Sunday, November 27, 2011


The only time I had the honour of meeting General Emeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, was in 1992, I believe it was in the December of that year! 

I had just resumed at the Maryam Babangida National Centre for Women Development, as the photographer! 

It was also my first year in Abuja! The Centre had a guest house, which was not operational yet, but the pioneer general manager, Greg Obong-Oshotse, a very resourceful man, could not wait for the place to generate some income for the centre!

So he came up with a novel plan, he wanted some staff, who had been employed for other reasons, to volunteer to run the place, while the process of giving the place to a management firm could be started!

I was one of those who volunteered! It was in the course of my working there, as a telephone operator/porter/housekeeper, that I met the man Ojukwu!

Greg Obong-Oshotse, has always been a man, light years ahead of his time!

He decreed then, that the women centre, including the guest house was to be an alcohol, and tobacacco free zone!

He had not reckoned with guest Ojukwu in Room 201! 

Ojukwu came, and occupied one of the new rooms: we were happy a VIP was one of our guests!

We felt he would tell other VIPs of our excellent hotel! We needed the income to run the Center! 

That was until he checked out of the room! 

To our dismay, we discovered the Ikemba had been smoking a very pungent brand of cigarettes, or cigars, in the room! 

As far as he was concerned, a hotel was not a boarding school!

In addition, there were empty bottles of exotic brandies, and other unholy spirits, in the room! 

You can imagine how shocked we were!

But that incident, epitomizes who Ojukwu was: a man who walked his own path, all his life! 

He was not content to walk in the paths laid down by others!

Need I talk about his romance with Bianca Ono, a relationship that produced a wonderful set of twins?

Ojukwu decided that he was going to marry someone, whose naming ceremony as a baby, he had attended! 

It was not a matter for debate: the public registered their displeasure, and for Ojukwu, his heart was set on what he wanted to do, he married his beauty queen!

He was his own man, through, and through!

Many do not know, that he joined the army, against the wishes of his father, a very influential, and wealthy man in his day! 

His father used his connections to prevent Ojukwu from gaining entry into the defence academy! 

In keeping with his dogged resolve, he chose to go to the military school instead, thus joining as a recruit!

It was when he got into trouble with his drill instructor, for the umpteenth time,  ostensibly for correcting him on the proper way to pronounce "safety clip" and not the "safiti kili" the fellow kept telling the recruits, that he got his wish!

Other recruits who knew the right pronunciation kept their counsels to themselves, but not Ojukwu! He had not schooled in Britain for nothing!

A British officer who knew Ojukwu's history, and his father's hand in preventing him from going to the academy, decided that enough, was enough, and there and then, recommended the fellow for officer training!

And that innocuous act, changed the course of Nigeria's history!

We all know about his war with Nigeria, and the reasons behind it, the killing of Igbos in the North!

The serious question we should be asking ourselves now, is, have the conditions that led to the formation of Biafra changed?

A follow-up to that question would be, is Nigeria a more humane, just, and equitable society, after the loss of uncountable lives in the civil war?

If things have not changed: sadly, it means that we did not learn any lessons as a nation from the traumatic episode, and are doomed to repeat it!

May God grant his family the courage to bear this great loss!


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