By Ajayi Olayinka
IN Spite of the flash floods that washed many parts of Lagos and the attendant traffic snarl, the conference hall of Colonnade Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos was filled to capacity, weekend, as eminent Nigerians gathered to honour Second Republic politician and lawyer, Chief Guy Ikokwu, who was celebrating his 80th birthday.
Most speakers at the colourful event had kind words for Chief Ikokwu, an elder statesman, who also played crucial roles for the return of Nigeria to democratic rule.
Speaking at the event, Elder Statesman, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, described Ikokwu as a veteran of Nigeria’s independence struggle. According to Adebanjo: “The independence we cherish as a nation today, Ikokwu is among those that protested carrying placards in Great Britain. Insisting on Nigeria’s freedom from Colonial rule at that period was not easy especially for a student but Guy was there. And when we ware here in Nigeria as well, Guy took a prominent position to position political party in the Eastern region which was not an easy task as well. But because of his steadfastness, his principle, loyalty to leadership and his patriotism to his country, he was there.
‘He is an individual with integrity and dependable as a colleague. It is rare these days to have people like Guy in the political struggle. Today you will agree in secret, and someone will go behind to reveal it in order to get position. Ikokwu is never like that.”
He charged Ikokwu to continue to instill true leadership into those coming behind ‘so people can know that it is good to be consistently consistent in doing what is right. I can confidently say that among Igbo, Commodore Ebitu Ukwe, Rear Admiral Ndubisi Kanu, and Guy Ikokwu , I can say with no apology to anybody that while Yoruba people doubt working with the Igbo people, I tell them as long as these people are there, that is where I am.
“These are the Igbo I have confidence in. Because they have defended the Igbo race in time of crisis, they are the people that can stand against all odds when there is crisis.”
He is a model of Democracy – Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife
In the same vein, former Governor of Anambra Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, said: “He is a model to both the old and the young at heart. It was through him I got close to late Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe the great Zik. He thought us what to do. Chief Ikokwu is among the Igbo leaders that are showing the way and our people are following.
He has always been at the front burner agitating for a new Nigeria by practising true federalism.”
Passionate Icon of Nigerian Democracy – Major Ihekibe Retd.
Also seaking Rtd. Major General Collins Ihekibe described Ikokwu as a wonderful person and an epitome of nobility .
“He is a man of integrity and a man to emulate. A man passionate about the unity of this country and also the position of the Igbo in it. He has spent most of his life fighting for the progress and the unity of Nigeria. Ikokwu is a man that deserves an award for his fight for democracy.
He is indeed an Icon of Nigerian Democracy because he stands fully for restructuring. Ikokwu once described restructuring as the foundation on which the unity of Nigeria stands, and the continued development and sustainability of the country stand. He sees restructuring as perpetual solution to needless crisis across Nigeria and extremism. Our leaders should emulate his patriotism, love and sacrifice for one Nigeria which he has been doing before Independence.”
In the same vein, an Afenifere leader, Chief Supo Shonibare said: “Guy is one of the elements that supported the agitation for Independence and Pan Africanism from London, championing the cause of Black Renaissance at that time. He saw Nigeria moving from federal system to unitary system of government in the second republic, he fought for democracy, he is an uncomon Igbo man that is a true nationalist.
It’s difficult to combine both, but he strongly believe in the Federal Republic. He supports a true Nigerian course. When late Chief MKO Abiola emerged the Presidential candidate of SDP, Anambra was the only state that actually supported Chief Abiola’s ambition.”