24th February, 2012
The death of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu and the public lecture held in his honour by the Rivers State Government in Port Harcourt on Friday 24 February have publicly sealed the reconciliation between Dr. Peter Odili, the former governor of the state, and his estranged political son and incumbent governor, Chibuike Amaechi.
Odili who was the Chairman of the Public Lecture titled “The Eastern Region:Reminiscences,” said that when he was contacted to chair the occasion he accepted because “when a drink sees someone he likes, he agrees to reduce in size.”
Beyond the razzmatazz of the tribute to Ojukwu, the presence of Odili at the ceremony organised by Amaechi’s administration less than 24 hours after the reconstituted election tribunal dismissed the governorship election petition by Celestine Omehia of All Peoples Grand Alliance,APGA, is seen as a perfect political packaging and home coming of the former governor who has been in political limbo since 2007.
Amaechi kicked off the flood of tributes to the late former Military Governor of the defunct Eastern Region of Nigeria, Odumegwu Ojukwu.
Others who paid tributes to Ojukwu at the event included Governor of Abia State, Theodore Orji, and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, O. C. J. Okocha (SAN).
At the auditorium of the Rivers State House of Assembly, venue of the event, Amaechi lauded the character traits and leadership vision of Ojukwu, highlighting Ojukwu’s willingness to fight the perceived injustice against his people.
He said his understanding then of Ojukwu is that he was a man who could not stand injustice, and as a student of art or history, you know that the beginning of a struggle is the presence of an attempt by a group of people to deny the rest their right to existence.
He said Ojukwu felt that he could lead his people out of the injustice meted on them by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“What all the Igbos and all of us who belonged to the old Eastern Region then are doing now is to celebrate Ojukwu’s achievements as a governor and as leader of his people.”
Amaechi noted that while Ojukwu did not win the Nigerian civil war, he brought political victory to his people.
The Nigerian government may have won the military victory but the political victory was won by the Igbos because they established the fact that they are not a people you can ignore in the Federal Republic of Nigeria anymore.
Also describing him as loving and kind, Governor Amaechi encouraged those in the former Eastern Region to emulate Ojukwu’s laudable qualities that distinguished him in the social and political landscape.
On his part, Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji described Ojukwu as charismatic and eloquent, noting also that the Nigerian civil war had taught Nigerians the true meaning of peace.
Odili also lauded Ojukwu for his foresight and courage, saying that Ojukwu “came in his time, saw way above his time, confronted the challenges of his time, took a stand, made decisions and backed those decisions with action in defence and protection of the future of his people”.
He said “Ojukwu was brilliant, intelligent, focused, vibrant, deep, persuasive, inspirationally and motivationally eloquent. Ojukwu could change your mind on any topic he decided to support.
“Ojukwu was a man who was forthright, he was a man who had no problems with making decisions and when he made decisions he had no difficulty in backing those decisions with executive action.”
The Guest Speaker at the lecture and former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, O. C. J. Okocha(SAN) described Ojukwu as a man of principle, truth and justice, adding that he was also a philosopher, a great thinker and visionary leader.
According to him, the Nigerian civil war encouraged Biafrans to show creativity and enterprise, and urged Nigerians to rebuild old ties for a stronger, unified nation.
—Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt