ODOGWU EMEKA ODOGWU writes that the Acting Vice Chancellor Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam, formerly Anambra State University, Prof. Greg Chukwudi Nwakoby has instituted Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu Memorial Annual Lecture series for the University.
It’s maiden edition held last week at the Chief Ben Nwazojie Law Auditorium of the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Igbariam Campus.
The lecture which attracted the Wife of the Ikemba Nnewi, Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, State Deputy Governor Dr Nkem Okeke, former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, former State Deputy Governor Dame Virgy Etiaba, other Government functionaries and traditional rulers, among others was part of activities lined up to mark the birthday of the late Ikemba Nnewi, who was born in 1933 and died in 2011.
Setting the tone of speech, the Acting Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Greg Nwakoby noted that the lecture which is the first in its series was to lay a background for subsequent lectures for the future.
He added that the epoch making event is well deserved, recalling that Ojukwu lived, worked and laboured for all Nigerians in general and Ndi Igbo in particular.
Prof Nwakoby said that it became imperative that he introduced such academic activity in the university calendar, describing Ojukwu as an illustrious son of Nigeria, an Igbo character and integrity who loved his country.
He informed that the essence of the lecture was to always keep in mind and refresh the memory of what Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu stood for, even as he disclosed that the lecture would be done annually, every 4th of November.
He commended the sponsor of this maiden edition, Hon. Chinedu Obidigwe for giving the university the sum of N4 million and Prince Chinedu Emeka, former Deputy Governor of Anambra state for giving them N500,000 for the event and urged wealthy people from the state to volunteer the sponsorship of the event on an annual basis since according him, he deliberately decided not to make any financial request from the state government because Ojukwu lived, worked, laboured and showed love for all Nigerians in general and Ndigbo in particular.
Governor Willie Obiano in his remarks proposed a rallying point for Ndi Igbo to project their voice through political awareness, adding that Ndi Igbo have great minds and entrepreneurs to achieve whatever they will. He said enthronement of a new , better and prosperous Nigeria may not be achieved without recourse to the dynamics represented by late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.
Obiano who was represented by his Deputy, Dr Nkem Okeke enjoined all to live a life of legacy by doing what is right and shunning evil , even as he thanked the university management for instituting the lecture series in honour of the late hero.
The Guest lecturer, Professor Chidi Odinkalu highlighted Nigeria’s historical perspective, but lamented that while many people knew the name Ojukwu as being synonymous with Civil war, very few knew his other sides that laid the foundation for a United Nigeria, which is why he advocated the need for sustenance of the lecture series to drum home his good legacies.
Professor Odinkalu who spoke on the topic “Between Force of Reason and Reason For Force: Legacy of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu” centred the discussion on Ojukwu’s patriotism, politics of state creation and existence, Political and military stratification, Regional integration, self determination and Humanitarianism, stressing that the reason and controversies surrounding the war, have not really gone away.
Odinkalu while pointing out that Anambra is the heart of Nigeria’s civilization, asked people to correct their erroneous conception concerning the civil war, even as he added that late Ojukwu truly fought for citizenship and dignity. He called on Ohaneze Ndi Igbo and stakeholders to have it at the back of their mind when arguing for true federation.
“Igbo leaders should fight for citizenship and not true federalism because no amount of federalism will save us. The late Ojukwu’s call was not that of territorial but for greater welfare of all Igbo sons in any part of the country they find themselves”, he stated.
Wife of Late Ikemba Nnewi, Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, while appreciating State government and the University management for instituting the Lecture series noted that APGA is one of the legacies of her late husband, as such should not be allowed to wane.
Ojukwu’s wife, Lady Bianca who expressed appreciation to Nwakoby for initiating the memorial lecture, however expressed displeasure with Governor Willie Obiano for not attending the lecture in person but sending his Deputy, Dr Okeke to represent him.
According to Bianca, “Obiano has no reason not to attend the event in person because Ojukwu is the legacy of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA which Obiano is enjoying today’’.
Earlier, the Chairman on the Occasion, and former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN ,Professor Chukwuma Soludo pointed that Nigeria remains a work in progress which can be properly understood and worked on, with adequate reflection of Dim Ojukwu’s sacrifices and contributions to the Country.
Soludo said that Nigeria would remain in shambles if the federal government fails to restructure the country’s federal system, even as he described Ojukwu as an encyclopaedia whose contributions to Nigeria will indelible on the sands of time.
According to him, “If you don’t know him, have not heard or debated about Ojukwu and what he represents, then you are either not a Nigerian, not living in Nigeria or don’t think about Nigeria.
“Ojukwu remains the key to our unfinished business about restructuring to get Nigeria going through prosperity. You cannot have that without going to what Ojukwu represents and continue to represent. Ojukwu will continue to live so far as Nigeria remains a work in progress”.
As well, a renowned columnist and Ojukwu’s former aide, Chief Uche Ezechukwu, affirmed that the late icon was a man who had sacrificed much to bring succour to people who were hunted in a country they had called their own.
Chairman of organizing committee of the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Memorial Lecture Prof Solomon Ekwenze was excited at the success of the event insisting that Igbo leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Eze Igbo Gburu Gburu and Ikemba Nnewi is, by all standards, a good and exemplary leader.
The Authority South-East Post recalls that the former Governor of Anambra state , Mr Peter Obi renamed the University in a broadcast November 1st 2013 and invested N5 Billion in infrastructure for the University and that has been unequalled.
Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu was born on November 4, 1933 at Zungeru in the present Niger state to Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu, an Igbo businessman from Nnewi. Sir Louis was in the transport business; he took advantage of the business boom during the Second World War to become one of the richest men in Nigeria.
Emeka was sent overseas to study in the United Kingdom at the age of 13 by his father, first at Epsom College and later at Lincoln College, Oxford University, where he earned a master’s degree in History. He returned to Nigeria in 1956. Chukwuemeka Ojukwu joined the civil service in Eastern Nigeria as an Administrative Officer at Udi. He joined the military, initially enlisted as a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) in Zaria.
On Monday, January 17, 1966, Lt. Col. Odumegwu-Ojukwu was appointed Military Governor of Eastern Region. By May 29, 1966, there was a pogrom in northern Nigeria during which Nigerians of south Eastern Nigeria origin were targeted and killed.
In January 1967, the Nigerian military leadership went to Aburi, Ghana, for a peace conference. The implementation of the agreements reached at Aburi fell apart upon the leaderships return to Nigeria and on 30 May 1967, as a result of this, Colonel Odumegwu-Ojukwu declared Eastern Nigeria a sovereign state to be known as BIAFRIA. On July 6, 1967, Gowon declared war and attacked Biafra. Ikemba later left the country and after 13 years in exile, the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Shehu Shagari granted an official pardon to him and opened the road for his triumphant return in 1982.
Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, in 1994, married former Miss Bianca Onoh (Former Miss Nigeria and ex Nigeria’s Ambassador to the kingdom of Spain). On November 26, 2011, Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu died in the United Kingdom following a brief illness, aged 78. He was the leader of the All Progressives Grande Alliance, APGA, and contested Presidential election under the party.