“Iwuanyanwu believes that prosperity and talents are given by God on trust for the greater benefit of mankind; the great man has produced over 500 multi-millionaires in Imo State and more all over the country … after his surrender, Emmanuel was detained in Owerri prison. As the head of the Biafran Combat Engineering Intelligence, he had the map of all the mines layed across Biafra safely hidden at a hideout in Nkume. He was, therefore, quickly released by Nigeria in line with the Geneva Convention to assist in clearing all the mines.”
-See former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, President of the Senate Pius Anyim, and Dr. Uchenna Uchehara in The Making of a Legend, a Biography of Emmanuel Chukwuemeka Iwuanyanwu, Owerri 2011 P.46
Zik of Africa who was voted third greatest African of the century behind Mandela and his student, Kwame Nkrumah, by the BBC, had also saved Mandela from the apartheid gallows. Convicted and going to be hanged for treason, Zik rushed his lawyer, the Nigerian External Affairs Minister to the United Nations. Jaja Nwachukwu’s earthquake statement on the floor, assuring the White world that the White South Africans were South Africans, were born in South Africa and they had no more stakes and land in Europe but in Africa, was a new engaging paradigm, which moved the West to save Mandela.
Jaja promised that an independent South Africa would in the end ensure that the rights of every White would be protected. Mandela’s hanging verdict was instantly mellowed to prison incarceration and Zik predicted his eventual release. The Fabian tactician introduced the PLO, Arafat to supply arms and join forces with the ANC freedom fighters. [see Emma Okocha, Jews of Africa]
While Zik led the National Convention of Nigeria and Cameroon Peoples, other founding fathers led Northern People’s Congress, Northern Elements, Action Group, etc. Even though the ungrateful Igbo elite disregarded him, he built the first African Timbuktu on the hilly forest of Nsukka and named it University of Nigeria. When the educated high command of the First Division trooped in behind their advance party, they were shocked that the UNN hostels were named after Balewa, Awolowo, Kashim Ibrahim, Eyo Ita, Akintola and Ahmadu Bello! They came too late for the illiterate advance party companies had set the library and research centres on bonfires of barbecued suya! While the other founding fathers were vacillating on whether to continue the struggle, because their interest were clannish, religious and regional, Zik sacrificed everything to accommodate those interests (see AIT’s promotional video of Zik on Nigeria’s independence).
For the Igbos, he built UNN, aware that his people were like the Jews, Phoenicians, like the people of Venice, he built the largest West African market in Onitsha, and established the African Continental Bank before Independence! He inspired the Igbo’s early movement into America when he promoted the Argonauts to travel to America in search of the Golden Fleece. ACB produced L.P. Ojukwu, Asaba’s Mike Ugo the richest Blackman of the last century. If not for Zik’s courageous diplomacy, the Biafran end would have been a greater human catastrophe more than the genocide that preceded the war.
In the Post Express of Sunday February 1, 1998, my friend Godwin Adindu recollected that “as the Governor of the fledging state, that Mbakwe imprinted his name on the sands of time. He solely rehabilitated all the roads in the state and initiated many projects among them: The Imo Airport, Amaraku generating plants, Imo Hotels, Avutu poultry farms, reputed to be the largest poultry in West Africa, and Imo State University, which has produced the best law students at the Nigeria Law School. He ensured that industries were established in the then five senatorial zones of the state.
I have introduced my title, the role of the last Igbo titan in the new reformative dispensation taking place presently in Owerri, by attempting to discuss the often few forgotten golden footprints of our legendary Zik on the sands of Igbo times and civilization. Like Zik of Africa, Ahaejiagamba was taken for granted by the same Igbo elite.
According to Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, “Iwuanyanwu’s interest in people is also not limited by the boundaries of class … Whether he is setting up an emergency paediatric centre, a blood transfusion centre or in cancer diagnosis and treatment units across the country, there appear to be no interest. In giving back to society, Chief Iwuanyanwu has spared no expense and has set no limits. For the man, giving must be a matter of privilege, not a proof of ability.’’
In many ways, the triumph of Ihedioha is a reverberating reward to the many years of Chief Iwuanyanwu’s politics. Owerri (like Onitsha, which is daily pulverized by Obosi or Nnewi) is always on the receiving end of Orlu ‘paropo’ politics. It is part of his purpose in politics to stop the Igbo marginalisation and at the same time to seek co-existent cooperative equality status for Owerri and the all-conquering Orlu Zone in Imo State.
Ihedioha is expected to stop the Imo financial hemorrhage and appoint a Finance Commissioner, a qualified chartered accountant, to stop publishing false records, correct financial reports impact positively on the state’s economy, providing accurate data leading to reasonable planning.
The governor should forget the legislators, their picnics and retreats, and drop his babanriga, green cap and fetch a working French suite. He should consult with the Chief and appoint some three engineers to head his Works, Environment and to maintain the good work Okorocha did in the capital and of course return the Library to the city centre.
Ihedioha, prepare the Owerri Palace for the Igbo Okoni, where the Igbo would come to worship and celebrate in his lifetime, the inedible works and achievements of Ahaejiagamba of the Universe, the last of the Mohican titans!