Book review: ‘General Of The Peoples Army’ by Chuks Iloegbunam (published by Press Alliance Network Ltd.)
Chuks Iloegbunam has managed to capture the essence of Nigeria’s most exciting personality in this 373 page bombshell, General Of The People’s Army. He has compressed documents written about late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu,..
in six chapters comprising eulogies, tributes, editorials, interviews and the Biafran aftermath. It is full of writings about a man who anticipated the future of Nigeria.
Anybody worth their salt and wants to know more about this country, should read it. It explains why certain events happened. Things that have been swept under the carpet whether deliberately or inadvertently, and showed reasons why Nigeria is as it is today. Reading this book concerning the man who has been bestowed with many befitting titles, confused me about how to address him.
Iloegbunam has taken care to gather opinions and factual accounts covering an era of Nigerian history over the past 40 to 50 years. He also corrected and detailed in the footnotes mistakes and misinformation of some opinions that were put forward by individual contributors.
An interesting blend of colorful language written in various styles with a diversity of emotions expressed. For those of us who like to toy with English language there are messages from the likes of Patrick Obahiagbon whose bombastic description of our hero entertains .
The ‘editorials’ stretch across different quarters of people who both love and hate him, thus punctuating emphasis on the greatness of the man no matter which way you look at it. If you carefully read in-between the lines and wade through the words which are mainly good, some bad or even ugly (see write up of Daily Trust’s Mahmud Jega) you will always find integrity there for all to see. This compilation comprises the most detailed descriptive factual anthology of arguably the most revered man of the Igbo nation . It seems that Ojukwu had more impact on the world after his death than in his lifetime. I can only assume that there was fear in a lot of people to say what they really felt or thought. Or it could be that events happening in Nigeria today are reflecting everything Ojukwu stood for, fought for and tried to say which fell on deaf ears because our leaders were not interested in moving the country forward, they just wanted position, power and wealth. Ojukwu exposed the flaws of his contemporaries before the war. He started by exposing the truth of colonialism and how the British colonial master amalgamated the North and the South protectorates in 1914 and how they created potentially beautiful and prosperous political entities that the modern world may yet see. However he went on to insist that Britain injected poison into this entity making sure to punish those who were eager for them to grant Nigeria independence quickly and send them packing. His brilliance and foresight makes the book ‘unputdownable’ for any Nigerian that has any ounce of concern or compassion for his homeland. I don’t know of any other book that has been written on the subject that demonstrates the practicality of Ojukwu’s behavior, but I can assure those that read about the People’s General from all walks of life, tribes, regions and religions that they will realize that Ojukwu was never really the enemy. He was a military man simply doing his duty the only way he could figure out how under the circumstances. His war was principally against oppression, discrimination and was self defense by the targeted Igbos. Can we honestly say that this kind of situation is restricted to the Igbo? Can we not see that Ojukwu’s story was an eye opener to what is going on now? There are similar examples that do not necessarily involve just the Igbo. The war of which Ojukwu was said to be responsible for made the average Nigerian think of him as the instigator of a rebellion against the unity of Nigeria, an unpatriotic act. But it seems to be deeper than that.
The revelation of his actions even makes one start appreciating why there are such organizations as MASSOB for instance, to some it represents an ideology that is not unpatriotic .
The Biafran war was a tragic inevitability of the era that any worthy leader faced with such a situation concerning his people would have embarked on. I think this book is helping to bring to the realization of the discerning mind, the real Ojukwu and his motives. It’s almost like an exoneration. A demonstration of his loyalty to his own which could easily have been utilized for the benefit of Nigeria if circumstances were different. Basically every thought expressed in these pages is educational. Readers should look closely at the Ahiara Declaration which was put together in June 1969, a clear documentation of the plan for Biafra, which is something that could be taken up and adopted as a document for the development of Nigeria if studied objectively without prejudice or sentiment. Ojukwu it seemed was a visionary and a sage from an early age, he was way ahead of his time. Ahead of what any uninformed Nigerian could imagine. He was criminally misunderstood.
It touched on how he lobbied to come back home and set himself up for politics which was doomed to failure because those in control would never allow such a thing. In their mind Ojukwu was somebody who challenged them and was lucky to be allowed to walk freely. The fact he fancied himself as president or national political leader could not be accommodated, so he was simply rigged out of any contest because he posed a threat to his unforgiving detractors .
General Of The Peoples Army brings out a lot of terrifying facts, even if one reads things that one doesn’t like or agree with, the subconscious is going to dig out the truth eventually.
CEO Africagenda Publications