TRIBUTES have continue to pour in for the late Biafran former Biafran leader Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Ezeigbo Gburugburu, as former students of King’s College, Lagos, his alma mater, held a forum event his honour.
Tagged: The Formative Years Of A Great Man; A Tribute To Late Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the president of King’s College Old Boys’ Association, Mr. Hakeem Belo-Osagie, who was represented by former Minister of Finance, Dr. Idika Kalu Idika, said, like many Nigerians of his generation Ojukwu was not a tribalist and regarded himself as a Nigerian rather than an Igbo man. He added the former Biafran leader was outspoken, hated injustice and supported unitary system of government.
“ Chukwuemeka passionately criticized sections of the Richards Constitution of 1946 and the Macpherson Constitution of 1951 because he believed they would unleash the monster of regionalism and fractionate a united country,” he said.
Eulogizing the dead leader, Kalu noted that Ojukwu was pushed by the surrounding events to declare the Republic of Biafra.
The seasoned economist and Nigeria’s four-term Minister of Finance said, “it was the situation that pushed him to declare the Republic of Biafra and I know it must have been a most painful and thought provoking event as the script has shown.”
“ However, the myth where he is cast as a rebel is something historian would continue to explore because you have to re-define the crises and what led to it, to identify who are in fact the rebels to what you might consider the legitimate Nigerian authority. I know him as somebody who was very genial and detribalized. Though, he was a typical Kings College or Lagos boy, he was nationalist and belonged to different ethnic national. He was a true Nigerian, born in the north though of eastern extraction, he spent a lot of his time in the west,” he said.
The former minister added, “he was a very rounded Nigeria; he believed strongly in Nigeria; he was much more interested in unifying Nigeria and, of course, with his military background, he easily saw the unitary system of governmnet, which was decreed in1966 after the coup as a bond to unify the country. I knew him as a scholar; he was erudite and well spoken. He grew into what one could call a militician or politician, even with his military background, but he never seize to love this nation. I think we really owe him a lot as a great son of this country.”
Kola Akinselure, another old boy said, “I would want Nigeria to immortalize him by naming one of the national edifies such as an airport or any other amenities after him as was done to other fallen national heroes.”
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He noted, “Ojukwu was rather a renegade than a rebel because the Aburi Accord then called for national unity and provided certain yardsticks for the unity to exist, but unfortunately none of the measures was met; so, he opted to pull out from the Nigerian State because the stakeholders on their own part were not meeting the expectations of the Accord.”
Ojukwu joined Kings College in 1944 at the age of 10 and the youngest student registered then. He was received into Harman’s House, one of the four houses in the school from where he was groomed for boldness, discipline, sartorial elegance and vision.
Though he left the school in 1946 for England to continue his education in Epsom College, Surrey, from where he proceeded to the university, Ojukwu upon graduation identified with King’s College till his death.
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Unfolding some of the activities planned for his burial, Dr. Leke Oshunniyi, said the association plans to pay a condolence visit to his widow in Enugu and also to use his photograph in his early days in the school for a full-page advert in the papers.