By Dennis Agbo
The wife of the late Igbo leader, Iyom Bianca Ojukwu and her Son, Afamefuna, has commended the steadfastness of Chief Ralph Uwazurike in maintaining the annual ritual of commemorating the death of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.
Making the commendation at the 10th edition of Ojukwu Memorial Day in Owerri, Imo state, the Ojukwu family said that Uwazuruike remains one of the followers of the ex-Biafra leader who remained passionate about the philosophy of the late Ikemba Nnewi.
The event which was also hosted by Uwazuruike was a cultural festival of sorts, featuring a brief interdenominational service, traditional dances and masquerades, colourful parades, drama sketches and a live band eulogizing in music, the exploits of the Biafra hero and outpouring of tributes in celebration of the Igbo hero at the expansive grounds of the Ojukwu Memorial Library which was built by the leader of BIM-MASSOB, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike.
Iyom Bianca Ojukwu insisted that the clamour for secession, which has reached a feverish pitch in the country today is a direct consequence of the inequities of the Nigerian state as presently constituted.
She maintained that the Igbo continue to feel the pains of marginalization and exclusion on a daily basis, noting that as long as the situation is not addressed, agitation will remain in the southeast.
She said: “In so far as the Federal Government continues to exclude the South East from certain political positions and critical developmental projects such as the National Railway plan, and the zone continues to suffer the ravages of the deteriorating conditions of existing federal infrastructure, most especially roads in the South East, the feelings of collective victimization can only be reinforced and will continue to sustain the agitations for a separate state.”
She decried the continued detention of IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu and called on the federal government to consider the pleas for his release.
“What Igbos have been continually denied is an equal sense of belonging and legitimate citizenship rights in this republic,” Bianca said.
In his own speech, son of the late Biafra Leader, Engr Afamefuna Odumegwu Ojukwu said: “Ten years ago, when my father, Ikemba, Eze Igbo Gburugburu left us, I was a child. Yet, I can never forget the outpouring of love that you showed him. In life and in death, you stood with him.
“Since that fateful day, 10 years ago, Okenwa, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, who in his lifetime took the baton of fighting for our people, has also taken it upon himself to celebrate my father year after year. As he honoured the Ikemba in life, he has continued to honour him in death.
“In these almost 10 years, no state Governor in the South East has done this incredible and noble task, despite the fact that Eze Igbo Gburugburu was our leader through a war to save us from the genocide that faced our people.
“Okenwa, a son in Ikemba’s life, has remained a son…never forgetting, never flagging, and never deviating from this responsibility.
“Today, we live in a world where many prefer to forget the battles which were waged to bring us this far, the sacrifices of so many in this unrelenting quest to end our marginalisation and the continued fight for a just and equitable state that we can live in without oppression.
“Nobody without passion for his people and a spirit of sacrifice can lead us to the Promised Land, no matter how genuine their intentions may be. Today, as we remember the passing of my father, let us celebrate our resilience as a people.
“Biafra remains the only country that required the combined effort of three of the worId’s greatest superpowers to come together to subdue…it remains the first country where starvation was employed as an instrument of war. Even then, this remarkable country survived for three whole years.”