President Goodluck Jonathan said on Friday that the late Ikemba of Nnewi and former Biafran warlord, Chief Chukwuemeka Odimegwu-Ojukwu, was sent by God to lead the Igbo.
Jonathan noted that in the history of mankind, God always raised men like Ojukwu to lead their people.
The President made the statement during a funeral service for Ojukwu at the St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Nnewi, Anambra State.
“In the history of many nations, kingdoms, towns, villages, communities and families, God raises people to lead them. Ojukwu is one of those programmed by God to lead his people,” Jonathan said, adding that Ojukwu’s vision was beyond the understanding of his contemporaries.
The President said he decided to attend Ojukwu’s interment in Nnewi, despite sending an official delegation of the Federal Government led by Vice-President Namadi Sambo to the state function in Enugu on Thursday, because he considered the event as important and himself as part of the family of the deceased.
He said he had almost shed tears a few years ago when the late warlord attended his own father’s burial in the creeks of the Niger Delta.
He said, “Since that time, he accepted me as his younger brother and as his own son.”
In his address, Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State said that despite his wealthy background, Ojukwu chose to serve humanity and he was courageous enough to make bold decisions that, though being right, were not acceptable to some people.
Obi urged Nigerian leaders to emulate the late Ikemba of Nnewi’s exceptional courage and to do things that would always be in the overall interest of the people.
The governor praised Jonathan, whom he said had made Ndigbo feel less marginalised and ‘excluded’ from the affairs of the country.
He pledged that the people of the South-East would continue to support the President for giving honour to Ojukwu.
The retired Catholic Bishop of Orlu, Rt. Rev. Gregory Ochiagha, who delivered the homily, urged the people to pray for Ojukwu because he lived as a true Nigerian
The cleric said Ojukwu had left a legacy behind for a new generation of Nigerians that would see personal sacrifice as a prerequisite for public service.
He said there was an urgent need to inculcate moral values in leadership, just as the time had come for a redefinition of assets declaration by public officers in the country.
Ochiagha said the practice should no longer be the declaration of material assets, but the declaration of virtues, such as love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, truthfulness gentleness and self control.
Thousands of Nigerians from different parts of the country witnessed Ojukwu’s burial on Friday. But security personnel had a difficult time controlling the crowd.
Two minor fire incidents, which could have made the event go awry, were promptly brought under control during the event.
Source: Punch, 3rd March 2012.