Ojukwu’s death: Iwu, Atiku, Oni, NGF, Reps, other prominent Nigerians react

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– From Amanze Ajoku and agency reports –

In what is becoming a mass outpouring of condolences, Nigerians have come out in droves with their reactions to the news of death of General Odumegwu Ojukwu.


Ojukwu exemplified courage – Prof Maurice Iwu: Former INEC Chairman, Prof Iwu has reacted to Ojukwu’s death, saying “Ojukwu’s life exemplified courage and the latitude of the human mind to resist servitude regardless of the cost. Nigeria should honour him by adopting the Biafran spirit of resourcefulness and respect for human dignity in our national renaissance”.

Ojukwu irreplaceable – Atiku
FORMER Vice President Atiku Abubakar, described the death of Ojukwu as a great loss to the country and Africa in general. Atiku, who noted that his death was another colossal loss to Nigeria at a time of strenuous efforts for unity and reconciliation, recalled that the Ikemba Nnewi’s role as a key actor in Nigeria’s political development cannot be easily forgotten. According to Atiku, Ojukwu was a tremendously respected and influential politician whose endorsement was frequently needed by others to build their political careers, adding that history had cast the late Ojukwu into a role and he played that part to the best of his abilities.

Immortalize him – Reps
THE House of Representatives said the demise of Ikemba Nnewi, has left a deep hole in Nigeria’s quest for transformational leadership. In a statement by the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Rep Zakari Mohammed , the House described his passage as a colossal loss that is irreplaceable. “Ojukwu was the first Nigerian graduate to have enlisted in the Nigerian army and added intellectual dimension to the force while in service of his fatherland”, it stated. “While alive, Ojukwu displayed rare courage on principled stand on sensitive national matters, we in the Seventh Assembly regret his death but we are consoled by the fact that we will continue to uphold his principle, ideals and uncommon courage that Ojukwu lived and died for.” “We are calling on the President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to immortalize this gentleman officer, courageous, successful politician and a leader’s leader.”

Igbo have lost a treasure – Obi
ANAMBRA State governor, Mr. Peter Obi, said with the demise of the Ikemba Nnewi, Igbo have lost a great treasure. In a statement in Awka, entitled, “Our father is gone”, Obi eulogised Ojukwu in Igbo, saying: “Amuma na Egbeigwe edelu juuuu; Udo eji akpu Agu agbabie; Odenigbo Ngwo anabago; Ikemba Nnewi a gaba goo; Dikedioranmma nweru ka osi noru kitaa, Ezeigbo Gburugburu, enwooooo! Obu inaba ka anyi mezie gini? Onye ga na-ekwuru anyi? Onye ga abamba ka Agu ma oburu na ana emegbu anyi? Enwoooooooo! Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, enwoooooo!” The statement said further: “In the traditional Igbo society, the death of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu would be announced by the famous Ikoro Drum, reserved for outstanding people in the society once in a century. This is what I have just done in the foregoing. We hereby, in consultation with the immediate family of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, announce his death which occurred in the early hours of today, November 26, 2011. “With Ojukwu’s death, the entire Igbo race, at home and in the Diaspora as well as Nigerians have lost a treasure. He was one of the most forthright personalities Nigeria has ever had. He believed in a Nigeria where justice and equity should reign and devoted his life to the pursuit of that ideal as if he was under a spell. “While alive, Ezeigbo Gburugburu was such a subject of history that it makes little sense to start contemplating how history will remember him. Ojukwu came, saw and conquered, leaving for us vital lessons in patriotism and nationalism.

He’s a Courageous man – Northern Govs Forum –
The Northern Governors Forum (NGF) commiserated with the Ojukwu family, lamenting that the nation has lost a great man. Chairman of the forum and governor of Niger State, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, said the people of the 19 states of the North and indeed the entire country have lost a courageous man who would be sorely missed for his immeasurable contributions to national development. The condolence message of the forum was contained in a statement signed by Aliyu’s Chief Press Secretary, Malam Danladi Ndayebo. According to the governors, though Ojukwu died at a ripe age of 78, after a prolonged illness, the forum was deeply pained by his passage. “Like most of our Igbo brothers and sisters born in Zungeru (former capital of Northern Nigeria), Ojukwu excelled in his sojourn on this side of the divide. He did well as a soldier and as a politician”, they said. The governor recalled Ojukwu’s leading role in the struggle for the nation’s return to civil rule at a time when many pro-democracy elements were afraid to speak up against the military. The statement said Ojukwu would be remembered for playing a prominent role in the 1995 constitutional conference which gave birth to the current geopolitical structure.

He was an iconic national figure–Amaechi
Rivers State governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, expressed sadness over the death of Ojukwu. In a statement by his spokesman, David Iyofor, Amaechi described the former Biafran leader as an iconic national figure, a man full of courage whose contributions to the nation in spite of the civil war cannot be overemphasized.
“Ojukwu had strong leadership skills, a fighter with the heart of the people, and his opinions kept the nation on its feet. In politics, he was a key player and would definitely be missed by many”, the statement added.

Ojukwu’s death is a national tragedy — Elechi
GOVERNOR Martin Elechi of Ebonyi State described the death of Ojukwu as a national tragedy which would be difficult to be erased from the minds of Nigerians especially those from the south east. Elechi, who spoke through his chief press secretary, Dr. Onyekachi Eni, lamented that the nation, as a result of the death, had lost a dynamic leader and a protagonist of positive change, adding that the accomplishments of former Biafra soldier possessed the capacity to transcend mortality, which, according to him, represented the demise of era that may never resurface in the history of the nation. “The death of the Ikemba is a national tragedy of immense proportion. It represents the demise of an era. Nigeria has lost a dynamic leader and a protagonist of positive change. Though death is a debt which all mortals must pay, Ojukwu’s accomplishments transcend mortality. May his soul rest in peace”, the governor said.

Ojukwu was fearless – Jang
Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State said the history of the country will be incomplete without mentioning Ojukwu’s contribution to her development. Jang, in a statement by the Director of Press Affairs in his office, Mr. James Mannok, described the late elder statesman as a great Nigerian who was never afraid to pursue the cause he believed in. He described the death as a great loss, adding, “Chief Ojukwu has played his role in the development of Nigeria as the history of the nation will not be complete without acknowledging his contribution.”

Mimiko: Vacuum will be difficult to fill
Ondo State governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, described Ojukwu’s death as a big loss to Nigeria. Mimiko, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Eni Akinsola, noted that the bravery displayed by the Ikemba Nnewi during the civil war really helped the country to address certain fundamental national issues which united all the ethnic groups in the country, many years after the incident. According to him, the vacuum, which Ojukwu’s death has created, will be difficult to fill “because he was a great man, who had a dream for a great nation where there will be justice, equity and fairness”.

He was a national icon -Chime
Governor Sullivan Chime expressed profound shock and sorrow over the death of the former Biafran leader, saying that his passage has robbed the country of one her most notable historical and political figures. The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Chukwudi Achife, described Ojukwu as a foremost nationalist and activist whose contributions to the political and constitutional development of the country are not only indelible but in some ways inimitable. He described the deceased as a symbol of the struggle against injustice, segregation and oppression against any group of people in the country adding that his epic efforts had helped to lay the foundation for national integration and the sense of equality and unity that prevails in the country today. Chime noted that as a politician, Ojukwu had fought fearlessly for the survival and sustenance of democracy in the country, waging a relentless war against electoral fraud and insisting on the establishment of a level play ground for all participants in electoral processes. He said Ojukwu was an icon who, despite his affluent background, was never afraid to speak out on critical national issues or challenge policies that tended to infringe upon the rights of the people adding that this disposition had helped him remain a highly influential and charismatic political figure in his lifetime.

Why Ojukwu was revered – Fayemi
Ekiti State governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, condoled with the family of Ojukwu and the entire people and governments of the south east. Fayemi, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Olayinka Oyebode, in Ado-Ekiti, described the late Ikemba Nnewi as a leader who loved his people and defended their interests till he breathed his last. He said it was for this reason that the late leader was revered by his people. The governor said the late Biafran leader would be remembered as a person who never shied away from making his stand known on any issue, especially those that directly affected the interest of his people.

Nigeria has lost a great hero – Sylva
Bayelsa State governor, Chief Timipre Sylva, said was a great Nigerian who devoted his life to the fight against injustice and promotion of equality among Nigerians. In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Doifie Ola, Sylva said, “Chief Odumegwu-Ojukwu was a man of principle, a great Nigerian who remained dedicated to his convictions until death. “Even when he was forced by the circumstances of his day to lead his people into a war, and later went into exile, he returned to the country after a national pardon to join other Nigerians in a broad political platform for nation-building. “When another political opportunity called, he formed a platform through which he intended to accomplish his long-held dream for an egalitarian Nigeria. Though his presidential bid did not succeed, Odumegwu-Ojukwu stayed committed to his dream by helping in the emergence of governments and politicians that share his political ideals for the Igbo nation and Nigeria. He never gave up.”

Ojukwu fought for the oppressed – Umeh, APGA Chairman
APGA National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, said Ojukwu was as a dogged fighter for the oppressed people. “Remember that Ojukwu lived not just for the Igbo people; he lived for all the oppressed people all over the world. The news of his death will shake the newsrooms all over the world. He was somebody who stood for the less privileged; people who were oppressed; people whose personal liberties were taken away. This was the life he lived,” Umeh said. “Anybody who has looked up to him for inspiration will see some void today; will see some emptiness today.”

Demise has created a vacuum – Hon. Ihedioha
The deputy speaker of the House of Representatives and other members of the House said the vacuum Ojukwu’s death has created would be difficult to fill. In a statement in Abuja, the deputy speaker, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, said the death is a “very grievous occurrence in the country’s history and leaves a huge vacuum in our collective quest towards nation-building, socio-political development and evolution of our statehood.” Describing the late APGA leader as a fearless mobilizer, highly intelligent and resourceful personality who loomed larger than life wherever he found himself, Ihedioha regretted that Nigeria will surely miss this “bright eastern star that shone like a million comets in the galaxy of stars. Love him or hate him, his landmark contributions in making Nigeria what she is today cannot be dimmed by his passage to the great beyond.”

In his reaction, the chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Currency, Hon. Jones Onyereri, described the late Ikemba Nnewi as ‘a great leader with clarity of vision, a very courageous man full of strength. He was the pillar of the Igbo who will surely be missed. The question on the lips of Ndi Igbo is could there ever be another Ikemba?’

For the Minority Whip of the House, Hon. Samson Osagie, the late Ikemba Nnewi was ‘a brave soldier, a fighter and a committed patriot to the Igbo nation. His death is a big loss to the country and Ndi Igbo in particular’.

The leader of the Anambra Caucus in the House of Representatives, Hon. Uche Ekwunife, described Ojukwu as “one of the finest of Igbo extraction”.

The biggest “iroko” in Igboland has fallen – Oni
Former governor of Ekiti State, Chief Segun Oni saw the death of the ex-Biafra warlord as the fall of “the biggest iroko tree in the forest of Igboland.”
Oni, who reacted to Ojukwu’s death through his media aide, Mr. Lere Olayinka, said: “With Ikemba’s death; there is nothing more to say other than ‘oke osisi di na nukwu ohia na ala igbo adawoo’ (the biggest iroko tree in d forest of Igboland has fallen).” The former governor said Ojukwu will however be happy that the Igbo nation that he fought for has now taken its pride of place in the Nigeria polity, adding: “The lesson of the civil war has remained one of the unifying factors for Nigeria till date.”

Death devastating – Etiaba
Former Anambra State deputy governor, Dame Virgy Etiaba, saw Ojukwu’s death as a devastating one not only to the Igbo race in particular but Nigerians as a general. “His exit at a time such as this is a depressing one considering the fact that the Nigeria of his dream where equality, equity, accountability and probity will be enthroned has not crystallised,”Etiaba said.
“As a leader, he touched lives and was frank to all. He will go down our history as a man who was most loved by his people. He represented the aspiration of his people and never compromised their interest.”

Ojukwu a symbol of Igbo unity – Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy President of the Senate. Ojukwu was a symbol of Igbo unity. He lived a life of service. As a young man and son of a millionaire, he joined the army amidst several non-risky options. He fought injustice, oppression, impunity and all such evils till his death. Though he is dead, he lives on in the consciousness of every Igbo man and all Nigerians who believe that this country belongs to all of us. May his soul rest in peace.

He fought for Ibo cause – Senator Joy Emodi, Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly.
It is true that he has been sick, I am shocked. I remember him with nostalgia how he drove the Igbo cause. He will be highly missed and he was a brave man. The most important thing is that he left an important legacy as the undisputed Igbo leader and he was not corrupt at all. He fought for the Igbo cause selflessly. The space he left will be difficult to fill, in the politics of this country and in the politics of the south-east. It is a great loss to everybody and to Nigerians. He was a voice to the voiceless, very courageous and always speaking his mind.

It is a big loss – Nwadiala Emeka Wogu, Minister of Labour and Productivity
It is a big loss to the nation in general and the Igbo in particular. He was instrumental in reshaping Nigeria’s political structure from the regional to state structure. He was misunderstood but remained courageous even unto death. He will be surely missed by both friends and foes. May his soul rest in peace.

Symbol of leadership – Senator Effiong Bob
He was a symbol of qualitative leadership who fought for the upliftment of his people. He was highly intellectual and a great thinker of his time.

He was the only Ikemba – Kema Chikwe, former Minister of Aviation
It is a tragedy for the Igbo because there was only one Ikemba who had the charisma to mesmerize the entire Igbo nation and sustained it till death. Irrespective of political affiliation every Igbo man knows that he was the only Ikemba.

He was a great thinker – Senator Ben Obi, Special Adviser to the President, Inter Party Affairs.
One of the greatest, courageous and most focused sons of Africa has passed on. A soldier and a philosopher, a teacher and a thinker, a man who found comfort with both the mighty and the low, a man who at all times was honest, with undiluted ideas on any situation or suggestion on any situation. A lover of his people, indeed a great patriot!

Ex-warlord was a titan – Capt. Emmanuel Ihenacho, rtd., former minister
Very sad news indeed. We mourn the passing of a great and patriotic Nigerian, an absolute titan, hero of the Igbo nation. Our heartfelt sympathies and thoughts go out to his widow and immediate family. May his soul rest in peace.

He became a godfather in politics – Senator Ifeanyi Okowa
Yet another great Nigeria gone to the great beyond. A gallant soldier once he was. He brought in his academic prowess into the political arena and became a godfather in the politics of APGA in the South-East.

Ojukwu, a man of ideas – Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (retired), former governor of old Kaduna State
Ojukwu’s death is a very sad loss for not only Nigeria but humanity. I remember I invited him to Kaduna when I was governor for a re-orientation campaign. As he got the invitation, he said: “Colonel, I will be there,” and he came. He was a man with great ideas about how to advance the cause of Nigeria. The nation will sorely miss him. I pray that God will have mercy on his soul.

He lived a good life – Rep. Eseme Eyiboh
Odumegwu Ojukwu did not live long enough but he lived a good life which was long enough. He was a hero in life and in death

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