FOLLOWING claims by former President Olusegun Obasanjo that he discussed the possibility of the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu apologising to Nigerians over the Civil War, a family member of the Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Anthony Udemefuna Ojukwu, has described the claim as “a huge falsehood.”
According to the 72-year-old legal practitioner, at no time did President Obasanjo hold such discussion with the late Ikemba.
Insisting that the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu had no reason to apologise “for committing no offence,” he said most Nigerians were oblivious of the actual cause of the war, as it was fought even against the wishes of the deceased and the Igbo people.
Also, in her reaction to the claim, former Governor of Anambra State, Virgy Etiaba, said it was the first time she would be hearing about such discussion, despite being close to Odumegwu-Ojukwu.
She also questioned the veracity of the widely held “no victor-no-vanquished” slogan in the face of the current controversy stoked by Obasanjo’s alleged advice to the late Ikemba.
Meanwhile, tribute continued to pour in for the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu as the Asagba of Asaba, Obi (Prof.) Chike Edozie, former Governor of Edo State, John Odigie-Oyegun; and Health Minister, Onyebuchi Chukwu, a former Special Assistant to the late Chief MKO Abiola, Lisa Olu Akerele, Niger Delta Liberation Force (NDLF) and the Igbo Political Forum (IPF) mourned the death of the Ikemba of Nnewi.
Udemefuna Ojukwu noted that President Obasanjo was far too junior to Odumegwu-Ojukwu in the Army for him to advise the late Ikemba on such matter, especially as Odumegwu-Ojukwu belonged to a class of military intellectuals at the time.
“Otherwise, why didn’t Chief Obasanjo come up with this claim earlier when he (Odumegwu-Ojukwu) was alive?” he queried.
Ojukwu said that having served in the 18 Division of the Biafran Army and close as he was to his late cousin, he would have been informed if such serious discussion took place between Odumegwu-Ojukwu and Obasanjo.
The Aba monarch said Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s giant strides towards national development would be remembered in several ways.
Oyegun said his major regret about the death of Odumegwu-Ojukwu was the inability of the warlord to unite his people for better bargaining power in the county.
Oyegun told The Guardian yesterday that if the late Ikemba had succeeded in unifying his people, it would have given the Igbos strong voice in the country.
In a statement, Akerele stated that by Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s death, the nation has lost a great reformist who was committed to the progress of Nigeria.
However, he regretted the role Odumegwu-Ojukwu played in later years “when he led late Gen. Sani Abacha’s campaign to western nations’ capitals to defend the injustice perpetrated on Abiola in the annulment of June 12 by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida”.
He held that Odumegwu-Ojukwu “never rose beyond the toga of an Igbo leader in words and deeds all through his political career,” and urged late Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s “contemporaries still alive and the younger generation to strive beyond their ethnic enclave, and view Nigeria from a nationalistic perspective.”
The NDLF likened the death of Odumegwu-Ojukwu to the late Niger Deltan activist, Maj. Isaac Adaka Boro.
In a statement by its National Chairman, S.N. Okeke and National Secretary, Chyna Iwuanyanwu, the IPF described the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu as “an avatar, a moral guide, a spiritual epigone, consummate patriot, an astute and passionate political leader and pan nationalist per excellence, who sacrificed his health, wealth and intellect for his people.”