The former Minister of Information was reported to have died of lung cancer. He died a senator for life for he died a ranking member of the 7th National Assembly. He represented Abia North for three consecutive terms from 2003-2015.
Like an Anthill of the Savannah the great journalist statesman was a man of many lives who weathered many seasons in the service to father land.
A close friend of the late senator Nze Okpani Nkama (Jnr) reflects more on some of the legendary legacies that make the world Miss comrade Uche Chukwumerije.
An Igbo philosophy holds that “the IKORO calls a warrior twice in his life time. First, on his day of arrival to mother Earth as a baby, second, on his day of departure from mother Earth marking his sunset in life.
Ndigbo also believe that warriors don’t die. Their passages are mere answers to the esoteric calls to join their ancestors for greater exploits in the great beyond. As they embark on this irreversible journey albeit drawing tears and stirring hysteria from family, friends and community, their names and legendary legacies abide infinitely after them in the hearts of men in the land of the living.
For our great Dike-Ogu, comrade Uche Chukwumerije, the day of his first ikoro marking his birth to the great Chukwumerije family of Ngodo Isuochi in Umunnochi LGA of Abia State was January 11, 1939 at Ogoja, Cross River state. The Ikoro of his sun set called April 19, 2015, bringing all his days on Mother Earth to 76 years, 4 months and Eight days.
It is indeed, very difficult to believe that as many as three Hundred and Sixty-five days have passed since you bowed to this esoteric summon to join in swelling the rank of our ancestor-patriots in the great beyond Nwanne Ukwu Abia!
In your windy exit Isikaraka you drew rivers of tears and unforgettable hysteria thus proving the Shakespearean philosophy that says. “When beggars die there are no comets seen, the heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.” You were indeed our prince and our Hero. We miss you greatly great Dikeogu.
Like your Mark Anthony, Great comrade! I have not come to praise you, I have not even come to bury you for this was done befittingly on May 22, 2015, however, I’m here to reflect on the truth and realities of your life we know.
It is said that “a puppy that will make a great Bulldog is known from infancy.” Early in life especially in you school days as a brilliant student of Economics at the University College Ibadan you exhibited focus, fearlessness, physical strength and strength of character that marked you out among your peers as a reliable leader of tomorrow. You made hard work, honesty and self discipline the hallmark of success. You grew from a young Radio Reporter/Producer with FRCN/VON under Chinua Achebe into a Newspaper/Magazine reporter with the famous Drum Magazine and then bloomed and blossomed into a publisher and founder of the Great Afriscope, a pan African General interest Magazine.
In your line of duty as a Journalist you crisscrossed Africa from the East to the West Coast watching and reporting Africa in her liberation struggles for Independence against imperial domination of the European Colonialists. This not only inflamed a glorious caste of Pan Africanism but imbued in you this deep sense and skill of socio-political activism in which you excelled as the sublime voice of propaganda in Africa. You proved this during the holocaust years of the civil war. Your tongue of propaganda thundered in Nigeria and potently echoed the Voice and tragedy of Biafra across the Globe rattling the conscience of the world. Tongue of Thunder! All Biafrans alive will miss you.
Again, when in 1993 the military rulers of father land annulled a presidential election adjudged the freest and fairest and believed won by late chief MKO Abiola thus bringing the nation to the brinks of immolation Tongue of Thunder Uche Chukwumerije, it took you meteoric competence as champion propagandist and minister of Information to rescue the nation. History has vindicated you. The tongues that uttered condemnation and vilianized you have long chorused commendation and eulogy of your heroism.
In politics you looked beyond regional and ethnic interests walking the path of radicalism in the second Republic with Mallam Aminu Kano, Founder of Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) and radical prince of the Talakwas. You played politics without guile and never compromised on ideals, principles, honour and integrity. You were never charmed by money; hence your actions and positions as a legislator were never predicated on pecuniary interests.
As a Senator of the Federal Republic for three consecutive times (2003-2015) your carriage and contributions on Motions and Bills left no one in doubt that you were and ideal Senator and the pride and prestige of the Senate of your time. You were the voice of the voiceless masses of this country, Avant-garde of the East and Eye of the Igbo Nation in the Senate.
Like legendary Leonidas and the 300 spartans, warrior defender of Nigeria’s democracy, you led your 2007 Mandate Team of Warrior Legislators to slay the THIRD TERM dragon to the chagrin of the then reigning imperators of power that sought to sow the seed of constitutional aberration in the land. Once more, you saved the nation from another round of political turmoil.
This is not lost in the hearts of the political leaders of this land going by the orchestra of encomia that echoed from them on your passage. For instance, Mr. President Gen. Muhammadu Buhari described you as “a man of his generation, a worker for national unity and a man of noble values.” Your passage he lamented was “a blow to the generation of true Democrats in Nigeria and African Continent.”
For former President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, “you were a Patriot and Nationalist, an ardent believer in national unity, peace, political stability and progress… One who left behind an impressive legacy of discipline, honesty, integrity and hard work in public service.” In the same vein, the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar said, you were “very sartorial in style and in presentation and as a politician you were classy and as a Statesman you were exceptional”.
For the present Senate President, Bukola Saraki, you were ….. “an astute politician of repute and a member of the 7th Assembly I respected so much for his contributions and dynamics debated in the Senate”. Also, the former Senate President David Mark said you “radiated intelligence and exemplary conduct, one of the brightest and fertile minds of the Senate, a consummate and passionate Nigerian who believed in the sanctity of the peace and unity of the Nation.” You were equally described as “a Lion-Senator and a brave Comrade, a patriot who gave his best towards the peace, unity and development of Nigeria” by the Deputy Senate president Ike Ekweremadu.
Dikeogu Igbo! You were a prophet with great honour at home. Ndigbo remain appreciative of your giant strides in the service of home front. As Chairman Planning and Strategy Committee of Ohanaeze, you led Ndigbo to a grand success in the historic Oputa Panel of 1999, thus, repositioning and elevating Ohanaeze to its highest peak of glory in history. Also, with this committee, you championed the founding for Ohanaeze the Annual World Igbo Day celebrated worldwide September 29, every. You were equally a major player in the founding of Obi Ikenga, the Centre for Igbo Studies at Abia State University Uturu.
Great Isikaraka! Your Legacies are endless. It is true that “when warriors eat the palm kernel the shells make the statement.” By your life we have come to learn that for warriors, heroes and indeed all men of substance, life is a struggle from the cradle. Like the great Anthill of the savannah you rode the rains and weathered the storms, sundering sleeps and enduring the odds for the good of others without guile. It will ever be well with your Soul. May you be born over and over again to us.
(Okpane Nkama junior)