Drawing from General Yakubu Gowon’s post-war slogan of ‘no victor,no vanquished’,former Abia state governor Dr.Orji Uzor Kalu Thursday urged President Goodluck Jonathan to recognise those who fought and died on the Biafran side at this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance day.
Kalu in a statement signed by Emeka Obasi his media chief said,”since we all agree it was a war of unity,i would like those who died fighting for Biafra to also be remembered.I know of the great poet, Major Chris Ifekandu Okigbo,Lt.Tom Bigger ,Chief Emeka Ojukwu’s half-brother,Col. Chude Sokei,Head of the Biafra Air Force,Major Hannibal Okpani Nkama,one of Nigeria’s best cadets,and of course, Corporal Nwafor,the gunner.”
According to the former governor,”what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.Chief Ojukwu received his pension from the Federal Government and was given a hero’s burial in death.So as we honour the dead,let recognition go to men who fought on both sides.
Okigbo, a contemporary of Prof.Wole Soyinka at the University of Ibadan died in Opi,near Nsukka while trying to blow up an armoured car with grenade in 1967,shortly after Bigger died alongside Maj.Kaduna Nzeogwu in the same Nsukka Sector.Sokei was mortally wounded by mortar fire at Afor Igwe Ochie market Ogidi in 1968.In an act of bravado,Nwafor whose sole aim hit a Saladin armoured vehicle also died in Ogidi.
Kalu joined Nigerians in celebrating the dead military heroes.”I recognise the sacrifice they all made,and hope they did not die in vain.I also remember Col.Iyowa Roland Akahan,Army Chief who died in an air crash,just like Chief of Air Staff Col.Shittu Alao who died in Uzebba in 1969 and Capt.George Musa Jebak near Ife.Major Ted Hamman of the 16th Brigade, who died in Owerri,1969,Lt.Col Shande,Major Olurin,Major Nat Nasamu and Lt. Gagara,among so many others,”he said.
Kalu also advised the government to seize the opportunity to heal wounds across the land in the spirit of reconciliation.”Must we continue to punish Lt.Col.Victor Adebukunola Banjo, Maj. Emmanuel Arinze Ifeajuna,Gen.Iliya Bisalla,Joseph Dechi Gomwalk and Abdulkarim Zakari even in death?This is time to look ahead,”he sated.