HOW OJUKWU AND I FIRST MET, BY GEN ADEYINKA ADEBAYO
Reacting to Ojukwu's death, former governor of the old Western State, Major-Gen. Adeyinka Adebayo (rtd) has recalled the first time he met with the late Ikemba Nnewi. In a statement issued yesterday, Gen. Adebayo said: ' I met Chief Ojukwu for the first at a cocktail party held in honour of the Acting Governor-General Sir Ralph Grey who was the official Deputy Governor General of the Federation who represented Sir James Robertson, the Governor General at an official occasion in Umuahia. Robertson was away in England for an official occasion at Umuahia when he was in England for an official duty in late 1957.
I was the first Nigerian Aide de Camp (ADC) to the Governor General. Chief Ojukwu was Assistant District Officer then in Umuahia, Eastern Region. I had a long discussion with Chief Emeka Ojukwu at the party about the Nigerian Army and I advised him to come and join the Army as cadet. He started his cadet training along with others from Nigeria and Ghana in Teshie and Cadet School at Eaton Hall in England.
He later attended the School of Infantry, Warminister and Small Arms School, Hythe, and finally, Joint Services Staff College (JSSC), England. He served in various units in Nigeria and also as an instructor at the Royal West Africa Frontier Force Training School, Teshie, Ghana.
He was a good and hardworking officer who rose rapidly to the rank of Lt. Col in 1964. He worked as Quarter Master-General (QMG) in the Army headquarters while Lt. Col Yakubu Gowon was also Adjutant-General (AG) and I was the first Chief of Staff (CSO) with the rank of full Colonel in the Nigerian Army headquarters under the command of the last British General Officer Commanding (GOC), Sir Welby Evarald.
Lt. Col Odumegwu-Ojukwu served in many units. He was later on posted to command the 5th Battalion in Kano in Northern Nigeria under Brigadier Ademulegun who was also commanding the 1st Brigade, Nigerian Army with headquarters in Kaduna.
When the military coup of January, 1966 took place, he was appointed the Military Governor of Eastern Region with headquarters in Enugu.
When the last British General Officer Commanding was about to go Major General Aguiyi-Ironsi was appointed to take over from him being the most senior Nigerian Army officer and I continued to be the Chief of Staff, Army Headquarters until November, 1965 when I handed over to Colonel Kur Mohammed and I went on course at the Imperial Defence College in England. Few weeks after I left the first coup took place and all the most senior Nigerian Army officers were killed, but General Aguiyi-Ironsi was lucky to be alive and was made the Head of State.
Political tension mounted and the second coup took place on July 29, 1966 when Ironsi was visiting Western Region and he was killed with Lt. Col Adekunle Fajuyi, his host in Ibadan.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I came home on consultation with the Head of State but could not see him and the coup plotters did not know that I was in town.
The second coup of July 1966 weighed heavily on the Easterners and unfortunately Emeka proclaimed himself The Head of State and Commander-In-Chief of the Republic of Biafra. The declaration led to the Civil War in the country which lasted for the three years, he said.