The strength of a race cold in wintry clime
Cries of grief enveloped the humid homeland
Iron birds and chaffed aliments were the menace of old
The goats have finally visited the feast of the hyenas
Apogee the height of their eulogy emboweled
Mockery the synonym of words vocalized
Their storage membrane set for tales confirmation
Moonlight was a transfer catalyst by subdued heroes
Generations of rising sun dwellers imbibe the tales
Their obstinacy fueled by neighbor’s angst
The roar’s demise a beckoner to failure of nationhood
His Excellency, General Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the defunct Republic of Biafra transited to eternity about 48hours ago In the United Kingdom. His death once again reminded us of the transient nature of life and power. He was a man who demonstrated his love for the unity of Nigeria each time he felt the appropriateness of our corporate existence as a country.
The great Ikemba was against the first military coup led by Nzeogwu and Ifeajuna based on his conviction that democracy was the right form of governance. He understood the needlessness of the coup and did everything within his power to abort it. That was the mark of a nationalist who believed in the rule of law and superiority of civilian authority over the military.
He stood firm for Ndigbo and the entire Eastern region when the barbaric massacre of innocent Nigerians of Igbo extraction took place in the north. The pogrom was the worst sin ever committed against any race in Africa until the Rwandan Genocide. The blood of the innocent victims is still on the heads of the political leaders at the time that instigated the butchering of civilians to settle political scores. Those of them alive must confess and free their generations of impending ancestral doom. He administered Biafra for 30months and till date no case of war crime or corruption has been established against him. In clear departure from his peers, he sacrificed his personal and family fortune in pursuit of Igbo man liberation. How many Igbo leaders are willing and ready to offer a selfless leadership that is anchored on the principles Ikemba stood for?
In furtherance of his belief in democracy and rule of law, Ojukwu engaged himself in partisan politics as a means of showing Igbos and Nigerians the light. The recent political adventure of Ikemba was a clear message to the Igbos on how to situate the present struggle for equality, development and tolerance. This new thinking of the great Ikemba is located within the framework of a united Nigeria in which the Igbo man is oxygenated to attain his mercurial potential in service to humanity. The All Progressive Grand Alliance(APGA) which he facilitated and led typified his political vision for the Igbo man.
As former President Babangida rightly pointed in his tribute to this iconic son of Africa, “It was easy for one to know where he truly belonged, and he would give convincing reasons why he would take such a position. Such a man should be immortalised and his history and entire humanity should be preserved for the present and future generations of Nigerians.” I stand by this declaration by IBB and urge His Excellency, President Ebelemi Jonathan to immediately ensure that this IBB’s wish is carried out without delay.
Furthermore, the governors of the five South East states should collectively establish an elite institution for the training of future leaders based on the ideology and vision of the departed Ikemba. This in my opinion should be the irreducible starting point for the “Ojukwu Lives Forever” project. The states can immortalize him in various ways, but the institute must not be compromised for anything.
As a human being Ojukwu made mistakes which are the way of mortals. There are questions about his administrative style during the existence of Biafra. His second in command, Gen. Philip Effiong had in the past raised issues that bordered on whimsicality of Ikemba’s leadership style. There are other Igbos and Easterners who believed that the branding and execution of Banjo, Ifeajuna and co as saboteurs was hasty and impacted negatively on the war efforts of the Biafran Commander in Chief. These issues and others are essential ingredients in firming up the legacy of the great emancipator of his people. The Ojukwu institute should be able to open discussions on all matters bothering on his enigmatic leadership.
Ojukwu is no more and the best tribute we can pay him is to imbibe the good qualities he exhibited while with us. It is also incumbent on us to be bold and courageous in identifying areas he failed and chart a course towards a better result. The Ojukwu we adored and loved was not a dogmatic individual. He was a man ready to say it as he saw it. LET US HONOUR HIM BY FOLLOWING HIS POSITIVE STEPS.
ADIEU GREAT ICON OF OUR TIME.