Ben Ezechime, Enugu
Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu has lauded Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide for celebrating Igbo Day and honouring three distinguished members of her family and illustrious sons of Igboland with the highest Igbo honours.
Ojukwu gave the commendation on Saturday in an appreciation message, titled: “Charity Must Begin at Home,” shortly after she received the honours at Okpara Square, Enugu, venue of the 2023 Igbo Day Celebration.
It would be recalled that the ‘Hero of Igboland’ honour was bestowed on her father in-law, Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu; and the honour of ‘Grand Hero of Igboland” was bestowed on her husband, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.
The honour of “Distinguish Hero of Igboland” was bestowed on Chief Christian Onoh, the former Governor of Old Anambra State and her father.
Ojukwu said that the families of Ojukwu and Onoh are thankful to Ohanaeze Ndigbo for the honour bestowed on these three illustrious sons of Igboland and indeed, Nigeria.
According to her, Ohanaeze has done the Igbo Nation proud with the posthumous recognition of so many distinguished sons and daughters of Igboland.
“It is hoped that under the dynamic leadership of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, the apex organisation is poised to promote a vibrant synergy on all fronts among Igbos across seven southern states,” she said.
The ambassador said she was particularly proud of the ‘Hero of Igboland’ honour bestowed on my father in-law, Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu, acclaimed as Nigeria’s first billionaire, who died in 1966.
She said, “This is because I believe he has not been given sufficient recognition for the tremendous impact he made in the socioeconomic and political space in Nigeria.
“This is a man who was conferred with an MBE (Member of the British Empire) in 1947; an OBE (Officer of the British Empire) in 1952 and KBE (Knight Commander of the British Empire) in 1960 by Queen Elizabeth.
“Sir Louis Ojukwu sat as Chairman of 15 multinational companies in his time, and was a founder and the first chairman of the Nigeria Stock Exchange.
“He was not only a titan of Commerce, Industry and Real Estate but greatly influenced the politics of the era, even winning a seat in Parliament.
“The son of Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu, my husband, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, received the highest honour of ‘Grand Hero of Igboland.’
“The Ikemba, as he is fondly known, has transcended into the pantheon of Igbo gods for the heroic role he played in the history and survival of his people.
“Generations yet unborn will be reminded of his valour. His place in the history of this nation is assured for all time.”
Ojukwu noted that her father, Onoh, former governor of the Old Anambra State, is generally acknowledged as the founding father of Enugu State and Wawaland’s most formidable foot soldier and his heroic roles in the evolution of his people are unquantifiable.
“As you can see, not only did the people of Ngwo, his community turn out here to honour him, but people trooped in from far and wide to celebrate this recognition,” she said.
Ojukwu, a former Nigeria ambassador to Spain, noted that the greatest challenge Igbo people have is the lack of synergy and cohesion within our own socio-cultural and socio-political space which is at best contradictory.
“There is a latent disconnect among the leadership and peoples across the South-Eastern States,” she said.
According to her, the double standards have bred nothing but confusion and a deficit of cohesion and solidarity across our states.
“This is the bitter truth. It is a regrettable and retrogressive attitude. Charity must begin at home if the zone is to make any appreciable progress.
“We must bridge this gap first in order for a healthier, more progressive socio-political relationship devoid of prejudice, rancour and resentment to thrive across all Igbo speaking states.
“This seemingly intractable situation, if effectively tackled, will be Ohanaeze’s greatest achievement,” she added.
It would be recalled that the annual Igbo Day Celebration is a great opportunity for people of the Igbo nation to come together and reflect on prevailing circumstances and celebrate all that is dynamic, heroic and noble about their heritage.
This year’s Igbo Day Celebration had as its highpoint, the honorific appreciation of legendary personalities of Igboland who provided unrivaled leadership, progress and prestige to the Igbo nation.