Ojukwu: Tribute from Chinweizu
ON FEBRUARY 26, 2012
IN this world, most people are not famous at all. Some people’s fame is ephemeral, some are famous for 5 minutes and are hardly remembered again. Most persons are not remembered at all a year after their corpse is interred. Remembrance becomes enduring only when one’s life’s work has relevance for many future generations.
Why do we mourn Ojukwu’s death? Why should we keep fresh our memory of him? Let us tell the world, as well as remind ourselves, of the man, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, and of his struggles on our behalf, and let us note some of the brave services he rendered us in a period of more than 60 years; selfless services for which we are indebted to him and should hold him in highest esteem.
Ojukwu lived a life filled with such deeds as legends are made of. Here are some: Consider the case of the Zulu hero, Shaka. When he was 13, Shaka attacked and killed a black Mamba snake that had killed a prize bull he was guarding. Like Shaka, Ojukwu as a boy exhibited the bravery and protectiveness that would win him fame as an adult.
Ojukwu: Anti-colonial Defender of the Racially Oppressed
In 1944, when he was 11, Ojukwu was briefly imprisoned for assaulting a white British colonial teacher who was humiliating a black woman at King’s College in Lagos, an event which generated widespread coverage in local newspapers.
For a schoolboy to fight a teacher is unusual, and requires great courage. For any black person in a colonial society ruled by all-powerful whites, a society which practices racial discrimination, such behavior required extreme provocation or extreme folly. For an 11 year old black schoolboy in such a society to fight a teacher belonging to the master race required extraordinary audacity.
And for him to do so in defence of another black person, and not of himself, showed a precocious race consciousness and a meritorious sense of racial solidarity. Marcus Garvey would have been proud of the lad and recognized him as one destined to do great deeds for the black race. Here was a boy to watch. And, when he grew up, Ojukwu did not disappoint such expectations.
After this event, his father, Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu, a millionaire businessman and one of the richest men in Nigeria, packed him off to England to an elite boarding school. From there he proceeded to Oxford University. After earning his Master’s Degree in History, he returned to colonial Nigeria in 1956 and joined the colonial administration as a District Officer. After serving a year, he made an extraordinary career move.
He resigned and enlisted in the Army in 1957, not as an officer cadet, but as an ordinary soldier. Nevertheless, he rose rapidly from the ranks and in 1964, became a Lieutenant Colonel, and was appointed the Quartermaster General of the Nigerian Army. All this he achieved within 7 years in a peace-time army, not in a wartime army where a high attrition rate accelerates promotions.
Soon thereafter political events pushed Ojukwu into political leadership when the coup of January 1966 led to his appointment as the Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria. That was the platform from where he performed the great deeds that have made him famous.
Ojukwu: Hero of Aburi
Biafran leader, Lietenant Colonel C. Odumegwu Ojukwu, military governor of East Nigeria in this 1966 file photo. The first of these deeds was his brilliant performance in the negotiations at the Conference of Nigeria’s military rulers that was held in Aburi, Ghana, in January1967.
Beginning as a minority of one in a Supreme Military Council with eight other members in attendance, he prevailed on the SMC, first to renounce the use of force to resolve the crisis that had brought them to Aburi; and, secondly, to agree on a confederation arrangement for governing the country until a new constitution could be agreed.
Getting his colleagues to agree to the Aburi Accord was Ojukwu’s seminal contribution to Nigeria’s survival and to the security and progress of the entire population of Nigeria. However, the fruits of this fundamental contribution were not to be harvested. When the signatories returned to Nigeria, Gowon and his officials in Lagos refused to implement the terms of the Accord. This deepened the crisis and eventually provoked the secession of Eastern Nigeria and its quest for self-determination as the sovereign state of Biafra.
Ojukwu: Founder and War Leader of Biafra
The next great deed that Ojukwu did was to proclaim the sovereign state of Biafra on 30 May 1967. Before the new state could find its feet, Gowon, in repudiation of yet another part of the Aburi Accord, resorted to force and sent the Nigerian army to invade Biafra to bring it back into Nigeria. When the Nigeria-Biafra War began in July 1967, Ojukwu became Biafra’s war leader.
He led Biafra in a just war of self defence, a war of resistance to Nigeria’s aggression, a war to defend the Biafran People’s right to self-determination and to protect their very lives. With no resources to speak of, Ojukwu still managed to organize the Biafran people and the Biafran Army to resist the Nigerian invaders for 30 harrowing months until Biafra fell and surrendered in January 1970.
In those 30 months, Ojukwu did two other great deeds. To sustain the struggle, he mobilized the scientific manpower of Biafra into the Science and Technology Group (S&T Group) that achieved great things. Secondly he produced a Blueprint for a just Biafran society.
Ojukwu the war leader of Biafra:
Finding itself blockaded by land, sea and air, Biafra had to be self-reliant to survive. Its Science and Technology Group (S&T Group) rose to the challenge and, among other things, conceived and produced a type of air defence dust mine for use against MIG jet fighters. In October 1967, when Biafran troops at the Ugwuoba Bridge, near Awka. fired it horizontally on advancing Nigerian troops, its devastating effect earned it the name Ogbunigwe (mass killer).
On March 31, 1968, a Biafran army unit ambushed and, using Ogbunigwe, destroyed a 96-vehicle column of Nigerian soldiers. The humiliating Abagana defeat to Nigerian soldiers prompted General Yakubu Gowon to remove Col. Murtala Mohammed as the General Commanding Officer of the Onitsha sector.
In addition, Biafran engineers built airports and roads; designed and built petroleum refineries; designed and built light and heavy equipment. Biafra’s Research and Production (RAP) unit did research on chemical weapons as well as rocket guidance systems. It invented new forms of explosives, and tried new forms of food processing technology.
The Biafra coastline was lined with home-made shore batteries and with remote controlled weapons systems and bombs. Under Ojukwu’s leadership, and in less than three years, a Biafra that was being starved by blockade, achieved a great leap forward in black African science and technology. [see Wikipedia article on Ojukwu]
This achievement remains unique in Black Africa. In their half century of “independence” thus far, no other state in Black Africa has created any Science & Technology organization, let alone one to compare with the one created in Biafra’s 31 months existence.
This Biafran achievement remains an inspirational beacon for the Black World in this 21st century. It shows that if Black African states are still not industrialized today, the fault is not in us the people, not in the stars, not in our race, but in our neo-colonialist leaders and their chronic misleadership.
Ojukwu: Proponent of a New Social Order
Even in the midst of war, Ojukwu encouraged the Biafran intelligentsia to investigate and articulate their people’s aspirations for their post-war society. This effort produced a document which Ojukwu presented to the nascent Biafran nation on June 1, 1969 at Ahiara village.
It became known as The Ahiara Declaration .The document eloquently and totally rejected the Nigerian social order for its neo-colonialist iniquities and inequities, and outlined the principles on which a radically different and just society would be constructed in Biafra. Ojukwu’s Ahiara Declaration invites comparison with Nyerere’s Arusha Declaration as a blueprint for a just and egalitarian Black African society.
Unfortunately, despite these achievements, the proposed new society was not to be. A Biafran cartoon of the period, captioned “The Truth about the Nigeria-Biafra War”, gave an accurate picture of the war situation: it showed a trio consisting of President Lyndon Johnson of the USA, Prime Minister Harold Wilson of Britain and Premier Alexei Kosygin of the USSR holding Ojukwu immobilized for Nigeria’s Gowon to use as a punching bag.
Given that fundamental situation, it was no wonder that Biafra collapsed, after 30 months of fighting a just war. And to save him from almost certain execution by vengeful Nigerian soldiers, Ojukwu’s followers packed him off to exile in Cote d’Ivoire in January 1970, in the expectation that he would live to fight for them another day.
Ojukwu, the war leader of a defeated Biafra, spent 12 years in exile before he was pardoned and allowed to return to Nigeria in 1982. He arrived to a tumultuous hero’s welcome by his people and he plunged into Nigerian politics to champion the struggle for improvement in the hard lot of his defeated people.
Alleviating the condition of Ndi-Igbo within Nigeria became his mission until his death in 2011. To do that he joined the NPN, the governing party of that time, and contested for a seat in the Nigerian senate. However, after a vigorous election campaign, he was declared defeated. Undaunted, he continued to be a voice for Ndi-Igbo in Nigerian affairs despite a stint as a political detainee during the Buhari period.
In 1994-1995, at the Abacha Constitutional Conference in Abuja, the Ndi-Igbo contingent, led jointly by Ojukwu and a former Vice President of Nigeria, Dr Alex Ekwueme, introduced and persuaded the Conference to adopt the concept of six geo-political zones in which the 36 states of Nigeria are now aggregated. In 2003, Ojukwu joined the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and became its Presidential candidate in the 2003 and 2007 elections. This was all in a further effort to give Ndi-Igbo a suitable presence in Nigerian politics and to promote the interests of Ndi-Igbo within Nigeria.
Ojukwu the APGA presidential candidate.
Former Biafra leader Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu (L) who emerged as the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA)’s presidential aspirant for 2007 elections after their national convention in Enugu is pictured with Chief Victor Ume, APGA Chairman and Mrs Virgy Etiaba, Deputy Governor of Anambra State during the APGA convention held in Enugu, Nigeria, 04 December 2006. (Nwakamma/AFP/Getty Images)
Ojukwu and PRONACO
In the continuing search for a peaceful and better Nigeria, Ojukwu was among the leaders of thought who, in 2005-2006, in consultation with Chief Anthony Enahoro, initiated the Peoples’ National Conference through the platform of the Pro National Conference Organizations (PRONACO) –an alliance of 164 ethnic organizations that believed that a Sovereign National Conference ( SNC) had become imperative for transforming Nigeria and ending its people’s woes.
That People’s National Conference, which was a comprehensive revalidation of the Aburi Accord by the ethnic nationalities, produced a Draft People’s Constitution which has been overwhelmingly endorsed across Nigeria as a credible path to a sustainable basis for Nigeria’s survival. As the conference rotated its sittings across various geo-political locations (including Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Jos and Kano) Ojukwu hosted that conference twice in Enugu, in February and in March 2006.
Upon the conclusion of the conference, Ojukwu actively mobilized for the informal referendum to which the Draft People’s Constitution was subjected, resulting in its endorsement by various ethnic blocs. As a part of the process for actualizing this written wish of the peoples of Nigeria, Ojukwu volunteered to be one of the plaintiffs, alongside Wole Soyinka, Anthony Enahoro and Bankole Oki, in a lawsuit before the Federal High Court, Lagos, challenging the legitimacy of the 1999 constitution. This is Suit No. FHC/L/CS/558/09. It is still in court till today. The suit is to dismantle the fraudulent and military-imposed constitution of 1999 and make space for a new order.
All of this shows that while Ojukwu contended for a place within the Nigerian political space, by joining the NPN and running for the senate in1983, by participating in Abacha’s Constitutional Conference in 1994-1995, and then by joining APGA and running twice for President on the APGA ticket, he devoted even more energy towards resolving the fundamental distortions that have brought Nigeria to the dark valley where it is languishing. That, in brief, is an outline of the life and struggles of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.
Ojukwu: Unfinished business
No person dies or leaves office without leaving behind some unfinished business. Hero that he was, Ojukwu is no exception. There is the business of transforming Nigeria, a project which is being ably carried on by his younger PRONACO colleagues. While that project is for the benefit of all Nigerians, there is another unfinished business of his which concerns Ndi-Igbo exclusively. Let me now draw your attention to it.
Ojukwu did not finish the vital business of creating an institutional embodiment of the Ndi-Igbo nation, a paramount cultural-political institution for Ndi-Igbo, their counterpart of what the Ooni of Ife is for the Yoruba; and the Asentehene is for the Ashanti of Ghana; and the Kabaka is for the Baganda of Uganda; the Sultan of Sokoto is for Shariyaland, a.k.a. Nigeria’s Far North or Arewa.
Or take the example of what the Dalai Lama institution is for the Tibetans, namely, a central focus of Tibetan cultural identity, a symbolic embodiment of the Tibetan national character. Such are the cultural and non-partisan institutions to which a people all give their allegiance and look to for decisive guidance in their affairs. By joining the NPN and entering partisan politics on his return from exile in 1982, Ojukwu skipped his chance to become the nucleus of a neutral institutional arbiter in the world of Ndi-Igbo.
However, he made a belated attempt to correct his error, but did not succeed. His Eze Igbo Gburugburu title, with its notion of monarchy, was probably in the wrong cultural idiom for Igbo republicanism to accept, and so it never gathered widespread or deep acquiescence.
With Ojukwu’s joining of the ancestors, the task of creating this sorely needed paramount institution, and in some effective and culturally appropriate form, is now left for the next generation of Ndi-Igbo, and especially for the leadership cadres that will emerge among them. And it is for the elders of today to guide them to accomplish that vital task.
Ojukwu is physically dead, but for as long as we keep fresh our memories of his deeds, the legend lives on. Let me sum up:
At the age of 11, Ojukwu burst onto the scene as a defender of black people when he physically defended a black African woman from humiliation by a white colonial racist teacher.
Then at age 33 he became the warrior defender of all Eastern Nigerians when they came under mass murderous attack by their fellow Nigerians. Then after the collapse of Biafra he settled into the role of political warrior defending Ndi-Igbo in the neocolonial dungeon called Nigeria.
By the example of his deeds, the Ojukwu legend will live on wherever people, and black people especially, look for an inspiring role model of selfless defence of the humiliated and oppressed; or for a model of when an injured and defenceless people must say “enough is enough” and embark on a struggle for self determination; or for model leadership for scientific and technological advancement; or for a model of how to obtain a Blueprint for a just and equitable social order.
Ojukwu: The People’s Assessment.
Let me end this assessment of Ojukwu’s life by quoting some excerpts from what ordinary Nigerians said of Ojukwu after his death, on a website discussing the seminal Aburi Accord:
“Aburi can again help us avoid another Biafra. MIDDLE BELT people are clearly being pushed & provoked without cause.”
“Love him or hate him, he was one politician that stole no money- check the records. Adieu, Lion of the Tribe of Biafra!”
“Ojukwu is gone but his life is full of lessons for us to learn: He stood for the truth, fought for the truth and in truth he died. He saw what others could not see – self determination of his people. It took another 40 years for Nigerians to latch on – clamouring for autonomy.”
“We will miss your courage and hatred for injustice. You gave your all for the emancipation of your people.”
“He was distinct, patriotic and fearless. He was synonymous with justice and equity. He distanced himself from the pandemic corruption that has ravaged prominent politicians of his time.”
“He was able to tell us that you can be rich and principled, you can be rich and honest, you can be rich and be a friend of the poor, you can be rich and be a friend of the needy, you can be rich and sacrifice for humanity, you can be rich and remain modest. The list is endless. Ojukwu used his money to pursue people’s course, while our present day thieves we call rulers use our money to persecute us, can you see the difference?”
“Though you are dead, your fighting spirit is still alive to actualise your dreams, and your children in their generation will immortalise and celebrate you in their new nation.”
And to that, permit me to add my voice and say:
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu!
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu!
Ikemba Nnewi, Laa n’udo!
Ikemba Nnewi, Go in peace!
Eze-agha Ndi Biafra
War chief of Biafra
Dike n’aluru ndi ike adighi ogu
Champion who fights for those without strength
Onye nchedo ndi an’emegbu emegbu
Protector of the exploited
Onye n’ebulite onodu onye an’eleli eleli
The one who raises the status of the despised
Laa n’udo, Ikemba, Laa n’udo!
Go in peace, Ikemba, Go in peace!
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu (4 November 1933 – 26 November 2011) was a Nigerian military officer and politician. Ojukwu served as the military governor of the Eastern Region of Nigeria in 1966, the leader of the breakaway Republic of Biafra from 1967 to 1970 and a Nigerian politician from 1983 to 2011, when he died, aged 78.
Ojukwu came into national prominence upon his appointment as military governor in 1966 and his actions thereafter. A military coup against the civilian Nigerian federal government in January 1966 and a counter coup in July 1966 by different military factions, perceived to be ethnic coups, resulted in pogroms in Northern Nigeria in which Igbos were predominantly killed. Ojukwu who was not an active participant in either coup was appointed the military governor of Nigeria's Eastern region in January 1966 by General Aguyi Ironsi.
In 1967, great challenges confronted the Igbos of Nigeria with the coup d’etat of 15 January 1966 led by Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu who was widely considered to be an outstanding progressive and was buried with full military honours when killed by those he fought against. His coup d’etat was triggered by political lawlessness, and uncontrolled looting and lacing in the streets of Western Nigeria. Unfortunately the Sarduana of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello; the Prime Minister of Nigeria, Sir Tafawa Balewa; the Premier of the Western Region,Chief Ladoke Akintola and the Finance Minister, Chief Festus Okotie Eboh (among others including military officers) were killed in the process. The pogrom of Igbos followed in Northern Nigeria beginning in July 1966.Eventually, then Lt. Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu declared Biafra's Independence on 30 May 1967. (Biafra- 30 May 1967 to 15 January 1970).
He took part in talks to seek an end to the hostilities by seeking peace with the then Nigerian military leadership, headed by General Yakubu Gowon (Nigeria's head of state following the July 1966 counter coup). The military leadership met in Aburi Ghana (the Aburi Accord), but the agreement reached there was not implemented to all parties satisfaction upon their return to Nigeria. The failure to reach a suitable agreement, the decision of the Nigerian military leadership to establish new states in the Eastern Region and the continued pogrom in Northern Nigeria led Ojukwu to announce a breakaway of the Eastern Region under the new name Biafra republic in 1967. These sequence of events sparked the Nigerian Civil War. Ojukwu led the Biafran forces and on the defeat of Biafra in January 1970, and after he had delegated instructions to Philip Effiong he went into exile for 13 years, returning to Nigeria following a pardon.
Lieutenant-Colonel Ojukwu was in Kano, northern Nigeria, when Major Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu on 15 January 1966 executed and announced the bloody military coup in Kaduna, also in northern Nigeria. It is to Ojukwu's credit that the coup lost much steam in the north, where it had succeeded. Lt. Col. Odumegwu-Ojukwu supported the forces loyal to the Supreme Commander of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Major-General Aguiyi-Ironisi. Major Nzeogwu was in control of Kaduna, but the coup had failed in other parts of the country.
Aguiyi-Ironsi took over the leadership of the country and thus became the first military head of state. On Monday, 17 January 1966, he appointed military governors for the four regions. Lt. Col. Odumegwu-Ojukwu was appointed Military Governor of Eastern Region. Others were: Lt.-Cols Hassan Usman Katsina (North), Francis Adekunle Fajuyi (West), and David Akpode Ejoor (Mid West). These men formed the Supreme Military Council with Brigadier B.A.O Ogundipe, Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon, Chief of Staff Army HQ, Commodore J. E. A. Wey, Head of Nigerian Navy, Lt. Col. George T. Kurubo, Head of Air Force. Template:Col. Sittu Alao
By 29 May 1966, there was a pogrom in northern Nigeria during which Nigerians of southeastern Nigeria origin were targeted and killed. This presented problems for Odumegwu Ojukwu. He did everything in his power to prevent reprisals and even encouraged people to return, as assurances for their safety had been given by his supposed colleagues up north and out west.
On 29 July 1966, a group of officers, including Majors Murtala Muhammed, Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, and Martin Adamu, led the majority Northern soldiers in a mutiny that later developed into a "counter-coup". The coup failed in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria where Ojukwu was the military Governor, due to the effort of the brigade commander and hesitation of northern officers stationed in the region (partly due to the mutiny leaders in the East being Northern whilst being surrounded by a large Eastern population).
The Supreme Commander General Aguiyi-Ironsi and his host Colonel Fajuyi were abducted and killed in Ibadan. On acknowledging Ironsi's death, Ojukwu insisted that the military hierarchy be preserved. In that case, the most senior army officer after Ironsi was Brigadier Babafemi Ogundipe, should take over leadership, not Colonel Gowon (the coup plotters choice), however the leaders of the counter-coup insisted that Colonel Gowon be made head of state. Both Gowon and Ojukwu were of the same rank in the Nigeria Army then (Lt. Colonel). Ogundipe could not muster enough force in Lagos to establish his authority as soldiers (Guard Battalion) available to him were under Joseph Nanven Garba who was part of the coup, it was this realisation that led Ogundipe to opt out. Thus, Ojukwu's insistence could not be enforced by Ogundipe unless the coup ploters agreed (which they did not). The fall out from this led to a stand off between Ojukwu and Gowon leading to the sequence of events that resulted in the Nigerian civil war.
In January 1967, the Nigerian military leadership went to Aburi, Ghana for a peace conference hosted by General Joseph Ankrah. The implementation of the agreements reached at Aburi fell apart upon the leaderships return to Nigeria and on 30 May 1967,as a result of this, Colonel Odumegwu-Ojukwu declared Eastern Nigeria a sovereign state to be known as BIAFRA:
"Having mandated me to proclaim on your behalf, and in your name, that Eastern Nigeria be a sovereign independent Republic, now, therefore I, Lieutenant Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria, by virtue of the authority, and pursuant to the principles recited above, do hereby solemnly proclaim that the territory and region known as and called Eastern Nigeria together with her continental shelf and territorial waters, shall, henceforth, be an independent sovereign state of the name and title of The Republic of Biafra."
(No Place To Hide – Crises And Conflicts Inside Biafra, Benard Odogwu, 1985, Pp. 3 & 4).
On 6 July 1967, Gowon declared war and attacked Biafra. For 30 months, the war raged on. Now General Odumegwu-Ojukwu knew that the odds against the new republic were overwhelming. Most European states recognised the illegitimacy of the Nigerian military rule and banned all future supplies of arms, but the UK government substantially increased its supplies, even sending British Army and Royal Air Force advisors.
During the war in addition to the Aburi (Ghana) Accord that tried to avoid the war, there was also the Niamey (Niger Republic) Peace Conference under President Hamani Diori (1968) and the OAU sponsored Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) Conference (1968) under the Chairmanship of Emperor Haile Selassie. This was the final effort by General Ojukwu and General Gowon to settle the conflict at the Conference Table. The rest is history and even though General Gowon, a good man, promised "No Victor, No Vanquished," the Igbos were not only defeated but felt vanquished.
After three years of non-stop fighting and starvation, a hole did appear in the Biafran front lines and this was exploited by the Nigerian military. As it became obvious that all was lost, Ojukwu was convinced to leave the country to avoid his certain assassination. On 9 January 1970, General Odumegwu-Ojukwu handed over power to his second in command, Chief of General Staff Major-General Philip Effiong, and left for Côte d'Ivoire, where President Felix Houphöet-Biogny – who had recognised Biafra on 14 May 1968 – granted him political asylum.
There was one controversial issue during the Biafra war, the killing of some members of the July 1966 alleged coup plot and Major Victor Banjo. They were executed for alleged treason with the approval of Ojukwu, the Biafran Supreme commander. Major Ifejuna was one of those executed. More or so, there was a mystery on how Nzeogwu died in Biafra enclaved while doing a raid against Nigeria army on behalf of Biafra.
Blockaded by air, land and sea, Ojukwu and Biafra refined enough fuel stored under the canopies of jungle trees in the town of Obohia in Mbaise, Imo State Nigeria. These were the products of makeshift Refineries that moved from place to place as the enclave receded. Facing deadly air raids from Russian MIG jets piloted by Algerian and Egyptian mercenaries, Ojukwu's Biafra and University scientists created "Ogbunigwe," what Americans today would call a weapon of mass destruction. As the drums of war were sounding, Ojukwu's Biafra was planning the establishment of the University of Science and Technology in Port-Harcourt.
The young man, General Ojukwu, then thirty three years old, had to rein in Biafran military officers some senior to him, others his juniors. He had to get his father's age mates, or near age mates to work with him and for Biafra. Some of these were larger in size than life itself, some were more intelligent, a few were wiser – Nnamdi Azikiwe, Pius Okigbo, Sir Louis Mbanefo, C. C. Mojekwu, Kenneth Dike, Eyo Ita, Jaja Nwachukwu, Dr. K. O. Mbadiwe, Barrister Raymond Njoku, Chief Dennis Osadebay, Sir Francis Akanu Ibiam, Inspector Boniface Ihekuna, Inspector General Okeke, Colonel Njoku, Colonel Nwawo, Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, General Madiebo, General Philip Effiong, Dr. A. A. Nwafor Orizu, M.C. K. Ajuluchukwu, Dr. K. O. Mbadiwe, G.C.M Onyiuke, and so many others – diplomats like O. U. Ikpa (Portugal), Godwin Onyegbula (Foreign Ministry), M. T. Mbu (Foreign Affairs), Emeka Anyaoku (Commonwealth Secretary), Ralph Uwechue (Paris), Dr. Sebastian Okechukwu Mezu (Abidjan), Ignatius Kogbara (London), Austin Okwu (Tanzania), Ugwu (Gabon), Dr. Ifegwu Eke (information), Okoko Ndem (Propaganda), Sylvester Ugoh (Bank of Biafra), N. U. Akpan, Dr. Otue (Canada) Aggrey K. Orji and Dr. Lemeh (New York), Dr. Aaron Ogbonna (West Germany), etc. If Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was the head of so many "rebels" (a list that is not exclusive), who then are the patriots?
Starvation was used as a powerful weapon of war. Undaunted, General Ojukwu and Biafra conceived and produced the Ogbunigwe, a cone shaped, sometimes cylindrical cluster bomb that disperses shrapnel with percussion. It was also used as a ground to ground and ground to air projectile and was used with telling and destructive effect. Ojukwu and the Biafra RAP built airports and roads, refined petroleum, chemicals and materials, designed and built light and heavy equipment, researched on chemical and biological weapons, rocketry and guidance systems, invented new forms of explosives, tried new forms of food processing and technology. Biafra home-made armoured vehicle the "Red Devil," celebrated also in the book by Sebastian Okechukwu Mezu Behind The Rising Sun, was a red terror in the battle field. The Biafra shoreline was lined with home-made shore batteries and remote controlled weapons systems propelling rockets and bombs. There was also the Biafran Organization of Freedom Fighters [BOFF] led by Colonel Aghanya. These were the "so-called" Biafran rebels who in a space of less than three years, blockaded by land, air and sea, nearly pushed black African science and rocketry into the space age.
After 13 years in exile, the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Shehu Aliyu Usman Shagari granted an official pardon to Odumegwu-Ojukwu and opened the road for a triumphant return in 1982. The people of Nnewi gave him the now very famous chieftaincy title of Ikemba (Strength of the Nation, while the entire Igbo nation took to calling him Dikedioramma ("beloved hero of the masses") during his living arrangement in his family home in Nnewi, Anambra. His foray into politics was disappointing to many, who wanted him to stay above the fray. The ruling party, NPN, rigged him out of the senate seat, which was purportedly lost to a relatively little known state commissioner in then Governor Jim Nwobodo's cabinet called Dr. Edwin Onwudiwe. The second Republic was truncated on 31 December 1983 by Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, supported by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida and Brigadier Sani Abacha. The junta proceeded to arrest and to keep Ojukwu in Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison, Lagos, alongside most prominent politicians of that era. Without ever charged with any crimes, he was unconditionally released from detention on 1 October 1984, alongside 249 other politicians of that era—former Ministers Adamu Ciroma and Maitama Sule were also on that batch of released politicians. In ordering his release, the Head of State, General Buhari said inter alia: "While we will not hesitate to send those found with cases to answer before the special military tribunal, no person will be kept in detention a-day longer than necessary if investigations have not so far incriminated him." (WEST AFRICA, 8 October 1984)
After the ordeal in Buhari's prisons, Dim Odumegwu-Ojukwu continued to play major roles in the advancement of the Igbo nation in a democracy because
"As a committed democrat, every single day under an un-elected government hurts me. The citizens of this country are mature enough to make their own choices, just as they have the right to make their own mistakes".
Ojukwu had played a significant role in Nigeria's return to democracy since 1999 (the fourth Republic). He had contested as presidential candidate of his party, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA)for the last three of the four elections. Until his illness, he remained the party leader. The party was in control of two states in and largely influential amongst the igbo ethnic area of Nigeria.
On 26 November 2011, Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu died in the United Kingdom after a brief illness, aged 78. The Nigerian army accorded him the highest military accolade and conducted funeral parade for him in Abuja, Nigeria on 27 February the day his body was flown back to Nigeria from London before his burial on Friday, 2 March 2012. He was buried in a newly built mausoleum in his compound at Nnewi. Before his final internment, he had about the most unique and elaborate weeklong funeral ceremonies in Nigeria besides Chief Obafemi Awolowo, whereby his body was carried around the five Eastern states, Imo, Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, including the nation's capital, Abuja. Memorial services and public events were also held in his honour in several places across Nigeria, including Lagos and Niger state his birthplace.