The critical mass of Ndigbo have rightly been in mourning since the passing of the hero, Legend and freedom fighter Emeka Ojukwu. Igbo leaders in particular have been falling over themselves trying to outdo each other in their adulation of Ojukwu. Yet, it is not a secret that Igboland has been afflicted by the Nigerian disease of visionless, corrupt and insensitive leadership. It is thus not the sycophancy or shedding of what amounts in most part to crocodile tears by Igbo leaders that matters but what they have learnt from the character, values, incorruptibility, selflessness and leadership of Emeka Ojukwu.
Emeka Ojukwu demonstrated with his life and times an unrivalled selflessness and dedication to service. After his education in Oxford University, he abandoned his father’s immense wealth and choose instead the hard life of the civil service before opting for the rugged and regimented life of the army which he joined as a recruit. In taking this unusual route, he choose service rather than the crude route of material wealth. Having chosen public service, he served selflessly and risked his life in defence of his people who faced genocide. In a nation and environment so polluted by corruption, Ojukwu remained a higher mortal who was never involved in the crude and primitive looting of public funds.
His short-lived Biafran administration in spite of the difficulties and odds of conflict was a remarkable success in the social, political and economic engineering of the embattled state. It is on record that Biafra achieved scientific feats which included the building and operation of functional refineries, the building of tanks, rockets, bombs, assault rifles and other scientific feats which no African state has rivalled to date.
In Ojukwu we have a man who represented the best of the core Igbo spirit of hardwork, determination, industry and creativity. Values which can hardly be associated with any of the present day Igbo leaders, nor a large section of the Igbo masses who have since lost most of our core values.
The unprecedented out pouring of grief by millions of ordinary people, in mourning the hero and legend ought now to teach Igbo leaders that what matters most in leadership and indeed in life is not the amount of public money they can steal, but the selfless and visionary leadership they can provide to the critical mass of their people.
The Igbo nation remains in dire straits, held hostage by the contradictions of a nation determined to keep her down and by self destructive Igbo leaders participating in the Nigerian disease of corruption, lack of vision, insensitivity and misrule. In the aftermath of Ojukwu’s passing, It is hoped that solemn reflections on the values, selfless leadership and character of Ojukwu and the widespread emotions and honour he has received in recognition of his selflessness will redirect Igbo leaders at every level into charting a new course for their people.
Corruption is a luxury we can ill afford for a people many kilometres down in a pit. Igbo leaders must now imitate Ojukwu’s values and shun corruption in all its ramifications. Developing Igboland must now be like a religion to which they must all pursue fanatically. Town development Unions, youth leaders, cooperative societies and other forms of communal organizations and cohesion which served Igboland so well in the past must now be reconstituted as a mechanism for grassroots development.
Ahiara declaration must now be adopted as a de- facto constitution of the Igbo nation and used as a tool of indoctrination to propagate its core values. The Igbo masses on their own must also emulate Ojukwu’s values of honesty and selflessness. In taking these giant strides and actually beginning the social, economic and political reconstruction of Igboland, Igbo leaders and masses would have gone beyond just mourning our legend by actually initiating a renaissance of the Igbo nation which is the best way Ojukwu would prefer to be mourned and remembered.
By Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu