The struggle for the Igbo people of South-East Nigeria to produce the next president of the country in the 2023 general election was rekinlded at the weekend in Abuja with admonition to the people from the zone to be more strategic than confrontational.
Secretary, Igbo Elders Council Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Charles Nwekeaku harped on this while paying tribute to Godwin Ndubuisi Kanu, a retired Rear Admiral and former military governor of old Imo State as well as Lagos State in Abuja, organised by Pan-Igbo Movement Initiative.
Nwekeaku said as one who believed in justice and fairness, Kanu would have done whatever it takes to ensure that the next President of Nigeria should come from South-East.
“He was a detribalised Nigerian. As an Igboman when his colleagues in the Armed Forces Ruling Council annulled the June 12, 1993 election believed to be won by MKO Abiola, a Yourubaman, he staked his neck. He joined NADECO and fought for the restoration of that mandate.
“By 1999, the South-West was allowed to feature two candidates in the two major political parties as part of the plan for the restoration of that mandate, that was when Olu Falae and Oluesgun Obasanjo contested. So, whether head or tail, the South-West was adequately compensated.
“Since we are assembled here today, and we have praised him for all he has done, what lessons are we taking? It should be how we move further the frontiers of the struggle, the legacies he left behind; justice, equity, fairness,” he said.
“We in Ohaneze, in Igbo Elders Consultative Forum, we have been saying without micing words that come 2023, the ideals of Kanu and the likes of him must be reinstated that it should be our turn and in whatever party any person is that is the same thing,” he said.
In his tribute, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Ogbonnaya Onu said that the late Kanu was a great Nigerian who did great things for the nation, emphasising that the deceased values of honesty, hardwork, amongst others must be imbibed to make Nigeria a great nation.
“He was a man of character and it is important that a man like Admiral Kanu, his life history should be made known all over the country because we want our younger people to know that yes, character is important, that good behaviour is very important and that standing on principle can make a lot of difference,” he said.
According to him, “Our nation at independence, the whole world said, yes, Nigeria was going to be one of the greatest nations on earth. It will still be. We will be by the grace of God. But there are certain values that made our fathers very great and those values are no more taken as seriously as they were in the past.
“Admiral Kanu represented those good values. The value of honesty, the value of hard work, the value of principle, and the value of making sure that whenever you see your fellow human being, you will recognise the image of almighty God in that person and show love for him or her,” Onu noted.
Also, a former Chief of Army Staff, Azubike Ihejirika described Kanu as an exemplary community leader, statesman, outstanding military professional, a highly principled gentleman and epitome of good governance; a true Nigerian and a lover of peace and humanity.
Ihejirika said the deceased was a father of modern Imo and Lagos as
the feats he accomplished as governor in the two states in just two years were stunning, taking into account that he was just in his early 30s.
“Admiral Kanu was like a mighty elephant and is therefore, difficult to describe completely but there are certain common things I want to say. He had the capacity to rigidly hold to a stand based on principles. Once he is convinced that he is right. We also know that while a member of NADECO, he remained there even when his compatriots and co-founders of that organisation had to leave.
“He was a very stringent officer who believed in merit and abhorred lobbying in all its ramifications. He encouraged us as young officers to develop self-confidence and the tenacity to withhold obstacles thrown to us at any point by the system.
“He went to Lagos when Third Mainland Bridge had not been constructed and he introduced what they called even and odd numbers and eventually introduced the first meter for parking of vehicles. A very modern innovation at the time,” he said.
According to him, “He rendered selfless service at every appointment he held while in the military or in government service and in every position he occupied, always putting the community, state and the nation first.
“Rear Admiral Kanu was a completely detribalised Nigerian who looked forward to a nation, where fairness justice and everything prevailed. Until his death, he maintained his friendship across ethnic and religious divides and remained loyal to his friends in all the geopolitical zones,” the General added.