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USAfrica: What Ojukwu’s life and work meant remain challenges for Nigerians, others. By Okey Ndibe

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What Ojukwu’s life and work meant remain challenges for Nigerians, others

By Prof. Okey Ndibe  

Special to USAfricaonline.com,  the USAfrica-powered e-groups of  Nigeria360IgboEventsUNNalumni,  and CLASSmagazine Houston.

Alive, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu had a charisma and commanding presence matched by few men anywhere. In death, he surpassed himself, inspiring a degree of reverence that approached cult dimensions. It is safe to suggest that no Nigerian personage or hero ever received a final send-off that

Ojukwu-handshake-USAfrica-pix

approached Ojukwu’s in scale, grandeur and drama.

Friends as well as erstwhile foes came together to testify, not to the absence of frailty in his character, but to a certain gravitas, a passionate engagement with the big issues of his time. Ojukwu, it was chorused, evinced willingness to rise – when history called – and meet head-on with a historical burden.

In a country where the denial of facts and the rubbing out of memory have become industries, Ojukwu’s death encouraged a season of truth-telling. Remarkably, a northern governor conceded that Ojukwu’s role in leading Biafra’s secession bid was wholly understandable. If he were in Ojukwu’s place in the mid-1960s, said Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, he would have done the same thing: taken up arms to defend his embattled people.

It was as if Nigeria could not quite make up its mind about the significance of the life and politics of this complex, infuriatingly confounding figure called Ojukwu – until the man breathed his last. Then, as if nudged by the cathartic effect of his passing, Nigerians took yet another measure of the man. They realized that, his shortcomings notwithstanding, he’d stood up to be counted. Born into spectacular privilege, he’d sacrificed his preferment in order to stand with his threatened people. That theme of monumental sacrifice, so rare in Nigeria, forms an essential element of Ojukwu’s allure, in life and – even more saliently – in death.

Of all the gushing encomia for the fallen general of the Biafran War, the most stirring tribute, in my view, came from his widow, Bianca Ojukwu (nee Onoh). Over the years, many had wondered why Ojukwu had sought to marry the ex-beauty queen, a woman young enough to be his daughter – and why Bianca had acceded to his courtship. In her oration, widely circulated in the print media as well as Internet forums, Ojukwu’s last wife offered what amounted to an eloquent, moving explanation. In what is bound to endure as a classic of spousal eulogy, she celebrated the multiple ways in which the ex-Biafran was present in her life. She invoked him as “my husband, my brother, my friend, my child.” She hailed him as “the lion of my history books, the leader of my nation when we faced extinction, the larger-than-life history come to my life – living, breathing legend.”

She touched on his personal attributes – an extraordinary sense of humor witnessed by those fortunate enough to be in his company, a quality of wisdom that came from clear and deep thinking, and a habit of candor. Then she pointed us to his indifference to material accumulation: “Your disdain for money was novel – sometimes funny, other times quite alarming. It mattered not a whit to you.”

Such self-disregarding temperate explained why, in his last days, felled by a major stroke, he depended on charity for the payment of his medical bills. Most Nigerian politicians of his stature would have godfathered their way to an oil bloc or two, or to several jumbo contracts, the monies collected for work not done. But not Ojukwu.

I counted myself lucky to have known him quite closely in the 1980s. I treasured frequent visits to see him at his Queens Drive home in Ikoyi, sometimes alone, but often in the company of friends: C.Don Adinuba, Willie Nwokoye, Nnamdi Obasi, or the late Chike Akabogu. We would spend long hours asking questions on a wide range of subjects in an informal setting. Sipping cognac and often smoking a cigarette, he’d weigh in on such matters as the reasons the Biafran struggle could not be sustained; why he’d thrown his weight behind the National Party of Nigeria (in my view, then and now, his most controversial, and questionable political move); his responses to the spate of civil war literature, especially those that judged him harshly; and what it would take for Nigeria to rise to its promise.

Sometimes, when we probed into certain aspects of the Biafran puzzle, Ojukwu would demure, pleading that he would address the matter in his memoir. He was insistent that he would write one, confiding his deepest thoughts on the vexed issues of the Biafra to the document.

Such a memoir, should it exist, would be a veritable gift not only to Nigerians but to the world as a whole. If he never managed to get to it, I would consider it a major disappointment, even disastrous. The last time I saw him, at his Enugu home in April 2008, I had meant to ask him whether the manuscript of the memoir was in place. And if he hadn’t done it, I was going to propose that a team of scholars be recruited to exhaustively interview him and produce his account. But when his wife led me past his capacious living room into a much smaller room where he held court, there were too many guests with him that neither the question, nor the proposal, could be voiced.

 

In the days after his burial, we must await his family’s word on whether the memoir was written – with instructions, perhaps, for posthumous publication. In the event of its non-existence, then his widow and larger family ought to seriously consider opening up his archive (letters, speeches, diaries, photos, recordings etc) to a select group of scholars to commence the task of producing impressions of the Biafran War as seen from the perspective of the man who wore the title of “the people’s general.”

 

Such a project would serve a Nigeria that – despite the formal cessation of the Biafran War – has yet to find a way to resolve the contradictions that led to that war. Worse, Nigeria is flirting, once again, with re-experiencing the catastrophes of war. The belligerent tone that defines national discourse, the rampant dispossession of the many by the few, and the spate of violent attacks on innocent targets, forewarn of a slide to the calamitous night of war.

Last week (first week of March 2012), a friend sent me a question on Facebook: What were my impressions of Ojukwu’s funeral? I replied that the event was grand and moving, but risked becoming sheer spectacle if those who presume to be touched by his memory failed to immortalize him.

OkeyNdibe.USAfricaPix-by-chido-nwangwu

Ojukwu’s death triggered a rare moment of honesty in the often repressed discourse that is Nigeria. That repression must be forced to yield place to sustained honesty and openness. Many Nigerians believe as if any frank conversation is an invitation to fission. They forget that no nation is an inevitable organism. In recent African history, Eritrea had emerged from the navel of Ethiopia; just last year, Southern Sudan opted to divorce Khartoum. In the end, unless Nigeria begins to make sense for its constituent elements, its dismemberment would be a matter of time. That, or Nigerians would persist in an unhappy marriage founded on a lie, on a culture of abuse and on injustice.

In the days and weeks and months and years after Ojukwu’s death and burial, we will be challenged to prove that our effusive praises were heartfelt, not mere wishy-washy rituals. The proof will lie, ultimately, in our willingness to remember what his life and work meant at the deepest levels and – more fundamentally – in permitting the lessons of Biafra to inform every aspect of our progress.                                                                                                       Ndibe, a professor of English at Trinity College in Connecticut and a novelist, is a contributing editor of USAfrica multimedia networks since 1995. Follow him on twitter @OkeyNdibe

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The greatest Igbo ODUMEGWU OJUKWU’s great farewell in Aba. By Chido Nwangwu   http://usafricaonline.com/2012/02/28/the-greatest-igbo-odumegwu-ojukwu-farewell-in-aba-by-chido-nwangwu

USAfrica: Ikemba ODUMEGWU OJUKWU’s farewell in Aba, today February 28, 2012, reflected a fitting tribute, historically meaningful celebration, proper regard and deserving appreciation of the greatest Igbo, in my opinion, to have ever lived (like him or hate him).

I SALUTE Aba (aka Enyimba city), the robust and fearless town I was born, bred and raised, for giving the Ikemba, our Ochiagha, Gburugburu, Oka oburu uzo, dike na ndu ma n’onwu, mgbadike anyi, a hero’s farewell.

To the Ikemba, may your valiant soul rest in peace and dignity.

We will, and I, Chido Nwangwu, will never forget to continue to tell my generation and the next about your towering courage through tempest and thunder; through sorrow, pain, tears, blood….

Dr. Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica multimedia networks, first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com; and recipient of several journalism and public policy awards, was recently profiled by the CNN International for his pioneering works on multimedia/news/public policy projects for Africans and Americans. http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/international/2010/07/29/mpa.african.media.bk.a.cnn.

• For seasoned insights and breaking news on these issues, log on to USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica powered e-groups including Nigeria360 at yahoogroups and USAfrica at googlegroups. Follow us at Facebook.com/USAfricaChido and Twitter.com/Chido247

News: At Ojukwu memorial in Dallas Texas, USAfrica’s Chido Nwangwu challenges the Igbo nation to say never again like Jews.

Ojukwu trouble and Ikemba titles. By Chido Nwangwu

WHY I CELEBRATE THE LIFE AND WORKS OF NELSON MANDELA. By Chido Nwangwu  http://usafricaonline.com/2010/07/15/mandela-why-i-celebrate-his-life-works-by-chido-nwangwu/

For racist Soccer actions, Liverpool’s player Suarez should be suspended.  By Chido Nwangwu. Follow us at Facebook.com/USAfricaChido and Twitter.com/Chido247

Nigeria’s Federal Republic of Insecurity. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica, USAfricaonline.com and the Nigeria360 e-group. http://usafricaonline.com/2011/12/17/nigeria-federal-republic-of-insecurity-by-chido-nwangwu/ : IF any of the Nigerian President’s 100 advisers has the polite courage for the extraordinary task of reminding His Excellency of his foremost, sworn, constitutional obligation to the national interest about security and safety of Nigerians and all who sojourn in Nigeria, please whisper clearly to Mr. President that I said, respectfully: Nigerians, at home and abroad, are still concerned and afraid for living in what I call Nigeria’s Federal Republic of Insecurity. FULL text of commentary at USAfricaonline.com http://usafricaonline.com/2011/12/17/nigeria-federal-republic-of-insecurity-by-chido-nwangwu/

Related insight: USAfrica’s October 17, 2001 special report/alert: Nigeria’s bin-Laden cheerleaders could ignite religious war, destabilize Africa. By USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwuhttp://usafricaonline.com/chido.binladennigeria.html

http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=USAfrica+Chido+Nwangwu+al-qaeda+terrrorism+nigeria&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

http://usafricaonline.com/tag/al-qaeda/

310 killed by Nigeria’s ‘talibans’ in Bauchi, Yobe n Maiduguri; crises escalate. USAfricaonline.com  on  July 28, 2009. www.usafricaonline.com/chido.ngrtalibans09.html

http://www.groundreport.com/World/310-killed-by-Nigerias-talibans-in-Bauchi-Yobe-n-M/2904584

Related and prior reporting on the Jos crises on USAfrica, click here: http://usafricaonline.com/2011/08/16/10-killed-in-renewed-violence-near-jos/

News archives related to Jos, here http://usafricaonline.com/?s=jos

USAfrica: As Egypt’s corrupter-in-chief Mubarak slides into history’s dustbin.  By Chido Nwangwuhttp://usafricaonline.com/2011/01/30/chido-nwangwu-as-egypt-corrupter-in-chief-mubarak-slides-into-historys-dustbin-egyptians-not-waiting-for-obama-and-united-nations/

Tunisia, Egypt . . . Is Nigeria next? By Prof. Rosaire Ifedi           http://usafricaonline.com/2011/02/13/tunisia-egypt-is-nigeria-next-by-prof-rosaire-ifedi/

 

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  1. Austin Oduozo on Facebook

    March 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Thank you Prof. for that scholarly commentary.Read more….

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AFRICA

World SOCCER SHOWDOWN: South Africa backs Morocco; U.S under pressure

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Special to USAfrica [Houston]  • USAfricaonline.com  •  @Chido247  @USAfricalive

“It is an old myth that Africa doesn’t have the capacity, and naysayers should stop using the political argument. Africa hosted the best Fifa World Cup ever and with good support, Morocco can emulate South Africa,” said the SAFA president Jordaan.

Johannesburg – South Africa Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan has promised Morocco that South Africa will give its unqualified support to secure another World Cup on the African continent in 2026.

Morocco is vying to stage the world’s biggest football prize against a joint bid by Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

The Moroccan delegation comprises ex-Senegal and Liverpool striker El Hadji Diouf and former Cameroonian goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell.

Jordaan said it would be great for Africa to have a second bite of the World Cup cherry, adding Morocco’s bid was Africa’s bid.

Jordaan assured Morocco that he would personally lobby for the Council for Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) and the rest of the continent to rally behind the Moroccans.

In his remarks, Antoine Bell said Morocco had all the ingredients to host another spectacular World Cup.

“South Africa showed the way and I am confident Morocco will follow suit. The country has international standards, from the stadiums to top infrastructure. Morocco can compete with the best in the world,” he said.

By giving Morocco its support, South Africa’s voice would make all the difference on the continent, Bell said.

“When South Africa talks on the continent, the rest of the continent listens hence it is vital for South Africa to support Morocco. South Africa has the experience and Morocco will use this experience to win the 2016 bid,” added Bell. African News Agency

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AFRICA

USAfrica: Catholic priest Etienne killed by militia in DR Congo, after a wedding mass

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Special to USAfrica [Houston]  •  @USAfricaLIVE

Goma – A Catholic priest was found shot dead hours after he said mass in Democratic Republic of Congo’s restive North Kivu province, a member of the church told AFP.

“Father Etienne Sengiyumva was killed [on] Sunday by the Mai Mai Nyatura (militia) in Kyahemba where he had just celebrated a mass including a baptism and a wedding,” father Gonzague Nzabanita, head of the Goma diocese where the incident occurred, told AFP.

The Mai Mai Nyatura are an armed group operating in North Kivu, in eastern DRC.

Nzabanita said Sengiyumva, 38, had had lunch with local faithful before “we found him shot in the head”.

North and South Kivu provinces are in the grip of a wave of violence among militia groups, which often extort money from civilians or fight each other for control of mineral resources.

Last week unknown assailants kidnapped a Catholic priest in North Kivu, demanding $500 000 for his release.

Eastern DRC has been torn apart by more than 20 years of armed conflict, fuelled by ethnic and land disputes, competition for control of the region’s mineral resources, and rivalry between regional powers.

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AFRICA

USAfrica: Nigeria’s LOOTERS LIST and Buhari’s selective corruption targets. By Majeed Dahiru

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PDP vs APC Looters List and Buhari’s selective corruption targets

By Majeed Dahiru

Special to USAfrica {Houston] • USAfricaonline.com • @USAfricaLive

 

Timipriye Silva, a former governor and PDP chieftain, who became a founding member and financier of APC, had his corruption charges quashed by a federal high court and Buhari’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed to appeal the N19.5 billion fraud case.

More curious are the missing names of some accused looters with marital ties to Nigeria’s First and Second families. Gimba Yau Kumo, the PDP appointed former managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank and now son-in-law of President Buhari, who was similarly accused of fraudulent activities amounting to about N3 billion and reportedly being investigated by EFCC, is missing from [Buhari’s Information Minister] Lai Mohammed’s list.

For a party that has been accused of destroying Nigeria by squandering accrued oil revenues estimated at over $500 billion in sixteen years, it is confounding that Lai’s list is not only exclusively comprised of PDP looters but also captures the last two years of PDP’s last lap in power and included just Goodluck Jonathan’s associates, who supported him against candidate Buhari, while also relating only to funds used in the last electioneering campaign of the PDP.

Whenever the obviously abysmal performance of the Muhammadu Buhari administration appears to be gaining sustained attention, and leading to murmuring within the rank and file of his supporters, a tale of humungous looting by opposition elements is usually spun and thrown into the public space to distract people away from the core issue of the failure of governance.

Like a fit of deja vu, the recently unveiled list of looters by Lai Mohammed, a fellow who comes across as more of President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief propagandist than a minister of the federal republic of Nigeria in charge of information and culture, didn’t come as a surprise. The list is all too familiar as the unveiling was a summarised rehash of politically exposed individuals who are members of the opposition party, close associates of former President Goodluck Jonathan, particularly his appointees in government, who have been named and shamed several times in well-coordinated media trials.

First on Lai’s list is Uche Secondus, the chairman of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Lai had this to say of Secondus: “On the 19th of February 2015, he took N200 million only from the office of the NSA”. An unidentified former financial secretary of the PDP was similarly accused of “taking” N600 million from the same office of the National Security Adviser. Lai Mohammed also re-revealed that frontline member of PDP and media mogul, who deployed his media power to promote Goodluck Jonathan by de-marketing the Buhari candidacy in the run up to 2015 presidential election, Raymond Dokpesi, is on trial for “taking” N2.1 billion from the office of the then NSA. Lai also reminded Nigerians that his shouting match and former spokesman of the PDP, Olisa Metuh is on trial for “collecting” N1.4 billion from the same office of the NSA.

Lai Mohammed’s expanded follow up list included the usual suspects – former ministers, PDP state governors, service chiefs, presidential aides, associates and family members of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who were collectively accused of looting Nigeria of close to $2.1 billion through the office of the former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.).

The choice of words like “took” and “collected” deployed by Lai to describe the manner in which those named received these monies was deliberate for the maximum effect of propaganda, portraying the accused persons as looters who broke into NSA vault and catered away boxes of cash at something akin to a gun point.

While the clamp down on PDP looters who supported Goodluck Jonathan and are still members of the former ruling party has been heavy handed, others who decamped from PDP to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the eve of the 2015 elections and supported candidate Buhari’s campaign with their share of loot have been forgiven. For example, former NSA, Sambo Dasuki is being treated as an apostate for his role in the disbursement of funds that were used to oil Goodluck Jonathan’s electioneering effort. He has been kept in detention illegally and in defiance of several judicial rulings. Judging by the Buhari administration’s anti-corruption standard of an accusation being tantamount to guilt, in clear contempt of court proceedings by the resort to the naming and shaming suspects even before investigations and criminal prosecution are concluded and convictions obtained, it becomes curious that Lai’s list didn’t reveal any new name. Rather some names were either missing or omitted from what is a familiar list. This appears so because the bulk of PDP bigwigs who “destroyed” Nigeria in sixteen years of national rule are firmly in control of the APC, from its elected national executives to the National Assembly and appointed members of the federal executive council. The majority of APC-elected governors were also former members of the PDP. Even recently decamped PDP members to APC, such as Musiliu Obanikoro and Sulivan Chime, who have been prominently named and shamed in the recent past, were conspicuously missing from the released list of looters.

More curious are the missing names of some accused looters with marital ties to the first and second families. Gimba Yau Kumo, a former PDP appointed managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank and now son-in-law of President Buhari, who was similarly accused of fraudulent activities amounting to about N3 billion and reportedly being investigated by EFCC, is missing from Lai’s list. Also missing on that list is Bola Shagaya.

Arguably one of Africa’s richest women, with a reputation for close business and political ties to all first families in the past two decades, Bola Shagaya was exceptionally close to the Goodluck Jonathan family. Often described as a bosom friend of former first lady Patience Jonathan, she has been accused, in numerous instances, allegedly, of acting as Patience Jonathan’s front for the laundering of illicit money estimated at over N13 billion, while engaging in other fraudulent activities involved in state capture. All that may be in the past now as she has found her way back to reckoning with the marriage of her son, Seun Bakare to Damilola, the daughter of Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo. Little wonder then, Bola Shagaya’s name is not on Lai’s looters list.

In a clear display of the arrogance of ignorance, the Buhari administration has narrowed its war on corruption to the hounding of members of the Jonathan administration, other individuals and organisations that were known to have worked against the emergence of the President [Buhari] in the 2015 presidential elections. This is clearly evident in the selective nature of the current anti-corruption effort.

The tone of generalisation of the PDP as the problem of Nigeria, as an indicator of corruption, should make all members of PDP (both former and present) and their collaborators in other parties guilty, hence qualifying them for naming and shaming, while being liable for criminal prosecution.

Therefore, Buhari’s list of looters is devoid of integrity, because his selective war on corruption is indicative of corruption in itself. All that is required of a former PDP looter is to get baptised into APC and profess Buhari as the saviour of Nigeria. This is precisely responsible for the failure and ineffectiveness of the war on corruption. Nothing has changed as the current APC looters continue to loot Nigeria, while the redeemed former PDP looters continue to enjoy their loot in hibernation under the abundant grace of the infallible Buhari.

• Dahiru is based in Abuja 

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