ONE YEAR AFTER, OSUMENYI STILL MOURNS AKUNEDOZIOBI
One beautiful thing about life is that we are all visitors, actors, spectators and total strangers. Not too many people who have passed through the saddle of leadership in Osumenyi town, Nnewi South L.G.A., Anambra State have made an impact on its citizenry the way Chief Chukwuemeka Luke Chinyeluba Akunedoziobi did in the little over three years he was the President-General of the town, before he was gruesomely assassinated on Saturday June 19, 2010.
So, it was a rather rude shock that jolted Osumenyi and the entire Mbanese Community, when the news of the death of the ebullient, dynamic administrator, business mogul, community leader and gentleman in the hands of head-hunters (assassins) was broken.
Death had snatched one man on whom everyone had hinged the hope of rescuing our crisis-ridden community - a town that had literally been run aground by self-serving leaders who excel in the politics of ego boosting and fall flat on delivering goals to the community. Leaders who have stunted the growth of youths and frustrated promising talents but, who hold tenaciously to power.
Like Ogbuefi Ray Ifeme in his write-up, Osumenyis' Day of Blood and Tears one year ago, I am weary, tearful, reflective, sober and sorrowful as I write this piece. The Saturday 19 June 2010, killing of my beloved brother Luke Akunedoziobi, a symbol of democracy who illuminated the dark days of Osumenyi history with uncanny courage. A martyr, who stuck tenaciously to a cause he believed in and paid the supreme price, rather gruesomely in the process.
He sacrificed his wealth, freedom and life to produce a change in the socio-political life of the citizens of Osumenyi. Before then, the big elephant (Enyi-Ukwu) as the town is known, was prided as the most peaceful community in Mbanese, Nnewi South L.G.A. and perhaps throughout Anambra State until it was held hostage by a tiny cabal with an attendant parasitic and pathogenic affliction on the community.
Luke had been vindicated in his dogged determination in beheading undemocratic leadership because today, the light of liberation from undemocratic leadership he lit in Osumenyi from the 2nd of January, 2006 and wind of liberation released are now blowing all over Mbanese and beyond.
Even if some people are getting theirs now, it's better now than never, for it begets giant developmental strides. For this the good people of Osumenyi were very grateful and still with him, even in death they still showed their genuine appreciation for all he stood for making sure the liberation light never dims. Therefore, June 19, calls for a sober reflection for Osumenyi people. We also remember Sir John Okonkwo who was equally murdered at his Osumenyi country home on the 3rd of September, 2009 and others not so prominently identified who lost their lives in pursuit of genuine democracy in Osumenyi. They are the heroes of the struggle. They have gone into martyrdom by paying the supreme sacrifice.
Let me use this medium to debunk the insinuation that June 19 had crumbled by alerting that the spirit of ill will that would deal with those behind the dastardly act was about to commence to sweep away evil ones calling themselves patriots. My brother's blood is a time bomb ready to explode with time. The season of the spirit of ill will is here. They will turn against themselves and Osumenyi will be totally cleansed of evil while they destroy themselves.
And also considering the extent to which the presence or absence; upholding or down-grading and perhaps the pathetic disrespect of the concepts of justice and truth have, one way or the other, adversely hindered the emergence of a politically strong and united town called Osumenyi in the comity of communities, considering its importance to the people of Mbanese for many reasons. In my opinion, and in the opinion of many informed Mbanese people - Osumenyi is of critical significance to the economic and political advancement of the area. It makes perfect sense that such a critical segment of Mbanese is governed by those who have what it takes to erase the recent past and bring in multifaceted development programmes which will discourage violence and attendant instability.
Law and order and justice are the foundations of any free society, it is regrettable that Osumenyi, the pride of Mbanese is wasting precious time and resources contesting what could have been resolved in the spirit of brotherhood because due process and fair play were jettisoned for the selfish ambition of a few. There are some glorious ways of becoming or creating new heroes, (through services to humanity), rather than fanning the embers of hatred, division and tension. It is rather unfortunate that the very high hopes that all of us had of continuity of democratic leadership were wantonly, albeit temporarily abridged by forces insistent on imposing themselves on us against our wish.
Luke Akunedoziobi was no doubt the central issue in Osumenyi since 2nd January, 2006 and when the Titan, contrary to my belief passed away, Senator Ikechukwu Obiora descried him as 'the best President-General Osumenyi ever had' and Chief Emmanuel C. M. Akamobi, himself a former President-General of the town in reviewing his life, work and achievement within the short period he served the community, concluded that Chief Akunedoziobi could have been a successful Local Government Chairman or better still, Governor of a state. So, that is the man whose achievements serve as a model for the future of Osumenyi. Let all the present compatriots of Luke not expect another Luke Akunedoziobi in his life-time.'
Indeed, to adopt Mark Anthony's lamentation in mourning Julius Ceaser, I am also compelled to say: 'Here was an Akunedoziobi, when comes such another?'
My brother did not die, he lives. The man dies in him who keep silent in face of tyranny - those immortal words by Prof. Wole Soyinka, our very own Nobel Laureate, defined the philosophy behind that classic prison note and detention memoir. The Man Died. That was during the Nigerian Civil War years (1067-1970).
And so, it was with my beloved brother and best friend, Chief Luke Akunedoziobi, Ukwachinaka, Enyioha Ndigbo to most people and Lakebato to his business associates and admirers. Though my brother was cowardly gunned on 19 June 2010, he lives on in our hearts, and will continue to live in the heart of generations to come simply because of his courage to move against the paradox of tyranny in a democracy. He would continue to live even long after those who killed him in cold blood must have been totally forgotten. Why was he brutally cut down in the prime of life? He was a man of peace that eschewed any form of violence.
From philanthropy, he went on to expose alleged vices in Osumenyi leadership, where he brought to beer his administrative skills in transparent leadership. That made the opponents edgy. But his actions were perfectly within the law and in the best tradition of participatory democracy, which stresses openness, probity and transparency. But my brother Luke was a marked man. From community activism, he moved on to assume the leadership of the town, in what he hoped was a redemption mission. But he was tragically mistaken, as the opponents found out, from the travesty that was the January 6, 2006 incident.
The man in Luke would not die, as he headed for the State Government's intervention to claim what he rightly thought belong to the people. Eventually the government of Anambra State said yes, by recognizing Osumenyi Development Union (ODU), and Luke became fulfilled. For him, getting legitimate democratic power was a marathon for which he was well prepared. Even in death, he remain a factor.
Therefore, our duty as family members, colleagues and comrades that he left behind is to continue to speak truth to power, to fight the cause of the ordinary Osumenyi, to insist on transparency and probity and to keep the flag of excellence flying. On this score, I challenge the police to do everything possible to find the killers. I also call on the new leadership in the town under Bro. Celestine Obioguatu, to turn a new leaf and use the supreme sacrifice made by Luke to end the chain of unresolved problems in the community. My late brother's agenda is only a dream deferred, not scuttled. I plead on behalf of the Akunedoziobi family, the entire Ojiego kindred of Umuka, Osumenyi that ODU, should not relent in its quest for social justice and transformation of Osumenyi.
Enyioha, my brother, an idol of the people and a hero of the masses with more than one million people attending your burial on the 26th of August, 2010. You lived and died for hope. Hope for a united, prosperous Osumenyi where no Osumenyian would go hungry or without education. Your wish was to build a living movement called Osumenyi and not historical monument.
Dear Luke, if I may borrow from the words of President Goodluck Jonathan, 'one who does what others can do is an ORDINARY PERSON; one who does what other person cannot do is EXCEPTIONAL but one who does what has not been done by any other person is a NATIONAL asset, a genius and an institution. Humble one; a good life no matter how short, is fulfilled. You were great in life, surprisingly great in death. I have no doubt in my mind that the Lord Almighty and the host of angels have received your righteous soul in paradise.