The body of Ikemba Nnewi and former leader of the defunt Republic of Biafra Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu will leave United Kingdom on Monday for Nigeria and will arrive at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Tuesday.
The London departure will mark the beginning of his final laying to rest which come up on Saturday March 3.
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu born on 4 November 1933 at Zungeru in northern Nigeria to Sir Louis Phillippe Odumegwu Ojukwu, a businessman from Nnewi in south-eastern Nigeria died in London in the early hours of November 26, 2011 after a long illness.
He had been receiving treatment at Royal Berkshire Hospital in the UK, as part of efforts to revive him back to life after falling ill- result of a visiting massive stroke which hit him at the edge of year 2010 ending
Ever since the announcement of his death, Ojukwu had remained larger than life , with his life celebrated across the world.
Many state governments across Nigeria have organised symposiums and conferences in his honour and history has celebrated him in recent times as one of the greatest Nigerians who had impacted so indelibly on the nation’s history at least. for the wrong reasons.
He led a secessionist group and held Nigeria to a four years civil war, an effort many see today as a negative impact, causing the death of millions and leaving a dark mark of history.
But many have putting behind them the dark mark of history celebrating him and avoiding speaking evil of the dead.
From America to Europe, Asia to Africa, committed Ndigbo and friends of Ndigbo had made Ojukwu’s burial personalised celebration in various quaters, with Clubs, Organisations, families and well wishers converging to mark his eventful life and celebrating his larger than life with various social events.
As countdown to his burial on Saturday March 3, 2012, begins, events have sprung across the nation with almost all states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria celebrating his eventful life.
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu was born on 4 November 1933 at Zungeru in northern Nigeria to Sir Louis Phillippe Odumegwu Ojukwu, a businessman from Nnewi in south-eastern Nigeria.
The ancient town of Zungeru in Wushihi Local Government Area of Niger State where he was born last Saturday played host to various dignitaries led by three serving governors of Abia, Anambra and Niger States in addition to two senators, former ministers and first class traditional rulers among others who converged on the community to pay their last respect in continuation of his long holding burial rites across the nation.
Governors Theodore Orji of Abia State, Peter Obi of Anambra State and Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State who doubled as the host were in attendance with Prof. ABC Nwosu, former Minister of Health, Senators Uche Chukwumerije, Ben Obi and some first class traditional rulers in Niger State, including the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar.
The chairman of the occasion, Alhaji Sanusi Ado Bayero implored attendees to the occasion to learn from history citing the example of Ikemba who led a torrent of events in hid life time.
The Abia Government has declared Tuesday, Feb 28, work free to enable civil servants in the state to pay their last respects as his corpse prepares to be brought to Aba on Tuesday.
Orji also announced that all markets in Aba would be closed on the day as a mark of respect for the departed statesman.
The governor said Odumegwu-Ojukwu was in the class of the late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and added that the deceased brought luck to Umuahia and taught Ndigbo to speak out on important issues.
“Ojukwu brought the luck that gave Umuahia the state capital today. He made Umuahia the capital of Biafra and lived in Umuahia as a District Officer (DO),’’ the governor said.
Meanwhile, the final journey of the most revered Igbo leader will start on Monday, February 27 when his remains will arrive at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport for a welcome ceremony, Onye Ije Nno and later depart to Owerri.
On February 28, there would be stops and ceremonies at Aba, Abakiliki and Enugu.
Activities and processions will continue in the Coal City on February 29 through March 1 when a National Funeral Ceremony, Onye Ije Nno, will be held.
Thereafter, the body will leave for Awka for a reception and Nnewi for waking till March 2 when he will be buried
Between March 3 -10, there would be condolences, which would be rounded off with “Outing” Church Service on March 12.
Ojukwu: Final lapse of the burial programme.
Feb. 27th Mon: i. Arrival of Remains at Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport Abuja ii. Onye Ije Nno iii. Departs to Owerri
Feb. 28th Tues: Aba – Abakiliki – Enugu stops/ceremonies
Feb. 29th Wed : i. Enugu preparations ii. Youths: Icho Mmadu
March 1 Thurs: National Funeral Ceremony, (Enugu) Onye Ije Nno -(Awka) Reception 3 pm -Nnewi Wake keeping 5:30pm
March 2 Fri: Interment
March 12: “Outing” Church Service