Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was a prominent Nigerian military officer and later a politician who was then a military Governor of the eastern part of Nigeria in 1966 and later became the commander of the proclaimed republic of Biafra in 1967 to 1970. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu later became an active politician from 1983 – 2011, before his death at the age of 78 years.
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was born in Zungeru, the northern part of Nigeria on the 4th of November, 1933 to a famous business man, Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu who was from Anambra state in eastern Nigeria.
EARLY EDUCATION AND CAREER
Chukwuemeka Ojukwu had his secondary school education at CMS Grammar School and later was transferred to Kings College all in Lagos, the western part of Nigeria. He was imprisoned once at an early age for humiliating a colonial British tutor who assaulted a black woman.
At the age of 13, his father, Mr Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu sent him to study overseas at Epsom College, Lincoln College and later the Oxford University all in the UK.
In 1957, Chukwuemeka Ojukwu joined the civil service as an administrative officer in Udi, in the eastern part of Nigeria.
After working for the colonial civil service for some time, he wanted to become separated from his father’s influence over his civil service career. Chukwuemeka Ojukwu later left and joined the military where he was enlisted to Zaria, as a Non Commissioned Officer (NCO). However, Ojukwu’s being enlisted to become a Non Commissioned Officer was influenced by his father’s association with the Governor General of Nigeria, John Macpherson, he (Ojukwu’s father) just wanted to stop young Ojukwu from receiving the officer cadetship because he felt he would not be able to cope with the hectic schedule of the NCO.
Ojukwu later went to Royal West African Frontier force Training School in Ghana and Eaton hall where he got commissioned in 1988 as 2nd Lieutenant. As at that time, there were only 15 Nigerians out of 250 officers in the Nigeria Military and after the United Nations peacekeeping in Congo, under General Aguiyi Ironsi in 1964, Ojukwu was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and was in charge of the 5th Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Kano.
Ojukwu And The Civil War
Ojukwu came to the limelight after he was appointed as, military Governor of the eastern part of Nigeria in 1966. And by 29th May 1966, pogrom began in the northern part of Nigeria in which the south-eastern origin were targeted and were slaughtered. This was a very big problem for Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, who was then then Governor of the eastern part of Nigeria and he made sure to do everything in his power to stop reprisal telling his people to return.
In January 1967, the military leadership went for a peace conference in Aburi, Ghana, which did not yield any good fruit because the agreement fell apart as they returned from Aburi, leading Ojukwu to make the decision of declaring the eastern part of Nigeria as the sovereign state of Biafra.
General Gowon declared war on the 6th of July, 1967 and attacked Biafra. For three years, eastern Nigeria suffered non-stop fight, humiliation and starvation causing Colonel Ojukwu to flee to Ivory Coast after seeing that the battle was already lost and handed over power to his second General Philip Effiong.
After spending 13 years in exile, Chukwuemeka Ojukwu was given an official pardon by the Federal Government of Nigeria and returned in 1982. Since his return, Ojukwu played major roles in the development of Nigerian democracy, having become the presidential aspirant for APGA and remaining the party leader until the illness that took his life. Chukwuemeka Ojukwu died on the 26th of November, 2011 in UK at the age of 78.