TEARS ROLL AS IKEDIFE WAS LOWERED TO THE GRAVE
Emotions were let loose as the remains of Chief Dozie Ikedife, former President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, who died on Tuesday, November 11, was lowered to the grave on Wednesday, November 12, in his family compound in Otolo, Nnewi, Anambra State.
Ikedife’s old-time associates, who converged to pay their last respect, wept visibly, and paid glowing tributes to the departed icon, describing his life and times as worthy of emulation.
Leading on the tribute was the President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, who described the late Ikedife as a firebrand, whose principles of leadership took Ohaneze Ndigbo to a very high pedestal within two years of his reign as Ohaneze Ndigbo president.
Represented by Ichie Damian Okeke Ogene, Anambra State chairman, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Nwodo described Ikedife as a mentor and a tutor; a nationalist par excellence, who believed in equity and fairness. He urged the present crop of leadership in Nigeria to copy his exemplary leadership style.
Elder statesman, Chief Mbazulike Amechi, who, amid tears, discussed the very recent moments he shared with the deceased, described Ikedife as a great Igboman, a great Nigerian, and a great medical doctor.
Amaechi, second Republican Minister of Aviation, also said that Ikedife was a patriotic Igbo man, who believed in one Nigeria where no part would be treated as inferior.
Another prominent Igbo man, Prof. Elochukwu Amucheazi, who also attended the burial ceremony, described Ikedife’s death as very pathetic.
“Ikedife has been our leader. He was the soul of Ndigbo; he was a dogged Igbo man. There’s hardly anything one will discuss as regards Igbo history in contemporary Nigeria without recourse to the contributions of Ikedife,” he said.
In his own tribute, the founder of Otu Suwakwa Igbo, Prof. Pita Ejiofor, recalled with nostalgia how he came in close contact with Ikedife during the formative days of the Otu Suwakwa Igbo group. He said that Ikedife was among the ten individuals that started the organization on February 14, 2006.
Visibly grieved by the development, Ejiofor, the former Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, also said that Ikedife was the only President General of Ohaneze, who kept to the contract of a single term of two years, as stipulated by the constitution of Ohaneze Ndigbo.
The Chief Medical Director of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, NAUTH, Nnewi, Prof. Anthony Igwuegbe, who also expressed grief at the passing on of Ikedife, said that the deceased was an integral part of the NAUTH family; and that he contributed a great deal to the entity called Nigeria, and further called on the Federal Government to immortalize him. He also urged the immediate family of the deceased, and the Igbo nation to stop mourning as, according to him, Ikedife left a legacy everyone should be proud of.
A Nnewi chieftain, Uchenna Maneke, in his own tribute, said that Ikedife lived a life worthy of emulation; and that he will be remembered for his life of charity and forthrightness.
On its own tribute, the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, said it was pained on receiving the news about the transition of their colleague.
Speaking through Dr. Jide Onyekwelu, Vice Chairman of NMA in Anambra State, the body described Ikedife as a teacher of teachers and trainer of trainers; adding that he was instrumental to the setting up of O & G Department of NAUTH. He also disclosed that NMA has the intention of setting up a monument for the immortalization of Ikedife.
Also, former Secretary to Anambra State Government, SSG, Ichie Okwuchukwu Ezeaku, described the deceased as a man of honor and integrity.
Ezeaku, who served under military governors in Anambra: Mike Attah, Ukaegbu, and Rufai Garba, between 1994 and
1999, said Ikedife’s struggle for Igbo emancipation will go down to the annals of history.
Chief Dr. Dozie Ikedife died at the age of 86 (August 24, 1934 – November 11, 2018).