Govs Fashola, Obi, Okorocha, Tinubu, Utomi, Braithwaite, Others Honour Ojukwu At Day Of Tribute
…Describe him as one of the greatest apostles of true federalism that ever lived
Feb 23, 2012 - Notable dignitaries including the Governors of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, former Governors, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe and Vice Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu joined several Nigerians on Thursday in paying their last respects to the Ikemba of Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, describing him as one of the greatest apostles of true federalism that ever lived.
Speaking at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos before a gathering of family members, associates and admirers of the former warlord, Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) said one day in the nearest future, if he is privileged to be asked questions about who was Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, he would have the opportunity of telling them that Ojukwu was a man who was never afraid to act on his conviction.
"I will tell them that Ojukwu was a generals' general who fought hard and stood hard for what he believed in. The Nigerian civil war was not about succession but about Ojukwu's love for his people. I will tell them that Ojukwu did not love Nigeria less but simply loved his people more".
"And that his brave and large-hearted leadership guaranteed the continued unity of Nigeria in the aftermath of the war because, in the words of Winston Churchill: "It takes courage to stand up and speak. But it also takes courage to sit down and listen".
"I will say to them that in a country like Nigeria with an abundance of great men, Ojukwu stood taller than most because his love for his people was as fierce as it was unflagging".
"I will tell all that here lies a man who believed and lived for his belief in peace, unity and freedom till he died. I will tell all that he was also a rebel with a cause whose good lives after them", the Governor stated.
Governor Fashola said in looking back at the life and times of Chief Ojukwu, he would rather ask some questions about the Nigerian civil war and what lessons the country had learnt from it asking: "What lessons did we learn?. What would the Ikemba wish today if he were alive-a broken Nigeria or a stronger and united one?".
"There is no way to be sure what his wish would have been. But we have logic to guide us. Would Ojukwu have loved this massive turnout on Yoruba soil, to celebrate him as he makes a triumphant reunion with the one from whom he came? Yes, I think he would have loved it. After all, he spoke our language and he called our home Lagos, his home too".
"Would he have been happy if his people, the Ndigbo, my own brothers and sisters across the Niger, had needed diplomatic relations and possible issuance of visas in order to celebrate him in Lagos, simply because Nigeria had broken up and Lagos was in another country? I doubt it, the Governor reiterated.
Governor Fashola who also regaled the audience with his own memories of what the civil war meant said he can only imagine what the memories of those who actually fought the war and lost loved ones and more are.
"Even if it is only for the fear of big lorries, I say Never Again. And I am sure that every one of us here will say that with me. 'NEVER AGAIN'. I therefore understand the Ikemba's cause as a pursuit for a just and egalitarian society, rather than the desire for violence and bloodshed".
While delivering his tribute, former Governor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu described late Ojukwu as a courageous and smart officer gentleman who rode several storms of life and was never consumed.
He described Chief Ojukwu as a soldier whose several battles portrayed him as a restless soul but who was a great soldier, thinker and man of schorlastic brilliance who would be remembered as a fine officer and a gentleman.
Asiwaju Tinubu posited that apart from late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, no one has significantly altered the political landscape like late Chief Ojukwu, saying he was a leader who left the riches and wealth of his family to take up service to his people.
In his tribute, the Imo State Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha said with the departure of the icon, the igbo nation must not mourn but celebrate the passage of Chief Ojukwu, saying he is not dead but alive.
Owelle Okorocha added that the ideals for which Ojukwu fought and died must never be in vain and charged every igbo man that now is the time for them to rediscover themselves.
He said with the way Nigerians have mourned Chief Ojukwu since his death, it truly showed that the war have truly ended and that at the appropriate time the Igbos will come up again.
The Governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi in his tribute, commended the Lagos State for his inspirational leadership which has also brought about the organization of a day of tribute for a true son of Lagos, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu
Also speaking, a former Presidential Candidate of the defunct Nigerian Advance Party (NAP), Dr Tunji Braithwaite said Chief Ojukwu did not declare war against his country but against lies, injustice and corruption.
He declare, "His death should remind us that Nigeria is now standing where it was in 1966 which precipitated the crisis and that if appropriate corrective steps are not taken, the country may be fulfilling some apocalyptic predictions about the nation".
Former Governor of the Old Western Region who is also a contemporary of Chief Ojukwu, Rtd General Adeyinka Adebayo in his tribute, went through memory lane about the life and times of Chief Ojukwu.
He described him as a good and hardworking officer who gave his all to the service of his fatherland, saying he would be remembered for all his good deeds.
A former Presidential aspirant and activist, Professor Pat Utomi in his tribute said he was not at the ceremony to praise or celebrate Chief Ojukwu but to invoke his spirit to rise and fight for justice in Nigeria.
He said for so long injustice seem to have taking over in the country, adding that as a man who lived and fought for enthronement of justice, his struggles should not be in vain.
The Vice Chairman of the burial committee, Senator Uche Chukwumerije while paying his tribute to the late Chief Ojukwu said the people of Lagos have come out to celebrate one of the last Nigerian patriots.
He said the day of tribute represents a sweet home coming for Chief Ojukwu who lived his early life in Lagos and commended the Lagos State Government for putting up a wonderful tribute ceremony for Ojukwu.
The ceremony which also featured a special rendition by the choral of Igwe (Professor) Laz Ekwueme was witnessed by Senator Ben Obi, Professor ABC Nwosu, Admiral Allison Madueke, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, General Ike Nwachukwu and several thousands of admirers of late Ikemba of Nnewi, Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu who thronged the main bowl and stands of the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos.