Thousands, dignitaries bid ex-warlord bye in NnewiBianca breaks down in tearsI’ve never seen burial like this – Jonathan
The remains of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu were yesterday interred in the marble mausoleum at his ancestral Umudim Nnewi home, in Anambra State at exactly 2:18 p.m, which overwhelmed his widow, Bianca and she broke down in tears.
The burial ceremony witnessed an unprecedented turn- out of people from all walks of life, with many of them extolling the virtues of the departed Igbo leader as his body was carried out of the church.
At the requiem mass held at St Michael’s Catholic Church, behind the Ojukwu family house, President Goodluck Jonathan said that the departed Igbo leader was given specific assignment by God, which he accomplished.
The president, who was accompanied to the burial by his wife, Dame Jonathan, and other top presidency officials, noted that Ojukwu rose far above his contemporaries.
His words: “God brings people to do specific assignments; some of such people do the assignment in a way that history will write them differently.
“But by the time such people step aside, people really begin to picture and know who they are. We have seen leaders in the world and some good examples are in Africa that served as presidents of their countries, but unfortunately, their corpses were not allowed to return to the country when they die.
“That tells you their kind of leadership. Ojukwu was one of those brought by God to lead his people.”
Jonathan, who arrived at the St Michael’s Catholic Church by 11:45a.m, said he decided to personally attend the burial ceremony as he considered it something that affected him personally.
Hear him: “I came here today with my wife and members of my family because I consider this burial as my own. I consider myself as part of the family; so I came here in that respect.
“Ojukwu made me proud because when my father died, even as at that time his health was not that good, he drove down to my remote village in the swamp of the Niger Delta. I almost wept when I saw him and since that time he took me as his younger brother and son.”
He noted that Vice President Namadi Sambo had on Thursday led a powerful government delegation to the national burial ceremony organised in Enugu for Ikemba, adding that he came to Nnewi to witness the last journey of the warlord to mother earth.
Jonathan said: “We console especially the children, the wife and direct family members who have been interacting with him daily, hearing his words of advice and now they will no longer have that privilege.
“Let me join Governor Peter Obi to thank all of you for coming here for this solemn occasion to see to the last journey of our leader and brother, Ikemba.
Jonathan observed that the burial of Ojukwu was overwhelming in all respects, as the body was taken round many states of the country, just as tributes came from far and near, saying that “so many Nigerians, including me have not witnessed a burial that is like this.”
He, therefore, said that the nation was happy, though every Nigerian was mourning because of the death of the Igbo leader, adding: “The whole nation is celebrating this man, myself, my wife and family; we thank the Igbo for their support for us.”
Governor Obi, in his vote of thanks in the church, pointed out that Ojukwu lived his life trying to build a better Nigeria for all. He thanked President Jonathan for giving Igbo a sense of belonging through the state burial granted Ojukwu.
The governor noted that the singular honour showed that the Igbo nation is now truly part of Nigeria.
Earlier in his sermon during the requiem mass, the Bishop Emeritus of Orlu Diocese, Most Rev Gregory Ochiagha had prayed that the death of Ikemba would bring forth a new breed of Nigerians who would also serve the country with sincerity.
His words: “Here lies a person who was truly a Nigerian; here lies the mortal remains of a person who put his country first; here lies the one that knew what a sacrifice was all about.”
The emeritus bishop pointed out that the trademarks of a leader; serenity, courage and determination, were all over the departed Igbo leader. He, therefore, prayed God to grant Ojukwu eternal rest.
The Ikemba Nnewi’s burial brought to an end the week-long activities lined up for his burial, which began last Monday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, where military honours were held in his honour.
Ojukwu died in a London hospital on November 26 last year after he was flown abroad on December 23, 2010, following an ailment related to stroke.
Source: Sun, 3rd March 2012.