Chief Emeka Ojukwu is the son of ex-Biafran warlord, the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, whose posthumous birthday and memorial lecture held recently. At the event, Odumegwu Ojukwu’s wife, Bianca had tongue-lashed Governor Willie Obiano for being absent. In this interview with CHRISTIAN CHIME, Emeka Ojukwu said the family did not share in Bianca’s public outburst, among other issues.
You recently celebrated another posthumous birthday of your father, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. How did it go?
I actually spent the day at home. And though I interacted with my siblings on that day, I mostly spent the day in solitary reflection on what his life meant to me, to Ndigbo, and to the nation. His was a life of service, of sacrifice, of bold leadership but also a life filled with love and laughter. He lived an exemplary life.
Can you remember how the day was usually celebrated when he was here?
You know we were often not all together in the same continent during birthdays and the likes. But we always made sure to reach out to each other with phone calls. We would take turns to call him and sing “Happy Birthday” to him. He would invariably, jokingly criticise our singing and we would tease one another and finally say our goodbyes. If we were lucky enough to be with him on his birthday, then ice cream must certainly be a part of the celebrations, even later, when his doctors advised against too much sugar.
What do you miss most about him, especially on a day like this?
His wit, his depth of knowledge on almost every topic and the way he would get very serious, when the conversation turned to the plight of his people. He never wavered from that love and that sense of responsibility. He was a pillar of strength; an indomitable force and I believe his very presence would have gone a long way in bringing and keeping the political party, his people and indeed his family in good stead.
Aside your late father’s enduring legacies, as well as the university named after him, in what other ways does the family plan to immortalise him for the benefit of coming generations?
He left the task of his biography to a trusted family member with whom I am in constant communication, and I am aware that progress is being made on that labour of love. We are also considering plans for a memorial centre, public lecture series and more. Although we are all imperfect beings, we continue to try by the lives we lead, to pay homage to his legacy.
Today, it seems Igbo leaders have lost focus and direction. Who will come to the people’s rescue?
Who will lead the rescue depends as much on who is ready to be rescued, who is ready to change, as it is on who is ready to step to the challenge of leadership. Sentiments aside, the Igbos are more united than most people think, despite the etymological affinities between our various states and traditions.
We have men and women capable to lead amongst us. Some are already in leadership positions, others are yet to emerge. Remember that it is in times of adversity that great leaders emerge. It won’t be long before we get to that proverbial Promised Land. The movement is on and one day soon, together we will be there. We just need to be more introspective, tell ourselves some home truths and readjust ourselves.
Anambra State appears to be in some sort of quandary presently. What can be done about the situation? You know the media has a propensity to blow things out of proportion. In Anambra State today, we are witnessing many realistic, practical policies, and they are being implemented with a measure of success.
Although the democratic system we operate encourages opposition, it is unfortunate that the current trend and the way some of our brothers and sisters, who are in opposition or are dissatisfied for one reason or another, choose to go about it on the media, is not healthy for the unity of the state.
But to answer your question more succinctly, in terms of who will save the people, Anambra is currently in safe hands. Gov. Willie Obiano is building on the good foundation laid by previous administrations, and the next administration will build on the good works of Obiano.
Another governorship election is around the corner in Anambra, and your party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) is looking very troubled and appears not likely to return. What can be done to salvage the situation?
APGA is not in any more trouble than any of the other major political parties and will produce the next governor of the state. Our people are very much aware of the input APGA-led administrations have made and are making in the state. Anambra State is today witnessing previously unheard of confidence vis-a-vis security, due to the APGA security initiatives of Governor Willie Obiano. Who would want to miss sustenance of that superlative initiative?
The salvage mission is the collective mandate of all Igbo people and in the case of this state, all Anambrarians. Leading the mission is a movement already on course. My father took the bull by the horns by giving Ndigbo the APGA alternative, which initiated and led the salvage mission. Today, we are confident that this government will overcome any obstacles to its focus on delivering excellence.