Rawlings At Ojukwu's Burial: Nigeria Still Facing Challenges
By NNAMDI MBAWIKE, DAVID-CHYDDY ELEKE, and MIKE UBANI on 02/03/2012
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Former president of the Republic of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings, has expressed regret that those things that led to Nigerian Civil war were still rearing their ugly head in the country, adding that they were still causing pains and hardship to the people.
He stated this yesterday while paying tribute to the late Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, at the Interdenominational Funeral Service which took place yesterday at Okpara Square, Enugu. He further expressed regrets over the inability of Gen. Gowon to be physically present at the occasion, saying that he asked President Jonathan during a meeting in London, to prevail on Gen. Gowon to attend the burial of late Ojukwu.
Also at the occasion, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday poured encomiums on Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, describing the late Biafran leader as one who did things worth reading and writing about, just as he also said that his life epitomized sacrifice and love.
The president who spoke through Vice President Namadi Sambo, at an inter-denominational funeral service held in honour of the deceased at the Okpara Square, Enugu, said that the achievements that made Ojukwu great were solid.
He recalled how Ojukwu accepted an unexpected leadership role during the turbulent period of the country’s history, saying that the role he played at that time, later defined his place “in the history of our country most critically”.
According to him, Ojukwu’s love for his people made him to become an advocate of a united Nigeria after the end of the 30 months Nigerian civil war.
The number one citizen of the country noted that the contributions of the late Igbo hero in the political sphere of Nigeria would never be overlooked.
In his tribute, former military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), said Ojukwu would be remembered for his courage and unwavering desire to fight for justice and fair play for his people.
Gowon, who led the Nigerian side during the civil war, averred that “Ojukwu loved Nigeria so much”, adding that he wanted to opt for war “over perceived injustice against his people”.
The former head of state, who was represented by Professor Ben Mareiere, South East Coordinator of Nigeria Prays, said he would pay condolence visit to the family of the late Icon when he returns to Nigeria from the United States of America.
Several thousands of people from all walks of life, started trooping into the Okpara square where Ojukwu’s remains were laid in state as early as 8 a.m. yesterday to pay their last respects to the departed Igbo leader, whom the former secretary general of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, said personified service and commitment to the Igbo nation, adding, “that is why he will continue to dwell in their minds and hearts for many years”.
He continued: “As a complete exercise in courage and doggedness, the Ikemba was a lone star, and will remain such for many years for the present generation,” said Anyaoku.
Most of the people who thronged the venue of the occasion came dressed in full traditional attires, while many wore uniform emblazoned with Ojukwu’s image on them. Youths who made colourful souvenir of the Igbo leader, also made brisk business.
The Enugu State government had declared today a work-free day, while all markets and business outlets had been shut in a show of respect for the man they fondly referred to as “Ezeigbo Gburu-Gburu” (King of the Igbo nation).
A mass choir sang solemn worship songs, while other choral performances were presented by various groups, including that of the choral ensemble led by Laz Ekwueme.
Special prayers for the repose of the soul of the deceased was also said by various blocks of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN.
Ojukwu’s widow, Bianca, one of his eldest son, Chukwuemeka Jnr, and his younger siblings led the family delegation at the ceremony.
The occasion was attended by many prominent Nigerians, including the deputy president of the senate, Ike Ekweremadu, the deputy speaker, House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, governors of Rivers state, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Rotimi Amaechi, Akwa-Ibom, Godswill Akpabio, and Cross River, Liyel Imoke. Other dignitaries who graced the occasion were the governors of Ebonyi state, Chief Martin Elechi, his Imo state counterpart, Owelle Rochas Okorocha as well as governor Peter Obi of Anambra state. Enugu governor Sullivan Chime played host at the occasion.
Other dignitaries who attended the occasion were retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Chukwudifu Oputa, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (rtd.), who chaired the occasion, the secretary to the government of the federation, Anyim Pius Anyim as well as the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, a long-time friend of the deceased.
The remains of the late Biafran leader will be buried today in his home town Umudim Nnewi, in Anambra State.
Ojukwu’s Body Arrives Nnewi For BurialThe body of late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, which left Ekwueme Square in Awka at about 5:45pm yesterday after a two hour funeral that was filled with accolades arrived Nnewi in a military helicopter at about 6:05 amidst cheers from his kinsmen.
The brief funeral in Awka, which was attended by several dignitaries, saw Governor Peter Obi, Chief Victor Umeh, Igwe Prof Chukwuemeka Ike, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Mrs Oby Ezekwesili calling On Nnewi people to take heart as the death of Ojukwu is a loss to the entire Igbo race.
Chief Ezeife seized the opportunity to call for Igbo presidency, saying that nothing would appease the soul of Ojukwu than to see that the freedom he fought for, for the Igbo people has been attained.
Meanwhile, government offices, banks, markets and other public places yesterday stayed under lock and keys as the body of Late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was brought into the state.
LEADERSHIP investigation showed that market leaders announced to their traders the closure of markets for two days, with a fine of N5,000 for any trader who dared to open for business for the two days.
Posted 02/03/2012 3:05:01 PM
Comments Showing 1 to 1 of 1 comments
nathancruise on 27/04/2012 09:48:59 AM
So sad the former president of the Republic of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings just bid goodbye for us. I knwo everybody in there in Ghana grieved about this incident. Let no one be fooled; death is most certainly a business. There are Federal Trade Commission rules regarding funeral homes. However, an undercover Federal Trade Commission investigation last year found a disturbing number of funeral homes operate despite regulations. Source of article: High number of violations revealed in FTC probe of funeral homes.
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