•Says the former Biafran leader saw himself as Ndigbo and Nigeria’s property, not any party
•’My problem with Bianca’
BY ENYIM ENYIM
Anambra State politics has become a personalized game where standard bearers are used as a weapon of war and the late Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the defunct Biafran leader, has perennially been a victim. In this interview, Ojukwu’s first son, Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Jnr, alleges that his father’s name and image have been abused.
A former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, saw your late father as his political mentor and APGA as a political party that made him. In the 2010 governorship election, your late father raised Peter Obi’s hand and his last wish was said to have been that he should be elected for a second term and this has caused controversy. Are you comfortable with this development?
I do not think it will be wrong for anybody to say Mr.Peter Obi’s emergence as a political force is directly linked to the backing he received from my late father. I know what you are referring to and I would not want to go into the issue of who raised whose hand because we all know he was ill at the time. But the fact remains that Obi was Ezeigbo‘s choice for that election. On the question of if I am comfortable or not, I am not. This is as a result, amongst other things, of the statements being made by my late father’s widow, Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, and others at Governor Willie Obiano’s campaigns.
Is that why you have chosen not to join Obiano in his campaign for second term even when we learnt he had severally invited you to join him and even now that a lot of activities are on-going on Ezeigbo’s birthday celebrations?
It is one of the reasons. In the last three years, has Anambra celebrated Ezeigbo’s birthday? Have they celebrated the anniversary of his death? Have any memorials been put up in his honor? Ha any edifice or institution been named after him? Now, on the eve of the election, it has become expedient to celebrate his birthday.
To be honest with you, the stench of the hypocrisy has become nauseating. I was hitherto an unwilling participant in this charade but I can no longer be part of it. You have a situation where my father’s memory was invoked to usher him into office and, once he was elected, all things that concerned Ezeigbo were promptly set aside. Billboards with his pictures were taken down, new party clothes and materials were printed without his image while the incoming governor was focused on creating his own identity. Now, three and a half years later, Ezeigbo’s pictures are back in full effect in an attempt to use his image yet again for some people’s personal political ambitions. Yes, I am aware of the invitations and I shall take my time to take a stand on the candidate I will support. The truth is that I cannot go on campaign with Obiano because of some of the people he has chosen to associate with, the people who speak from both sides of their mouths as long as it serves their selfish interests.
In essence, you are not supporting APGA in this election?
A political party is like a vehicle and the essence of joining a vehicle is to get to your destination. If the driver is not going to your destination, or if you are not comfortable with the passengers, then it’s either you have no business in that vehicle or you work hard to effect a change in the leadership and attract new members and or disenchanted people who left.
When Peter Obi left APGA, I spoke up against his move publicly. However, I was not in the meetings that led to his leaving the party. So, in retrospect, I have to admit that you must walk in a man’s shoe before you know where it pinches him. So my support for APGA is not automatic. It depends on what APGA stands for. If it turns out that the party has been hijacked by some people due to personal interests and their ideals are not in tandem with those of my father and the original direction set for the party and change cannot be effected, then perhaps it is time to look elsewhere.
Do you think that Ojukwu’s image even in death would enhance the fortunes of APGA in the November 18 election?
Most people who are using his image these days did not know Ezeigbo. Obiano did not know Ezeigbo personally. As I said before and I say it again, there comes a time when the stench of hypocrisy around the use or rather the misuse of his name and image becomes nauseating. The notion that Ezeigbo is the property of APGA is wrong. Ezeigbo is not and was never the property of APGA. He saw himself rather as the property of NDIGBO in particular and Nigerians in general. Ezeigbo did not fight the war for APGA; he fought the war for NDIGBO and for Nigeria.
You will recall that when Ezeigbo came back from exile, he did not join the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP), which was popular in the South- East at the time; rather he joined the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). This is because his underlying goal had always been to bring NDIGBO into the centre. So, APGA is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Back to the 2010 campaign, Ojukwu reportedly, at a time, endorsed Emeka Etiaba instead of Peter Obi.
What happened was that Emeka Etiaba and his group reached out to Bianca and had an agreement with her which made her to support them. Obi reached out to me about what happened and he sent me to my father. When I got there, Bianca was upstairs and I asked Ezeigbo why he had abandoned me and he asked me what I meant by that.
I told him that he asked me to go and work with Peter Obi as his eyes and ears and, without recourse to what he told me, he endorsed Emeka Etiaba. I knelt down at his feet and said ‘why did you abandon me?’ He asked me to get up and I did and he asked, ‘Where are my shoes?’, and Col. Emma Nwobosi helped him to find them. We got up and left in the convoy provided by Peter Obi. We were at Dubem Obaze’s office and had a press conference where Ezeigbo endorsed Peter Obi for second term. This was one of the reasons I started having problems with Bianca.
It appears that you had a running battle with Bianca since when Ezeigbo was alive and even during the funeral?
Actually, she and I had a good relationship but then deteriorated after the circumstances of my father’s death. At the funeral, Bianca did not want me to bury my father. She claimed to be the chief mourner; a claim I rejected outrightly and it took the intervention of elders, especially Prof. ABC Nwosu, who stood by me saying that such a thing will be an abomination in Igboland and she had to accept her role as the griever while I buried my father as the first son. Even when my mother, Njideka Odumegwu-Ojukwu died, Bianca insisted that she will not be buried in my father’s compound and asked Ezeigbo to get a place outside our compound to bury my mother, but my father and I refused. Again the same elders intervened and that was why I built a guest house and buried my mother in front of it next to the main house.
Shortly after your father died, issues of your family property became a problem and Bianca is in court with Ojukwu family?
When you hear about Bianca being in court over our property, people do not know the story. The property in question belongs to my grandfather, not my father. Ojukwu Transport Limited (OTL) belonged to my grandfather.
Sir Louis Odumegwu, my grandfather, has a surviving wife, Lady Virginia, and she is therefore still alive. My grandfather had children, Joseph the eldest, Emeka my father and Lotanna the youngest. Joseph, my father and Lotanna all have children. I am in my fifties and some of these grandchildren of Sir Odumegwu are older than me. So for Bianca to show up to lay claim to certain choice properties in Ikoyi as having been handed over to her and her young children by Ezeigbo is ridiculous and I wonder how that could be possible, given that Sir Odumegwu left all the properties in question under Ojukwu Transport Limited (O.T.L). O.T.L has a Board of Directors. My father was a director before he died and I am now a director. Being a director of O.T.L does not constitute having ownership of O.T.L properties. A man cannot bequeath what he does not own.