the unity of Nigeria all the way. The way Ojukwu was treated in the hospital was really disgraceful. It is a challenge for us to honour those who have contributed to the growth of the country. What Ojukwu saw many decades ago is what we are still seeing today. He was a patriot.

A man most loved by his people -Etiaba
News of Ojukwu’s death is devastating not only to the Igbo race in particular but Nigerians in general.
His exit at a time like this is depressing considering that the Nigeria of his dream, where equality, equity, accountability and probity will be enthroned has not crystallized.
As a leader, he would go down our history as a man most loved by his people. He represented the aspiration of his people and never compromised their interest.

Left a stamp in defence of the Igbo -Ralph Uwechue 
President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Amb. Ralph Uwechue, has described the death of Biafran warlord, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, as the “passing of an age in the chequered history of the Igbo nation.”
 Uwechue told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in a telephone interview in Enugu on Saturday that the Ikemba Nnewi had left a most significant stamp in defence of the Igbo race.
 “As a leader, he has left a most significant stamp in the courageous defence of the Igbo nation,” he said.
 While praying for the repose of his soul, Uwechue said Odumegwu-Ojukwu would be missed by the Igbo, the country and Africa in general.
 
Deserves national burial –Ayogu Eze
Chairman of Senate Committee on Works, Chief Ayogu Eze, said the Igbo nation had lost one of its major leaders.
 “After the unfortunate civil war, he subordinated as a peacemaker, nation-builder, opinion leader, defender of history and stood with the Igbo people till his last breath,’’ Eze said.
 The senator, however, said he deserved a national burial.

A Nigerian hero -Nwadinobi 
President of Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA), Mr. Okechukwu Nwadinobi, said Ojukwu was an Igbo icon and a Nigerian hero.
According to him, the Ikemba lived an active and eventful life and history will obviously put him in his rightful place.  “He was an active political player,’’ he added.
Meanwhile, A cross section of Enugu residents have expressed shock over death of the Biafrian in a London hospital. 
The News Agency of Nigeria  (NAN) reports that while some doubted the news, others described his demise as a great loss to the Igbo in particular, and Nigeria and Africa at large. 
Mr. Chimezie Iloka, who hails from Nnewi, the home town of Odumegwu-Ojukwu, described the death as “one death too many”, which has created a big vacuum in Nnewi. 
“If this is true, you know that Ndigbo have lost their uniting figure, a hero and a man who until his death had continued to champion the cause of the Igbo man. 
“Ojukwu is a detribalised Nigerian, who believed in equal rights, fair play, justice and respect for the rule of law,” Iloka said. 
Mrs. Chinelo Ezenekwe, a legal practitioner, said with the death of Ojukwu the nation had lost a rare gem that used his wealth of knowledge to fight injustice. 
“She described him as an institution that needed to be under-studied to tap his vast knowledge and experience with which he sustained the Igbo during the civil war. 
``There is no two Ojukwu in Igboland. He was a man of many parts whose death means the close of an era,’’ Ezenekwe said. 

Oyinlola mourns Ojukwu
Former Osun state Governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola has also described the death of Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu as a great national loss. 
Prince Oyinlola in his condolence message described Ojukwu as a leader with an immeasurable love for his people. 
While saying that Ojukwu’s  place in Nigerian history is assured, Prince Oyinlola challenged Nigerians to learn lessons from the life of service the late Chief Ojukwu lived. 
He noted that the fact that Ojukwu was born with a silver spoon never prevented him from pursuing a career in the military which transformed him into a man of history. 
Prince Oyinlola prayed God to grant the soul of the deceased etrrnal repose and fortitude to all he left behind.
Source: Sun, 27th November 2011.

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Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu (1933-2011)
His last interview
How I want to be remembered –Ojukwu
By ALVAN EWUZIE[alvanatsun@yahoo.com]
Sunday, November 27, 2011

The following is the last interview Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu ever granted to any newspaper. Excerpts…
It may be difficult to determine which of these two Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu loves most: Ndigbo or his wife Bianca? If you speak with Ojukwu, you immediately come away with the impression of a man married, as it were, to both. However, with age taking its toll on the Igbo icon [he is in his late 70s], Bianca, his ageless wife, is like the guardian angel attending to his needs. That was why she stayed home on the appointed day for an interview with Daily Sun. She stood by her husband all through the interview to ensure that “he did not say anything volatile” and that he was “frugal” with his answers.

Ojukwu would naturally detest any bid to “cage” him. At a point he got angry and called off the interaction. Ironically, it took Bianca’s intervention to get him back on the “hot seat”. He then fielded questions within the ground rules, namely: that you do not drill him for more than an hour, and that you do not insist on all your questions being answered.
Age may have slowed him, but not his articulation and unflinching consistency over his beliefs.
Forty years after, Ikemba still believes he was right to have declared a war in defence of the Igbo people, but would flatly refuse to talk about the war. He believes that Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida has a ‘sense of humour’ and ‘may have something to offer’ should he decide to return to the seat of power at the Presidency. The interview is vintage Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. 

Your Excellency, why did you choose to pursue a career in the military? 
I must confess you caught me pants down there, completely off guard. But I thought everybody knows why I went into the Army. I joined the Army to serve the nation. I also joined the Army because I liked the military. I also joined to prove a point to myself, the point being that, as many people said and thought, at that time, that I was not [speaking in Igbo] Onye aba aba nna [meaning a jolly good fellow spoilt by wealth]. I wanted to make that point to myself first and then to others. I needed to show that whatever needed to be done in my country, I would do my own part. I joined the Nigerian Army and I am proud to say that I continued to serve to the rank of General. I don’t know how many of us can boast of that. I am very proud of that. I have been seen in action in the barracks. I have been seen in war. That’s it.

Muammar Gaddafi had on two occasions in one month called for the splitting of Nigeria. The Senate president described him as a mad man. What’s your take?
No, I would not go as far as calling him a mad man. He is a leader of his people and I respect that fact. If you look through my entire career, you would find that even with a country as close to us as Ghana, at no point have I suggested what type of government they should have, because it is not my business. Having said that, it is clear that whatever Gaddafi thinks, he has every right to his thoughts, but as a political leader, he should note that he has no right to decide for Nigeria what Nigeria should do. So, I say to him, my friend Gaddafi, please shut up. 

Forty years after the civil war, would you say the circumstances that led you to draw a line of defence for your people have abated?
I hesitate to answer that question, because I don’t like to be boxed into a corner. Quite a lot of the issues have been raised over the years. But whether they have abated, I would say yes, to a certain extent. However, that we are today still talking about the safety of our citizens is really sad. What are our leaders doing and why is our society so fragile? By now Nigeria should have grown beyond all these sectarian crisis and insecurity, which now makes people scared of travelling to or going to live in some parts of the country. I feel we should have gone far beyond that. But, more than anything, I want to make this very clear, namely: that it is for this kind of things that we have leaders. I call upon the leaders to guarantee the safety of our people. I hope I have made myself clear. Let me add here that I also speak as a General.

The Anambra State election has come and gone. One of the remarkable things about that election is that you stuck out your neck and your reputation for Governor Peter Obi. What did you see in him?
Every one is already talking about the outcome of that election. I was very proud of the campaign and I am still very proud that I made a call and despite all the rough things people say about Ndigbo, it appears very clearly that Ndigbo listened to what I said. And by that they obviously accepted me as their leader. They acted in accordance with my wishes. I am very proud of this. You are Igbo and you know how difficult it is to get Ndigbo together to accept one person. I am proud that I told them this was my last wish and they responded. But then, don’t laugh at the next thing I am about to say, but I am hoping that Ndigbo will still be available to do other ‘last wishes’ that I would have [general laughter], you understand?
I do, sir.
Yes, because I am still very much around and I will ask for more last wishes [more laughter].
You have not talked about Peter Obi.
Oh yes, Peter Obi. To start with, I like his modesty. No doubt about that. He is one leader who does not come here to see me as though he was attacking a fortress. He is very modest. Whenever we have to talk, he comes as Peter. He does not bring half a brigade as entourage as others would do. You notice also that whenever he talks he keeps to the point and does not elongate matters unnecessarily. I like Peter and I hope I would be more useful to him in his career. The truth, however, and Peter can claim this more than everyone else, is that while I can say that I have helped him in his career, he can also stand up and say he has also helped me in my own career. You can see there is some mutuality in our interaction. But having said all these, my advice for him is that he should try to be more of a politician than a businessman.

The country has waited 40 years to read your war memoirs and it has not come. Will it ever come?
Yes, it will come. From time to time I tell myself that I am just starting. Again, it is this question of the last wish. I say it is the last wish, but somehow the Almighty says no it cannot be the last wish yet. War memoirs you call it, well, it will come out in the course of my own memoirs. When you say war memoirs, I tell you straight away that I do not want to be remembered necessarily as a soldier. I want to be remembered as a patriot. I will write and I will explain whatever needs to be explained about the war time. I will do that because I want the truth to be available.

What time would that be?
[Long pause, then his wife Bianca says] He had only just started. So, it would be difficult to say when that would be. [Another long pause, then Ojukwu says] What I find amusing is that I am being asked to determine when what I have described as my final act would be. I have already said to you that there will be many other final acts and I pray to God that it would be so. But one thing I would tell you is that I made a promise to my wife, and you know how much I love her, I promised her that I would not leave her without my own testament.

So, it is sure to come?
Yes. It is coming.

What’s your comment on Goodluck Jonathan’s emergence as Acting President, and do you think he should run for the 2011 election?
Has there been any problem over his emergence? As far as I am concerned, he is a Nigerian citizen, and the most prominent one at that, for now. If he wants to continue, then he should run for election next year. It is not a North and South thing, and I noted that he is a Nigerian and he is free to run and should run if he wants to continue to be in charge of the country. From that point of view, yes, he can run for as long as the Constitution of Nigeria permits him.

The papers reported that you are backing Iwu’s reappointment and that you have endorsed his return as INEC boss, is it true?
Absolute nonsense! Why should I back him? He did a good job and I am proud that I stood up to say yes, you have done well. I will do that for any Nigerian who has done well, not only because he is an Igbo son who is producing for Nigeria a good result, which the whole world applauds. Iwu did a good job in Nigeria and Anambra, as far as I am concerned. People making comments about good elections are not just talking about Anambra; for a long time people have wondered whether we are capable of conducting elections. We have shown that we are capable of conducting elections and producing results the whole world will look at and acknowledge. We have successfully had a civilian to civilian hand-over. That is certainly a plus.

Should he be reappointed?
Oh, come off it. I am not his employer. The question of his reappointment is between himself and his employer, why should I dabble into his job? People said when he visited the other day that he asked for and got my support. No such thing happened. Let me use this opportunity to put it clearly that he came to visit me on his way to Abia where he had a job to conclude. At no time during the interaction on his visit did he seek my support, nor did I give to him the said support for elongating his tenure in INEC or for seeking another mandate. As I said in the opening of my response, that is a matter between him and his employer, which in this case, is the Federal Government. I was not even consulted when he was appointed, so how can I now be instrumental to his reappointment?

Why were you unable to win election into the Senate in 1983 even when the Igbo nation stood still on your return from exile in 1982, what happened?
It may be that the people did not want me. But there are records of what happened. And I don’t go beyond that actually because I felt that whatever happened to me then was a temporary set back. I want you to always remember that most leaders are not really idols where they come from. Anything could have gone wrong. One thing I have suffered in this sense is the fact that Ndigbo would seem not just happy that I am there, but they would like to claim every inch of my skin as theirs and they would like to control every bit of my blood, too. It is natural. 

In fact, instead of just rejoicing that I am useful to them, they seem to have cast themselves in a tug of war with Nigeria, whether Nigeria has a greater pull on me or they. You will always find that even in Nnewi I am at once their most popular son, yet I know that Nnewi people feel they have been cheated by the rest of Nigeria that did not father me, and are coming out now to claim a lot of me. These petty conflicts you can find anywhere. But let me put it very clearly, I have said this before and I will continue to say it: I came into politics for the Igbo cause. I came in to do what I can to rescue Ndigbo. I shall continue to do so and my focus remains that entity called Igbo. That’s all about that.
If you have the opportunity to present yourself for the Presidency, would you do that? 
[Long pause, then Bianca says] No.

You won’t allow him?
Binca: No.

Ojukwu: you heard her.
Yes.
That’s my answer.

You said in the past that you will not condemn MASSOB, neither would you support them, but right now their leader, Uwazurike, is being held…
[Cuts in] Most unjustly. Uwazurike, like anybody else, must have made mistakes, though I have not seen any yet, but why should he be detained for three months? What is worse is that even in court his accusers do not bring him forward to answer to the charges against him. I don’t want to be a scare-monger, but really, to be honest with you, I am not sure he is still alive. It is a terrible thing for an Igbo man to disappear like that before our very eyes. No, the Igbo race certainly has it as a bad mark against the Federal Government that locked him up for three months. We demand, I will demand on their behalf that we be told in clear terms where Uwazurike is. 

Where is he, why does he not attend court when he is under the care of the Federal Government in prison and in circumstances where the government want him to answer to charges preferred against him? Where is he? I have asked this question and I say to the Federal Government that I shall continue to ask; find my brother Uwazurike, tell me where he is. If what you say about him is right, I would feel better if he were permitted to come out and answer to your charges. It’s only fair. Keeping him away is culturally an abomination. 

How can a man just disappear and we cannot give him the rightful honours he deserves as a human being under our culture? Secondly, if you think as a government that he has committed certain offences, I now ask the government, has his wife committed the same offence? Why must his relations be punished? Bring him out. Tell us where he is, and above all, give the courts the opportunity of pronouncing him guilty or not. I hope I have made myself clear. Ralph Uwazurike cannot just disappear into thin air. Each time they come to court to say they have adjourned for one reason or the other, yet the man is in custody of the government that is adjourning. That is not right. It is this sort of thing that makes me often wonder whether it is not part of the suffering of Ndigbo, because I can’t see any other tribe or any other group being handled in this off-hand manner. If he has done wrong, let him go to court. Try him and let us hear the verdict.

Yes. But, it is for these kinds of things that Gaddafi called for the country to be split if certain people are going to be treated like second class citizens in their own country, isn’t it?
If I had said what Gaddafi said, I would stand by it. But I did not. And we have not reached a stage where we can now hire Gaddafi to come and be our advocate. He has his own problems. Please, Gaddafi, don’t mix your problems with ours and if you feel you have to talk, come and talk to me. I am the leader of Ndigbo. The name Gaddafi does not appear in our lexicography.

Biafrans refined oil during the war and thus had fuel they used. Forty years after Nigeria is importing fuel. How does that make you feel?
It makes me feel awful and there are many things that make me feel awful. I don’t expect every problem to be solved at the same time, but there are many things we could do better than we are doing now. These things were done, but the people who did them should come out and be counted. I have become notorious for waving the ethnic flag, but I am always proud of the opportunity because what I am after is equity for all citizens of the block I serve.
In 1966 when Nigeria experienced the first military intervention, did you think the circumstances at that time warranted a coup?

You will be surprised. As junior officers in the Army, practically every thing that happened got us thinking of the possibility of a coup de tat. So, when you ask do I think that circumstances warranted the coup, my answer is yes. As an Army officer, I thought Nigeria needed a shake-up at that time.

Do you think you were right to have declared a war in defence of Ndigbo in 1967, was it the right thing to do at that time?
Of course, I was right. Even now, I still believe I was right and I will even go further to say that if I am found exactly the same situation again, I would wish that I have the courage to be as right as I was then. Are you with me?
I am with you, sir. But some people did not think you were right even at that time and I understand that they advised you to use diplomacy rather than war. I wouldn’t know whether looking back you would say they were correct?
There is no situation you wouldn’t have some supporting and others not supporting. They have their right to support or not to support. But I should warn you that if you think you are leading me into a situation where I would review the war, I think it is better for you to recognise that before you stands a brick wall.

Why wouldn’t you want to talk about it?
[Flares up, eyes popping] Because I don’t want to.

Ok. Let’s go back to the beginning. You were said to be a pampered child. How true?
[Turns to Bianca] Darling, was I a pampered child?
Bianca: Well, I always tell you when you throw tantrums that we need to go and wake up your mother from the dead so she can come and take better care of you, because she may have spoilt you. Yes, you are a pampered child.
Ojukwu: My wife thinks I was pampered.

Was it true that as a child you lacked nothing as a young growing boy?
That’s how I saw it, but others might have seen it differently. But I certainly had everything that was necessary. I went to the best of schools, CMS Grammar School, Kings College, Lincoln College, Oxford, and so on. Yes, my father did the best he could to bring me up and I always say, and it doesn’t take anything off me at all, that the product which he finally got justified his efforts.

People generally say Ojukwu is a stubborn person. How do you see yourself?
I hope I remain stubborn. If this is stubbornness, yes. But the important thing is to get things right. If you look around in Nigeria, we tend to sweep things so much under the carpet only to come back and start picking them bit by bit. If the verdict is that I am stubborn, then I draw comfort from the fact that Winston Churchill was stubborn, Napoleon was stubborn. I draw consolation that today Mandela is stubborn. All around me the names that keep coming up are those of very stubborn people. If I am stubborn, then there is just one point I want to make about stubbornness, and it is this: I believe I am stubborn for the right reasons.

Your fellow soldiers, Olusegun Obasanjo, Muhammadu Buhari, IBB, have all had opportunities of leading this country at one time or the other. Now, some of them want to offer themselves again for the same position. People have said that soldiers are not really good administrators, should they be allowed to come back?

I don’t join the group that would casually say that soldiers are not good administrators, because I know that in the Army you are trained to administer. I know that in the Army you find great administrators who lead men to make the highest sacrifice known to this world. Soldiers are very good administrators. In fact, you cannot be a good soldier if are not a good administrator, because I know that in the Army you are trained to administer. I know that in the Army you find great administrators. It is only in the Army you would take a man and administer all his needs until his death. That is true administration.

Obasanjo ruled for eight years…
Did he?

Yes. He was there for two terms. Could you assess his tenure?
[Long pause] you are asking for trouble, but I would not succumb. Let other people decide whether he did well?

Why would you not want to talk about Obasanjo’s regime?
[Voice rising] Because he is too much of a colleague of mine, I do not want to get into this personal conflict.
No sir, it is not personal.

[Flares up] I am talking about Obasanjo, who you want me to talk about.
Yes, but we are talking about his regime, not his person.
Well, his regime and himself are the same, and I ask you to shut up.

Muhammadu Buhari wants to return as Head of State, do you agree?
Does he?
Yes.
Well, he has not told me. When I see him next time I shall ask him.

There is also IBB who ruled for eight years and now wants to return to office. What do you think?
I don’t know that he wants to come back. But Babangida happens to be the one I know a little bit about. If for nothing else, I like his sense of humour and I believe that a man endowed with such openness might have something to offer.

You think if he wants to come back he is welcome?
Oh yes, why not? In fact, anybody who wants to have a shot at the Presidency is welcome, provided they go the right way. Don’t come back to office through the wrong way such as a coup de’tat, then I will tell you that you are cheating. But if you are going to go through the elections, campaigns, and get people to vote for you and they say you are the man, then that’s okay by me.

After eight years, IBB and others who had had a shot before can come back if they wish?
I would even go further to say that if 16 years were possible, provided the man is healthy and his senses are still intact and his coordination still alright then, he should offer himself for the job, and if the people want him, so be it.

What are your general views on the recent ministerial nominees by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan?
Generally speaking, my attitude to the names is that there is too much recycling going on and I believe it is not a good thing to recycle people over and over again. Most of the problems that persist in Nigeria derive from this tendency to recycle. There are many people in Nigeria and my advice is that the authorities should look deeper and look round. They will find the men and women who can do the job.

What do you hope to see in next year’s elections?
We know the constitution. People should go through it and make sure they present themselves the best way. What do I hope to see? I have indicated, for example, that if INEC does what it did in Anambra recently then I look forward to their taking charge again. But if they cannot, then the leadership should move aside. They have done their bit. That’s the way I see it. I would like to see a transparent election. Now, don’t go and slay me on the pages of your newspaper, but I would also want to see an Igbo man emerging winner of that election.

Do you think that the Igbo are ready to take the Presidency?
Why not?

If they are going to take it, which party would provide the platform?
I must congratulate you for being persistent. Mark you, I did not say stubborn. What I say is let them have their chance. That’s all. I am certain they would be up to the task provided nobody puts obstacles on their way.

Will your party, which at the moment is not doing too well, work hard enough to be that coveted platform?
If they do not work hard enough, it would not be for my lack of trying. I will keep pushing that they work hard enough and produce what I expect.

People believe the party Ojukwu leads should have been the leading party in the South East. But that has not happened, why?
Is that what people think? Then, I say Amen.

But that has not happened, why?
Let’s wait till 2011 then.
Source: Sun, 27th November 2011.

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Ojukwu’s life and times
Written by  SAMUEL AWOYINFA

Childhood and education  

The late ex-Biafran warlord, Dim Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, was born on November 4, 1933 at Zungeru, currently located in Niger State. His father, late Sir Louis Phillippe Odumegwu-Ojukwu, was a wealthy businessman from Nnewi in Anambra State.

Ojukwu began his education in Lagos. For his primary school, he attended St. Patrick’s Primary School, Idumagbo, Lagos. He had his secondary school education both at the CMS Grammar School and King’s College, in Lagos.

While in King’s College, he was reputed to be extraordinarily brilliant. At 13, his father sent him to Epsom College, Surrey.  

He later gained admission to Lincoln College, University of Oxford in 1952. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree three years later, after which he returned to the country. His father had wanted him to read Law, though; and he actually took to the course at first, but after a year in the Law class, he opted for History, as the prospect of studying modern history took the best part of him. He later went back to Oxford to receive his Master’s degree in History.  

Ojukwu returned finally to Nigeria in 1956; and his father, being a man of great affluence, offered him a cozy job in his firm, but the young Ojukwu declined the offer. He wanted to carve a niche for himself.

Brief stay in civil service

In 1957, he joined the civil service in Eastern Nigeria as an administrative officer at Udi, now in Enugu State. He left the job within months, however.

His journey into the military

Ojukwu shocked his father when he opted for the military in 1957. He was one of the first few graduates to so join. Some of his graduate colleagues in the military were Olufemi Olutoye, Emmanuel Ifeajuna, Christopher Oluwole Rotimi and Adewale Ademoyega.

After the drama of being forced to enroll as a recruit, the new Cadet went to Teshie in Ghana, and later to Officer Cadet School at Eaton Hall in England. He later attended the Infantry School at Warminster and Small Arms School at Hythe; and Joint Services Staff College at Latimer, Buckinghamshire.

He served in other postings at the Nigerian Army Depot, Zaria, Kaduna State; and the 5th Battalion in 1958. Between 1958 and 1961, he was an instructor at the Royal West African Frontier Force Training School, Teshie, Ghana.

Again, in 1961, he was posted back to the 5th Battalion, Nigerian Army, when he was promoted a Major. In the same year, Ojukwu was made a Deputy Assistant Adjutant and Quarter-Master-General, Brigade Headquarters, Kaduna; and in 1962, he served in Congo Emergency Force.

His promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel came between 1963 and 1964.

Between 1964 and 1966, he became a Commander, 5th Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Kano. While he was there, the first attempted coup in Nigeria took place. He opposed the coup and was later appointed the Governor of the Eastern Region. He occupied that position between 1966 and 1967.

The fallout of the counter-coup that followed weighed heavily against the Easterners who were living in the North.

The Biafra declaration

Ojukwu however proclaimed himself the Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Republic of Biafra in May 1967, sequel to which he was dismissed from the Nigerian Army on July1, 1967. This declaration led to the first civil war in the country. In the heat of the war which he prosecuted for three years, he promoted himself General in the Biafran Army.

Following the fall of the Biafran forces to the federal troops in January, 1970, he went on exile to Ivory Coast (present day Cote d’Ivoire), where he was granted political asylum.

Presidential pardon

After 13 years in exile, the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Shehu Shagari granted Ojukwu an official pardon. He returned to the country in 1982. The people of Nnewi gave him the title Ikemba (power of the people), while the entire Igbo nation took to calling him Dikedioramma (Beloved hero).

He later joined the ruling party, National Party of Nigeria, and contested the senatorial seat, which he lost to Dr. Edwin Onwudiwe, a commissioner in the Jim Nwobodo administration.

When the Second Republic was sacked by the Buhari-Idiagbon coup of December 30, 1983, Ojukwu was among the politicians clamped into Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison, Lagos.

In 1985, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida overthrew the Buhari-Idiagbon  regime and reviewed Ojukwu’s prison term and charges, many of which were reviewed. Some were dismissed.

After his release, Ojukwu continued to play a dominant role in the advancement of the Igbo cause. He founded the All Progressives Grand Alliance, which currently holds sway in Anambra and Imo states.
Source: Punch, 27th November 2011.

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Ojukwu: The Final Surrender

FROM LAWRENCE NJOKU (ENUGU)

‘Our Father Has Gone Back To The Lord’

He died at the Hammers-field hospital, London about 2.30am London time, says Wife, Bianca

AFTER a protracted and brave fight against stroke, the People’s General, Ikemba Nnewi, Dikedioranma Ndigbo, Odenigbo Ngwo,  Ezeigbo Gburugburu,  Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu  died in the early hours of Saturday in London.

EXACTLY twenty-one days after Ndigbo gathered to celebrate his 78th birthday at his Enugu residence, former Biafran Warlord and Leader of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu finally succumbed to death in the early hours of yesterday.

It was also almost one year after he was flown to a London hospital from the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital [UNTH] Enugu, following a massive stroke he suffered

His wife, Bianca in a telephone interview with The Guardian confirmed that the Ikemba Nnewi died at the Hammers-field hospital, London about 2.30am London time.

Ojukwu was flown abroad after several days at the intensive care unit of the UNTH, Enugu on December 23, 2010.

In a statement in Enugu, the leadership of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), said Ojukwu had battled to live, but could not as a result of the serious nature of his sickness.

The statement titled: “Our leader has gone back to the Lord,” the APGA National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh said: “We lack words to describe our grief at this moment, but we give all thanks to God for this rare gift of a human being, who lived an uncommon life of selfless service to humanity.

“Our deep condolences go to his wife, children and other members of the Great Sir Odumegwu-Ojukwu family of Umudim Nnewi, Ndigbo and all Nigerians. We take solace in the assurance of resurrection given to us by Christ. His life of bravery and rare accomplishments should be enough consolation to all of us. No doubt, Ojukwu will be greater in death as he will remain a reference point for generation yet unborn,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, messages of condolences have started coming in torrents as prominent Nigerians mourn the demise of Ojukwu who they said gave his all in the interest of Igbo people of the South east.

Former national chairman of the Justice Party, Chief Ralph Obioha described Ojukwu’s death as a great loss to Ndigbo. He said Nigeria will not forget in a hurry the role he played towards the emancipation of the people and instill good governance in the country especially the Nigeria/Biafra civil war.

In his message, the National Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Southeast, Chief Olisa Metuh said, Ojukwu was “our symbol, our identity and our undisputed leader. For our struggle, he gave his life. He will continue to live in the heart of every true Igbo man for generations to come.”

Also the Igbo Youth Movement (IYM) described Ojukwu as the shepherd that has left its flock after eleven months of
ill health.

In a statement by its president, Elliot Uko, the group said, “ we celebrate his life, and we celebrate his journey on planet earth; we celebrate his goodness and we celebrate all that the Almighty God used him to achieve. We are grateful for such a wonderful, meritorious and glorious life; a life he sacrificed for others; a life dedicated to protection and preservation of NdiIgbo since 1966. We are pained that he has left us, but we celebrate his life and we are grateful to God for the gift of Ojukwu to NdiIgbo to Nigeria and Africa. I guess now that the professional obituary announcers will now have a field day; they have been  announcing his passing on for sometime now, I guess they will have a field day now. But Ndigbo are mourning, there is a thick
cloud covering the horizon, there is a cloud over Igboland but we thank God for his life. A life that made a statement, that man should live for others. He lived for NdiIgbo and he died for NdiIgbo.”

Also Senate Committee Chairman on Works, Ayogu Eze said the news of Ojukwu’s death in London came to him as a shock.

He said, “He was a quintessential military officer who knew exactly when to draw the line between war and nation-building. He will number among the few people in the world who after waging war against their nations will turn round to become the most vocal crusaders for peace and unity within the same countries. His active participation in the affairs of the Nigerian nation after the civil war spoke volumes about his faith in the Nigerian project. His aspiration to go to the Nigerian Senate and subsequently to become the president of Nigeria, among many other positions he held, were eloquent indications of his total submission and subordination to the sovereignty of a united Nigeria. He was at the same time consistent in his insistence that his people, the Igbos, be fairly treated in the scheme of affairs within an indivisible Nigeria nation state.”

On his part, Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu state has expressed shock and sorrow over the death of former Biafran leader saying that his passage has robbed the country of one her most notable historical and political figures.

The Governor in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary Chukwudi Achife, described Ojukwu as a foremost nationalist and activist whose contributions to the political and constitutional development of the country are not only indelible but in some ways inimitable.

He further described the deceased as a symbol of the struggle against injustice, segregation and oppression against any group of people in the country adding that his epic efforts had helped to lay the foundation for national integration and the sense of equality and unity that prevails in the country today.

Chime noted that as a politician, Ojukwu had fought fearlessly for the survival and sustenance of democracy in the country, waging a relentless war against electoral fraud and insisting on the establishment of a level playing ground for all participants in electoral processes.

He said Ojukwu was an icon, who despite his affluent background, was never afraid to speak out on critical national issues or challenge policies that tended to infringe upon the rights of the people.

“The history of this country cannot be complete without profound mention being made of the contributions of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.

“He was a vocal and forceful advocate against injustice and oppression, an activist who was prepared to risk all including his life, to ensure that the everyone was accorded his rightful place and due. He was a friend to all who believed in national integration and equality of all races. Nigeria will certainly miss him, Chime said.”

 

NNEWI: Calm, As News Of Passing Filtered In

From Chuks Collins, Awka

Igwe’s Palace Still In Shock

Nnewi, home of the late Biafran warlord, Odumegwu Ojukwu yesterday wore a mournful look. At the large gate leading to the expansive home of the Ojukwu’s, sitting on the Nnewi-Ozubulu-Okija highway, everything was calm and quiet. It was only the gateman, who gave his name simply as Dennis who manned the black painted gate.

He expressed reservations at the news and the reporter’s inquiry, pointing out that similar stories had been broken in the past, but were later found to be false.

He said all the members of the family were away to Enugu, and that he was the only one at home and could not make any serious comment on the leader’s death for now.

Chairman of Nzuko Ora Nnewi, the central town union leadership, Chief Charles Agu-Onyeka said that based on previous rumours of Ojukwu’s death, he only believed it when a relation called him from London to confirm the sad news. He described it as very sad.

Rev Fr. Hygy Aghaulor, who spoke on behalf of the Catholic Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Rev Hilary Okeke described it as a very huge loss to the nation and all men of goodwill.    According to him, “Ojukwu was a man that stood out on issues without any pretence. He didn’t prevaricate. What you see is what you get with him. Nigeria needs such men at a time like this. A time when people talk about Boko Haram and you don’t know whether they mean it or not; talk about the economy, reforms, electricity, development, quality life for citizens, good road network, a lot of things, yet you wont know whether they mean it or not. Nigeria needs men of open mind like Ojukwu, especially now.”

At the palace of Igwe Kenneth Orizu III, the Obi of Nnewi, the palace secretary Prince Joseph Ikeotuonye said it was shocking news.

He said that the monarch was still in shock over the sad news that he was not yet in the mood to make public statement on it.

He also pointed out that the family was yet to formally inform the palace.

The mood all over the town was still business as usual, apparently because the news was yet to circulate. The hustling and bustling business activities in the commercial city popularly called “Japan of Africa” were going on as usual.

But to Hon Tempest Udenze, the biggest headache in addition to the passage of Ikemba is poor condition of virtually all the roads in the community. He was worried that not minding that the late Ikemba was the national leader of the ruling APGA, they didn’t even honour him in life by rehabilitating the roads in his home area. “So, who is expecting them to do it now that he is dead?,” he asked rhetorically.

... Okorocha Leaves For London

Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State will leave for London last night to participate arrangements following the death of Odumegwu Ojukwu.

The entire city of Owerri was thrown into sadness when the news of Ojukwu’s death filtered in. Many persons wore long faces, just as other were seen discussing the issue.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday evening in Owerri, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dr. Obinna Duruji, said the governor was deeply touched by the death of the great Igbo leader, stating that he cancelled other state duties to travel to London to visit the hospital where Ojukwu passed on.

He said: “His Excellency, Owelle Rochas Okorocha is traveling to London this night because of it. He adjusted his programme and left for London this night. His death is a huge loss. The Igbo think tank will be challenged by his death. Ojukwu was one such hero to the Igbo nation. The governor will work with his brother governors in the zone to see he is given a befitting burial.” He said that Okorocha regarded the death as a loss not only to Nigeria, but to Africa.

Meanwhile, the Imo state chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Chief Vitalis Orikeze Ajumbe described the death of Ojukwu as a shock to him, describing the deceased as one who fought to protect Igbo race.

Source: The Guardian, 27th November 2011.

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Odumegwu-Ojukwu Passes

Amuma na Egbeigwe edelu juuuu; Udo eji akpu Agu agbabie; Odenigbo Ngwo anabago; Ikemba Nnewi  a gaba goo; Dikedioranmma nweru ka osi  noru kitaa, Ezeigbo Gburugburu , ewooooo! Obu inaba ka anyi mezie gini? Onye ga na-ekwuru anyi? Onye ga abamba  ka Agu ma oburu na ana emegbu anyi? Ewoooooooo! Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, ewoooooo!                                   

– Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State

Translation:
Lightning and thunder have been silenced; the rope used for dragging the lion has snapped; the Odenigbo of Ngwo has retired to bed; the hero loved by all is ill at ease, the overall King of  the Igbo ewooo! If you retire to bed, what shall we do? Who will roar like the lion when we are oppressed? Ewoooooooo! Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, ewoooooo!

President, Gowon, Buhari, Nigerians Mourn Ikemba

By Our Correspondents
A star in Nigeria’s political firmament dimmed yesterday as Dim Chukwuemeka O dumegwu-Ojukwu lost his battle for survival after being hospitalised a year ago for age-related illness. He was 78.

His widow, Bianca, told THISDAY in a telephone interview that the Ikemba Nnewi died at the Bupa Kensington Nursing Home, London at about 2.30 am local time.

Expectedly, his death has opened a floodgate of tributes, with President Goodluck Jonathan describing him as one of the greatest contributors to the evolution of modern Nigeria and one whose love for justice, equity and fairness made him lead the Igbo into the civil war.

Others who eulogised the late Biafran warlord were Senate President David Mark; his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu; Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi; his Rivers State counterpart and Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Chibuike Amaechi; and the Northern Governors’ Forum, headed by Niger State’s Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu.

Others were former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, former head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, who unleashed the federal might against the Biafran secession bid, championed by the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu, and presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.

A statement by the family yesterday signed by one of his sons, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, said the late Ikemba died after “a protracted and brave fight against stroke.”

“The people’s General,  Ikemba Nnewi, Dikedioranma Ndigbo, Odenigbo Ngwo,  Ezeigbo Gburugburu,  Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, died in the early hours of today (yesterday) in London,” it added.

The family thanked all those that stood by it during Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s illness, especially Jonathan and Obi whom it said “went above and beyond the call of duty to look after him.

“Besides paying the hospital bills, he visited London on a monthly basis to see him. He was there yesterday and only came back this morning to receive the news, whereupon he entered the next available flight back to London.”  

At his Government Reserved Area residence in Enugu, the compound was calm as only the security men on duty were seen milling around the area.

One of the people in the residence who gave his name as Nicholas said they had not been formally communicated on the demise of Odumegwu- Ojukwu, noting that his wife was still in London.

Prior to being flown to London, Odumegwu-Ojukwu was on admission at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, after suffering from a stroke.

He was rushed to the hospital on December 19, 2010 and flown abroad in a German air ambulance five days later.
Jonathan, in a statement titled ‘Ojukwu's Place in Nigerian History is Assured’, lamented his death as a “great national loss.”  
The president, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, condoled with the people of his home state, Anambra, his family and followers.

He urged them to use the mourning period to ensure that they give him a peaceful rite of passage befitting his greatness.
“President Jonathan believes that the late Chief Ojukwu’s immense love for his people, justice, equity and fairness which forced him into the leading role he played in the Nigerian civil war, as well as his commitment to reconciliation and the full reintegration of his people into a united and progressive Nigeria in the aftermath of the war, will ensure that he is remembered forever as one of the great personalities of his time who stood out easily as a brave, courageous, fearless, erudite and charismatic leader,”  the statement  added.

Obi, in an elegiac statement, bemoaned the loss of Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s for the Igbo and Nigeria.
The governor, in his statement titled ‘Our father is Gone’, said: “Amuma na Egbeigwe edelu juuuu; Udo eji akpu Agu agbabie; Odenigbo Ngwo anabago; Ikemba Nnewi  a gaba goo; Dikedioranmma nweru ka osi  noru kitaa, Ezeigbo Gburugburu , enwooooo! Obu inaba ka anyi mezie gini? Onye ga na-ekwuru anyi? Onye ga abamba  ka Agu ma oburu na ana emegbu anyi? Enwoooooooo! Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, enwoooooo! (Lightning and thunder have been silenced; the rope used for dragging the lion has snapped; the Odenigbo of Ngwo has retired to bed; the hero loved by all is ill at ease, the overall king of  the Igbo ewooo! If you retire to bed, what shall we do? Who will roar like the lion when we are oppressed? Ewoooooooo! Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, ewoooooo!)

“In the traditional Igbo society, the death of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu would be ordinarily announced by the famous Ikoro drum, reserved for outstanding people in the society once in a century.

“This is what I have just done in the foregoing. We hereby, in consultation with the immediate family of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, announce his death which occurred in the early hours of today (yesterday), November 26, 2011.

“With Ojukwu’s death, the entire Igbo race, at home and in the Diaspora as well as Nigerians have lost a treasure. He was one of the most forthright personalities Nigeria has ever had. He believed in a Nigeria where justice and equity should reign and devoted his life to their pursuit of that ideal as if he was under a spell.

“While alive, Ezeigbo Gburugburu was such a subject of history that it makes little sense to start contemplating how history will remember him.
“He is worthy of Caesar’s own summary of his victory in Pontus (former Asia Minor), Veni, vedi, vici, (I came, I saw, I conquered). Ojukwu came, saw and conquered, leaving for us vital lessons in patriotism and nationalism.

“With his death, part of every Igbo man has also died. We shall continue to remember him in our prayers as we work out further details in consultation with his family and other stakeholders.”

Gowon, who was Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s lead antagonist on the federal side in the civil war, said his passing was shocking. He told THISDAY in Kaduna that he had long reconciled with the former Biafran leader.

Recalling his days with the late Ikemba of Nnewi, Gowon said they started together as senior military officers in the army, adding: “At one time, we were staff officers at Army Headquarters. A time came when it was difficult for him to reconcile what had happened to his people; one was really sorry for what had happened, but because of that he wanted to break away from the country.

“One felt otherwise and that brought about a break in the relationship for a while but it ended in a way that the people were able to reconcile and to live together to build a better country that made it difficult for him at that time to wish to break away from it.

“He became presidential candidate, not once, not twice, I understand probably about three times and that is Nigeria for you.
“Yes, we disagreed to such an extent but we were able to reconcile and agree again to be able to move forward. So we will miss him dearly and I wish him safe repose in the Lord. I am sure he would like Nigeria to be a better place for all Nigerians in the future.

“We had been friends, colleagues then temporarily, we disagreed and we said some uncomplimentary things about one another, but for the cause we both believed in more strongly, in the end we were able to reconcile.

“He looked for me when he was in the UK sometime in the late 70s and I was able to go and meet him even in his hotel. If you think we hated each other and we were such enemies, you are wrong.

“One of the great moments was when I visited him in his home sometime in April last year when we went for Nigeria Praise at the end of which I went to visit him. “I met his wife, Bianca, and some of the children and we sat down and chatted; that was total reconciliation.
“He went out and called himself a Biafran, but he came back as a Nigerian and also went into politics and sought to become president. If he had been elected, it would have been really something.

“There were great moments we had, every moment that we have had together in good times and bad times, it’s been great.”
The Senate described the late Biafran warlord as “the issue in Nigeria's evolutionary process” while Mark said Odumegwu-Ojukwu was “a dogged fighter who fought till the end to liberate the oppressed.”  

Ekweremadu also said his death was “most excruciating and a grievous loss to the nation and Africa as a whole.”
Mark in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Kola Ologbodiyan, described the late Igbo leader as “a hero’s hero”, adding that “as a dogged fighter, Ojukwu fought till the end to liberate the oppressed.”

He said the deceased stood for justice, equality before the law, fairness and freedom to all citizens, adding: “No matter how much you loved or hated him, Ojukwu was a man who loved his people and was ever prepared to lay down his life for them to have a better life.
“He remains a legend. He was one of the very early fine military officers the nation had. He contributed to the evolution of modern day Nigeria. The nation has lost one of her best.”

Ekweremadu said the story of Ikemba Nnewi was like an interesting folktale which every well-meaning Nigerian would have naturally wished never ended.

He said, “A mighty Iroko has fallen and a big masquerade has touched the ground,” adding that “Ojukwu was a legend, intellectual, patriot, and a great statesman who contributed immensely to the development of the nation.”

Senate spokesman, Enyinnaya Abaribe, in a condolence message, said the Senate and indeed the entire nation would surely miss the late Igbo leader.

He said the deceased “saw tomorrow and his action and passion for a truly united Nigeria shaped our socio-political environment of today."
On his part, Amaechi expressed sadness over the death of Odumegwu-Ojukwu.  The governor, in a statement by his spokesman, David Iyofor, described the deceased as an iconic national figure, a man full of courage whose contributions to the nation in spite of the civil war cannot be over-emphasised.

“Ojukwu had strong leadership skills; he was a fighter with the heart of the people, and his opinions kept the nation on its feet. In politics, he was a key player and would definitely be missed by many,” Amaechi said.

The Northern Governors’ Forum, in a statement by Aliyu, said Nigerians had lost a courageous man who would be missed for his immeasurable contributions to national development.

“Like most of our Igbo brothers and sisters who were born in Zungeru (former capital of Northern Nigeria), Ojukwu excelled in his sojourn on this side of the divide. He did well as a soldier and as a politician,” the statement said.

Aliyu said Odumegwu-Ojukwu would be remembered for playing a prominent role in the 1995 constitutional conference which gave birth to the current geopolitical structure.

Buhari also described the death of Odumegwu-Ojukwu as a painful loss to the country. Buhari, who spoke through his spokesman, Mr Yinka Odumakin, said Odumegwu-Ojukwu would be greatly missed for his fight for justice and credibility of the electoral process.
“It is a painful exit for a great man who has lived a great life. Ojukwu was an icon who had been involved in the fight for a credible electoral process in the country.

“At some point, he and Buhari had collaborated in the struggle to ensure justice and fairness in the electoral process.
“It is sad that the country is still involved in the battle to enthrone a free and fair electoral process at the time he died,” he said.  
Atiku, on his part, said Nigeria has suffered a colossal loss at a time of strenuous efforts for unity and reconciliation.

The former vice president in a condolence message in Abuja by his media office, recalled that Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s role as a key actor in Nigeria’s political development cannot be easily forgotten.

According to him, the deceased was a tremendously respected and influential politician whose endorsement was frequently needed by others to build their political careers.

He said history had cast the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu into a role and he played that part to the best of his ability.
“Because of his tremendous influence on the hearts and minds of the people, the late Ojukwu was an icon in every sense of the word. Even if you disagreed with the Ikemba, you could not ignore his father-figure stature and colossal influence,” he added.

The All Progressives Grand Alliance, of which Odumegwu-Ojukwu was the chairman of its Board of Trustees before his death, thanked God for “this rare gift of a human being who lived an uncommon life of selfless service to humanity.”

APGA, in a statement titled: “Our leader has gone back to the Lord,” by its national chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, said the deceased would be greater in death as he would remain a reference point for the coming generation.

The national vice chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (South-east), Chief Olisa Metuh, said Ojukwu was “our symbol, our identity and our undisputed leader. For our struggle, he gave his life. He will continue to live in the hearts of every true Igbo man for generations to come.”

Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State expressed shock and sorrow over the death of the former Biafran leader.
The governor in a statement by his chief press secretary, Chukwudi Achife, said Odumegwu-Ojukwu was a foremost nationalist and activist whose contributions to the political and constitutional development of the country would not be forgotten.

He described him as a symbol of the struggle against injustice, segregation and oppression against any group of people in the country, adding that his efforts had helped to lay the foundation for national integration and equality and unity.

A Rebel with Many Causes
He was many things to many people. He elicited as much passion as he did subdued bitterness from the variegated groups that make up Nigeria. Yemi Ajayi and Roland Ogbonnaya

capture the life and times of Ikemba Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, one of the last icons of Nigerian history, who passed on in a London hospital early yesterday at the age of 78

Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, former Chief of General Staff, the de facto vice president during the military regime of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, could not have put it better. Describing what Ikemba Nnewi, Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, meant to the nation while reacting to the news of his death, the retired naval chief said, “He was a dogged fighter; somebody who would doggedly pursue a cause he believed in.” That doggedness of purpose was a trait that ran through his life; from cradle to his grave.

For a man born of a privileged background that had his life cut out for him and could have spent his life lapping up the luxury arising from his birth, Odumegwu-Ojukwu, born on November 4, 1933 at Zungeru, Niger State, chose early in life to chart a different path for himself. His father, Sir Louis Phillippe Odumegwu-Ojukwu, was one of Nigeria’s richest men of his time. Sir Louis, a businessman from Nnewi in the present day Anambra State, was a transporter who made him wealth from the boom in the transport sector occasioned by the Second World.

Charting His Path
The rebellious streak in the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who first went to school in Lagos, showed early in his life. The young Emeka, barely 11 years old, made headlines when he fought a colonial teacher at his school, King's College, Lagos, for degrading a black woman. His action earned him a stint in prison from the colonial authorities. This action must have been one of the reasons that made his father ship him off to Britain at the age of 13 to continue his education at Epsom College, in Surrey. He capped his education with a Masters degree in history at Lincoln College, Oxford University.

On his return to Nigeria in 1956, to his father’s chagrin, he decided to pursue a career outside the family business. His first job was as an administrative officer in the Eastern Nigeria civil service. He was posted to Udi. Almost one year after joining the civil service, he quit to join the military, making him one of the few graduate Nigerians to join the force. The move was to push him into national and global limelight when years later, he launched the first and only secessionist bid in Nigeria.

In his book Because I am Involved, he wrote about his enlistment in the military: “My enlistment into the Nigeria Army, to say the least, startled everybody in Nigeria who heard of it. I went to Zaria and enlisted. I did that mainly because I didn't want any interference from the well-meaning influence of my father. I joined the Army, signed up, but I wasn't to be spared the embarrassment because it didn't take a week before my father was aware of it. And he did everything possible to stop the enlistment.

“That is why, despite my educational background, I was not enlisted as an officer cadet. The general idea was that it was agreed between the Governor-General and my father that the best way actually was to let me go into the army, and I would see for myself what the army truly was. I don't think that they took into full consideration the level of stubbornness I must have acquired from my father as well, because I remember that the question always came to Zaria from Lagos, ‘How is he getting on?’”

With his aristocratic background and education, it did not take him long to rise up ranks. Of the 250 persons in the officer cadre, 15 were Nigerians, with Britons making up the balance. However, in the lower officer cadre, of the 6,400 people, 336 were British.  The late Odumegwu-Ojukwu, whose army number was N/29, was resourceful.

He  was one of the early participants in the United Nations’ peacekeeping force, under whose auspices he  was sent to the Congo, under the command of Major General Johnson Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi, an officer who was later to become Nigeria’s first military head of state. Shortly after his return from the peace mission, the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1964 and moved to Kano as commander of the 5th Battalion of the Nigerian Army.

Making of the Civil War

 

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Two years after his arrival in Kano, the budding army officer was to be caught in the vortex of politics that had seeped into the military, especially with the exit of the colonial officers on the heels of Nigeria’s emergence as a flag nation after its independence in 1960, and it became a republic status three years after. There was growing dissatisfaction in the nation over the conduct of politicians in their struggle for power. The crisis reached a head with the upheaval in the Action Group that was the ruling party in the Western Region, now comprising the six states in the south-west as well as Edo and Delta states.

This precipitated the first military coup in Nigeria on January 15, 1966, and which was organised by five majors, led by Major Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu. The coup claimed the lives of one of the parties in the power struggle in the Western Region, Chief Samuel Akintola, who was the premier, Nigeria’s prime minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and northern premier, Sir Ahmadu Bello, among others. The coup was, however, a flop. But Odumegwu-Ojukwu, rallied officers and men under his command to support the forces loyal to the head of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Major-General Aguiyi-Ironisi, who assumed power as head of state.

A few days after he took over the reins of power, Aguiyi-Ironisi named officers to head the nation’s four regions. Odumegwu-Ojukwu became military governor of the Eastern Region while Hassan Usman Katsina was his counterpart in the Northern Region; Francis Adekunle Fajuyi, Western Region and David Akpode Ejoor was governor of the Mid-western Region. 

Counter Coup

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Barely four months after the failed coup, there was unrest in the north over the killing of two of its political leaders, Bello and Balewa. People from the southern region became targets of attacks by northerners. Hundreds were killed and many buildings belonging to the south-easterners were destroyed. There was hardly any family in the zone that did not lose a member. As the body bags rose, there was growing angst in the south-east. The mood was retaliatory.  However, Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who had become a colonel, strived to calm his people. Based on assurances from his counterpart in the north that steps were being taken to end the pogrom and that the safety of those who had not fled the region was guaranteed, he dissuaded his people from embarking on retaliatory attacks. But things worsened.

On 29 July 1966, the north executed its own counter coup. A group of officers from the area, including Murtala Ramat Rufai Muhammed, Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma and Martin Adamu, led northern soldiers in a mutiny. They killed Aguiyi-Ironsi who was on a state visit to Ibadan, the capital of the Western Region along with his host, Fajuyi. Then to accentuate the ethnic colouration of the coup, the masterminds, after two days of talks with Aguiyi-Ironsi’s deputy, Brigadier Babafemi Ogundipe, rejected him as the late head of state’s successor in defiance of military command. Rather, they made Yakubu Gowon, a colonel, the new head of state. Ogundipe, who was senior to Gowon, was sent to London as Nigeria’s High Commissioner.

Secession

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In South-eastern Nigeria, the restiveness arising from the pogrom was yet to abate. Various efforts to douse the tensions failed. As part of the efforts to restore peace in Nigeria, Ghana organised a forum for the leaders from the various regions in the country to meet to talk peace. The Aburi Peace Conference which held in January 1967, did not succeed as the parties did not keep the Aburi agreements. On May 30, 1967, Odumegwu-Ojukwu seceded South-eastern Nigeria from the rest of the country and proclaimed the area a sovereign state with the name: Republic of Biafra.

“Having mandated me to proclaim on your behalf, and in your name, that Eastern Nigeria be a sovereign independent republic, now, therefore, I, Lieutenant Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria, by virtue of the authority, and pursuant to the principles recited above, do hereby solemnly proclaim that the territory and region known as and called Eastern Nigeria together with her continental shelf and territorial waters, shall, henceforth, be an independent sovereign state of the name and title of The Republic of Biafra.” The south-easterners could not have chosen a better man to lead their cause.

When on July 6, 1967 Gowon declared war and attacked Biafra, the south-east, led by Odumegwu-Ojukwu refused to recant. He got support from some foreign nations. After 30 months of civil war in which Gowon, with support from Britain, Nigeria’s colonial master, used every weapon, including food blockades, which led to massive hunger in the south-east, to humble the Biafrans, their commander knew that his infant republic would not survive.

On January 9, 1970, Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who had transformed to a general in the Biafran army, handed over to his deputy, Major General Philip Effiong, and fled to Côte d'Ivoire. There, Ivoirian President Felix Houphouet-Boigny granted him political asylum.

Life after Biafra

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Odumegwu-Ojukwu spent 13 years in exile before President Shehu Usman Shagari, during the Second Republic, granted him official pardon. With his pardon, he returned to Nigeria in 1982, to a heroic welcome. No sooner had he returned to Nigeria than he joined politics. Odumegwu-Ojukwu became a member of the ruling National Party of Nigeria, lending credence to the rumour that his pardon had political undertones. Nigeria was on the cusp of another general elections and the race was expected to be keen. Given his charisma among his people, his membership of NPN was expected to garner more votes for the party in the south-east.

His foray into politics during the Second Republic was short lived. He lost his bid for the senatorial ticket of the party. About a year after his return, the Second Republic ended following a coup that produced Major General Muhammadu Buhari as head of state. Odumegwu-Ojukwu was among politicians detained and subsequently jailed by the Buhari junta.

Freedom, however, came for him about two years later when General Ibrahim Babangida, in a palace coup in 1985, overthrew Buhari and reviewed his prison term and charges.

His short romance with NPN kindled his interest in politics. He was part of the 1995 Constitutional Conference that was supposed to midwife the Fourth Republic. He remained an unabashed Igbo irredentist, replying his critics that he was first an Igbo before being a Nigerian.    

After the return of democracy in 1999, Odumegwu-Ojukwu became the leader of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, a party whose sphere of influence remains within his former Biafran enclave, the south-east.

His obstinate nature also manifested in his romance with former beauty queen, Bianca Onoh, daughter of Second Republic governor of the old Anambra State, Chief C. C. Onoh. Despite opposition from his father-in-law, Odumegwu-Ojukwu refused to change his mind about the beauty queen. Both went ahead to get married despite opposition from Onoh. It took years for the former governor to come around to accept Odumegwu-Ojukwu as a son in-law.

Final Journey

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When prominent Igbo leaders converged on Enugu on November 4, to celebrate Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s 78th birthday anniversary,  little did they know that they were engaging in a last dance for the Igbo leader, who was then in a London hospital. They never had any premonition that Ezeigbo Gburugburu, as he was fondly called, was spending his last month on earth. Three months earlier, he had been rumoured dead. It took assurances from one of his sons, Okigbo to dispel the death rumour. “It is not true that my father died,” Okigbo who lives in London said. Like another prominent Igbo leaders and Nigeria’s first president, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Odumegwu-Ojukwu read his obituary alive.

However, the man who had fought many battles and survived, including that of the heart, early yesterday lost the greatest battle of all after he was flown to London on December 23, 2010, when his health took a turn for the worse.

Ojukwu’s Politics: From NPN to APGA

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Omololu Ogunmade writes on the political life of Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu
Following the January 15, 1966 coup led by Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu, which ended the First Republic, General Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi, who emerged as the head of state, appointed Lt. Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu as the first military governor of the Eastern Region on January 17, 1966. However, on July 29, 1966, some northern military officers, including Majors Murtala Muhammed, Theophilus Danjuma and Martin Adamu, led a mutiny which was termed a “counter-coup” during which the head of state, Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, who was on an official visit to the Western Region and the military governor, Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi, were killed in Ibadan

After the demise of Aguiyi-Ironsi, Odumegwu-Ojukwu insisted that the most senior military officer, Brigadier B.A. Ogundipe, should take over the leadership of the nation so that the culture of military hierarchy could be preserved. But Ogundipe was easily convinced to step aside and was posted to the Nigerian High Commission in London while Lt. Colonel Yakubu Gowon became the head of state.

But Odumegwu-Ojukwu was unhappy with this perceived show of indiscipline in the army. On May 30, 1967, Odumegwu-Ojukwu, following the coup and the orgy of killings in the north in which south-easterners were the targets, declared Biafra a sovereign state, triggering a three-year civil war to keep Nigeria one. With defeat imminent, Odumegwu-Ojukwu left Biafra on January 9, 1970. He ended up in Côte d'Ivoire, where President Felix Houphouet-Boigny granted him political asylum.

After 13 years of political asylum, President Shehu Shagari granted Odumegwu-Ojukwu a state pardon. This offered him the opportunity to return to Nigeria in 1982. Upon his return, the people of his native, Nnewi gave him a chieftaincy title, Ikemba, meaning “Power of the People”, while the entire Igbo nation offered to call him Dikedioramma, meaning “Beloved Hero”. Before the 1983 general elections, Odumegwu-Ojukwu joined the ruling National Party of Nigeria and vied for its senatorial ticket. But he lost the election to a relatively unknown commissioner, Dr. Edwin Onwudiwe.

Following the return of democracy in 1999, Odumegwu-Ojukwu joined the All Peoples Party before he later quit to form the All Progressives Grand Alliance along with some other Igbo leaders ahead of the 2003 general elections. He became the presidential candidate of the party at the election but lost to the then incumbent President Olusegun Obasanjo of the Peoples Democratic Party.  
Before he was flown out of the country because of his illness, he was an influential politician in the south-east. APGA, the ruling party in Anambra State today, became the party of choice because of his influence. For instance, at the heat of electioneering towards the 2010 governorship election in the state, Odumegwu-Ojukwu accompanied the incumbent governor, Peter Obi, to his campaign, pleading with the electorate to vote for Obi even if it would be the last respect they could accord him (Ojukwu). The plea paid off as Obi whose re-election was threatened at the time emerged winner of the February 6, 2010 election.

The Care Home Where He Died

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From Simon Kolawole in London
Last Friday, Dim Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu was moved from the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, Reading – the British hospital where he was admitted on December 24, 2010 – to The Bupa Kensington Nursing Home, London, where he died in the early hours of Saturday.

Located in a quiet residential area in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the grand Victorian terrace offers care to the elderly who are in the “departure lounge”.

According to Bupa which operates over 300 of such homes in the UK, the facility “offers nursing dementia care and care for young physically disabled people as well as convalescence, palliative, Parkinson's disease care and respite.”
The care offers wheelchair accessible gardens to the rear of the home, and boasts a sensory garden, herb garden, water features, and shaded gazebo area.

All rooms are en suite, and have a smoke detector, telephone point, remote controlled television, 24-hour call system and thermostatic radiators, according to Bupa.

One of its major specialities is “palliative” – that is, active, compassionate care of the chronically and terminally ill, directed towards improving the quality of life.

Ojukwu was moved from The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust last Friday after the hospital had given him his “final treatment”, according to THISDAY sources.

The hospital, according to its website, has over 4,800 staff; 607 acute, 44 paediatrics and 57 maternity post natal beds; 204 day beds and spaces; and an annual budget of £290 million.

Before his transfer to Bupa, Odumegwu-Ojukwu had been at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, Reading for some months. The hospital is one of the largest general hospital foundation trusts in the country.

When rumours made the rounds that Odumegwu-Ojukwu had died last August, the hospital, aware of Ojukwu’s stature who it addressed as “General”, issued a statement.

The Public Relations Manager, Mr. Joe Wise, wrote: “We have been requested by the family of General Odumegwu-Ojukwu to clarify newspaper reports regarding his stay as a patient at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

“The Royal Berkshire Hospital is one of the largest acute hospitals and is nationally and internationally renowned for its high standards of care, using the very latest treatments and clinical equipment available.

“General Odumegwu-Ojukwu was admitted as an emergency patient from the Lynden Hill Clinic.  He was suffering from a chest infection for which he received treatment. His condition is stable.

“Contrary to reports published in a number of newspapers: The General has NOT suffered any further strokes; he is NOT on a life support machine and has not been on one at any time while a patient in the Royal Berkshire Hospital; the General’s treatment is being funded privately.

“Any further media enquiries should be directed to the Public Relations Department, but further statements will only be issued at the request of the General’s family.”

Yesterday, the Royal Berkshire, which is about 66 kilometres away from London, refused to comment on Ojukwu’s death, as a spokesman said on the phone that “the matter was now in the hands of the family.”
Source: This Day, 27th November 2011.

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Nigerians in the UK extol Odumegwu-Ojukwu

London – Nigerians in the UK have described the late Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu as a rare and committed leader.

Odumegwu-Ojukwu,who was  the National leader of All Progressive Grand Alliance, died on Saturday in a London hospital.

Chief Bimbo Folayan, Chairman of the Central Association of Nigerians in the UK (CANUK) said  in an interview in London on Saturday that Odimegwu-Ojukwu was a committed leader.

“We, here in London, are devastated by his death given the fact that he breathed his last here: It is the will of God for him. May his soul rest in peace,’’ Folayan said.

Also, Ms Enewan Ebong, President, Akwa Ibom State Association (UK & Ireland), said his death had left a great vacuum in the political space of Nigeria.

Ebongdescribed Odimegwu-Ojukwu as a “crowd puller’’ and  added that his ideals would  continue to shape Nigeria’s political processes.

“The history of Nigeria can never be complete without Ojukwu,’’ she said.

Mr Gabriel Agunwa, a London-based media consultant, said with the demise of Odimegwu-Ojukwu, Nigeria had lost an enigma.

“ Ikemba meant so much to many people, he was a unifying factor.

“Pray that the good Lord will grant him eternal rest and comfort the family.’’

Mr AdeseyiSijuade, the Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation, described Odimegwu-Ojukwu as an icon in the politics of Nigeria.

“He was an icon in the politics of Nigeria; it is indeed a great loss to the nation.

“I know he has been ill for a while but you know we have been full of prayers for his full recovery; in such situation, God knows best,’’ Sijuade said. (NAN)
Source: Vanguard, 27th November 2011.

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BREAKING NEWS….OJUKWU IS DEAD

Dr Dalhatu Tafida, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the UK confirmed in London on Saturday that Ikemba Nnewi, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, is dead.

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“A member of the family just called to tell me,’’ Tafida said in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria.

Reacting to the news on a telephone interview from London, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said that, “it is with deep sadness that I received the news of the demise of my friend and colleague.

“He and I were subalterns in the army at Nigeria’s independence in 1960. In a way, his death marks the end of an era in Nigeria. I condole with his family and pray for the repose of his soul.’’

Odumegwu-Ojukwu was born on Nov. 4, 1933 at Zungeru, Niger State to Sir Louis Phillippe Odumegwu Ojukwu, a businessman from Nnewi

The leader of the defunct Republic of Biafra began his educational career in Lagos, but was briefly imprisoned for assaulting a white British colonial teacher who was humiliating a black woman at King’s College, Lagos.

His father sent him to Britain at the age of 13 to study, first at Epsom College in Surrey from where he thereafter bagged a Master’s degree in history at Lincoln College, Oxford University.

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu returned to Nigeria in 1956 and joined the civil service in the defunct Eastern Nigeria as an Administrative Officer at Udi, in present-day Enugu State.

In 1957, within months of working with the colonial civil service, he left and joined the military as one of the first and few university graduates to join the Nigerian army.

After serving in the UN peacekeeping force in the then Congo under Maj.-Gen. Johnson Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi, Ojuwkwu was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1964 and was posted to Kano, where he was in charge of the 5 Battalion of the Nigerian Army.

Aguiyi-Ironsi appointed Odumegwu-Ojukwu military governor of the defunct Easter Region on Jan. 17, 1966.

After the first military coup of 1966 and the counter coup that followed, Odumegwu-Ojukwu declared the defunct Eastern Region a sovereign state to be known as Biafra.

In the declaration and during his public address to the people of Biafra, he said: “Having mandated me to proclaim on your behalf, and in your name, that Eastern

Nigeria be a sovereign independent republic, now, therefore I, Lt.-Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria, by virtue of the authority, and pursuant to the principles recited above, do hereby solemnly proclaim that the territory and region known as and called Eastern Nigeria together with her continental shelf and territorial waters, shall, henceforth, be an independent sovereign state of the name and title of The Republic of Biafra.’’

On July 6, 1967, the then military Head of State, Col. Yakubu Gowon declared war and attacked Biafra in a bid to stop Ojukwu’s secessionist attempt.

The war lasted 30 months and ended on Jan. 15, 1970.

As the war was wearing out, Ojukwu went on exile and stayed away for 13 years. He was granted state pardon by President Shehu Shagari, a decision which was trailed by the deceased’s triumphant return in 1982.

Odumegwu-Ojukwu was married to Miss Intercontinental 1989 Bianca Onoh. They have children.

Until his death, Ojukwu was the undisputed leader of the All Peoples Grand Alliance.
Source: Leadership, 26
th November 2011.

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Ojukwu lived a most fulfilled life – Jonathan

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Abuja – President Goodluck Jonathan has received with much sadness and “a deep feeling of great national loss’’ news of the passing away of Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu in the United Kingdom.

A statement issued by his spokesman, Reuben Abati, in Abuja on Saturday said President Jonathan joined Chief Ojukwu’s family, the government and people of his home state, Anambra, the entire Igbo people of Nigeria and his friends, associates and followers across the country in mourning him.

The president urged them to be comforted by the knowledge that “Chief Ojukwu lived a most fulfilled life, and has in passing on, left behind a record of very notable contributions to the evolution of modern Nigeria which will assure his place in the history of the country.’’

The statement said Jonathan believed that late Chief Ojukwu’s immense love for his people, justice, equity and fairness forced him into the leading role he played in the Nigerian civil war.

He commended the departed’s commitment to reconciliation and the full reintegration of his people into a united and progressive Nigeria in the aftermath of the war.

These, qualities, he said, would ensure that he was remembered forever as one of the great personalities of his time who stood out easily as a brave, courageous, fearless, erudite and charismatic leader.

The president called on Chief Ojukwu’s family, his associates and followers to make his rites of passage a celebration of his most worthy and memorable life spent in the service of his people and of the nation.

He prayed that God would grant Chief Ojukwu’s soul eternal rest from his earthly labours. (NAN).
Source: Vanguard, 26th November 2011.

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Ohaneze, Ayogu Eze, others mourn Ojukwu

Enugu- The President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Amb. Ralph Uwechue, has described the death of Biafran warlord, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, as the “passing of an age in the chequered history of the Igbo nation’’.

Uwechue in a telephone interview in Enugu on Saturday said that the Ikemba Nnewi had left a most significant stamp in the defence of the Igbo race.

“As a leader, he has left a most significant stamp in the courageous defence of the Igbo nation,’’ he said.

While praying for the repose of his soul, Uwechue said Odumegwu-Ojukwu would be missed by Igbos, the country and Africa in general.

In his reaction, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Works, Chief Ayogu Eze, said the Igbo nation had lost one of its major leaders.

“After the unfortunate civil war, he subordinated as a peacemaker, nation-builder, opinion leader, defender of history and stood with the Igbo people till his last breath,’’ Eze said.

The senator, however, said that he deserved a national burial.

The President of the Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA), Mr Okechukwu Nwadinobi, said Ojukwu was an Igbo icon and a Nigerian hero.

According to him, the Ikemba lived an active and eventful life and history will obviously put him in his rightful place.
“He was an active political player,” he added.

Meanwhile, A cross section of Enugu residents have expressed shock over the death of the Biafrian warlord, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu (Ikemba Nnewi) in a London Hospital.

A correspondent, who sought the reaction of the residents, reports that while some doubted the news, others described his demise as a great loss to the Igbos in particular, and Nigeria and Africa at large.

Mr Chimezie Iloka, who hails from Nnewi, the home town of Odumegwu-Ojukwu, described the death as “one death too many’’ which has created a big vaccum in Nnewi.

“If this is true, you know that Ndigbo have lost their uniting figure, a hero and a man who until his death had continued to champion the cause of the Igbo man.

“Ojukwu is a detribalised Nigerian, who believed in equal right, fair play, justice and respect for the rule of law,’’ Iloka said.

Mrs Chinelo Ezenekwe, a legal practioner, said that with the death of Ojukwu, the nation had lost a rare gem that used his wealth of knowledge to fight injustice.

“She described him as an institution that needed to be under-studied to tap his vast knowledge and experience with which he sustained the Igbos during the civil war.

“There is no two Ojukwu in Igboland. He was a man of many parts whose death means the close of an era,’’ Ezenekwe said.

She lamented that he died when his service was needed most.

When the news of Ojukwu’s death was broken at Mayor Market, on Agbani Road, Enugu, market women, motorcyclists and passers-by gathered in groups to discuss the incident.

Mr Kenneth Iwujiaku, a motorcyclist, called on state governments in the South East to immortalise Ojukwu by naming public places of interest after him.

According to him, the governors should join hand to give him a befitting burial because `Ojukwu is a colossus’ and a very courageous man that wanted to sacrifice his life for others.

Mr Eric Mbamalu, a businessman, said Ojukwu’s death came at the wrong time, adding that he was a hero who fought for the sustenance of Igboland with his wealth and energy.

“Ojukwu deserves to be immortalised in Igboland,’’ he said.

Mr Raphael Eze, a retired civil servant, described his death as a total loss to the nation, saying that the country needed such a hero at this particular time when the country was witnessing its ups and downs.

Mrs Helen Ume, a nursing mother, said Ojukwu’s death had created a vacuum that could not be filled in Igboland.

According her, Ojukwu is an institution, who demonstrated his calibre during the war.

She added that Ojukwu should be given national honours and a fitting burial. (NAN)
Source: Vanguard, 26th November 2011.

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Ikemba Nnewi, Odumegwu-Ojukwu is dead

Ikemb Ojukwu

Ailing leader of the defunct Biafran Republic and leader of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu is dead

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu born on 4 November 1933 at Zungeru in northern Nigeria to Sir Louis Phillippe Odumegwu Ojukwu, a businessman from Nnewi in south-eastern Nigeria died in London in the early hours after a long illness at Royal Berkshire Hospital in the UK.

Odumegwu-Ojukwu also known as Ikemba Nnewi was said to have died in the UK after months in hospital for the treatment of a serious stroke he had suffered late last year.

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu born on 4 November 1933 at Zungeru in northern Nigeria was imprisoned for assaulting a white British colonial teacher, who was humiliating a black woman, at King’s College in Lagos began his educational career in Lagos.

At 13, his father sent him overseas to study in Britain, first at Epsom College, in Surrey and later earned a Masters degree in history at Lincoln College, Oxford University and returned to colonial Nigeria in 1956.

In 1957 the Ikemba Nnewi joined the Nigerian Army as one of the first and few university graduates. Ojukwu was among the 15 Nigerians officers out of the 250 officers the Nigerian Military Forces had then.

After serving in the UN peacekeeping force in the then Congo under Maj.-Gen. Johnson Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi, Ojuwkwu was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1964 and was posted to Kano, where he was in charge of the 5 Battalion of the Nigerian Army.

Aguiyi-Ironsi appointed Odumegwu-Ojukwu military governor of the defunct Easter Region on Jan. 17, 1966.

After the first military coup of 1966 and the counter coup that followed, Odumegwu-Ojukwu declared the defunct Eastern Region a sovereign state to be known as Biafra.

In the declaration and during his public address to the people of Biafra, he said: “Having mandated me to proclaim on your behalf, and in your name, that Eastern Nigeria be a sovereign independent republic, now, therefore I, Lt.-Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria, by virtue of the authority, and pursuant to the principles recited above, do hereby solemnly proclaim that the territory and region known as and called Eastern Nigeria together with her continental shelf and territorial waters, shall, henceforth, be an independent sovereign state of the name and title of The Republic of Biafra.’’

On July 6, 1967, the then military Head of State, Col. Yakubu Gowon declared war and attacked Biafra in a bid to stop Ojukwu’s secessionist attempt.

The war lasted 30 months and ended on Jan. 15, 1970.

As the war was wearing out, Ojukwu went on exile and stayed away for 13 years. He was granted state pardon by President Shehu Shagari, a decision which was trailed by the deceased’s triumphant return in 1982.

Odumegwu-Ojukwu was married to Miss Intercontinental 1989 Bianca Onoh. They have children.
Source: Vanguard, 26th November 2011.

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Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, is dead

Written by Emmanuel Obe and Ozioma Ubabukoh

Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, has died at 78 in London.

Ojukwu, who was the National Leader of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, died on Saturday morning at Hammers-field Hospital, London between 1am and 2am local time.

Prior to that trip, he was on admission at the Intensive Care Unit of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu following a cerebra-vascular accident otherwise called stroke.

There had been rumours of his death since then but they were always dispelled by the Anambra State Government and his family.

The secretive nature with which his family treated his health condition fuelled regular speculations about his state.

He is survived by his wife, Bianca; two children from the former beauty queen; and many other children from previous marriages.

At the celebration of his 78th birthday at his Forest Crescent, Enugu GRA residence, a number of personalities gathered to celebrate the former Biafran warlord.

His wife had told the gathering that Ojukwu was recovering from his ailment and was positive he would return home soon.

According to wikipedia, "Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu was born on November 4, 1933 at Zungeru in northern Nigeria to Sir Louis Phillippe Odumegwu Ojukwu, a businessman from Nnewi in south-eastern Nigeria. Sir Louis was in the transport business; he took advantage of the business boom during the Second World War to become one of the richest men in Nigeria.

"Emeka began his educational career in Lagos, southwestern Nigeria. In 1944, Emeka was briefly imprisoned for assaulting a white British colonial teacher who was humiliating a black woman at King's College in Lagos, an event which generated widespread coverage in local newspapers. At 13, his father sent him overseas to study in Britain, first at Epsom College, in Surrey and later earned a Masters degree in history at Lincoln College, Oxford University He returned to colonial Nigeria in 1956.

He joined the civil service in Eastern Nigeria as an Administrative Officer at Udi, in present-day Enugu State. In 1957, within months of working with the colonial civil service, he left and joined the military as one of the first and few university graduates to join the army: O. Olutoye (1956); C. Odumegwu-Ojukwu (1957), E. A. Ifeajuna and C. O. Rotimi (1960), and A. Ademoyega (1962).

"Ojukwu's background and education guaranteed his promotion to higher ranks. At that time, the Nigerian Military Forces had 250 officers and only 15 were Nigerians. There were 6,400 other ranks, of which 336 were British. It is not surprising that at N/29 the army found in valuable training resources in the young man. [W.U. Bassey was N/1, while JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi was N/2; the first Nigerian to be commissioned as an officer, Lieutenant L. V. Ugboma, left in 1948].

"After serving in the United Nations’ peacekeeping force in the Congo, under Major General Johnson Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi, Ojuwkwu was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1964 and posted to Kano, where he was in charge of the 5th Battalion of the Nigerian Army.

"Lt.-Col. Ojukwu was in Kano, northern Nigeria, when Major Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu on 15 January 1966 executed and announced the bloody military coup in Kaduna, also in northern Nigeria. It is to his credit that the coup lost much steam in the north, where it had succeeded. Lt. Col. Odumegwu-Ojukwu supported the forces loyal to the Supreme Commander of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Major-General Aguiyi-Ironisi. Major Nzeogwu was in control of Kaduna, but the coup had flopped in other parts of the country. He surrendered.

"General Aguiyi-Ironsi took over the leadership of the country and thus became the first military head of state. On Monday, 17 January 1966, he appointed military governors for the four regions. Lt. Col. Odumegwu-Ojukwu was appointed Military Governor of Eastern Region. Others were: Lt.-Cols Hassan Usman Katsina (North), Francis Adekunle Fajuyi (West), and David Akpode Ejoor (Mid West). These men formed the Supreme Military Council with Brigadier B.A.O Ogundipe, Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon, Chief of Staff Army HQ, Commodore J. E. A. Wey, Head of Nigerian Navy, Lt. Col. George T. Kurubo, Head of Air Force.

"By 29 May 1966, things quickly fell apart: There was a planned Pogrom in northern Nigeria during which Nigerians of South-Eastern Nigeria origin were targeted and killed. This presented problems for the young military governor, Colonel Odumegwu-Ojukwu. He did everything in his power to prevent reprisals and even encouraged people to return, as assurances for their safety had been given by his supposed colleagues up north and out west.

"On 29 July 1966, a group of officers of Northern origin, notably Majors Murtala Ramat Rufai Muhammed, Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, and Martin Adamu, led the majority Northern soldiers in a mutiny that was later tagged “counter-coup.” The Supreme Commander General Aguiyi-Ironsi and his host Colonel Fajuyi were abducted and killed in Ibadan.

"First, he insisted that the military hierarchy must be preserved; in which case, Brigadier Ogundipe should take over leadership, not Colonel Gowon. But Ogundipe no longer had the stomach to deal with the army; he was easily convinced to step aside and was posted to the Nigerian High Commission in London.

"Leader of Biafra "General Ojukwu"In January 1967, the Nigerian military leadership went to Aburi, Ghana for a peace conference hosted by General Joseph Ankrah. The implementation of the agreements reached at Aburi fell apart upon the leaderships return to Nigeria and on 30 May 1967, Colonel Odumegwu-Ojukwu declared Eastern Nigeria a sovereign state to be known as BIAFRA:

"Having mandated me to proclaim on your behalf, and in your name, that Eastern Nigeria be a sovereign independent Republic, now, therefore I, Lieutenant Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria, by virtue of the authority, and pursuant to the principles recited above, do hereby solemnly proclaim that the territory and region known as and called Eastern Nigeria together with her continental shelf and territorial waters, shall, henceforth, be an independent sovereign state of the name and title of The Republic of Biafra."

"On 6 July 1967, Gowon declared war and attacked Biafra. For 30 months, the war raged on. Now General Odumegwu-Ojukwu knew that the odds against the new republic was overwhelming.

"Most European states recognised the illegitimacy of the Nigerian military rule and banned all future supplies of arms, but the UK government substantially increased its supplies, even sending British Army and Royal Air Force advisors.

"After three years of non-stop fighting and starvation, a hole did appear in the Biafran front lines and this was exploited by the Nigerian military. As it became obvious that all was lost, Ojukwu was convinced to leave the country to avoid his certain assassination. On 9 January 1970, General Odumegwu-Ojukwu handed over power to his second in command, Chief of General Staff Major-General Philip Effiong, and left for Côte d'Ivoire, where President Felix Houphöet-Biogny—who had recognized Biafra on 14 May 1968—granted him political asylum.

"After 13 years in exile, the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Shehu Aliyu Usman Shagari granted an official pardon to Odumegwu-Ojukwu and opened the road for a triumphant return in 1982. The people of Nnewi gave him the now very famous chieftaincy title of Ikemba (Power of the people), while the entire Igbo nation took to calling him Dikedioramma (or beloved hero). His foray into politics was disappointing to many, who wanted him to stay above the fray. Afraid of his supposedly overbearing and enigmatic influence, the ruling party, NPN, rigged him out of the senate seat, which was purportedly lost to a relatively little known state commissioner in then Governor Jim Nwobodo's cabinet called Dr. Edwin Onwudiwe.

"The Second Republic was truncated on 30 December 1983 by Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, supported by Generals Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida and Sani Abacha. The junta proceeded to arrest and to keep Ojukwu in Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison, Lagos.

"In 1985, General Ibrahim Babangida overthrew General Buhari and reviewed Ojukwu's prison term and charges. The charges were reviewed and many were dismissed or drastically revised. After the ordeal in Buhari's prisons, Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu continued to play major roles in the advancement of the Igbo nation in a democracy because, "As a committed democrat, every single day under an un-elected government hurts me. The citizens of this country are mature enough to make their on choices, just as they have the right to make their own mistakes." He played a major role in the 1995 Constitutional Conference, which gave birth to the present geopolitical structure."

Source: Punch, 26th November 2011.

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Uduaghan, others pay tribute to Ojukwu

Akin Oluwamuyiwa

 GOVERNOR Emmanuel Uduaghan and prominent Igbo leaders, including Chief Jim Nwobodo, Chief Mike Okiro, Chief Maxi Okwu and Dr Orji Kalu have paid tribute to Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu. The former biafran leader and leader of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) died late last night. He had been sick for a while and was receiving treatment at a united Kingdom (UK) hospital.

While expressing shock at the untimely death of Chief Emeka Ojukwu, the Ikemba of Nnewi, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State in a statement lamented the death of Chief Ojukwu, as a sad loss to the country whose initial news of recovery from his hospital bed had gladdened his heart, only for the shock announcement of his demise.

Governor Uduaghan in his condolence message to the family, the government and people of Anambra State over Ojukwu’s death recalled that he was in his life a colossus who made significant contribution to the growth and development of the country.

“Chief Ojukwu was in his life time a bright and courageous military officer, politician of immense talent, capable administrator, who even though led a secessionist struggle, came back from exile to participate in deepening the process of healing and reconciliation of the country.

Ojukwu until his death was a strong proponent of handshake across the Niger, a vision he promoted to reconcile the peoples of south-south and South east as part of efforts to heal the wounds of the civil war. I am sure history will be kind to him.”

He prayed God to grant the family, the people and government of Anambra state the fortitude to bear the loss.

Nwobodo said that the death came as a shock, because in spite of his illness, one expected that he would have recovered.

He prayed to God to give the family and Ndi Igbo the fortitude to bear the loss.

In his reaction, Chief Maxi Okwu, the presidential candidate of the Citizens Popular Party in 2007, said: “Like a comet that streaks through the sky”, Ikemba came and blazed the trail for justice, equality and emancipation.

“Okeosisi Adago, the great Iroko has fallen.”

Okwu lamented that there would not be another person like the Ikemba, who staked all he had including his life for the Igbos.

Also speaking, Chief Mike Okiro, a former Inspector General of Police, described Ojukwu’s death as a great loss to the Igbos.

“Ojukwu was a symbol of Igboland and a symbol of struggle against marginalisation’’ Okiro said in a telephone interview.

In his reaction, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, the former governor of Abia, said that “Ojukwu’s death extinguishes a great light for the Igbos.’’

Kalu, who spoke through his Director of Media, Mr Emeka Obasi, said that Ojukwu’s death was a very sad moment for Nigeria.

“Ojukwu was born a Nigerian, he died a Nigerian and the Igbos would never forget his contributions to their well- being”.

Oxford-educated Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu joined the Nigerian army, against his wealthy father's wishes, hoping to play an integral role in the nation's affairs once Nigeria had gained independence from Britain. Instead, due to his ethnic loyalties and to political events, he became the leader of the Biafrans during a bloody civil war in Nigeria. Although claiming some early victories, his forces were fighting against troops backed by Britain, Russia, and most of Europe. For three years, Odumegwu Ojukwu fought to keep Biafra from being annihilated. With supply lines cut, an estimated eight million Biafrans slowly starved to death. After the civil war ended in 1970, Odumegwu Ojukwu lived in voluntary exile. He was invited back to Nigeria in 1982, and Nigerian leaders have sought his counsel as the African nation charts its future.

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was born in 1933 in Zungeru, a community in the northern part of Nigeria. He was the son of Sir Louis Philippe Odumegwu Ojukwu, one of the most successful businessmen among the Ibos, the largest ethnic group in Nigeria. Consequently, the younger Odumegwu Ojukwu received the best education money could buy. His primary education was at a private Catholic school in the Nigerian city of Lagos. Before he was ten years old, he was enrolled at nearby King's College as the youngest pupil in the institution's history. Two years later, Odumegwu Ojukwu's father transferred him to a school in Surrey, England, called Epson College, to finish secondary studies. Odumegwu Ojukwu had a natural athletic ability and, during his years in England, he honed his skills on the playing field when not attending classes. In school-sponsored sports he served as captain of the rugby and soccer teams. He also set the All England Junior record in the discus throw.

In 1952, Odumegwu Ojukwu was admitted to Oxford University. He majored in history, graduating in 1955 with honors. As an undergraduate, Odumegwu Ojukwu continued to pursue his love of athletics while developing outside interests in drama and journalism. He served as a leader in the Oxford branch of the West African Students Union during this time. In addition, he was known for his flashy sports cars, which he frequently drove at high speeds between Oxford and London. It was at Oxford that he met a female law student named Njideka; she eventually became his wife.
Source: The Guardian, 26th November 2011.

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Dim Odimegwu Ojukwu is Dead

Ojukwu and Biafra 4

Former biafran leader and leader of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu is dead.

Thisday can confirm that he died late last night. He had been sick for a while and was receiving treatment at a united Kingdom (UK) hospital.More to follow . . .

Ojukwu was born in Zungeru, Northern Nigeria in 1933. His father, Sir Louis Phillipe Odumegwu Ojukwu was a wealthy businessman who made money from the transport industry. Ojukwu was sent to the UK at the age of 13 to study, first at Epsom College and later at Lincoln College, Oxford University where he earned a Masters degree in History.

Upon his return in 1956, he joined the civil service in then Eastern Nigeria. He would later leave the service to join the military, where he was one of the few university graduates.

Ojukwu was appointed Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria by Military Head of State, General Aguiyi Ironsi on January 17, 1966. By May of the same year, Nigeria was facing a serious crisis. A planned pogrom in Northern Nigeria targeting and killing South-easterners presented a problem. He made several assurances to the South-easterners about their safety but the crisis continued. In May 1967, he declared Eastern Nigeria a Sovereign State named Biafra.

In July, 1967, then Head of State Yakubu Gowon declared war on Biafra. A civil war ensued. The war raged on for another 30 months. An attempt at peace during a meeting at Aburi, Ghana did not stop the war. In 1970, Ojukwu handed over power to his deputy Major-General Phillip Effiong and left the country to avoid assassination. He was granted political asylum in Cote D'Ivoire by President Felix Houphöet-Biogny.

The civilian President of Shehu Shagari granted him an official pardon and he returned in 1982 after 13 years in exile. Ojukwu would later go into politics, forming the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). He was an active member until his death.
Source: This Day, 26th November 2011.

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WIC PR Logo
WIC MOURNS DIM ODUMEGWU OJUKWU (IKEMBA) 

Nigeria and Ndi Igbo have lost a courageous, revolutionary and visionary leader. Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu (Ikemba 1 of Igboland) was the face of freedom and liberation for Ndi Igbo. He was a true patriot who stood up and defended the Igbos against oppression. Ikemba was a fearless leader who championed the cause of justice, freedom and fair play in Nigeria.

His death after his hard fought battle with illness is a colossal loss to Nigeria, and to Ndi Igbo in particular who consistently looked up to him as a liberator and selfless leader. The late Ikemba, as a great and gallant soldier, fought hard against the illness that later claimed his life.

Ikemba will forever remain as a beacon of light and freedom to Ndi Igbo. His struggles and sacrifices will not go unnoticed. He left a legacy that will always be a source of inspiration and aspiration to Nigerians and Ndi Igbo all over the world.

It is unfortunate that he died at this time that Nigeria and  Ndi Igbo need him most. At this period of continued transformation of the country and Ndi Igbo, we need people like him for their advice and direction. Our comforts lie in the fact that his vision was for a great, proud and liberated Ndi Igbo and will always be evergreen in our hearts.

We therefore call on the Federal and State Governments to immortalize Ikemba as we all pray for God's mercies and blessings to his family.

 

Chief Larry M. Udorji                                              Dr. Peter Nwaogu
Chairman, World Igbo Congress.                           Secretary General, WIC
___________________    
The People's Servant

Chief Jimmy E. Asiegbu

Okwuru Oha 1 Ndigbo

Public Relations, World Igbo Congress

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PRESS RELEASE

IWA (IGBO WORLD ASSEMBLY) Mourns the passing on of the greatest Leader that Nigeria ever had - HIS EXCELLENCY CHUKWUEMEKA ODUMEGWU OJUKWU

IWA has received with deep sadness and sorrow the news of the death of our Dear inspirational Leader CHUKWUEMEKA ODIMEGWU OJUKWU, 
EZEIGBO-GBURUGBURU, DIKEDIORANMA NDIGBO, IKEMBA NNEWI. 

The World has lost the greatest fighter for justice, fairness and liberty for mankind; Nigeria has lostthe Greatest Leader it will ever had; and Ndi Igbo have lost the most committed defender of Igbo course of all times.

His Excellency Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu as the greatest patriot of the nation saved Nigeriaby stopping the coup de deta and prevented the loss of the lives of people from Northern Nigeria. He also reduced the magnitude of genocide perpetrated against the people of Eastern part of Nigeria. To the Western part of Nigeria, EZE IGBO did did not engage in self service but insisted that Brigadier Ogundipe, a Yoruba man, and next in rank to Ironsi, should become the new Head of State of Nigeria – Ikemba a true leader to the core.

Millions of Nigerians both Northerners and Easterners escaped the untimely deaths thanks to heroic and timely intervention of His Excellency Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. He as done his part, however while has passed on, his legacies lives on.

Ndi Igbo mourns the passing away of the Greatest One with respect, love and dignity as the leader who saved us all and the mankind, may the Almighty God continue to Bless him even more in death. He gave us all he has and sacrificed all his family has for us. 

He will forever remain the greatest of all for us and mankind, he will never die but has gone beyond and we will ever love, respect and cherish all he as done for us till we meet him again.

On behalf of the Igbo people in Diasporas, we condole the ODUMEGWU OJUKWU family, widowed wife, Ndi Igbo, the Eastern part of Nigeria, Nigeria and the World for the passing on of one the best that the World ever produced.

Signed

Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze (IWA Chairman)

Chief Christain Onuorah (IWA Vice Chairman)

Chief Oliver Nwankwor (IWA Secretary General)

Chief Ike Ude-Chime (IWA Publicity Secretary)

 

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ASA Women USA Mourns the passing of our Great Icon -Dim Odimegwu Ojukwu

An Anambra State World-wide Affiliate

November 27, 2011

It is with a heavy heart that Anambra State Association,  Women in the USA (ASA Women USA) write this letter of condolence to Mrs. Bianca Odimegwu-Ojukwu and her entire family at the passing of our great icon, a husband, and father to all his children. 

We share in the loss, because Chief Odimegwu Ojukwu was not only a dear husband, but he was our legendary and visionary leader. He was a man who stood out as a brave, courageous, fearless erudite and a leader who was ahead of his time.  We shall miss him dearly.  

As you mourn him, we join you and the rest of the Nigerians and the Igbos around the world in mourning our hero, our national treasure, and our charismatic leader. Death has snatched our great leader, but his spirit lives on, and his legacy continues.

On behalf of ASA Women USA, please accept our condolence.

Sincerely,
A.      Uche Umeh                                                                                       JosephineOO
Dr. (Mrs.) A. Uche Umeh                      Mrs. Josephine Okoronkwo-Onor
National President                                 National General Secretary

 

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Enugu Ass
ENUGU ASSOCIATION USA INC.

MISSOURI CITY, TX.

FOR IMMEDATE RELEASE!

ENUGU ASSOCIATION USA INC MOURNS THE DEATH OF DIM CHUKWUEMEKA ODIMEGWU OJUKWU.

It is with shock and deep sorrow but with gratitude to the Will of the Almighty God that we received the sad news of the passing of Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu in the United Kingdom.

Enugu Association, USA Inc. is both saddened and inspired by his footage as a young man, who after his education, had the interest of joining the army rather than follow in the footstep of his well established father. He was one of the finest and soundly educated top Military brass in the history of the Nigerian army.  

The entire Igbos and all fellow Nigerians, who conscientiously qualms about the future of our country in this time of great perils would undoubtedly honour the historical significance of his contributions to our country. His life and leadership qualities has a profound influence upon the future of our country, Nigeria. He also advocated the true character of our country, Nigeria, especially in the protection and existence of all minority.  

Accordingly, EnuguUSA feels compelled with a great sense of responsibility to whole-heartedly join his family, the government and the governed of Anambra State, all the Igbo nation and our fellow compatriots of Nigeria to warmly remember his greatness and sacrifice to humanity. He was a model of bravery and heroism. His whole life was devoted towards strengthening the institution that represent the fabric of our nation. He championed the independence and rights of the minorities. He frowned tirelessly upon oppression. 

Ikemba Nnewi, as fondly called by all, was a leader, who inspired the Igbos to fight and insist upon their rights in the cooperate existence, called Nigeria. He was fearless, daring, gallant, courageous and an unselfish leader. His personal sacrifice to sustain the true unity of Nigeria where people can freely exist in the truesense of freedom and individual rights was outstanding.  He deserves a place of honour in the pantheon of Nigerian heroes past and present. Our collective hope is that the Nigerian government will act expeditiously to accord him a well deserved recognition for his services and sacrifices. His towering historical place isindelible. 

On behalf of Enugu Association, USA Inc., we pray that his soul reposes in the bosom of our lord now and forever. Amen. 

Ezeigbo Gburugburu, adieu.
Ikemba, our beloved General jee nke oma [Farewell].

Signed :
Hon. Joy Chidinma Chukwu,
National Secretary, EnuguUSA.

For :
Hon. Bernard Ugwu,
National President, EnuguUSA.

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--- Anambra State Progressive, Toronto Communiqué on Dim Odimegwu Ojukwu ---
----ASA World Affiliate----

26-11-11

Anambra State Progressive Association (ASPA) along with the entire Igbo Community in Toronto Canada mourn with heavy heart and deep regret the death of Dim Odimegwu Ojukwu, as it also extends a profound debt of gratitude for his legacy and his dramatic imprint on the landscape of Nigeria. 

Dim Odimegwu Ojukwu was not just the former Biafran leader; he was the leader of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). Born of patrician background, he gave his live to the cause of civil liberty. History will be condemned if in judging him, it fails to remember him as a man who saw “wrong” and a reason or grounds for “righting” it. He was the guardian of our legacy and the “the greater among the equals”. 

He leaves behind a dramatic imprint on the landscape of Nigeria that will continue to hunt and capture the imaginations of Nigerians on both sides of the isles. Those who seat at the “height of arrogance”; oblivious to the injustice and sectional marginalization that has plagued Nigeria since its independence and those who for their selfish reasons want to close their eyes and wish Biafran/Nigeria civil war never happened.

Remarkably enough, and in a vintage Dim Odimegwu Ojukwu style; he left the stage at a time when none of the cast of characters from the North, South or the East are the custodians of our “insignia”; as if he was hinting to all Nigerians that it is time to begin the process of transforming Nigeria from “a concept” to “a reality”. For those “opportune and privileged”, here are ways we can mark Dim Odimegwu Ojukwu passing: Form an “alliance of the willing” and begin the process of deconstruction through an intense critical analysis using wide angled lenses that looks for solutions on ways to move Nigeria from “Concept” to a “Reality”.  This can be done with honest conversation that should answer questions like , are we (Nigerians)deceitfully holding on to a “thin trade”, lacking resonance or are we loosely “hanging in there”; waiting for the proverbial “bottom to drop”? Are signs of the “Wrong” of the past present today or have we, “Nigerians” gotten it right and transitioning to our promise?

Respectfully Submitted by, 
Chudi Asidianya, President
Anambra State Progressive Association Toronto, Canada, Ontario (Affiliate of ASA World)

 

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