OJUKWU'S NPN SECRET, BY EX-AIDE
As a book on the late Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu's life is set for launch today in Abuja, a vital secret of the late General is about to unfold.
The author of the book and The Sun columnist, Chief Uche Ezechukwu, who was a personal aide to the late Igbo leader, has revealed some of the most closely guarded secrets of the late Ikemba in the book.
Ezechukwu who worked with Ojukwu as personal aide between 1986 and 1988 said the late Ikemba told him several intimate secrets about his life during their working relationship.
And one of such secrets as he told Daily Sun in an interview, is that Ojukwu's joining of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), the ruling party as at the time he came back to the nation was not because it was the condition for his pardon as speculated by many.
'I revealed in the book - Ojukwu: The 'Rebel' I served, meant for launch today, that the late Ikemba told me in confidence why he joined the NPN instead of the Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) every other outstanding Igbo was a member.'There was this particular day he told me that, if he had got such condition of joining NPN on return, he would have turned down the offer and noted that as a matter of fact, his reason for snubbing the NPP in preference for NPN was to disabuse people's minds that he came back to reactivate his ethnic struggles.
'Remember that NPP championed by the Great Zik was viewed as a party for the Igbo, and Ojukwu knew this. So he reasoned that if he join the same party, many Nigerians would still see him as the old Biafra leader coming back to continue with the agenda on a different platform. So he teamed up with the party that was seen as a national platform quite unlike the UPN and NPP, to demonstrate that he was really ready to reintegrate into the mainstream of nationalism.
'Ojukwu was a man that was Igbo and knew Igbo only during a war situation and warfare frame of mentality. We know very well he was born in the North and had his early childhood and later military career there. He grew up in Lagos and schooled there. So, in more ways than the ordinary, he was more of a Nigerian from the other groups than his native Igbo. That was his major reason for joining the NPN,' Ezechukwu noted.
The author also explained that he wrote the book in a hurry after Ojukwu's demise was announced. 'The book was not actually planned. But when Ojukwu died, I was in Enugu and I kept getting calls from media houses to comment on the death to a point that I decided it wasn't reasonable speaking about the Ojukwu I knew intimately in piecemeal.
'Thereafter, I posted a comment on facebook and got responses that made me act immediately to start writing. After 17 days of work, the book was ready for the press, and I had planned to roll it out on his burial day. But after some reasonable arguments, including that from my wife, on the impression that might be read into it, I decided to defer its outing to a later date after his burial.' Ezechukwu noted that the book launch is just one and first of the activities planned to keep the memory of Ojukwu alive by a group known as the Ikemba Immortality Group (IIG).
He promised that the book would afford a great insight into the Ojukwu, many people never knew and bring to light those ways of the great mind that he reserved only for private audience, including the great respect he had for late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The book also promised to x-ray Ojukwu's zeal for the Nigerian nation, including how the nagging to be part of the leadership of the nation as a unified entity initially informed his resolve to join the Nigerian Army, as the first university graduate enrolled in the service.