Posted by By Paul Omo Obadan on
Behind every successful man is a woman. Mrs Lolo Uwazuirike, wife of the leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) is one of them.
Behind every successful man is a woman. Mrs Lolo Uwazuirike, wife of the leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) is one of them. Though she has not been in the fore front of the struggle, She disclosed to Sunday Sun in a chat that she has been working underground and leads the women wing of MASSOB to educate Igbo ladies on the fight for sovereignty and be good leaders though initially she discouraged her husband and was against the struggle.
How did you meet Ralph Uwazuirike?
My meeting him was quite miraculous. From my childhood in the early 80s in Okwo, Imo State, their Father (Ralph’s father), had always admired me and was fond of me and taunted my mother by saying that he would marry me. My mother said how can you marry my daughter? To which he retorted that no, one of his sons will marry me. Then I did not know any of his sons. Later, he sent some of his sons to woo me but I refused and said no, I don’t want. Eventually and in mysterious circumstances, I met Ralph Uwazuirike in Lagos in 1987. I never even knew he was the son of the Uwazuirike in the village that taunted me that one of his sons would marry me.
He proposed to me and we got along. When he now went home and told his father he wanted to marry somebody, his father asked who the person was and he mentioned my name, the father said, Oh, has she finally agreed that he would live in this compound? My husband was surprised. When he came back, he said, ah! his father is happy over the proposed marriage. It was then I told him that his father had been telling me from childhood that one of his sons would marry me. He said wow!
He was a student when I met him and was still reading Law in India. I saw him as a gentle person because all my life I had longed for a man who is gentle and simple, not men who are lousy and brag. I saw him as a man who cannot hurt somebody and a man who will be a good father to my children.
When he said he was going into the MASSOB struggle, how did you feel because this was the antithesis of your dream man?
When he told me that he was going into the struggle of MASSOB, I had reservations and I felt somehow and was surprised because a man that I thought was a gentleman is now going into a struggle against the state. At the initial stage, I discouraged him and said please, please, I don’t want this type of thing. He sat me down and explained to me that it is not how I thought, that this is a struggle of non-violence. That, as a man, one has to declare for his right and that he cannot be under a shadow whereby a fellow man would be suppressing him. I reasoned with him and joined him in the struggle.
What is the challenge of being the wife of the MASSOB leader?
In everything struggle, there are ups and down. Sometimes, you are on a high mood and sometimes low mood. His incaseration was always painful and puts the family in despair. When I go to outings, I don’t like disclosing my identity so that people won’t start starring at me and say is this Uwazuirike’s wife? So, I hide my identity and seldom bear Uwazuirike at functions. Not that I am not proud of my husband, I am indeed proud of him, but because I don’t like showing off and perhaps for security reasons. Sometimes I answer my husband’s first name. I could answer Onyekachi Raphael or Ngozi Raphael. So, people will hardly identify that this is Uwazuirike’s wife because I like relating with people in a very simple way.
What do you tell your kids when they ask the where-about of their dad?
They are now becoming accustomed to it. The smallest one is about ten years old. He is the one that feels the father most. But when the struggle started, almost all of them used to feel him because they used to be surprised at the sight of their father on televsion perhaps being led by the Police to court. The struggle is almost ten years now. When it started I was nursing my last baby. There was a time they came to arrest him in 2002, then my last baby was still very young, he asked me, ‘mummy, who are those people that came to arrest my daddy. Are they armed robbers.’ I said yes, they are armed robbers in Police uniform. He was so surprised and asked what did my daddy do? I thought that the Police only arrest Armed robbers. I said no, your Daddy is not an armed robber but soon you will understand what we are talking about. Any time his Father comes home, he used to be very happy because he is the last born.
Is his life all about the struggle for Biafra, how romantic is he?
(Laughs). That should be personal. It’s okay, you know nobody is an Island and when it comes to that aspect, he distinguishes himself.
Aren’t you ever afraid of being widowed?
Not that I am not afraid, no woman prays to be a widow, moreso when you know that your husband is the bread winner of the family. But when a man has sacrificed his life for his people, I know that with my prayers he would be safe, but if it goes the other way round, we live on. If I am a widow today, will I be the youngest woman to be a widow? Some women have been widowed from the first month of marriage. I don’t pray to be widowed in any way.
What is your role in the Struggle?
I lead the women’s wing of MASSOB and do some administrative work. The Bible said that a woman was created from one of the ribs of man so that they could be a helper to the men folk. Also, we, the women in MASSOB are working towards actualization of the sovereign state of Biafra so that we would work hand in hand when we get to Biafra land. It will not be a situation whereby the men will dominate the whole thing. The problem we have in Nigeria is because the men are dominating the whole spectrum of governance and no woman to say please don’t do this and that, do this and that. As women, we think of our children and our future. If you look at where ever a woman leads and she does not perform, look around very well, there will be a god father pushing her around. Otherwise, a woman will act and perform excellently because we think about our children’s future and the men never think of that. A man thinks of getting rich so that he can get the prettiest woman at his beck and call. And any pretty woman can also come to him. So they work to get rich but this is not so with women.
Recently, your husband was accused of high handedness and fraud which led to the polarisation in MASSOB and some disgruntled leaders left. What is your reaction on this?
I think all the talk about fraud and stealing money is just balderdash. My husband was rich before the struggle started. Before the struggle he was practicing as a Lawyer and was also into big time business. He had the house that the Government burnt in Okigwe around 1998 before the stuggle started. This particular place we are now was built in1994 or 1995, then, MASSOB hadn’t started. We also have some other properties before the coming of MASSOB. My husband was a millionaire before he started this struggle, if he wasn’t buoyant, he would not have to started the struggle. This struggle is not a struggle that a poor man can sustain.
Any advice for Nigeria at 48?
Nigeria is not a country you can give advice otherwise a man that is 48 and is not yet married, he doesn’t have a house to lay his head, you know that he is a fool already. So is Nigeria at 48. It is a pity because the people are still crying, that means we are not fruitful. Look at South Africa that we helped abolish Apartheid, our people rush there now to get there daily bread because it is almost like America. Why? You see Nigerian investors going to South Africa to invest because the enviroment is conducive. Nigerians take their money to invest in almost every country of the world. If they had used all that money to invest in Nigeria, Nigeria would have been one of the super powers in the world economy like China. That is why we are fighting, since those people do not know how to manage the economy, they don’t want people to enjoy this country, they love people to continue suffering, the best thing is to divide.
When we divide, every ethnic Nationality : Arewa, Oduduwa and Biafra will stand firm. But when we unite together, we can never stand. That phrase that united we stand, divided we fall can never work out in Nigeria because we never regarded ourselves as one. Once a Yoruba man is in the midst of Igbo they take him to be a Yoruba man and there is no how we can relate without being paranoid. In the midst of northerners or Hausas, they regard every other person that comes to their midst as a stranger, that is why they call a non Hausa in their midst Alhaji. If a Yoruba man goes to the East now, he knows he is a stranger.
A lot of Igbo build houses outside the East, to me it is a waste because tomorrow, surely we must go one day, and as we go, we are not going to carry our landed properties and what have you. But if we are really one Nigeria, we will not have such a negative attitude towards Nigeria. Why are we not one Nigeria, because we are not doing things in unity. There is no how somebody will come and please the different ethnic nationalities 100 percent. But if there is a government that is able to please everybody 80 percent, Nigeria will be okay. Even the one that said is following the rule of law is not following the rule of law. Nigeria is like a deaf man, when you are talking to a deaf man, he would just be looking at you like ‘mumu’(fool).
There is no advice for Nigeria. That thing that is fighting them is in them. Let them go and bring all our money they have taken abroad and come and invest here and Nigeria will be a better place to live. The Niger-Delta will no longer cry, the East will no longer cry and other ethnic nationalities will cease crying. Nigerian leaders should govern and develop Nigeria with equity, fairness and justice to every tribe and all agitations will cease.
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