Why did the so-called Igbo Party demystify the “Inestimable Jewel” and block the chances of an Ojukwu attaining the political ambition of the Ojukwu family?

Emma Okocha

The first and the last Black man to ever address the Supreme Soviet had taken me and his daughter to General Odumegwu Ojukwu’s then residence at Hilltop, Independence Layout, Enugu.

That was my second visit to the Enugu home of the Biafran leader. On a previous indelible visit, we had rushed to him on an emergency health call. The late Col. Conrad Nwawo, his trusted commander of Biafra’s most formidable 11th Division, had picked me up at Asaba from Onicha-Olona and, driving at a breakneck speed to Enugu, we stopped at the same gates of the Odumegwus, few minutes to midnight. Conrad Nwawo’s only surviving sister was dying and she needed blood and good medical treatment immediately. Delta and the whole of the former Midwest was a hostile environment to all the veteran officers of the Biafran campaign. The astute virtuoso Commander and Col. Francis Fajuyi, were the only recorded Africans decorated with the British Cross as a consequence of their leadership, professionalism and valor exhibited during their United Nations Tour of Duty in the Congo, 1963.

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In Onicha-Olona, he was, as usual, as in the story of the Nazarian, treated like the Son of the Carpenter. Conrad Nwawo, the renowned Black warrior, Ekumeku General, Commander of the Biafran 11th Division, the 11th Army that buried inside the depths of the River Niger the murderous Nigerian Second Division armada, was denied the traditional Iyase title. The Commander of the 11th Army, the Division of the battered, bloodied, hungry and suicidal platoons, sometimes running out of ammunition and must never withdraw but must wait for the ink black darkness of the night. In the dark, the boys would resort to the grim charge of the bayonet, the knuckle rage of the bare hands, if only to hold Onitsha. For Conrad Nwawo had his Orders: Defend Nnewi or Die!

When the security returned to us at the gate, Conrad Nwawo knew his sister was not going to make it. His Commander-in-chief did not respond to the S.O.S. emergency alert. At the burial of the Nwawo Matriarch at Onicha-Olona few days later, Conrad Nwawo called me aside: “Emma, my chapter with the C-in-C is closed. I will never see him again.”

On my second call to the Odumegwus, I was escorted and protected by the majestic presence of Justice P.K. Nwokedi, who was a former fire-eating Zikist, Win the war Administrator, Awka Province. The Justice, who was serving as the chairman, Nigerian Human Rights Commission, exhibited the same courtesies as earlier shown by Nwawo when the C-in-C emerged from his study chambers to receive his visitors. Eyes bulging and shot directly at me, kept me at full body attention. He quietly acknowledged “My Lord” and waved down pleasantries to father and daughter. He would not let me breathe as those eyes continued to fix on me. Justice Nwokedi knew I had written more than enough on the C-in-C. The last exploding exposes on the General included “Odumegwu Ojukwu: The Last Campaign of the Biafran General,” I was not so sure why the Justice brought the ever First Lady and I to see the C-in-C at that material time, but when he introduced his daughter and was coming to me, the General blustered abruptly, “Emma Okocha…Okwa the Writer,” and that was it.

READ ALSO: Bianca Odumegwu Ojukwu: Which way APGA? (1)

In the 40s, at the Government School, Ogbegonogo, Asaba, Philip Louis Ojukwu had always dreamed to lead. When his little mates in Primary Two and Three breaktime, would be playing football, monkeying around, LP would be seen moving from class to class, selling chalks, pencils and cleaners. By the time he moved to the senior classes, he was already richer than his teachers and headmasters. No wonder John Holt, the British Company that employed him as a junior clerk, turned out to partner with him when John Hold expanded into the West African region. L.P. Ojukwu became the first published African black millionaire with major interests spanning across most of the giant Nigerian businesses. Economically and financially stabilized, he avoided the acidic Nigerian field politics but silently financed Zik, the NCNC and the NPC-controlled Federal Government. Biding his time, he preferred political appointments, and he was appointed chairman of most of Nigeria’s then giant companies. Nkalagu Cement, Coal Corporation, Oil Companies, Stock Exchange etc. Having succeeded in business, he next aspired to be Governor of the East. He was disappointed when Zik lobbied for the appointment of Akanu Ibiam. He was surprised by his son’s meteoric rise to the Governor of Eastern States but abhorred his quick declaration Biafra.

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After his death, the Ojukwu family’s ambition to serve in the Senate and probably become the Senate President was at the centre of my intimate relationship with Dr. Okadigbo in Washington when the NPN was thrown out of the office. The Oyi, was the principal who negotiated the “Onye Ije” … Return of the Biafran leader after years in Exile in Ivory Coast. The Oyi did not bat an eyelid when Ojukwu was defeated by Dr. Onwudiwe, NPP, for the Onitsha South Senatorial election. When the whole Igbo supported Ekwueme at the Jos (PDP) Presidential Convention…not NPN Convention, Dr. Okadigbo was one of the few Igbos who believed that Ekwueme wouldn’t make it and opted for the Number Three!

So, why did the so-called Igbo Party demystify the “Inestimable Jewel” and block the chances of an Ojukwu attaining the political ambition of the Ojukwu family?

READ ALSO: Pension: PTAD tackles ex-Biafran police officers’ cases

In Imo State, where the two major parties have almost self-destructed, why wouldn’t the so-called Igbo party recognize that Owerri over the years has been marginalized; why vacillate, why would APGA not pick a candidate from Owerri Zone to prove her case and solidify the mobilization of Igbos in their marginalizing case against the Nigerian federation?

(Next week, Bianca Ojukwu: And whither APGA … FINAL)


Atiku’s flapping over-confidence

The PDP once more is back to their costly reverie. Last week, at his own time, and without any pressure from any quarters, their bouncing-about presidential nominee, on his own, picked Governor Obi as his running mate. Reacting, the Ebonyi governor stated that his PDP vice presidential pick was done without consultations. Governor Obi, from all scientific analysis, fits the bill but the issue is the respect the Turaki owes to the Igbo. There were other candidates mentioned in line with Obi before he was picked overnight away in Abuja. Those names, especially the Chike Obis, Soludo, Ezekwesilis, etc, do not carry with them the presidential wand, which, when conjured on the road or as they debate on mandate platforms, would arrest or move the people to the side of the nominee. Chike is not his father. Oku na gba Ozala. Like the PDP of old, Atiku is already acting the winner when the battle is yet to be joined. If he had shown respect like he is giving to the West, he would have consulted his Field Marshal, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Eastern Governors in PDP, give them time to meet, deliberate and impact on his final judgement. by his singular and hasty pick of Obi, a former Governor from Anambra State, Atiku has driven a wedge to his aspiration in the already divided Anambra PDP politics, and completely alienated mass sympathies in those Igbo states who over years have frowned at the highly favoured Anambra, always considered first anytime federal largesse or appointments come to the Igbos.

Name them, Azikiwe was President of the Senate and Head of State; Ojukwu was Governor of the East in place of Col. Hillary Njoku, Owerri Imo. He was the Biafran Head of State with the greatest support from Imo and Abia states. Nwafor Orizu, was President of the Senate, Ekwueme was Vice President, so also Ebitu Ukiwe Abia, Aguiyi Ironsi, Head of State, Abia, Ndubuisi Kanu, the only Igbo in the Supreme Military Council, 1975, Abia. Madueke was Chief Staff – Enugu, Ebonyi was SGF. Imo with all its abounding population and awesome intellectuals never was counted even as the APC is on a collision course in Owerri. Why did Atiku not consult with his Igbo supporters and why the disrespect? Why the hurry?

READ ALSO: How Azikiwe, Ekwueme were denied presidency – Bafarawa