By Tony Edike
ENUGU—THERE is no plan to take the remains of the late former Biafran leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu to any African country, especially Ivory Coast where he spent his days in exile, before his internment at his Nnewi country home on March 2, his son, Emeka Ojukwu (Jnr) said yesterday.
Rather, he said that shortly on arrival in the country from London on February 27, the remains of his father would be taken to Abuja, before arriving Enugu for an Inter-denominational church service and later to Awka, Anambra state for other burial activities.
Emeka Ojukwu (Jnr) spoke last weekend as the committee handling the burial programme inspected the ongoing rehabilitation work at the Nnewi country-home of the departed Igbo leader. Members of the committee who were at the place to be part of the inspection include, the Vice Chairman, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, Secretary, Prof A.B.C. Nwosu, National chairman of the APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, Senator Emmanuel Agboti, Chief Clement Ebri, Chief Nnia Nwodo, Attorney General of Rivers State, among others.
Ojukwu (Jnr) who personally conducted newsmen round the expansive compound where preparations for the funeral are in progress, Ojukwu’s remains would be conveyed straight to the country from the London morgue where it was deposited since his demise last year.
He however disclosed that there would be international contingents from other countries of the world at the funeral having notified the family of their intentions to come to Nigeria to pay their last respect to the departed Igbo leader.
On the rehabilitation works at their Nnewi country-home preparatory for the burial, Ojukwu (Jnr) said the committee was optimistic that the on-going work would be completed before the burial.
Projects that are ongoing in the compound include, the construction of the tomb for the late Ikemba, asphalting of the massive compound, painting of the walls and the houses, as well as electrification of the area. A new transformer and a borehole have already been installed in the compound.
Ojukwu (Jnr) said his father would be brought back to Nnewi after the funeral ceremonies arranged by South East Governors in Enugu on March 1 and would be kept in his compound from where it would be taken to the nearby St Michael’s Catholic Church for the funeral mass the following day after which there would be interment.
Also speaking, the National Chairman of APGA, Chief Umeh who is also the chairman of the Works committee for the burial said they were working round the clock to ensure that all the works were completed before the burial.
“You can see we’ve done so much here, we have got the place almost ready for the burial ceremony for March 2, the tomb is almost getting completed, early next week, it would be roofed and marbled. We are set for the ceremony; the place is wearing a new look. The rest of the works are ongoing but will be ready before then. We still have about 2 weeks to work. Within the next two weeks, everything will be ready,” he noted.
Umeh however expressed fears that what could constitute a challenge to the committee would be the issue of crowd management, but noted that the Corps Marshal of the FRSC, Osita Chidoka was working with members of the Traffic Management committee to ensure that the issue was handled.
He also disclosed that the main burial had been staggered to last for the whole week, with different groups and associations allotted different days to pay their last respect to late Ojukwu.