From Chuks Onuoha, Umuahia
For Chief (Mrs.) Adanma Okpara and Chief (Mrs.) Aguiyi Ironsi, widows of former military head of state, late Gen. JTU Aguiyi Ironsi and Dr. Michael Okpara, the last Mothering Sunday was one like no other.
The duo was visited by Ohanaeze Women Worldwide, led by Chief (Mrs.) Adimachukwu Calista Nkeiru. The visit was in recognition of their late husbands’ contributions to the struggle for the Independence of Nigeria.
Adimachhukwu, the National Woman Leader of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide and former local government chairperson of Nnewi-North in Anambra State, decried how the two widows were abandoned after their husbands’ exit.
Speaking at the home of Mrs. Okpara and Mrs. Ironsi, the Ohanaeze women leader recalled that Mothering Sunday was a day when mothers were remembered by their loved ones. For that reason, they were visiting to inform them that, even if nobody remembered them and their husbands’ contributions to humanity, the Ohanaeze women did.
“As the wife of the former Premier of Eastern Nigeria, your husband worked very hard and contributed to the growth of this nation. It was so because of the support you gave to your husband. But a time came and some of you were forgotten. We in the Ohanaeze say no; we must come and show you love this season.
“We also remember the wife of J.T. Aguiyi-Ironsi; we want to tell you that the good works done by your husbands can never be forgotten.
“We have also gone to see the wife of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and offered her our love at Mothering Sunday.”
She said they were in there to interact with them, as they had done with the wives of other heroes who seemed to have been forgotten by subsequent leaders.
“We are happy that we are here today to celebrate you because of what you and your husband contributed to this nation.
“We are honouring mothers this season; it is a yearly deed. We celebrate you because the President of Nigeria and all other important personalities have mothers.
They are what they are today because mothers took care of them. So, we are calling on government to remember them now that they are alive and not when they die and the state would come out to felicitate with them. This is the time for us to love and care for them. We should celebrate them when they are alive and not dead.
Responding, Mrs. Okpara expressed happiness at the visit, stating that it had renewed her faith and made her to know that if people forgot her, God would always remember her.
“It was God who touched you to come here today. I only regret that I’m sick in the eyes, but God has been keeping me alive. Your coming has gladdened my heart. That you remember me today is a thing of joy.”
She advised the women to do things for themselves, if their male counterparts seemed not to recognise their efforts.
“Some of the men in the houses of Assembly would not want you to be there, but my advice is that if they refuse you support, you should support yourselves.
“I pray that God will give you more vision to ensure that Ndigbo are one. In our time, we had few women who were well read, but today there are graduates everywhere, yet they are not strong enough to fight for themselves as women nor support their husbands. Some of them are shying away from getting into responsibilities,” she said.
Mrs. Ironsi described the visit as one inspired by God. She prayed for God to give her guests vision and assist them in liberating the nation from negative tendencies.
The former first lady, who was in high spirits during the visit, thanked the Ohanaeze women for remembering her and also urged women to assist their husbands so that the visions of Nigeria’s founding fathers would be realised.
Speaking about the type of Army that was headed by her husband, Mrs. Ironsi said: “The Army of those days was different from the one of today. Most of the Army officers of today think of money, unlike when my husband was there.”
She also urged women in the country not to be deceived by selfish politicians.