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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Tribute to Odenigbo, Biafran icon

Tribute to Odenigbo, Biafran icon
By By Tim Tochukwu

Chukwunweike Innocent Odenigbo, a professor and an icon of Biafra restoration struggle, died last January, 2015, and was laid to rest on February. Biafrans are still enamored by the wonderful life he lived for the restoration of Biafra. He was buried in United States of America (USA), and his burial took place at New Jersey cemetery, and it was his wish to be buried in a foreign land at the time. For him, Biafra-land (his home land) was still under occupation by Nigeria, and it was not his wish to be buried in an occupied Biafra. For that singular reason, he willed it that he should not to be buried in Biafra land until its liberation from Nigerian occupation. Just like Joseph told his Israeli brothers while in bondage in Egypt, he told those close to him that his body should not be taken to Biafra-land until its liberation from Nigeria. However, in spite of the fact that his burial took place in a foreign land, it was apparent to all in attendance that he was truly a Biafran.

A major indication of this was his casket, which was wrapped in the beautiful (red, black and green) colours of Biafra, which was equally displayed all around the arena. Another indication that he was truly Biafran was the presence of many leaders of Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB), led by Clifford Chukwuemeka Iroanya, Coordinator of all Coordinators (CoC) of the people. It was Iroanya who read the speech of IPOB world-wide leader, Nnamdi Kanu, at the occasion. Kanu described Odenigbo as “a round, accomplished and a consummate” personality, both in the struggle for Biafra and in his other endeavours outside the struggle. Nnamdi Kanu who doubles as Commander in Chief of Biafran Armed Forces, as well as Director of Radio Biafra, in his speech described Odenigbo as a man who has done a good job playing his earthly role. Odenigbo is widely acknowledged as a remarkable person.  Perhaps, his name showed this much for it means “that which resounds across Igbo-land”. Interestingly, the name appears to have reflected throughout his life-time, especially with his huge impact on the Biafran struggle. His autobiography “A Human Comedy” tells the story of his eventful and remarkable life. Throughout his life, he had granted many interviews on numerous issues, especially on Biafra. He has also written regularly about many aspects of Biafra, as well as delivered lectures and articles. He is among a tiny few that have endeavoured to keep the issue of Biafra on the front burner world-wide. Unarguably, Odenigbo made the greatest impact on Biafra, during this last thrust for the restoration of the state of Biafra with a lecture he delivered on the subject, which added momentum to the struggle.

Late Odenigbo
It was a lecture in which he expressed astonishment that the world was still not bothered with Nigeria’s absurd existence; and had not commenced serious moves to dismember it as it was destined to be. In late 2014, the lecture, “Nigeria Genocidal War against Biafra”, caused a stir among youths in the Biafran worldwide family, who gained understanding from it on many issues about Biafra. Through the lecture, Odenigbo was able to remind the world that there was no longer a single reason for the continued existence of the miserable contraption called Nigeria, especially with Biafra-land as part of it. “I have never read anywhere that people of different cultures and religions have been forced to unite by sheer military means” he said. He frowned at what he considered lies used by Nigeria, and promoted by Britain, during and after the war (which they have continued to brandish at the present time) in support of Nigeria’s weird existence. Part of his words: “The lie being bandied about by Britain and Nigeria was that if Biafra was allowed to secede from Nigeria, the whole of Africa would be afflicted by the disease of secession. Shamelessly, the so-called civilized world colluded with Nigeria in the massacre of millions of Biafran men, women and children. The principle of human rights was thrown to the winds”. He argued that the world had no excuse in the current dispensation, not to do the right thing by bringing about the restoration of Biafra. He warned of the consequences of Karma, and gave instances of countries that stood against Biafra during the 1967 – 70 war, which today have disintegrated or in a terrible mess. “Nigeria thought that once Biafra was defeated in battle, everything would be alright and she will live happily ever after. There is no way you can spill the blood of 3.5 million people and expect that there would not be some retribution. We all know what is happening to Nigeria today. “What of the greatest ally of Nigeria during that war against Biafrans, Britain? One quiet afternoon early this year (2014), two machete wielding Nigerian extremists attacked a British soldier and killed him in broad day light and bragged about it. That event was one of the world’s greatest insults inflicted on a world power such as Britain. “Right now, Scotland is in the process of seceding from Britain after about 400 years of marriage voluntarily entered into by England and Scotland. Yet, it was the same Britain that scared the world stiff about the impending balkanization of Africa should Biafra go its way and let the chorus of the sanctity of the territorial integrity of Nigeria as the Biafran war of independence raged on. I do not know what will happen to the territorial integrity of Britain when Scotland eventually secedes. “The truth is that a territory can never be more important than the people who live in it.

Uche Okafor-Mefor
That is the basic principle of human rights. But the British government under the leadership of Harold Wilson did not believe that the Biafran people were entitled to the same human rights which British people enjoyed. That is why Harold Wilson is one of the least respected world leaders today. “As leader of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia campaigned against the existence of Biafra because he believed that if Biafra was allowed to exist, the province of Eritrea which was then part of Ethiopia would secede. But in spite of Haile Selassie, Eritrea is now an independent nation. (Unfortunately, Ethiopians are related to Biafrans). “What about President Tito of Yugoslavia, as leader of the non-aligned nations, President Tito campaigned against Biafra because he feared that his country would break if Biafra were allowed to exist. Where is Yugoslavia today? It is in the dustbin of history. Out of the ashes of Yugoslavia emerged four or five countries in spite of President Tito. “Now, the former Soviet Union supplied Nigeria with all the mig-fighter planes with which it terrorized, killed and maimed Biafran men, women and children in their homes, in market places, in schools, in churches, in hospitals and in refugee camps. Where is the great Soviet Union today? It is in the dustbin of history. From the ashes of the former Soviet Union emerged 15 independence countries including Russia. “What of Egypt? While it was not clear whether the Egyptian government cooperated with Nigeria during its war against Biafra, it was common knowledge that Egyptian pilots were responsible for the indiscriminate bombing and strafing of civilian targets that accounted for the loss of thousands of lives. They were probably the mercenaries who did not want to risk their lives and therefore avoided raiding the war fronts. Since they must discharge their bombs and kill some people, they frequently went for soft targets such as; markets, schools and hospitals. After all, they knew they were engaged in a war of extermination anyway and the civilized world was behind them. “For countries like Tanzania, Zambia, Gabon, Ivory Coast and Haiti; and leaders like Dr. Warimu Julius Nyerere, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, Mr. Omar Bongo, Mr. Houphouet-boigny and Francois Duvalier, that showed humanity to Biafrans, he showed that they were better off in the end for supporting Biafra”. Today, many Biafran activists are still mourning Odenigbo’s demise, especially for his gingering and motivating words. When the current final push for the restoration of the state of Biafran was taking root, and some youths were confused, and undecided, as to the rationality and morality of the struggle, his voice saved the day for many. His obsession and desire for a restored Biafra was very high even unto death. What would appear to be his final work for Biafra was done during the big strife within the Biafran family. Then, the Biafran family was being torn apart worldwide, by gossipers and saboteurs (engineered mostly by Igbo-Nigerian politicians and Nigerian government strategizing for 2015 elections.

He wrote from his sick-bed, urging all to remain steadfast. His words were enthralling: “I would like Biafrans to fix their eyes on the ball: that is the restoration of the Republic of Biafra. This is paramount. Every other thing is gossip and triviality which we cannot entertain at the moment. In this struggle, Biafrans should place absolute confidence in their leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, Director of Radio Biafra and Commander-in-Chief of the Biafran Defence Forces.” For Uche Mefor, Deputy Director of Radio Biafra, Odenigbo was a man that was born as a Biafran, who lived it throughout his lifetime, and motivated many to believe and live it: “Well professor Odenigbo was born a Biafran and he remained so even onto death. He brought the idea of restoration and not actualisation because Biafra is already in existence. Finally his speech is a template for what Biafrans went through and why Biafra must be restored. That is a compelling case to the international community which is unimpeachable.” Odenigbo died a professor. He lived through life as a journalist, writer and broadcaster, and made a success of it all. It will be nice and honourable to end this tribute on the words of Odenigbo who also wrote: “I hope the United Nations will be alive to its responsibilities this time around and that the international communities will stop playing games with African lives. The loss of 3.5 million Biafran lives can never be in vain. That will run counter to the principle of natural justice; laws of nature and nature's God. The people of Biafra have waited all these years for reason and common sense to prevail; for justice to be done so that old and current wounds can start to heal and the spirits of 3.5 million Biafran men, women and children can start to rest in peace. It is time for the restoration of the Republic of Biafra. God bless people of goodwill around the world and God bless Biafra.”


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