What Chukwumerije means to Ndigbo | Independent Newspapers Limited
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What Chukwumerije means to Ndigbo

Posted: Apr 23, 2015 at 2:14 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Christian Emeka, Awka 

The Anambra Central Traditional Rulers’ Council has described the late Senator Uche Chukwumerije  as a man of his words while alive.

The monarchs said he devoted the best part of his adult years in the service of the nation and propagation of truth.

The traditional rulers stressed that the late Chukwumerije contributed to the socio-political development of the nation for six decades.

The Senator representing Abia North died of long cancer in an Abuja hospital on Sunday April 19, 2015 at 75.

Also, Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) said it was shocked to receive “the bitter news of the death of Senator Uche Chukwumerije after a prolonged lung cancer fight”.

MASSOB lamented that “the demise of Isuochi-born Distinguished Senator of Ndigbo in Nigeria has created a big vacuum in political leadership of Ndigbo in Nigeria”.

Similarly, former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, described late Chukwumerije as “one Senator and renowned public servant that was not afraid of his own, rusty voice”.

Chairman of the Traditional Rulers’ Council, Igwe Chukwuemeka Ilouno, who spoke to newsmen in Onitsha, said Chukwumerije was one of the few Nigerians anyone can count on their words.

He stressed that Chukwumereije was a fine gentleman, a devout Christian and a lover of people and societal progress.

“Nigeria has lost one of her most illustrious sons. Sen. Uche Chukwumereije has not only been around for the past six decades, but has contributed immensely to the growth and development of the country.

“A principled man, whose no is no and yes is yes. A man that will always stand by what he believes in and never get involved in any shady deal both in his public and private life.

“As a Minister of Information under the General Ibrahim Babangida regime, he did his best to ensure that government programmes were widely disseminated,’’ the monarchs said.

On his  contributions to the course of the South-East and South-South, Ilouno said “a great iroko has fallen. His immeasurable role during the Nigeria-Biafra war cannot be forgotten in a hurry.

“He is somebody who worked tirelessly for the Igbo nation, especially under the umbrella of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.

“As a Senator, he did not only perform creditably well, but ensured that the Igbo Agenda was never swept under the carpet at any given time,” he said.

Ilouno prayed that “his gentle soul rest in perfect peace in the bosom of the Lord, who is the author of truth”.

On its part, MASSOB said it was shocked to receive “the bitter news of the death of Senator Uche Chukwumerije after a prolonged fight with lung cancer.”

MASSOB said: “The demise of Isuochi-born Distinguished Senator of Ndigbo in Nigeria has created a big vacuum in political leadership of Ndigbo in Nigeria”.

Also, a statement signed by Uchenna Madu, MASSOB’s National Director of Information and a kinsman to late Chukwumerije reads in part: “Senator Uche Chukwumerije (Dike Ogu Ndigbo) was a dynamic and astute supporter, projector and defender of Igbo cause. He does not hide his overwhelming love for Ndigbo. He was admired and adored immensely by Ndigbo who know who their true leaders are.

“Truly, our late Dike Ogu Ndigbo (Uche Chukwumerije) is another Ojukwu to Ndigbo. He was roundly active during Nigeria-Biafra war. He always stood for justice and equity on the Igbo side as shown in his constant efforts and pressure mounted on the Federal Government for the release of MASSOB members, including Ralph Uwazuruike, Uchenna Madu and others detained in Abuja prison.

“In 2007, Senator Uche Chukwumerije led other Igbo Senators, with the assistance of Chief Andy Uba and Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka (Ogirisi Igbo), to intervene and negotiate our release from Keffi and Kuje prisons.

“He openly identified and sympathised with MASSOB struggle, though not a member, but an ardent believer of Biafra, even though Senator Uche Chukwumerije was not happy with Ralph Uwazuruike’s sudden deviation and commercialisation of MASSOB struggle for Biafra actualisation after the death of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.

“He tactically withdrew from most of Uwazuruike’s activities when he and other Igbo leaders found out that Uwazuruike’s MASSOB is a personal venture for the enrichment of his family.

Dike Ogu Ndigbo still commanded our respect and honour, MASSOB will continue to mourn him and will also participate in his burial as a Biafran hero. A biafran flag will fly at half mast at MASSOB headquarters, Okwe, and other secretariats of the organisation as a mark of honour for him.

“MASSOB members and Ndigbo in general are advised to wear black bands on their wrists for three days as a mark of mourning for the fallen Iroko tree,” the statement from MASSOB said.

Obi prayed to God for the repose of the late Senator’s soul.

Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, also expressed  shock over the death of Chukwumerije, whom he described as frontline politician and astute administrator.

The cleric noted that he (Chukwumerije) would be remembered for his immense contribution to nation building.

He prayed God to grant the family and the entire people of Abia North Senatorial District, the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.

In her remark, a member of the House of Representatives and now Senator-elect for Anambra Central, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, described Chukwumerije’ death as “a colossal loss to the Igbo people and Nigeria at large”.

According to her, “Chukwumerije was one of the strong and audible voices at the Red Chamber of National Assembly.

“We shall miss his courageous representation,” Ekwunife said, while enjoining his children to emulate their father and keep his legacies.

Former President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dozie Ikedife, described the deceased as “a true Nigerian, and a true Igbo man”.

“Chukwumerije’s death was the death of an honest, upright, courageous and dogged fighter.

“Not many people are like him,” Ikedife said.

In his reaction, Senator Chris Ngige said the Senate will lose his incisive and erudite contributions to debate on motions and bills in the chambers.

Ndigbo has lost one of her best who believed that the spirit of industry, hard work, resilience and adroitness of the Igbos could be put into good use for their survival.

“He was a very industrious, energetic patriot whose ultimate goal had always remained how to ameliorate the living condition of citizens,” Ngige said.

Also, a former Commissioner for Information and Culture in the state,  Joemartin Uzodike, said the Senator’s death was unfortunate.

Uzodike described the late Senator as a straight forward person who stood between the old and the new in the society.

“He was a bridge-builder between the government and the people.

“Indeed, it is a sad moment for the Igbo. He was a straight forward politician, who had always fought for the benefit of the masses,” Uzodike added.