FLASH| Igbo Political Class Abandons Aguiyi-Ironsi

by on August 1, 2016

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.

 Neither the Abia State Gover­nor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, nor any other governor of the South East, was present at the events.
 The two key delegations that represented the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari and the mil­itary high command were visibly surprised that a ceremony which was supposed to be a major oc­casion did not have even a single member of the Igbo political lead­ership to welcome the august del­egations.

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 Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Gabriel Olonishak­in, was represented by Major Gen­eral Edward Nze of the Defence Headquarters, who was accompa­nied by the Garrison Commander of the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army in Enugu and other officers and men of the military.
 Indeed, the delegation from the military high command add­ed colour and pomp to the ceremo­ny which was shunned by the polit­ical class of the South East.

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.

 In his own vote of thanks on behalf of the Aguiyi-Ironsi fami­ly, Ambassador Tom Aguiyi-Iron­si thanked the President’s Wife and the CDS as well as all those that took out time to come and hon­our their late father.

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.

 After the ceremonies in the church, the train moved to the Aguiyi-Ironsi cenotaph where the officiating Bishop led the oth­er members of the clergy at a very solemn ceremony of the blessing of the tomb.
 The ceremony at the tomb also involved the laying of the wreath by Mrs Obiano on behalf of the President’s Wife, Mrs Buhari. The other wreath was laid by Deacon­ess Nkechi Ikpeazu, the wife of the Abia State Governor, who was also at the ceremonies in the church and was said to be representing her husband who kept away from the ceremonies.
Amidst eyebrows and wag­ging tongues as to why no political leader was present at such a signif­icant ceremony,  Gover­nor Okezie was being represented by his wife, he was in fact, host­ing the executive members of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo at the Govern­ment House, Umuahia. He never appeared at any of the ceremonies.
 The only political leader that put up an appearance was Dr Og­bonnaya Onu, the Minister of Sci­ence and Technology, who was the first executive governor of the state during the short-lived civilian ad­ministration in the states under President Ibrahim Babangida. Onu was, however, unable to attend the main activities and was only able to be present at the house.

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.

 An aide of Governor Ikpeazu also explained to this reporter that the governor kept away because “he was not invited”, and refused to accept the argument being made by many observers that the even should have been organised by his office in conjunction with the Iron­si family and Igbo political and so­cio-cultural interests.

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.

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