The Senate has come under harsh criticisms following its rejection of calls by Nigerians that former Head of State of the defunct Biafra, late Dim Chukuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu be given a state burial by the Federal Government.
The Senate was said to have resolved that since Ojukwu was not a former Head of State or government, the eight states which eastern states which make the area where he governed as military governor should give him a befitting burial.
This is even as the defunct Biafran war veterans, yesterday, absolved Ojukwu of blames leading to the 1967 to 1970 civil war pointing out that their former leader did not declare war on the Federal Government as some Nigerians have claimed, but rather, it was the federal troops that attacked Biafra fisrt, and Dim Ojukwu only fought in defence of the former Eastern region.
However, the Kaduna based Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, CRCN, has lampooned the Senate for rejecting a state burial for late Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Ojukwu, saying that this has shown that the encomiums showered on him was nothing other than â€˜â€™hypocrisyâ€™â€™ and â€˜â€™media oops.â€™â€™
The Igbo Youths Movement, IYM, also said that the Senate decision has shown that the Federal Government had been â€˜â€™only been mouthing Nigeriaâ€™s unity and indivisibility,â€™â€™ pointing out that the use of state force to beat states and federating units into would continue while the country wobbled.
President of the CRC, Comrade Shehu Sani, made this known in a statement in Kaduna yesterday, stressing that the reason by the Senate that Ojukwu was not a former Head of State was unreasonable.
According to him, it was wrong for the Senate to conclude that only former presidents qualify to be given state burial statesmen.
Saniâ€™s statement read, â€˜â€™The decision by the Senate to reject a state burial for the late Ikemba of Nnewi,Chief Odumegu Ojukwu is regrettable and lamentable.
â€™â€™Itâ€™s an insult on the sensibilities of Nigerians and all advocates of peace,unity and national reconciliation to deem Ojukwu unqualified for state burial.
â€™â€™The senate should further explain whether a statesman must be a former president or a member of the ruling party.
â€™â€™The rejection of the state burial only reinforces the fact that the condolences and encomiums showered on the late Ikemba is nothing but hypocrisy and media oops.
â€™â€™The rejection of the state burial reveals the deep resentment and grudges most members of the political establishment hold against the late chief and clearly made nonsense of Gowonâ€™s no victor no vanquish proclamation.
â€™â€™If Gowon or any Nigerian president can qualify for a state burial,Chief Ojukwu should also.
â€™â€™The senate has bungled an historic opportunity to demonstrate to the people of the south east and indeed all Nigerians that Nigeria is one,united and indivisible.
â€™â€™Telling the Governors of the south east to bury Ojukwu is telling the people of the south east that their future lies in their past.
Chief Ojukwu has led a war of secession but he is also a role model for peace and national reconciliation.â€™â€™
In its own reaction, the IYM President, Evangelist Elliot Ukoh said, â€˜â€™The truth of the matter at all times is that, Ojukwu was the man who saw tomorrow; whose life read the Nigerian contradictions.
â€™â€™It is left for Nigerians to accept the truth that his life was all about the contraption of Nigeria.
â€™â€™Until we sit down at a national conference and re-define the existence of Nigeria, so that future generations can enjoy an enduring nation, we will continue to crawl and wobble in the dark.
â€™â€™If Nigeria appreciates the fact of Ojukwuâ€™s life as a book, reading the contradictions of Nigerians, Nigeria honour him.
â€™â€™If Nigeria continues to use state power to force and beat the federating units into line, then the hypocrisy, Boko Haram, corruption and the fake mouthing of indivisibility or unity will continue and we will continue to crawl, drift and wobble until we face the reality that there is great need to re-define the structure for the sake of posterity,â€™â€™ the IYM President, Evangelist Ukoh added.
Meanwhile, the Biafran war veterans yesterday maintained that Ojukwu declared the Biafran republic in response to the endless massacre of people from the former Eastern Nigeria, particularly the Igbo, by their northern counterparts.
Recalling what they regarded as the accurate history of the civil war, the veterans said that it was the then Nigeria Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon that declared war on the Eastern region in order to force the region back to Nigeria, which Ojukwu stoutly resisted.
The former Biafran soldiers further said that it was the people of the Eastern region who pressured Ojukwu to declare the state of Biafra principally due to the pogrom against the easterners living in the north.
Retired Col. Paul Udeh, Commander of the war veterans, who led the former Biafran soldiers on a condolence visit to Ojukwuâ€™s residence in Enugu, expressed regrets over the demise of the Ikemba Nnewi saying it was people like him who could not contain the injustice and blood letting against Ndigbo that compelled Ojukwu to declare the republic of Biafra, stressing that people should stop falsifying the facts of history.
After signing the register and conducting a brief military parade, the former military officers, declared that the demise of Ojukwu was a great loss to the Ndigbo and Africa in general, stressing that the vacuum created by the late Igbo leader would be difficult to fill.
While praying God to grant Ojukwuâ€™s C soul eternal rest, Col. Udeh however, called on Ndigbo to use his death to unite themselves.
Also speaking after paying a condolence visit to Ojukwuâ€™s residence yesterday, Chief Executive Officer of Capital Oil and Gas, Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah said that the only honour Ndigbo would bestow on Ojukwu was to continue with the virtue and the dream he had for his people.
The oil magnate said: â€œI am saddened by the death of the icon and an iroko. I can only promise that by the grace of God, we will uphold the virtues and the dream you have for our people and it shall manifest in our lifetime.â€