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The Man, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu

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PostBiafranpalace on Sun 27 Nov 2016, 5:48 pm

The Ikemba, Nnewi, Eze gburugburu, Eze Ndigbo, Ogbuefi Ndigbo, Ogbuanyinya etc were the several titles the people of old or defunct Eastern Nigeria gave to their Leader and Lord, Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.

No great Ndigbo has ever died in the last 20 years but Ojukwu, not even the death of Dr. Wilberforce Chuba Okadigbo, the man that facilitated or negotiated the pardon and subsequent return of Ojukwu could drive the emotion of the entire Ndigbo.

It seems almost all the most celebrated Ndigbo were born in Amanbra state, yet Anambra is most buffeted with so much political crisis and controversies.

Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Owelle of Onitsha, Dr. Wilbeforce Chuba Okadigbo, Chief (Dr.) Alex Ekwueme, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Prof. Ben Nwabueze (SAN), Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Prof. Chinua Achibe, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, Prof. Dora Akunyili are all Anambra Kwenu. Of all of them, Emeka Ojukwu was, according to the MASSOB leader, Raph Uwazurike their 'JESUS'.

Zik of Africa died in 1996 and of course the whole of Africa mourned him because of his contributions to the liberation of Africa and the unity of Nigeria. Even his corpse was idolized but the Ibos looked at Zik as a Nigerian and a conservative, a pan-Nigerian, a pro-Nigerian, a passive and weak Leader but not Ojukwu who is seen as a true son of the soil, a Biafran, an Ibo man, a vibrant leader, the peoples leader, a God sent and the Ibo of the Ibos, the Ndigbo of the Ndigbos, a messiah and of course a Moses if not Jesus as Uwazurike puts it, of the Ndigbo.

That Jesus is now dead, but Ndigbo not even Raph Uwazurike are expecting him to resurrect as the Christ did. Ojukwu is thus Jesus but not the Christ.

He came, he saw, but did not conquer. He was a warlord only among his own people and a leader par excellence as far as Ndigbo are concerned.

As his death, tributes have been coming in even from his archival, General Yakubu Gowon, the one Nigeria flag bearer. Nobody even among his detractors has even come out to say Ojukwu was a trouble-maker or bad man as they used to say when the late Ikemba was alive. So it takes death to be a saint.

Without much ado, it is good or interesting to note that Emeka Ojukwu was a man. He was a brave man, a man of destiny full of unbreachable courage, hope and vision. He was a defender of the right of his people or the black African. His history suggests that Emeka Ojukwu was always selfless and passionate. He was a patriotic and compassionate lucky man.

His history is thus controversial the story of his chequered life began on November 4th, 1933 at Zungeru in Niger state of Nigeria, where he was born. His father, Odugwu Ojukwu was then the richest Nigerian, but did not have a first-class education.

No wonder he programmed Emeka to read Law, a noble course. Emeka, as his father loved to call him was thus sent to St. Patrick's School in Lagos. From there he went to the C.M.S Grammar School. At the age of 10 in 1944, Emeka moved to king's college, Lagos as the youngest ever to attend the school.

It was in king's college that Emeka was docked for slapping slee, a white British colonial teacher who was humiliating a black woman at king's college in Lagos. This act attracted National attention as it was reported in the front pages of every newspaper then.

At 13 his father sent him overseas to study in the United Kingdom, first at Epsom College, surrey. He was at Epsom for six years, becoming more of an Englishman. Fredrick Forsyth, who wrote the autobiography of Ojukwu in 1982, noted that he grew up quickly while at Epsom, reaching the height of six feet; heavy and big shouldered with it and all bone and muscle. He was fast, a sprinter on the athletics field and a wing player at Rugby football.

It was reported that on the academic side, Emeka was neither behind the rest, nor brilliant, yet he had no trouble at the age of 18 in gaining admission into the Lincoln College, Oxford in 1952.

This was the beginning of his trouble with his father who insisted Emeka must read Law.

Emeka argued that reading Law or any professional course would make him a servant to those that would become his clients later who would be hiring him as though he lived at their behest. So he decided to read modern history. But to prove his father wrong (he said he was fretting because he was not brilliant enough to be a Lawyer) he spent one year reading Law then switched of to read modern history.

Emeka Ojukwu returned to Nigeria (still under colonial rule) in 1956 and refused to accept his father's invitation to join him in his business empire. He also decided to work in the civil service to contribute more to the development of his region.

Emeka, again defied his father to join the army and thus became the first graduate in the Nigerian army. His father tried all he could do including approaching the Governor General to refuse him cadet admission yet Emeka joined the army through ordinary recruit.

His meteoric rise to stardom and high rank was as a result of not only his academic qualification but also his recruitment process.

Indeed, Emeka was determined to be a soldier perhaps, this decision had divine or spiritual undertone. By 1964, Chukwuemeka Ojukwu was already a lieutenant colonel. At 29, he took over as the first quarter master general of the Nigerian Army. He was among the 15 Nigerian officers in the UN peace keeping force sent to the Congo. When he came back to Nigeria, Major General Johnson Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi posted him to Kano to head the 5th battalion (then Nigeria had only 5 battalions of the Nigerian Army). Emeka was in Kano when Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and other majors struck by way of a coup on 15th January, 1966.

Indeed, Ojukwu was not happy with Nzeogwu and his fellow coupists but the burden of that coup fell on the entire Ibo race which Ojukwu later tried in vain to lift when Ironsi took over government as a result of the failed coup of Major Nzeogwu. Ojukwu was appointed military Governor of Eastern Region.

But the fallout of Nzeogwu's coup brought about the pogrom in northern Nigeria which was almost like genocide against the Ibos by the northerners.

History has it that Lt. Col. Chuwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu tried his best to intervene to safe his people yet, it seemed the Hausa/Fulani/Birom/TV, Nupe etc northerners were already determined to exterminate the entire Ibo race. So Ojukwu called all easterners to come back from the north.

A counter-coup led by Majors Murtala Muhammed, Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, Martins Adamu assassinated Ironsi and continued their unabated onslaught of the Ibos. Upon the killing of Johnson Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi, Ojukwu insisted that Brigadier Babafemi Ogundipe, the next in rank and chief of staff, Supreme Headquarters be made the new head of state but the northern elements in the army insisted that it was a winner takes it all syndrome and so imposed Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon, their brother on the army and the Nigerian people; Gowon was a junior in rank and so Ojukwu objected to this aberration in the force.

However, when it became clear to him that his people were no longer safe to live in the north he initiated a talk in Aburi Ghana, since it was no longer safe to do so in Nigeria. Ojukwu called for a confederation so his people can exercise right to self governance and be rescued from the genocide in Nigeria. This was agreed upon in Aburi and it became a document or treaty between him and Gowon, only for Gowon to get back to Nigeria to be misled to create states to disfigure and weaken Ojukwu.

This became the genesis of the declaration of the sovereign state of Biafra by Ojukwu. Ojukwu insisted on the Aburi Accord which later turned to be a slogan throughout the pendency of the war. Whereas Gowon was chanting “ONE NIGERIA”, Ojukwu was saying “ON ABURI ACCORD WE STAND”.

Ojukwu did not declare war on Nigeria in isolation. He consulted the elders to do so to save his people from oppression and emasculation through genocide. ###


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