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.
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