The challenging security situation in Kano State notwithstanding, Igbo residents modestly came out at the weekend to bid their leader, Dim Chukwuemeka-Odumegwu Ojukwu, a deserving farewell.
While Ohaneze Ndigbo, Kano State chapter, marked their mourning rites with traditional search of the soul of the death across the Sabon Gari Area, the Igbo Community Association (ICA) and the palace of the Eze Ndigbo of Kano, Igwe Boniface Ibekwe, booked a Mass for the repose of Ikemba’s soul.
Mourners at the Nwewi Hall in the metropolitan area of the state capital were dressed in all black T –shirts, bearing Ojukwu’s inscription while several leaders spoke glowingly of the Ikemba.
The event, conducted amidst tight security, attracted the solidarity presence of the community leaders from the former Eastern Region as well as the Yoruba community association, who came to pay their own respect to the departed leader.
Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso was represented by his Commissioner for Education , Barrister Farouk Iya, while the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Idris K Ibrahim, was represented by Assistant Commissioner of Police Benjamin Nwude.
In his tribute, Igwe Ibekwe said that the Igbo nation, has lost a leader of inestimable value. “We are mourning today and we are making it known to everybody that our leader has passed on and we truly want to give him a befitting burial.”
“Ikemba Nnewi has been an exemplary leader given the way he has piloted our affairs. One of the highpoints of today’s programme is to make it clear that it is good to serve, even if it requires sacrifice because here was a man who has sacrificed his entire life for the good of our people” .
Saying that Ojukwu’s life symbolized a fight against injustice, he expressed delight that Nigerians who hitherto did not see anything good in him, have finally come to terms with the fact that he was a a great patriot.
Last Saturday, the state Chairman of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Tobias Idika, who addressed the traditional search party that went ilooking for Ojukwu in the area, pointed out that Ojukwu’s contributions to the development of Nigeria can never be overemphasized.
He said that the Late Dim Ojukwu desire for one Nigeria was grievously misunderstood as he stood for dialogue at a time there was sufficient provocations as a result of the ethnic killings of Igbo in the North.
He recalled that even when they failed to implement the Aburi Agreement, he still stood for dialogue but was compelled by the desire of the people of the Eastern region to protect his people at that particular time in history.
As far as Ohaneze Ndigbo was concerned, the late Dim Ojukwu will forever remain a patriot, a detribalised military man, a great leader and an Iroko (tree) who fought to make sure that his own people were not slaves and second class citizens in their own country,” he said.