THIS pertinent and burning question among the Igbos of Nigeria cries for an answer and that answer, in all humility, I must try to give. The Igbos being what they are, would feel it infradig that no Igbo man or woman dares to wear late  Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu’s shoes.

Those who hold viewpoint are free, but they forget the Igbo saying that no one is irreplaceable. The people belong to the ilk of Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Okwadika Igbo Ukwu.

It is true that none is irreplaceable. Jesus Christ was a unique being, yet He replaced himself with John the evangelist when He told his mother to see John as her son and John to see Mary as his mother (John 19:26). In other words, Jesus swapped his sonship of Mary to John.

As a result, the Bible tells us that John took over and cared for Mary as his mother. Yes, every analogy limps, the philosophers say, but the truth is there. What could Jesus have done to his mother, seeing his ignominious death at 33?

Also, before He ascended into heaven, He ordered the apostles to carry on with his work or legacy by telling them to go into the world and make disciples of all people (Matt. 28:19). The apostles, weak and timid as they were, did not fail Jesus. They accomplished their assignment. As John, the last of the apostles to die, really died, the timorous Peter took over in Rome. His Bishopric let another take is applicable here. After Peter, Linus – saint, took over and in 76AD, he was replaced. Our Ojukwu is not greater than all the succeeding Popes who have been replaced.

Ojukwu has encouraged us to replace him by his anecdote that a white man scales a high mountain with ropes while a black man would build a shrine at its brow and adore it. He thereby condemns our psychosomatic surrender that we cannot find one to replace him. Cowards die many times before their death as it is attributed to Shakespeare.

The greatest honour we owe the general is not to scatter but to reorganise resiliently around a burgeoning leader who will be humble, self-sacrificing, courageous, amenable to informed reasons, etc. He will not be eze onye agwalam. He will not be a scit ominia-all-knowing man enrobed with the concomitant hubris.

However, I do not mean the so-called-be leaders who are projecting themselves by all sorts of writings and innuendos. People like that rule themselves out of consideration.

Concerning eligibility,  Ezeigbo Gburugburu concerns all the Igbos and so must be handled by all. Then all stakeholders, in groups or individually, should suggest names of those they deem worthy to The Sun newspaper or other dailies for all to know.

They must accompany those names with cogent reasons for their suggestion. Enough time should be given for this all-important exercise and anybody who obtrusively offers himself or herself de facto and dejure fails to be considered.

I disinterestedly suggest Governor Peter Obi to wear Chief Ojukwu’s shoes in the fullness of time. In order that we may pick a worthy candidate, enough  time, perhaps a  year or more be given.  Now, my  reasons, Ojukwu himself has given us the clue by calling the Anambra People, who represent the Igbo people, to have Obi as his last wish on earth.

Anambra honoured the wish, so we too should, Okey Ndibe, on page 55 of The Sun of November 30, 2011, said “Obi, Ojukwu State governor, became like a son to him in his final lap on earth running to attend to every need and making sure he will lack nothing”. In the same paper on page 7, Obi said: Ndigbo, wherever they are, should seize the opportunity of his celestial departure to rejig the process of reigniting Igbo political, social, and economical renaissance as that is the only way the hero will sleep well in eternal bliss. “In the same place, Okey Ndibe says that Ojukwu is physically dead but his spirit looms, will infuse the hearts of those he touched and whom he allowed in (Daily Sun November, 29, page 44).

Do we doubt that Obi is his adopted son? Do we doubt that his spirit touched Obi and that he allowed Obi to touch him? It is stated that Obi has visited Ojukwu every month since December 23, 2010 he took him to the hospital in London. Obi left him alive on Friday and before getting home on Saturday, he was called and informed about Ojukwu’s death and he flew economy back to London.

Governor Obi has benefitted from Ojukwu more than any Igbo man and Obi has served Ojukwu more than any Igbo man. Ojukwu’s widow, Lady Bianca, can attest to this. Obi is the herald of his death to us.

He was the first to sign his condolence register at the Ojuwku’s Enugu palace. Obi announced his burial on February 2, 2012.Anambra people do not regret Ojukwu’s last wish that they have Obi as their Governor.

Obi’s governance activities, education, healthcare, infrastructure, job opportunities, intra and inter-sate relationships, attraction of the Diaspora, investments in the state speak volumes.

It is true that the other Igbos may not know Obi well; the Anambra people, the president and the fellow governors know him. Why can we not follow suit?


Rev.Fr. OMUNEKOKWU EZE, wrote from Ihe/Owere-Nsukka.

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