No single Igbo political leader was present in Umuahia, at the weekend, at the two main events marking the 50th memorial anniversary of General Johnson Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi, Nigeria’s first military Head of State, who was slain on July 29, 1966.
Hajiya Aisha Buhari was represented by Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano, the wife of the Anambra State Governor and delivered a very touching message from the Mrs Buhari who extolled the virtues of the widow of the fallen Head of State as well as the tenacity of the family which has been without their head for 50 years.
The occasion started with an episcopal concelebrated Mass led by the Bishop of Umuahia Catholic Diocese, the Right Reverend Dr Lucious Ugorji, who was accompanied by several priests, at St Finbarr’s Cathedral, Umuahia. At the end of the church service, Major General Nze presented the goodwill message from his boss, General Olonishakin, who regretted his inability to come in person, due to other urgent military matters. The CDS’s address was followed by that of the Mrs Buhari, which was read by Mrs Obiano.
He also paid tribute to the late Lt Colonel Francis Adekunle Fajuyi, who had, out of loyalty and the call to duty, opted to follow his Commander-in-Chief, Gen. Ironsi, to his death. Ambassador Ironsi called on the Almighty to continue to grant repose to the soul of the slain loyal soldier, Col. Fajuyi.
However, the executives of the Ohanaeze belatedly arrived at the modest family home of the Aguiyi-Ironsis, well after the main events had taken place and the key guests had departed. They were received by Noble Lady Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi. Explaining later, the Secretary General of the Ohanaeze, Dr Joe Nwaorgu, said that the Aguiyi-Ironsi family had indicated that they wanted a low-key ceremony.
Significantly, too, the immediate-past governor of the state, Senator Theodore Orji, who is said to hail from the same clan as the late General Aguiyi-Ironsi, was also absent at the occasion.