…Bianca flays incitement of Igbo youths against security personnel
…I will keep Ojukwu’s flag flying— Uwazuruike
…Women leader berates Obi, Obiano for abandoning Ojukwu
Virtues of the late Biafra leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu were brought back to consciousness, on Thursday, when the Biafra Independent Movement, BIM, led by Chief Ralph Uwazuruike celebrated the ninth Ojukwu memorial at the Biafra arcade that houses Ojukwu Library in Owerri, Imo state.
It was not only a large assembly or the strong statements at the ceremony, but also a fiesta of different cultural displays, military parades, agricultural produce exhibitions, dramatization of Biafra warfront satire, recreation of the operation of the war-time Radio Biafra headed by Okoko Ndem, among other relives of the 30 months existence of the defunct Biafra Republic between May 1967 and January1970.
Dignified Igbo personalities that attended the memorial lecture included traditional rulers such as the Regent of Nri (Igbo community) Prince Ikenna Onyenso, the clergy, Igbo youths, people from different parts of former Eastern Nigeria, including Niger Delta and most of all, widow of the Biafra leader, Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, now referred to as the Igbo mother.
Disappointedly, there was no representation of the political class that beckoned and relied on the name of Ojukwu for their political victories. The conspicuous absence of leaders and members of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, attracted knocks from women groups and Mrs. Ojukwu who referred to them as fakes, opportunists and ungrateful packs.
Speaking with a measured tone, Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu expressed joy that despite the effects of Covid-19 pandemic, Uwazuruike was able to convene the 2020 edition of her husband’s memorial lecture. She however noted that it was regrettable that her husband used his father’s wealth to fight for Biafra, yet majority of the people he fought for are not according him the desired honour except for Uwazuruike who has made the memorial an annual ritual.
“When elections come, they will use his (Ojukwu) pictures to campaign but soon forget him after climbing to power,” Mrs. Ojukwu bemoaned. She said that it was regrettable that the Ojukwu’s name was used to retain power in Anambra state for 16 years but the state government sent no representative for the memorial.
She differed in the comparison of the Igbo with the Jew, noting that whereas the Jews have developed their own land, the Igbo have not done same but preferred spreading their investments outside their shore and ending up producing only communiqués after meetings.
“The reason Igbo land is backward today is because must Igbo live outside Igbo land and only come back for burials to open their houses occupied by lizards? How many Hausas or Yorubas have houses in Igbo land? But our people own houses in every part outside Igbo land and once we talk about Biafra they will begin to shake because they don’t want abandoned properties, they don’t want to lose their 10 storey buildings outside Igbo land,” she said.
Mrs. Ojukwu also used the memorial to take a swipe on defecting politicians in the south east geopolitical zone. She said “the politicians jumping from one party to the other are doing that for their selfish interests. A good leader should look out for his followers.”
Appreciating Uwazuruike’s leadership by example, Mrs. Ojukwu recalled how the new Biafra leader refused to leave his prison detention alone without release of his followers who were equally hounded in detentions with him. She said that Uwazurike has been able to make the Unrepresented Nations Peoples Organization, UNPO, recognize Biafra and made Biafra Football Association enlisted into an international league.
“Okenwa (Uwazuruike) made a promise to Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu that the organization he leads will do all possible to ensure that if we are to realize our dream nation that it will be without bloodshed. Anybody who is asking our young men to pour into the streets to challenge armed security personnel, who are only too happy to engage in a shooting spree need to reconsider his tactics and that is why the Movement for Actualization of Biafra will always be a peaceful group.
“I make it clear to the powers that be that those who are continually denied peace have no interest in justice and those who are continually denied justice have no interest in peace. So I am calling on them to review their stand towards the people of south east. There has been a state sponsored suppression of Biafra memories for which reason history was abolished from the school curriculum.
“I urge people to do a little research on Dim Chukwuemeka Odomegwu-Ojukwu, on his ideologies, his philosophies and his worldviews. These are the ideas that brought us here. He said that you can kill a man but you cannot kill his ideas because a ideas have wings and fly and no cause in nature can stop their flight.
Uwazuruike promised me that Ojukwu can never die and I thank him for keeping Ojukwu alive,” Bianca said. Uwazuruike agreed that he made a promise to Ojukwu that his name will never die, stating that he has continued to carry the cross. “Before he died, he anointed me as a successor, he told people publicly and privately and I am doing what I promised to do to make sure that his name continues to ring like a bell in Igbo land. The next year event will be better than this one.
“In the past two years we have registered with the UNPO and the Confederation of Independent Football Association. These are international bodies. We are starting tournament very soon and by February 2021 we will be going to South Africa to play CONIFA tournament. These are things we have achieved non-violently for Biafra,” Uwazuruike said.
Chairman of the memorial event, Mr. John Nwosu observed two minutes silence in honour of Ojukwu, stating that he led the Nnewi community (Ojukwu’s country home) to the memorial. He acknowledged that Ojukwu has not been well recognized in Nnewi the way other Biafrans recognized him, “but from what I have seen today, I promise that similar event will take place next year in Nnewi,” he pledged.
Nwosu said that Ojukwu was not being celebrated because he was the richest or the most educated Igbo man but because he was a man who stood for truth, never segregated amongst people and believed in people receiving their due shares. “What we can learn from him is to imitate what he stood for.”
In the first lecture delivered by Prof. Nathan Uzomma of the department of Philosophy University of Uyo, Uzomma said that the memorial was in recognition of the years of a great leader who he said saw tomorrow. “He is a man I can liken to Socrates. He demonstrated freedom of his people. He was abused, neglected but like the stone which the builder rejected he has become the corner of the house. The man we came to celebrate today is still alive; he was stopped from talking but not from thinking. I became an Igbo man first before I became a Nigerian and that’s why any marriage that is no longer going well should be renegotiated.
“We have found ourselves among a people who have refused to let us go but Ojukwu has reincarnated. On Aburi accord we stand because our liberty cannot be negotiated, once Biafra is recognized, you will see us go to places. Every Igbo man is a Biafran whether you believe it or not. Ojukwu’s soul has reincarnated and this country cannot withstand the reincarnation of the great Ikemba Ojukwu,” said Uzomma.
President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Imo state, Dr Ezechi Chukwu said that Ojukwu still lived because of his legacies his legacies.
“It is not true that Ohanaeze Ndigbo does not identify with Biafra struggle, the truth is Nigeria is negotiable. The blood of Biafra runs in our veins, Biafra is an inviolable ideology and shall we continue to pretend that all is well? We must be bold to identify with the obvious when the need arises. We must keep the flag flying and continue to toe our sense of reality because no human being can exterminate the ideology,” Chukwu said.
Leader of Chetanne Ndigbo worldwide, Mrs. Marian Okoro recalled how Ojukwu anointed her during the Biafra leader’s return from exile in 1982 and asked Ndigbo to wake up from slumber and reject politicians who use Ojukwu’s name and picture to win elections but will not come for his memorial ceremonies.
She asked Igbo women to emulate Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu who she described as Igbo mother and condemned former Governor Peter Obi for abandoning Ojukwu. She also lambasted Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra state for not honouring Ojukwu in the memorial ceremony.