I Was a Cook to the Biafran Soldiers —Okonjo-Iweala

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She was just a teenager at the time. And given the nature of forced conscriptions into the war at the time, young male adults were forced into the war, while young female adults were forced into the kitchen – those to cook for those fighting the war. One of those in the kitchen then was the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

In her superlative tribute for late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the finance minister recounted how she became a cook for the Biafran soldiers during the war.

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 this kind of tributes from all over the country, even from outside the shores of this nation?”

Okonjo-Iweala noted that the death and burial of the former Biafran warlord and leader of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), had united Nigeria, describing the requiem service preceding his burial as a sober and uplifting occasion.

The minister told journalists shortly after the internment of the remains of Odumegwu-Ojukwu at the weekend at Umudim community in Nnewi, Anambra State that he was a man who in death united the whole country, noting that although when he was alive, he seemed “like a divisive figure”.

According to her, “But that’s not the case; he has actually brought everybody together. Look at the calibre of the personalities who attended the ceremony – from the speaker of the House of Representatives 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 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 do not seem to have pointed out any of Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s faults, she retorted: “There is no human being who doesn’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 he were here today, he was a great man and great people admit their faults.”

It is a tribute to his greatness that three days after his burial, the echo of his funeral has continued to reverberate in his Nnewi, Anambra State country home.

-ThisDay

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51 COMMENTS

  1. abdul,shut up ur mouth if u dnt kn wat 2 say,or go & tel it 2 ur cows & rams dat ojukwu wasnt ur hero,who cares? Pls leave dis coment space 4 important people dat apreciates d only & brave great HERO OF NIGERIA TIL DEATH

  2. Wow people stop taking it personal. Read my comment well i didn’t say Nigerians i said as a Nigerian (meaning it’s my opinion) so all of you insulting me and calling me names are what you wrote i’am. Besides last time i checked it’s a free world everybody is entitled to his or her opinion. What a pity.

  3. Ojukwu tried to unit Nigeria that would last but shallow minded individuals like u tried to crucify him so they could continue to fish in the troubled water

  4. For every thing that has beginning must have an end, like wise me and you one day we must die, so its left for us to start judging our self before times up. Its Allah alone that would inherent His world.

  5. so, madam was also a secessionist? now, shes enjoying the same Nigeria she tried to break-up as a cook (@ least, aiding and abetting). Ojukwu was never a Nigerian Hero, he was a hero to the Igbos, no doubt but not a Nigerian statesman, nationalist or such!

  6. Ojukwu cn b anythin to anyone but u will all agree wt me dat he believed in one Naija if not y ddnt he organise anoda war? d first was fought out of youthful exuberance. howeva he lived d rest of his life tryin to right his wrongs by showin he was a tru statesman. so truly he is a hero.

  7. Ojukwu is not nigeria hero,he damage to dis natn de effect of civil war still in dis natn,if he achived his desired can he called nigeria hero or biafra hero,those that lost his family in dat war can not pray for soul his even among igbo‘s look at nigeria militry today he paralised igbo‘s,is only u ppl are still infancy den u will agreed wit Abdul.if u called ojukwu an hero den u will later called Kabiru Skoto or Ibori an hero.let say de true to saved dis natn forget abt tribalism my ppl.txk.

  8. Ojukwu is not nigeria hero,he damage to dis natn de effect of civil war still in dis natn,if he achived his desired can he called nigeria hero or biafra hero,those that lost his family in dat war can not pray for soul his even among igbo‘s look at nigeria militry today he paralised igbo‘s,is only u ppl are still infancy den u will agreed wit Abdul.if u called ojukwu an hero den u will later called Kabiru Skoto or Ibori an hero.let say de true to saved dis natn forget abt tribalism my ppl.his wife made a comment abt igbo‘s council of elder,s he died.

  9. Abdul if u ask me 2 classify u, i will classify as a big fool. Do u knw y reasonable men women regard him as a hero, then an idiot like u who has been lavishing in ignorant since u were born open ur dirty & stincking mouth 2 talk rubbish, i dnt blame u.. WAWA…

  10. Olu, were u expecting madam to com nd cook for u before? If u like call ojukwu d hero of d yorubas. It doesnt make any diference. Until all d tribes in dis country forget sentiments and suport those who have done right, leaving tribalism, things will neva work right. Ojukwu fought for a just course. If u like believe it or not, ur opinon will surely not count.

  11. @ Oscar thank you very much for being a reasonable person who brushes his teeth everyday who is the most brilliant guy that can’t even spell STINK correctly nor write a correct sentence “i will classify as a big fool”. There is YOU before AS. Besides i’m not interested nor care about your classification.

  12. Olu 1 thing i lv abt ur people is dat they are nt responding bcos they want 2 respond bt bcos the majorities are responding, if the same majority say gud thing abt ojukwu nw the will still follow them & say the same thing. Be urself & stop the attitude of hypocrisy.Olu 1 thing i lv abt ur people is dat they are nt responding bcos they want 2 respond bt bcos the majorities are responding, if the same majority say gud thing abt ojukwu nw the will still follow them & say the same thing. Be urself & stop the attitude of hypocrisy.

  13. @Olu plz may I ask u, when abiola’s election was annulled in 1993, yorubas formed NADECO and used it and fought against Nigeria. At the end what happened?…If Ojukwu is not a national hero then y was he hourned in Abuja, Lagos and Enugu?. And also y would eminent nigerians like wole soyinka, Ade bayero emir of kano, president Jonathan and wife to mention but a few attended his burial…since u were born, have u ever seen any nigerian that has been given that kind of burial b/4?, just be frank.

  14. Na wooooo!who said dis country wil ever be united.i don’t think so o!just minor issue,see how u guys ar insultin ur selves,calin urselves names.i’m flabbergasted.

  15. He fought 4 himself. He wanted 2 b President by all means n he ended up wasting d lives of about 2million young Ibos. Hero my foot, he is a glorified coward who abandoned his ship n fled.

  16. You cant blame ojukwu, for fight for us bcos what is going on in the country today was the reason why he fought that war! Luk at the north that have been ruling the country for 45 years cant even give us a breating space to rule, all there do was to use boko haram to ruin the country down. but funniest part of it is that the north suffer almost all the damages. What we are passing thru to day is what ojukwu saw about 50 years ago so for that is not just a hero but a guru!

  17. Abdul, if u dnt lyk d complimnt, gun salutes n tributes prominnt nigerians r payn ds hero, u cn as wel go to hel n burn to ashes. D day u’l die, rams n catles wil mk u their hero. grow up.

  18. I used 2 see him as a hero, but after reading books written about d war, I discovered dat he was an arrogant know it all coward. How can 1 man b d head of state, treasurer, fuel attendant, food keeper, n still b in charge of ammunition. Executing a war without a cabinet n without contrary opinion?

  19. @Kingsley And here comes another one taking it personal. It’s my opinion and nothing you say is going to change it. Death won’t forever have a grip on our lives. So I’m a believer that I’ll see a resurrection. Don’t believe that I’ll burn in hell. I sleep, I rest in piece ’til I prevail It’s just a temporary lay down, I won’t forever stay down.

  20. Iam disappointed in some of d comments, why insulting each other b’cos of differences in what u believe, it is a shame if at dis stage we can not tolerate one another’s views/opinions. pls STOP d quarrels & allow Gen. ojukwu soul rest in peace, forgive his misdeeds, certainly God is ever merciful. Tnx pals.

  21. @Ahmed,remember he fought the biafran war wit his own money,not nigerian money,nobody conributed.so if he decide 2 execute d war witout cabinet dat shuld’nt be enough 4 to condem him.he is brave man,a one man squad.

  22. u pple should stop talking like irresponsible human being remember ojukwu as a hero of his own time is gone therfore let talk how will can be hero not to be judging ojukwu allow God to judge him and fight for ur personal greatness.

  23. Ojukwu was a hero as been tagged by some myopic Nigerians with the ideology of political primitive & primordial circus without checking the effects of his actions on Biafrans & Nigeria at large.

  24. you guys av turn this room to a house of commotion.do u want to creat another war?,or creating a future. let me tell u all, sir ojuku is dead let stand up give him the last respect for deeds whether good or
    bad.thanks

  25. Its only muslims (hausa&fulani muslims and yoruba muslims) and mostly non-easterners who will hate Ojukwu. Also, some eastern-families who lost their people in the war. These are the categories of people who hate Ojukwu. As 4me, wat i dnt like was dat he ran away afta so many lives had been lost

  26. @tony why all these insults? @ahmad learn to tolerate even offensive statements. u pple shld know dat this forum is not for us to quarrel wit one another but chat, share grievances/sorrow & joy among ourselves but see how u turn it upside-down. pls be patient!

  27. See! Ojukwu his not my hero as iweala support is 4 igbos and biafarans.how can some try to lavish and divid th contry wd name a hero.this unblievable comment 4rm us here how can u suppor a man try to devastated u home and at last u cal hm a hero.mtsw

  28. biafran war came to unite us together. Most of the survive soldiers are still alive today. Those that kick the bucket are remembered today. So, you see how great men fought for this nation to keep this country in one mind. I want this country to progress. Nigerian should put hands together to uplift this great nation. Chief ojukwu will be remembered from generation to generations to come. My dad told me the stories of the war he has gone so far. He is alife today. If a man sacrify his money and sweet to save this nation, he should be remembered in geneations to come. Mrs okonjo, thank God that you are there has their witness. I stand for one nation. The battle was not easy so said by my daddy. My daddy still feels the effect of the sound of the gun till today.

  29. I’m quiet sure that all this ppl that are insulting one another are unemployed.So Mr president u shuld do something to create jobs 4 them to reduce this idleness.God bless Nigeria!

  30. Anyone is entitled to his own opinion, so what if he fought the war with his own personal money, how about the lives lost, why did he run away instead of dying like a true fighter with the rest souls, true he stood up for his people but he executed the war poorly and am sure those igbos who lost their loved ones do not see him as any hero!
    To me he is no hero of mine and please, people are free to express their views Abdul please continue its your God given right,

  31. Both Abdul and Tubaba are fools.Compare Ojukwu with any ex Nigerian leader u will see urselves as very foolish tribalists.ur people have been stealing Nigeria money using it to fight 2nd civil war by gboko haram.tell me if what is happening in the North today is not a civil war sponsord by selfish northern leaders because of power.Ojukwu did not one day involve in any form of loothing and corruption that has engulfed Nigeria.he foresaw what is happening today and wanted to liberate poor Nigerian peacefully,it was still ur selfish Northerners that started killing ppl due to their criminal motive.u have fought war n crude oil is ur kill of war.u ppl should enjoy but don’t forget to ask Gadafi n his family how far.OJUKWU IS THE ONLY NIGERIAN HERO EVER LIVED BECAUSE HE WAS NOT PART OF CRIMINALITY THAT KEPT US LIKE THIS TODAY.So u guys should start developing a good sense of judgement.Criminals cannot can not be Nigeria heros

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