By Emelda Ochuba (Owerri, Imo State, November 30, 2018)
Prominent academics, traditional rulers, politicians and captains of industries converged at the Auditorium of the Imo State University Owerri, last Saturday to witness the official presentation to the Nigerian public, of a fresh and authoritative perception into the Nigeria-Biafra civil war of 1967 to 1970.
The event was the First Public Presentation and Launching of Book titled “The General’s Orderly…An Autobiography of a Biafran Child Soldier” by Arua Okereke. In an opening prayer, Rev. Fr. Ozioma Nwachukwu asked God to look into the hearts of the Igbo people to see the major memories and bring reality to the desired existence of Biafra. He asked God to initiate a new phase of mercy and prophesy for Professor Okereke.
In a congratulatory message, the Chairman of the Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers and Eze Imo, His Royal Majesty, Eze Samuel Agunwa Ohiri reminisced a good relationship with the author. He was full of accolades and testified to the Bulgarian trained building engineer’s skills as a tennis player. He acknowledged that Arua Okereke was an authority who was peaceful, intelligent and reliable.
Speaking also, the Chairman of the occasion Prof. Mrs. Adaobi Obasi a foremost female Vice Chancellor in southeast Nigeria extolled the many virtues of the amiable Professor Arua Okereke. Ably represented by the Imo State University Deputy Vice Chancellor and Registrar, the IMSU Chief Executive said there there was still hope for the rising sun. According to her, even with the torn Biafran flag that characterized the book cover, the sun had continued to shine underneath. She congratulated the author for bringing to light this untold version of the Biafran story and recommended the book as a must read for all Igbo people.
A former director of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) Kuru, Prof. Aja Akpuru Aja was the book reviewer. The senior lecturer at the Abia State University, celebrated Arua Okereke as a cerebral scholar who always came first in class in whichever school among the many across borders that he had found himself. Prof Akpuru Aja described the book as a fulfilled true life story as old as the author and told in his lifetime by himself. Noting that the book was not basically written in academic form, the professor of Political Science appreciated that the book more than adding to the several accounts already existing of the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, becomes even more special being the first account by a child soldier in the Biafran army. Aja Akpuru Aja called on Generals Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, TY Danjuma and others to write their individual accounts of the Nigerian-Biafran war so as to help Nigerians at large to learn lessons and prepare for the future. The frontline academic also called on the federal government to commission scholars to do a written work on that war. He particularly requested President Buhari to have a rethink and uphold the 2014 Confab in order to achieve a better and more all-inclusive Nigeria.
In his own address Arua Okereke who is a professor of construction technology and management, expressed boundless joy and gratitude at the successful event. He told of how a medical tourism to India due to the poor health system in Nigeria had inspired him to write the book. He cautioned that Biafra was not a geographical expression that can be wiped from the map. He said “even while I do not claim to have told everything one is expected to know about the war, I have told it from my own vantage point of an orderly (a glorified military name for a houseboy) to General Philip Effiong who was second-in-command in the Biafran army”.
Having debuted in Owerri, Imo State, the book presentation will move on to Ebonyi State and then across the rest of the state capitals in South East Nigeria. Speaking to newsmen after the Owerri event, the Chairman Planning Committee Mr. Franklyn Ginger-Eke said that the same fervor and fanfare that greeted the Owerri event will be replicated across the state capitals. The public affairs guru and Executive Director of Re-Ignite PA Media assured that the organizing committee was not willing to relent until the book is fully celebrated across the nation.
Cultural entertainment was intermittently provided by the scintillating Nkwa Umuagbogo Group from Afikpo. Other guests who graced the occasion include: Hon. Ikoro Kingsley Ogbonnia (Deputy Leader and Chairman Finance and appropriation, Ebonyi State House of Assembly), High Chief Sam Anokam, Dr. Linus Asikogu, Prof Ike Onye, Chief Chendo C. Chendo, Prof O.I. Okoro of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Dr. Amara Nwanshi, Engr. Dr. H.E. Opara (IMSU), Ass. Prof. Joe Onyeike, Dr. Rex Ugbulo, Eze Igwe (who presented a welcome remark on behalf of the Committee of Friends), Dr. O.D. Azubuike, Dr. Uche Ikechukwu, Dr. Jasper Okoro, Dr. C.E. Ezedihe, Pharm. Okereke Nnaka, Dr. Rueben Okereke, Mr. Amadi Polycarp, Prof. A.C. Emeribe, Rev. Fr. Mara, Rev. Fr. Ozioma Nwachukwu of Mbara Foundation and Mbara Polythecnic and a host of many others.