Tribute to Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the last of Nigerian prophets
As typical of the Nigerian society, Ojukwu’s honours are interminably pouring in only after his death. What he did not benefit alive, he is gaining in his demise. The former Military Governor of the Eastern Region is a man that different people have viewed differently but what matters at this stage at least to the living is that he has completed his natural contract with his God and has gone to rest leaving the living to ponder on their own. Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the Ikemba of Nnewi arguably remains the second greatest Igbo man ever following The Rt. Hon Dr. Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe. Chief Ojukwu was born in November 1933 in Zungeru, Northern Nigeria to the Nnewi born multi-millionaire, Sir Louis Phillippe Odumumegwu-Ojukwu father who legitimately made money in transport business particularly during the Second World War. Unfortunately, Ojukwu’s parents separated when he was aged ten.
As the first graduate to join the Nigerian military, Dim Ojukwu was one of the finest military officers that Nigeria has ever produced in terms of training and experience and having served in several parts of the country including the North gave in his best to his military profession having served in two peace-keeping force initiatives. Although, critics would often justify their disparagement of him with the bloody civil war which he led, Ojukwu was one true nationalists who did everything within his power not only to save his own people but the entire southern Nigerian nationals but the reprisal action of the northern soldiers particularly termed countercoup carried out by Theophilus Danjuma, Murtala Muhammed and Yakubu Gowon suggested that his own people must be prevented from further killings occasioned by the sweeping pogroms of the time.
Dim Ojukwu was not a partaker in the January 1966 coup which led to the civil war but he certainly did not like the killings of his people in the pogroms carried out in the north so he did everything possible to protect his people as he would later confess decades after the war that there was a choice between enslavement and war and he simply chose war.
History regards Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu and Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu as the very first Nigerians to foresee the suicidal and destructive socio-political imbalance in the country planted by the colonial British and they reacted each according to how he viewed the pregnant situation. The imbalance would consume one ethnic group after the other in destructive turn. What Ojukwu and Nzeogwu saw while sitting down, self-acclaimed Nigerian champions could not see even while standing on a tree. It was only decades later that the Ogoni began to notice it. Ken Saro-Wiwa saw it too but never lived to tell it. The complaints shifted to the Yorubas, once considered one of the most comfortable ethnic groups within the Nigerian polity and the result was the cancellation of the 1993 presidential election believed to have been won by their prominent son, Chief M. K. O. Abiola, not only was the election annulled, Chief Abiola was to lose his life in a controversial circumstance that no one can explain till date thus Chief Abiola also saw it but never lived to explain what he saw. Chief Awolowo once won an election but instead of dancing to his songs of victory was jailed. The Ijaws would later see it.
With the security report issued as a warning that the nation may break up if nothing was done to address the injustice, the United State of America is seeing what Chief Ojukwu and Nzeogwu saw many decades ago. Only time did it take the Late Mummar Gaddafi of Libya to see what Ojukwu saw several decades ago, which interestingly became the height of what Prophets Ojukwu and Nzeogwu complained about. It is a nation that nearly forbids another of its section from producing its central leader because of domination. It is still a nation that a particular section would go take to the streets to protest the emergence of a leader from another section considered far and distinct because leadership of the country is their birthright. It is a nation that killings are still going on parts of it and people from other sections are getting scared to live in those parts of the country. So the world at large is seeing what Prophet Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu saw many decades ago and protested.
When Ojukwu was busy complaining to the whole world on his study of what the nation would become in decades to come if left unaddressed, critics viewed him as a dissenter who was only interested in power, today unaccountable number of human rights activists and even militants have emerged claiming to protect their own people thus treading along the same path Prophet Ojukwu treaded many decades ago that nitpicked. Today again, study is revealing that despite the torrent of lies and propagandas spearheaded by the British that Ojukwu was only interested in becoming a Head of State; his ambition was truly to protect Igbo, Ibibio, Anang, Efiks, Ikwerres and others alike, the same claims we hear from other militants today.
If you ask me, what Ojukwu saw then are still living with us and have even worsened to the extent that the Nigerian leaders are baffled as to what to do. One of these is deliberate imbalance and marginalization of a section of the country, a major reason a call has gone for the creation of more states in the country to help bring balance geo-political zones so that the South East will not continue to lack behind in revenue allocations and other issues. This will also ensure that the north and south have equal of states which is a true foundation of federalism. Although, Ojukwu has joined his ancestors, it is now left for the living to address the imbalance which the living now face, importantly, it is of exigency that the burden of the people as citizens be light so that a repetition of what Ojukwu stood up for would be avoided in totality.
There are many lessons to learn from Ojukwu’s life-the first that his father gave him all the necessary foundation necessary for him to take off which many able parents lack today. This enabled Ojukwu on the other hand to become one of the few Blacks at that time to school in prestigious schools; Sir Louis Phillippe Odumegwu-Ojukwu with his wealth trained hundreds of his kinship who benefitted from his trade. Nigerians have also forgotten so easily that Sir Louis Odumegwu-Ojukwu was the co-founder of Lagos Stock Exchange which was quite beneficial to the growth of the western part of the country and by extension the entire Nigeria. Another lesson is that Ojukwu invested his wealth in years of agitation and fight against injustice particularly the killings that went on the north, something that today’s leaders of the country cannot venture into. In all, his life and times as the Igbo say shows that an old man does not stay at home while a goat tied to stick dies. Ojukwu must therefore be saluted for standing up in what he believed in.
As for Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the man who saw Nigeria’s tomorrow, he must be given a state burial then immortalized. May his soul rest in peace. Amen.
Emeka Esogbue is a Nigerian historian, journalist and writer. The history and International Relations Lagos State University graduate is the Associate Editor of Anioma Essence Magazine. The Ibusa born historian is known for his historical researches and write-ups on the Anioma people of Delta North in Delta State. Emeka Esogbue is a Director and Assistant publicity Secretary of Umu Anioma Foundation Inc. In recent times, he has been described as an important and rising character in Anioma affairs by the media. His researches and study of the area are mostly centered on the origin of the people using migration theory as a determinant factor.
In terms of journalism, his articles calculated to be over 300 have appeared in newspapers, magazines, journals and on the internet. He has also been referenced or quoted in The Punch, The Nation and Newsweek newspapers and magazines on a number of issues including but not limited to high cost of childcare, bride-price and corruption in the country. Esogbue is also a reporter and correspondent with a number of newspapers and magazines, some of which are online including the defunct Gold Fad Magazine, Daily Eagle, Ibusa Development Association, Atlanta among others.
He is also the current Publicity Manager of QSB Entertainment organizers of the Most Beautiful Girl in Ibusa; publisher of Who’s Who in Anioma and Who’s Who in Ibusa. In November, 2011, he was appointed the Chairman of the committee tasked to select Anioma Man of the Year by Wikinson publications, publishers of Anioma Trust. Emeka Esogbue is a member of several associations. He was in 2010 nominated for Igbo Legend Award in Enugu.
THAT WE MAY BE HEARD
Over the years, communication has been one major tool that has promoted a perfect relationship between families, business groups, communities, states, nations and countries. As humanity is developing so the level of communication is evolving. Today, we have several ways and means of communication with one another as demonstrated by the use of telephony services, internet, mass media – (electronic and print) and in African local communities the Agogo – (town crier) and of course speaking one on one.
The background above presupposes that businesses today, politics, governments and families can relies on an efficient means of communication to grow and develop. In today’s world a business man can stay in Nigeria and trade with somebody in China via the internet and telephone, businessmen uses the internet- facebook , email , to do shopping on-line and such orders are delivered and on time. Politicians uses this same medium to campaign for elections with their manifestos, governments at various level uses this medium to do the day to day businesses of governance.
In line with global trends and our strong resolve to disseminate information to everyone even to the remotest part of the world, we make bold to say that we have officially launched an on-line community newspapers. This is the medium we shall use to interface with government, businesses, community people where opinions of the neglected, the socially disadvantaged, the bugeuosses and jonses , the big and the mighty voices will be heard. It is indeed a market place were opinions will be heard, discussed and solutions proffered. We promised to give you a balanced reporting, incisive , and straight to the point. Welcome and happy reading.
Editor in Chief
Daily News and Analysis of Nigeria