Encounter With Amaechi At 89 – By Okey Maduforo
It was under the old mango tree that yours truly sat for about
twenty-five minutes waiting for him to join me at his garden.
His local Igbo cow Oguejiofor paced around the compound with his pet
dog coming to me now and then possibly as a protocol Advance Team for
His house maid later came to me carrying a plate containing kola nut
and alligator pepper and two bottles of water.
“Daddy will soon join you she announced” soon the tall, heavenly built
and fair skin patriarch took his time as he made his way towards the
mango tree where I was sited.
After the exchange of pleasantries, he sat down gracefully and did the
traditional honours of breaking the kola nut and the encounter began.
This meeting between me and the first Republic Minister for Aviation
Chief Mbazuruike Amaechi Dara Akunwafor indeed was a journey in
retrospect, chronicling the pre independent and some post independent
events and incidents that formed the foundation of the present country
Amaechi painted a nostalgic picture of the brand of Nigeria his fellow
nationalist wanted before independence but are totally disappointed by
what he called the misplacement of priorities by successive leadership
“I worry as much as an old man will worry a situation that can not be
help should be endured. I have found out that people are pursuing now
are not the things we fought for. These are not the programmes of
things that we had in mind while fighting for independence we have
done our won things in our own time. Let them keep doing what they are
doing now in Nigeria today a subject like History has been stopped in
our schools. The whole governments have now said that history should
not be taught in schools; simply because soldiers were in power for
thirty – eight years and they do not want a true history of the
country to be told. So they abolished history in school. Yet when a
civilian came into power, an academician, it did not occur to him to
force the introduction of history so people have no pride. When people
like us come out to talk the young ones will say who are these foolish
old men? Because they were not taught about the history of this
country and they do not know anybody or anything about those that
fought for the independence of Nigeria. Infact Nigeria has forgotten
people like us and I do not know how many of us are still alive,
strong and healthy enough in this country”.
Amaechi further took a swipe on the sustained attacks on Ndigbo in the
Nigeria’s polity contending that since independence Ndigbo has
remained short changed in the sharing of the National cake and other
sundry issues of power sharing.
“Then in 1966 the military unpatriotically struck and took over the
government of the country in a treasonable coup d’état killing the
prime minister. Again this action was taken by majors in the military.
Not just the Igbos, because there were Yorubas and Hausas involved;
but again the whole evil was visited on Ndigbo. The massive killing of
Ndigbo in the north, the massive killing of Ndigbo in the west,
particularly in Ibadan and Ikeja cantonments and so eventually Nigeria
imposed a civil war on Biafra. The Igbos said if you do not want us in
this country, allow us to go away and in the process of going away,
the military government of the time declared war on Biafra and fought
a war of many weapons, which includes all weapons of war, diplomatic
weapon, economic weapon and that of starvation. They use economic
blockage against Ndigbo, against any contact with the outside world.
There were massive killings of Ndigbo in churches, markets and other
places. All these cost Ndigbo nearly two million lives. Before these,
when the riots were organized in the north, we published details in a
book, where the Igbos were killed in railways in Kaduna, Kano and at
Kano Airport where they were assembled to be flown down to the East,
they were slaughtered at the railway stations, they were asked to
assemble so that they will be taken down to the East and they were all
killed both men and women and children In the war”.
In between the interview the only surviving member of the Zikist
movement would purse and call for a break which is heralded by two
plates of dry meat pepper soup and a glass of fresh palm wine.
Returning from that brief break, yours truly posed a question of hour
well has the Yakubu Gowon’s policy of three Rs been implemented since
after the war.
“It has not been implemented how much more solving the problem. Okay
you say no victor no vanquished and you turned back and took away the
wealth of Ndigbo and said that all money belongings to Ndigbo during
the war were cancelled and valueless and Igbo adults were given twenty
pounds each that is N 40000 to start life. Everybody who was an adult
that is rich now started with N 40.00 after the war you said no victor
no vanquished but Egbema which was part of Oguta in Imo state Andoni
which is part of Ogbaru division are oil producing areas and you
excised them to River State because they do not want any part of Igbo
land to benefit from the Oil production revenue. Another on is that
you said that there will be no more generation of electricity in Igbo
land and so the Oji river power station which was built to use coal to
generate electricity was closed down and that led to the closure of
Enugu coal mines and sending about 10, 000 workers into the
unemployment market. Then AFAN power station one of the biggest power
station in the country which was part of Aba division was taken away
and merged with river state. That is what Nigeria has done to Ndigbos
but they tell you no victor no vanquished”.
Today, our patriarch and father of the Nigerian nation is eight-nine
years old and by next year he would clock ninety.
But what appears to be a show of shame in Igbo land is the continuous
celebration of the peoples ICONS when they are dead.
This was the case with late Michael Okpara, late Nnamdi Azikiwe whose
mausoleum project has remained uncompleted. Others include late Dr
Akanu Ibram, Abisinia, Nwafor Orizu, former senate president. The case
of late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu appear to be different because
while alive he had been on song and kudos to former president Goodluck
Jonathan, former Anambra Governor Mr. Peter Obi among others that
ensured that he was celebrated while alive and ultimately accorded a
Similarly, former vice president Dr. Alex Ekwueme also had his share
of being celebrated alive and he got a state burial courtesy of the
duo of former Anambra Governor, Sen. Chris Ngige, President Muhammadu
Buhari and former Governor of old Abia State Dr. Ogbonnaya Onuh.
However, what has been done for Amaechi while he is still alive? He
for sometime now has not been seen at any state function. But for the
award bestowed on him by Gov. Willie Maduaburuchukwu Obiano, Anambra
The Ohaneze Ndigbo, Igbo leaders of thought led by Prof. Ben Nwabueze
, Aka Ikenga, league of Anambra Professionals, the respective state
and federal universities in Igbo land have not found it imperative to
institute a chair, name an institute or organize annual lectures in
honour of Chief Mbazuruike Amaechi.
If not for the Ukpor Improvement Union (UIU) that organized his
birthday celebration this year Nigerians would not have remembered
that such a elder statesman is still alive. However, it is still not
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