Determined to put the memories of the civil war of over 40 years ago behind Igbos and ensure that the spirit of all those who lost their lives in the war on the Biafran side are assured of a resting place, Anambra State Governor, Mr. Willie Obiano, on Monday in Awka, the Anambra State capital, accorded the soldiers who fought for Biafra but lost their lives a befitting funeral.
At the Alex Ekwueme Square, venue of the event, the governor, who went down memory lane, recalling the events of those dark days in Nigeria’s history before a mammoth audience that included the Second Republic Vice-President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, traders, civil servants as well as politicians of all colours from the South eastern states, and Igbo-speaking areas of Delta and Rivers States, said that the gallant soldiers lost their lives so that Nigeria would be united.
Any soldier who fought in the Biafra civil war and has not been seen 45 years after the war, is assumed to have died, hence the accordance of full funeral rites to all of them with the governor sitting as the Chief ‘Mourner’ in the “Uke” alongside Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho from Owerri, and Emeka Ojukwu (Jnr) among others receiving sympathisers from all over Igbo land according to tradition.
But it was also a day Governor Obiano urged all the Igbos to vote and re-elect President Goodluck Jonathan in the February 14, presidential election because he would offer Nigeria the best opportunity for national integration and unity.
He nonetheless tasked the people of the South-east to vote for APGA candidates in all other elections in Anambra State and every other state where the party fielded candidates for the February general election.
He urged APGA supporter’s nation-wide, especially in Ebonyi, Abia, Imo, Zamfara and Nasarawa States, where the party fielded governorship candidates, to vote massively for the party.
“We must sweep every available position in Anambra State and win the gubernatorial election in Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Zamfara and Nasarawa States,” he said.
He enjoined Igbos, especially those in the Diaspora to think home and join hands to build the South-east zone, adding however that in holding a befitting funeral for the fallen Biafran patriots during the civil war, spates of religious riots and the Boko Haram insurgency, where countless Igbos had lost their lives, they are taking after the Jews who remembered their dead during the holocaust and the Rwandan genocide victims who had been honoured by their people.
He said with the event of yesterday, Igbos should mourn no more as the wandering spirits of the fallen patriots would now rest in peace, but celebrate “the bravery of these great spirits who lost their lives that we may find peace today.”
Earlier, in his homily, the Catholic Bishop of Awka, Rev. Dr. Paulinus Ezeokafor, said although the ceremony was far from Christian tenets, it has to be done in a way that it will benefit Christians, saying, “Igbos should not remember the civil war negatively but positively, so that there would be no repeat.”
The National Chairman of APGA and the party’s candidate for Anambra central senatorial district in the February polls, Chief Victor Umeh, said it was imperative for those who are alive to give the fallen heroes a befitting funeral.
The Igbos, he said, had gotten up from the effects of the war and would not fall again, adding that what they needed was a unity of purpose to come together and fight for their rights in a united Nigeria