By Bartholomew Madueke
Senator Ehigie Uzamere, ACN, Edo South, has eulogized the deceased Biafran leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu as a man of great vision and ideas far above his contemporaries.
Uzamere, chairman of the Senate Committee on Loans and Foreign Debts, however, regretted with irony that the issues brought to the fore by Ojukwu more than forty years ago are yet to be addressed because those ideas were scorned by Nigerians at that time.
Uzamere in his tribute equally took a swipe at many of the mourning leaders of the Southeast who he berated for abandoning Ojukwu when he sought to go to the Senate in 1983.
“How else do we define current clamour for resource control, sovereign national conference, MASSOB and their ilk. Are they mere reminders of unresolved items of the Aburi Conference?”
Declaring that Ojukwu was made a rebel by the frustrations of the system he declared, “Ojukwu risked a pariah status to liberate his people. But his people were not always generous to him. The same brothers denied him votes when he sought to represent them at the Senate in 1983.
“What a wasted opportunity! I can imagine the positive comparison that would have been made between his eloquent Shakespearean delivery and the verbal pomposity of another Igbo icon, Chuba Okadigbo. Even above that, his rare vision would have been brought to the deliberations of that Senate and maybe could have saved the second republic from the military putschists,” Senator Uzamere declared.
He was betrayed by his kith and kin who today feel marginalized. He was indeed deliberately demystified, but not in my heart! Noting that Ojukwu may not have been at peace with the fate of his people even at the time of death, Uzamere himself the highest ranking Benin man in elected office said:
“Ojukwu may have been brave, but he must have died with the fear of the fate of his ethnic group in a united Nigeria. It is that fear Ojukwu saw, that is seen today by many brave and well meaning sons and daughters of Edo South Senatorial District.
The fear of their place in the politics and leadership of Edo State. That fear that has placed some of us Benins in the vanguard of emancipating our majority tribe from the claws of an over bearing and domineering micro minority in the Edo political landscape.”
“Ojukwu deserves far more than this adulation in death. His struggle was not myopic, neither was it vain. Ojukwu’s idea of justice is that little acorn that has grown into a giant iroko tree, for an idea is a seed which once sown, germinates and hardly dies.
“What shrub or giant tree it will grow into, is what defies conjecture. MASSOB, O’dua People’s Congress, Sovereign National Congress, Resource Control – are they all offshoots of this seed of justice sown by then Lt Colonel Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu? Adieu Ikemba. Adieu man of courage. You were greatly loved and admired by many while you were here,” Uzamere wrote.