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Chukwumereije: Exit of a propagandist

Posted: Apr 20, 2015 at 7:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Austin Oboh (Lagos), Tony Ezimako and Ignatius Okorocha (Abuja)

For the second time within five months, news filtered in on Sunday that Chairman, Senate Committee on Education, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, had passed on.

Senator Uche Chukwumerije

Senator Uche Chukwumerije

On December 14, last year, a similar rumour had made it way into the media, but this was refuted a day after by the man himself.

This time, however, it would seem the great propagandist has taken leave of the country for which he braved many odds.

A three-time senator representing Abia North, Chukwumerije was born on January 11, 1939, in Ogoja, Cross River State, Nigeria.

He was veteran in the media industry where he made a mark as far back as 1961 when he became Feature Writer at Daily Times. Later he took up position at Radio Nigeria as Head, News Talks.

But in 1966 – 1970, he became Director, Biafra Directorate of Propaganda in the Biafra Ministry of Information.

His role as a propagandist of note gained prominence at this time when he helped fashioned out intellectual arsenal for the Biafran war effort, mainly targeted at the international community.

After the war, he became, i.e. from 1971 – 1983, he became Founder/Publisher/Managing Editor Afriscope Magazine.

Another opportunity presented itself to the great publicist when he was appointed Minister of Information by the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida from 1992 – 1993.

Unfortunately, he had to bear the unfortunate responsibility of defending the regime against its myriad of critics who where justifiably opposed to it entrenchment of militocracy.

This was the fiery period of confrontation between the military junta that nullified a successful democratically organized presidential election and prodemocracy forces of activists who insisted that the military must bow out of Nigeria’s political space.

Incidentally, when the then military leader, Babangida, made his now legendary ‘stepping aside’, Chukwumerije was left behind to continue to defend the antidemocratic force as a member of the Interim National Government under former UAC Chairman, Ernest Shonekan.

The Senate President in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Paul Mumeh, lamented that Chukwumerije was one of the brightest and fertile minds in the Senate.

“He radiated intelligence, exemplary conduct in both public and private life.  He was a team player who brought meaning to hard work . He was focused and determined to make positive difference

“We shall miss him. No doubt he left a vacuum that would too hard to fill .

He was a consummate and passionate NIGERIAN who believed in the sanctity of the peace and unity of the nation”, the senate President stressed.

Also lamenting the death, Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu expressed shock and sadness, describing him as a fearless politician who fought for the interest of the common man and his people.He also described him as “a patriot who gave his best towards the peace, unity, and development of Nigeria”.