Odumegwu Ojukwu: The rebel’s finale

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LAST week, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.General Ihejerika, posted full page, colour obituaries in memory of the Biafran rebel leader OdumegwuOjukwu: a man who led a rebellion against Nigeria, in a civil war, that consumed approximately two million lives, was rehabilitated by the army he fought against.

The same army welcomed his corpse with full military honours; just as members of the ruling elite stood in awe at the Abuja airport as the event was broadcast live on television.

The Nigerian story is taking a dramatic twist as the rebel has become almost ‘beatified’ and his rebellion given a new, more romantic, interpretation. Ojukwu died in a deliberate ambiguity with the Nigeria which pardoned him for his rebellion; fully rehabilitated his citizenship and even paid his military pension!

But he never accepted his culpability for the bloodshed neither did he accept Nigeria till he died! By the effort to make a hero out this controversial historical figure,those ruling us today have crossed a line: they have set to naught the sacrifices of those who died to end Ojukwu’s rebellion and helped us to have the Nigeria they now preside over!

Similarly, they are instituting newer but frightening narratives in support of rebellion and a twisted notion of patriotism, determined by the narrow ethno-religious interests of contemporary rulers of the country!

In the over-flowing emotions of the moment, those who regard Ojukwu a hero will certainly feel a deep sense of satisfaction about the old rebel’s ‘befitting’ finale; just as much as those interested in exploiting the moment and the myth to satisfy political ambitions. But Nigeria might come to rue the day it turned into a hero, an individual who led a rebellion,which almost broke the country into pieces! The events of history often have unforeseeable outcomes.

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