By Emeka Obasi
Strange things are happening in Igbo land, from the banks of River Niger to the thick forests of Nkalagu down to the creeks of Egbema. It is wake up time for the people and Governors Charles Soludo and Hope Uzodimma must unite for good. Soludo is the fresh air in the Anambra space while Uzodimma tries to solidify in Imo. These two have more years than the other Igbo speaking governors. It is therefore important to let them know that uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.
Anambra and Imo are important in Igbo history of Survival. I do not want to limit the Igbo story to Biafra accountancy. However, you cannot sequester the Civil war from the Igbo journey to the present and projections for the future. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was the face of Igbo politics during the colonial period and emerged as the first president of Nigeria in 1960. General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu led Biafra during the crisis, between 1967 and 1970. Their homes are located in Anambra.
The last capital of Biafra was Owerri and Ojukwu lived in Etiti. The last headquarters of the Biafra Army was at Isu Grammar School. The first Biafra Army Chief, Col. Hilary Njoku and the last, Brigadier Patrick Amadi hailed from what we know today as Imo State. The last location of the famous Radio Biafra was Obodoukwu, Urualla while formal talks of surrender were held in Amichi. Soludo and Uzodinma were young enough to belong to the Boys Company.
They understand why Anambra and Imo must set the pace. These two governors should as a matter of urgency set out a day to be celebrated as Igbo Memorial. I do not want to tag it Biafra Memorial because the Igbo are beyond Biafra. The day should be used to remember and celebrate Ndigbo, from Delta to Jamaica.
The spirit of Igbo dead is strong, hovering and wandering. Those who perished in the Atlantic Ocean during the slave trade, mothers and children who were sold into slavery, virile young men who made it to the new world but could not take the inhumanity of man. During Biafra, lives were wasted. Before the war, pogrom took place in many parts of Northern Nigeria. After the war, lives have been lost in different parts of the country. The blood of these people will continue to trouble the land.
I will attach names to these accounts. People must believe. Philip Anaedozie Uduezue and Brown Agbogu were Tin miners in Bukuru, near Jos. They remained in Jos after the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, said the Igbo were free in the North. They are still missing since 1966. Thousands were murdered and unaccounted for. The Editor of Saturday Vanguard, Onochie Anibeze has not seen his father in the last 56 years. The family lived in Kano until the mass killings that followed the July 29 coup.
Bright chaps lost their lives in the battle field. Mike Ezetoha, was exceptional at Government Secondary School, Afikpo. He studied Geology at Nsukka and was the best graduating student in 1966. The young man succumbed to friendly fire as a Major. Biafrans also killed fellow Biafrans. Capt. Sunny Nweke, a well trained Signals officer was executed by his own troops who did not understand the rudiments of war.
Col. Joe Achuzia shot soldiers carrying the corpse of their commander, Maj. Theo Atumaka, mistaking them for deserters. Some of those who survived the war, did not survive the peace because their investments in Port Harcourt became abandoned property. Uzodimma’s ally, Nnamdi Anyaehie knows more about this. Ndigbo must remain eternally grateful to Prof. Emma Okocha, author of blood on the Niger.
Through him, the world got to know of the genocide committed in Asaba. Other parts were not spared, churches, hospitals, schools and even markets were bombed.
Soludo and Uzodimma need to put heads together for this Igbo Memorial. And it must also involve non Igbo. Gen. Philip Effiong is dead but fellow Ibibio, Col. Assam Afaha Nsudoh is still kicking and serves the Lord as a Bishop. Venue of this memorial should be Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri.
Yes, Owerri because it was the last capital of Biafra and the only town that was recaptured by the Biafra Army. Anyiam was a Major and part of that battle. An Interdenominational service should be held and prayers said for the repose of the souls of Ndigbo who died in various parts of the world during the slave trade and in Nigeria during genocide and Civil War.
The living should also be recognised. Gen. Alex Madiebo who marshalled troops is 90. Enugu Rangers International represent the fighting spirit of the Igbo. Anyiam was the first coach. Some pioneer members of that team are still with us. They must be recognised. Emma Okala can help with contacts of Kenneth Abana, Dom Nwobodo, Peter Okeke, Sam Okoh, Teddy Anikputa, Emma Ojirika, Godwin Adimachukwu, Ray Ohaeri and Pat Ozuah. Asagba of Asaba, Prof. Chike Edozien and Amanyanabo of Opobo, Dandeson Jaja should play important spiritual roles. No mention should be made of core or peripheral Igbo. It is a taboo and disturbs the spirit of the dead, over five million souls.
Former Imo State governor, Achike Udenwa should be involved. He fought as a captain. Soludo and Uzodimma should put politics aside and organise this Igbo Memorial. Peace will return to Igbo land and true political leaders, not dollarised delegates, will emerge.