….Says Bianca’s hands are stained with Ikemba’s blood
It took a long while before the dust settled after former Anambra state Governor, Peter Obi’s hand was raised by his late political mentor, Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu during the 2010 governorship election.
The Ikemba had implored the people to re-elect Obi for a second term; a wish that was honoured but which triggered off a heated controversy. In retrospect, Ojukwu Jnr had this to say.
“I do not think it would be wrong for anybody to say Obi’s emergence as a political force was directly linked to the backing he received from my late father.
I know what you are referring to and I would not want to go into the issue of who raised whose hand because everybody knew that my father was ill at the time. The fact still remains that Obi was Ezeigbo‘s choice for that election.
“I can tell you I was not comfortable with that development, especially on account of statements later made by Bianca and others during Gov. Willie Obiano’s campaigns. I wish to let that matter die.”
Would that account for his conspicuous absence at Gov Obianbo’s second tenure campaign even though the governor personally invited him to join his team – even now that the people are celebrating Ezeigbo’s birthday posthumously across the state?
“It is one of many reasons. In the last three years, has Anambra state celebrated Ezeigbo’s birthday? Have they celebrated the anniversary of his death?
Had any memorials been put up in his honor? Has any edifice or institution been named after him? How come that suddenly, on the eve of the election, it has become expedient to celebrate his birthday?
“To be honest with you, the stench of the hypocrisy has become nauseating. I was once an unwilling participant in this charade and I can no longer abide by it.
You have a situation where my father’s memory was invoked to help usher him into office and once elected, everything concerning Ezeigbo where promptly set aside.
Billboards with his pictures were taken down, new party clothes and materials were printed without his image while the incoming governor was focused on creating his own identity.
Now, three and half years later, Ezeigbo’s pictures are back in full gear in an attempt to use his image yet again for some people’s personal political ambitions.
“Yes, I have received many invitations and I shall take my time to take a stand with the candidate of my choice.
The truth is, I cannot go on campaign with Obiano for one final reason, and that is because of some of the people he has chosen to associate himself with; people who speak from both sides of their mouths as long as it serves their own interests.”
Indicting his late father’s widow, Bianca, Ojukwu Jnr declared he would have nothing to do with her.
“This is a woman who wants to create an impression that she loved Ezeigbo, but while Ezeigbo was sick she chose not to take care of him and rather pleased herself until she got tired of waiting for him to die.
“She had made many disparaging remarks about the former governor Peter Obi in an attempt to curry favour with Obiano, forgetting that when Ezeigbo was gravely ill, Obi with the help of his friends was able to get a private jet and took my father to England, so that he could get medical attention.
She forgets also that it was Peter Obi and other well-meaning folks who were instrumental in persuading the then President Goodluck Jonathan to accord my father what was, in essence, a state funeral. I remain grateful for what he did for Ezeigbo and for the family.
“Mark you, inspite of whatever support my father had given him, it was not mandatory that he extend himself in that manner. After all, his name is Obi and not Ojukwu.”
Ojukwu Jnr expatiated more on Bianca’s relationship with his father during the years of his health crises.
“When Ezeigbo had a stroke, he was being treated at home. He was neither given a CAT scan, M.R.I nor subjected to any of the standard procedures applicable to a stroke victim.
For two weeks, Bianca insisted on having him treated in his bedroom by her doctor against the wish of the family. At some point, family members were stopped at the gate from inquiring about Ezeigbo’s condition.
“On several occasions, I had to force myself in to see him. So all this grandstanding that Bianca is putting up is just to create a false impression about her relationship with my father and unsuspecting members of the public are buying into it. It is a shame.”
Dispelling the impression that Bianca was of great assistance to the Ikemba when he was flown to England and that she made efforts at taking him from Wellington Clinic to Lynden Hill Therapeutic Centre, Ojukwu Jnr made a total recall of what transpired.
“All the evidence is available and well documented. First of all, the air ambulance provided only had room for one family member and it was decided that she should go with him in the ambulance as the supposed wife, not that she was the best choice of the family.
“Of course, changes were made in terms of treatment centres. Lynden Hill Clinic was the third place Ikemba was moved to.
We were dismayed by the decision, because you have to understand that throughout his treatment, he required twenty-four-hour nursing care, and that particular centre was ill-equipped to handle a patient in his condition, even with twenty-four-hour nursing.
That was why he was transferred, yet again, to the Royal Berkshire when his health, predictably, deteriorated.
“Several members of my father’s immediate and extended family, including myself, made concerted efforts to have him moved to a neurological rehabilitation centre where he would receive the sort of treatment he needed.
But again, Bianca blocked all our efforts, and on the 25th of November 2011, a date I will never forget, without reference to the family, she had him discharged from the Royal Berkshire and transferred to yet another ill-equipped nursing home, this time in London, where he died a few hours after arrival.”
Responding to Bianca’s alliance with the former governor while he had problems with Umeh, the former national chairman of APGA, and now she is on the side of Umeh against Obi, Ojukwu Jnr said the very situation speaks volumes.
“Perhaps, this seeming flip-flop is due to the expediency of the moment. What I can tell you, again, is that it seems that at a point, it became expedient to her, for Ezeigbo’s treatment to be discontinued.
As far as I am concerned, I know a man must die sooner or later. But in the case of my father, but for her actions, he would not have died that day.
In fact, his remains were not immediately released to us until an investigation was conducted, because the circumstances of his death were deemed worthy of further investigation.
“We were told that because he had been ill for so long, a specific cause of death could not be ascertained and the result of the investigation was therefore inconclusive.
But as far as we are concerned, she is directly responsible for Ezeigbo’s death.
I wish to say that out so that my father’s spirit will allow me to rest and that is why I have refused to show up, in any event, to do with Obaino’s re-election campaign in which she features prominently.
I do not want to be associated with a person whose hands are soiled with blood.”
On his choice whether or not to support APGA in this election, Ojukwu Jnr went philosophical: “A political party is like a vehicle and the essence of joining a vehicle is to get to your destination.
If the driver is not going to your destination, or if you are not comfortable with the passengers in the vehicle, then it’s either you have no business in that vehicle or you work hard to effect a change in leadership and attract the new members and or disenchanted people who left.
“When Peter Obi left APGA, I spoke up against his move publicly. However, having said that, I was not in the meetings and discussions that led to his leaving the party.
So in retrospect, I have to admit that you must walk in a man’s shoes before you know where it pinches him. So my support for APGA is not automatic. It depends on what APGA stands for now.
If it turns out that the party has been hijacked by some people due to personal interests and their ideals are not in tandem with those of my father and the original direction set for the party and change cannot be effected, then perhaps it is time to look elsewhere.”
Do you think that Ojukwu’s image even at death would better the fortunes of APGA presently?
“Most people who are using his image these days did not know Ezeigbo. Obiano did not know Ezeigbo personally.
As I said before and I say it again, there comes a time when the stench of hypocrisy around the use or rather the misuse of his name and image becomes nauseating.
The notion that Ezeigbo is the property of APGA is wrong. Ezeigbo is not and was never the property of APGA.
He saw himself rather as the property of NDIGBO in particular and Nigerians in general. Ezeigbo did not fight the war for APGA, he fought the war for NDIGBO and for Nigeria.
“You will recall that when Ezeigbo came back from exile, he did not join the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP), which was popular in the Southeast at the time, rather he joined the National Party of Nigeria (NPN).
This is because his underlying goal had always been to bring NDIGBO into the centre. So, APGA is a means to an end not an end in itself.”
Setting the records straight about the 2010 campaign in the endorsement of Emeka Etiaba instead of Peter Obi, Ojukwu Jnr said what happened was that Emeka Etiaba and his group reached out to Bianca and had an agreement with her which caused her to support them.
“Obi reached out to me about what happened and he sent me with his convoy to my father.
When I got there, Bianca was upstairs and I asked Ezeigbo why he had abandoned me and he asked me what I meant by that.
“I told him that he asked me to go and work with Peter Obi as his eyes and ears and without reference to what he told me, he endorsed Emeka Etiaba.
I knelt down at his feet and asked again, why did you abandon me? He asked me to get up and I did; and he asked, “Where are my shoes?” and Col. Emma Nwobosi helped us find them.
“We got up and we left with the convoy provided by Peter Obi. We were at Dubem Obaze’s office and had a press conference where Ezeigbo endorsed Peter Obi for the second tenure.
This was one of the reasons among others that I started having problems with Bianca.”
Concerning his relationship with Bianca since she came into the family, Ojukwu Jnr had this to say:
“Actually, she and I had a good relationship earlier which later deteriorated and then severed to a point of no repair after the circumstances of my father’s death. At the funeral, Bianca did not want me to bury my father.
She claimed to be the chief mourner; a claim which I rejected outrightly and it took the intervention of elders, especially Prof. ABC Nwosu (former minister for health) who stood by me saying that such a thing will be an abomination in Igbo land and she had to accept her role as the griever while I buried my father as the first son.
“Even when my mother, Njideka Odumegwu-Ojukwu died, Bianca insisted that she will not be buried in my father’s compound and asked Ezeigbo to get a place outside our compound to bury my mother, but my father and I refused.
Again the same elders intervened and that was why I built a guest house and buried my mother in front of it next to the main house.”
“When you hear about Bianca being in court over our property, people do not know the story. The property in question belongs to my grandfather, not my father. Ojukwu Transport Limited (OTL) belonged to my grandfather.
“Sir Odumegwu, my grandfather, has a surviving wife; Lady Virginia and she is therefore still alive. He had children, Joseph the elder one, Emeka my father and Lotanna the youngest. Joseph, my father and Lotanna all have children.
“I am in my fifties and some of these grandchildren of sir Odumegwu are older than me.
So for Bianca to show up to lay claim to certain choice properties in Ikoyi as having been handed over to her and her young children by Ezeigbo, is ridiculous and I wonder how that could be possible, given that Sir Odumegwu left all the properties in question under Ojukwu Transport Limited (O.T.L).
“O.T.L has a Board of Directors. My father was a director before he died and I am now a director. Being a director of O.T.L does not constitute having ownership of O.T.L properties. A man cannot bequeath what he does not own.”
What exactly was the problem in the matter concerning Bianca and Okonkwo?
“I resigned from Peter Obi’s government for my personal reasons. In the case of Robert Okonkwo who is a cousin to the Ojukwu family, Bianca has always wanted to bring him up at all times and that explains why he came into Peter Obi’s government after I left.
Bianca and Robert are in a better position to explain the exact nature of their relationship. Certainly though, if he is still living in the house she shared with my father, then she can only blame herself for all the rumours.”
Why is Bianca toeing a different path in the matter of family legacy, unlike wives of late Obafemi Awolowo or late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and their likes?
“I am not them and I am not Bianca, but I can proffer a guess and say that in the other cases, the people involved understood the significance of their husband’s legacy and the need to protect it, rather than to try to assume the role of their late husbands.
“Even as Ikemba’s son, I am always careful and understand that the love and respect shown to me by many is as a result of the love and respect they have for my late father, not because of anything I did and I am therefore always careful not to cross that line and assume that I am him. I will never be.
“My late father served his people and his country well and made an indelible mark in the world evidenced by the outpouring of love shown by all during his funeral. Now, it is time to allow Ezeigbo to rest.”