FOR the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the death of former Biafran leader Dim Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu has united the whole country .
She told The Guardian shortly after the internment of Odumegwu-Ojukwu at the weekend at Umudim community in Nnewi, Anambra State that the Ikemba Nnewi was a man who in death united the whole country, although when he was alive, he seemed “like a divisive figure. But that’s not the case; he has actually brought everybody together.”
Describing Odumegwu-Ojukwu as her hero and the hero of all Nigerians, she said: “During the war, my father was a brigadier in the Biafran army. I was also a teenager at the time. As I said in a tribute recently, I was cooking for the Biafran soldiers at the war front. So Ojukwu was my hero and he was the hero of all Nigerians, and we want his soul to rest in peace.”
She asked: “Have you ever seen someone who received the kind of tributes from all over the country, even from outside the shores of this nation? Look at the calibre of the personalities who attended the ceremony – from the Speaker of the House of Reps to the President, the First Lady. So we want to thank the Ojukwu family for having given us a great hero.”
Asked if there was any lesson people could learn from the life of the Ikemba Nnewi, the minister declared: “Nigerians can learn to be principled, to be resilient; to believe in their country; to be patriotic; to be courageous; stand for what you believe in. This was a man who stood for what he believed in. And like the priest said in Enugu during the funeral at Okpara Square, no one has come out to say that Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu ever stole one naira from public funds. That’s the best example you could ever have. Let it be said of all of us when we depart that we never stole one naira.”
Reminded that Nigerians seemed not to have pointed out any of Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s faults, she said: “Of course not; there is no human being who don’t have any fault. I don’t think I am qualified to even talk about whatever must have been his faults, right now. But I am sure that if you were here today, he was a great man and great people admit their faults.”
More tributes continued to pour in even after the burial of Odumegwu-Ojukwu. The Igbo community in Edo State at the weekend honoured him.
The Chairman of the Igbo Community Union in the state, Chief Luke Abbas, in his address said Odumegwu-Ojukwu saw some many years ago the oppression being experienced in the country .
Also, the President General, Igbo Community Association, Jigawa State chapter, Ozor Linus Ozor has lauded the Federal Government for its effort to ensure that the country was one indivisible entity by giving the late Ikemba Nnewi a national burial.
The President who was speaking on Friday when the Igbo communities in Dutse and other parts of Jigawa State stopped commercial activities to honour their hero said the level of solidarity by every tribe made every Igbo man to be proud of the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu as well as conferring on them a sense of belonging to the country.
“We have to march through the streets in Dutse to announce to the people in the state that we lost our hero after which we came back for a requiem mass at the Christ the King Catholic Church because as a Catholic that is the highest sacrifice we can offer for him.
“Ojukwu lived as a detribalised Nigerian who saw the various tribes as Nigerians. He was very pragmatic, doing the right thing at the right time. If our current leaders could emulate his virtues by ensuring that what is due to the people is given to them, then Nigeria would have been a better place,” he stated.