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Achuzia to Ojukwu: You’re wrong to have collected pension from Nigerian Army

Posted by By BUCHY ENYINNAYA, Asaba on 2008/02/05 | Views: 734 |

Achuzia to Ojukwu: You’re wrong to have collected pension from Nigerian Army

Fellow Biafran compatriot and Ohanaeze chieftain, Joe Achuzi’a, has criticized the decision of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, to collect pension from the Nigerian Army.

Fellow Biafran compatriot and Ohanaeze chieftain, Joe Achuzi’a, has criticized the decision of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, to collect pension from the Nigerian Army.

Achuzia was a key figure in the Biafran army during the seccessionist bid led by Ojukwu between 1967 and 1970. The rebellion was crushed by the federal forces.

Ojukwu, a Lt Colonel in the Nigerian Army before the war, collected his pension three weeks ago, a development Achuzia faulted, saying: “If I were the Biafran head of state, my first duty on being called upon to be compensated would be, no, my friend. You pay the men who made it possible for me to survive, and for you to recognize me as your former colleague. Those that rallied round, and wore uniform in my colour, under my command must be compensated, living or dead.”

Popularly known as ‘Air raid’ during the war, Achuzia stresses further: “For me, he (Ojukwu) was wrong. I have never challenged whatever he does, but he would be the last person I would expect to collect his pension. We fought under his colour. We believed in him. And we still believe in him. But I believe he might have a better excuse why he did so. I can’t answer for him.”
Commenting on the insult Chief Ojukwu was said to have received when he went for the pension, Achuzia queried his former boss for ever going there in the first instance, stressing that the insult was not only to Ojukwu but also to all who wore Ojukwu’s colour in the name of Biafra.

According to him, “ Ojukwu felt offended the way he was addressed and the way his pension payment was orchestrated. We have a saying in Igbo language: ‘Onye kporo wata nwanyi nwunye ya, mereka okpo ya iyi’ In other words, an elderly man who goes after a young girl, calling her his wife, should be prepared for any rubbish he gets from the young lady.

If Ojukwu didn’t go there to answer the call, or to show himself as a former Nigerian military man, I don’t think that a boy who either wasn’t born or wasn’t old enough to participate in the civil war, should be addressing him as Lieutenant Colonel Ojukwu, because the insult is not only to Ojukwu but to all of us who wore Ojukwu’s colour in the name of Biafra. Whether Nigeria likes it or not, the issue of the civil war was inconclusive and remains inconclusive till date.”

Achuzia contended that the system applied by the Nigerian Army and the “politics” involved in paying their former officers was shameful, and at the same time, portrayed the recipients in a very bad light. “If you look at the roster of casualties, the majority of soldiers that bore the wounds of the civil war up till date, they were not up to five per cent that were former Nigerian Army officers.

So, in other words, it’s a crying out shame for Nigeria to say that they have settled the issue of the civil war, because as long as the 95 per cent of the then Eastern Nigerian army later known as Biafran army were not settled, compensated, or acknowledged, the wound will continue to fester. Hence, I said that it is a crying out shame for anybody out of those five per cent that went and collected the pension.

“What they collected is nothing to write home about . What I say is that if I were one of them, I wouldn’t have agreed to collect because it will be a betrayal of those we enticed or we called up to participate and assist us in resisting the so-called Nigeria at the time.”
Speaking on the activities of the Chief Ralph Uwazurike-led Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Achuzia said: “Uwazurike and his group are children of the fallout of the effects of the war. Because I’m quite sure that neither Uwazurike nor those boys who make up MASSOB fought the war. But most of them, their parents died as Biafran military men. And consequently, it behoves the children of the fallen Biafran heroes to try and articulate and maintain the posture and stand of their fallen hero-parents.

“I have always said, my first advice is to go under the banner of Biafra, you must first make sure that all the states from the former Eastern states, that their children with Uwazurike’s are of the same age are participants . It is only when all of them participate that whatever they have in mind could materialize. But to make it an Igbo agenda, I say no. Because Biafra is not an Igbo programme. And consequently, they can use it as lever to express the marginalization that befalls the present Eastern states. We will support them but not on the basis of seeking independence from a sovereign state such as Nigeria.”

On the feasibility of the Biafran project in consideration of present day realities in Nigeria, the operations commander of the former Biafran Army disclosed that for now, Biafra was a closed case, declaring, however, that the issue remained a spiritual one. “Biafra, to me, is a spiritual idea. Because the day we laid down our arms, we sang requiem to Biafra.

Reason for this is that Biafra is not a child of Igbo origin. It is a child of the marriage among the five major ethnic groups in the Eastern region and the day that she was born, she was a child of circumstance. Circumstances arising out of Gowon’s attempt to dismember the Eastern region by creating Rivers and South Eastern states. Immediately after that pronouncement, the five ethnic groups making up the Eastern region brought Biafra to being. That day, Biafra became the operational word of the Eastern Army.”

According to him, it was the inability of the Federal Government to address the problems that caused the civil war that still lingers till date and which had indirectly snowballed into the present day Niger Delta crisis.

“The situation going on in the Niger Delta was a continuation and fallout of Nigeria not agreeing to see realities and realise that what brought about the war in the first place was the issue of Niger Delta which made Boro to leave the university and decide to oppose Nigeria single-handedly on his own, before the pogrom that nearly finished all the Igbo officers and civilians in the North and the West.

At the time, as far as the North was concerned, there is nothing like you are an Ijaw man, or that you are a Calabar man, or that you are an Ibibio man or that you are Efik or whatever you like. As far as they were concerned, anybody from the Eastern region is an Igbo man. So, what happened then, when they say it’s an Igbo fight, they weren’t articulating Igbo as a tribe. No, they were grouping the whole of the Eastern region comprising different ethnic groups as one major ethnic group.”

Blaming the Federal Government over its inability to tackle the Niger Delta crisis, Chief Achuzia said: “It is the same thing we are still talking. You see, Nigeria made a terrible mistake and they are still making the same mistake.

They thought that by reducing the size of the land mass and the population of the Igbo ethnic group, that they will contain the situation. It is now that it is dawning on them that it isn’t really the Igbo ethnic group that is the problem, that it is the minorities within the Eastern region who felt that they are being marginalised because before the oil came, we had no trouble in the Eastern region.”

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