Ejike Aghanya: Farewell to the Lion of Biafra, a great Igbo

By Sunny Igboanugo on 03/12/2020

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Aghanya

When Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu drew a line in the sand and told the Igbo population harried by day and haunted by night all over the country that once they crossed it, they were safe, he knew what he had that made him so sure before making that profound pronouncement.

The late Ikemba Nnewi, would readily tell anyone that cared to listen that he never fought a war, but only defended his people and prevented them from being annihilated and wiped off the surface of the earth, in one of the most horrendous genocidal attacks in world history and one of the worst in Africa, comparable only probably to Rwanda of recent history.

It was on that basis that the General of the People’s Army, would refuse to accept that the Biafran effort failed, even though there was a surrender, as the major objective, which was the preservation of Ndigbo, was achieved, regardless of the cost in human and material resources.

Ojukwu knew that beyond the young men of Biafra, at the Eastern House of Assembly, who declared that they were ready to confront the worst, even with bare hands as they eventually did for three years, to the great astonishment, if not consternation of the rest of the world, there were very experienced men in uniform, who would put their know-how to task to ensure that his objective was met.

Thus, even though the devil and his agents actually took residence in an enclave that was before then acknowledged as harbouring the world’s most thriving economy and succeeded in causing havoc, his worst was not enough in the end to achieve the ultimate goal of ending the Igbo race.

One of those who the General relied on for this huge task was, Colonel Ejike Ebenezer Obumneme Aghanya, before then, the first Nigerian-born head of Nigerian Army Electrical and Mechanical Engineers posted first to Kaduna and later Lagos.


As if providence prepared him for the mission, Aghanya, unlike several Igbo officers that were killed in the North and Lagos, was lucky to be spared because he was detained in the Eastern part of the country, alongside Victor Banjo, one of the five Majors, fingered for carrying out the January 15 coup, the first that ended the first republic, for the same offence.

Naturally, alongside other officers who found themselves inside the Biafran enclave, he enlisted into the new army that confronted the Nigerian forces that not only boasted to end the campaign in a matter of months, but seemed determined to carry it out.

However, his burning zeal to save his people, left him with the uncommon gusto that transformed him into a sort of genius with demonstrable evidence being the inventions that made the Biafran Army one of the most resilient and celebrated across the world in history, even with their limitations.

Yet again, fate seemed to have prepared for the call of duty, having first cut his teeth at  the Yaba College of Technology where he studied Electrical Engineering and later Southampton College of Technology before joining the Nigerian army in 1962.

It was there that he proceeded after his training at Nigerian military school, to officers courses and special training level at the school of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), England, before returning to Nigeria to become the head of Nigerian Army Electrical and Mechanical Engineers at Kaduna and Lagos.

Having naturally become one of the arrowheads of the Biafran effort, Aghanya, plunged himself into the mission, first as the Head of the Biafran Agency for Research and Production, the famous (RAP), entrusted with the design and production of weapons for the Biafran army during the Nigerian civil war.

It was there that his ingenuity became apparent as he fired other engineers and scientists mostly from University of Nigeria in Nsukka (UNN) to do what was hitherto a tall dream in fabricating some of the deadliest weaponry ever known to mankind at that time, beside coordinating the research and distribution of materials needed for the production and training of the solders on how to use the locally made weapons.

The notoriously dreaded Biafran Ogbunigwe, detonation mines, Improvised Electronic Devices (IEDs) and rocket missiles, and of course the surface-to-air missile (Piom-piom), the first of its kind in Africa, were all part of the deadly weapons that put the scare of hell on the enemy forces and prevented them from hurrying with abandon into the Biafran enclave.

 


As the Biafran campaign continued, Aghanya became the Chief of Staff of the Biafran Organisation of Freedom Fighters (BOFF), this time taking charge of the special operation force unit of the army, from where he also led the Electrical and Mechanical Engineer of the 44 Battalion.

Still, as a result of the trust reposed in him by the Commander-in-Chief, he was elevated to the position of a Brigade Commander of the 58th Brigade of the 12th Infantry Division, a position he held at the end of the war.

Like many other officers of his time, Aghanya retired to civilian life, apparently forced to do so because a nation, which kills its own baby, turned its back on him and lived a successful life as an entrepreneur and inventor

Until July 3, 2020, when he eventually answered to the call of his creator in far away Atlanta, Georgia in the United State, Aghanya continued to cling to his burning desire to give back to the society by giving his best to transform it, the best he could, part of which included his invention and construction of the first traffic lights in the old Anambra State, made up of the current Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu states.

Anambra State Govt. Mourns Late Col Aghanya – Heartbeat Of The East

Of course, there is no telling that he could have done more – far more, but was prevented from doing so by the factors, which has made Nigeria the ever-sleeping elephant – factors that relegate the best in the land to the background and promote the indolent and dregs to the highest echelon, where like the little child with a complicated toy, they continue to fiddle with the fate of 200 million people and millions yet of natural resources buried in the soil.

 

Today, six months after he left to join his creator, all roads would lead to Amawbia, a major town in the Anambra State capital territory. It will be the turn of humanity – old men and women, who must have seen it all and those who either learnt from history books or heard from their parents to file out with a collective grateful heart.

They will be there for different reasons, but principally to bear testimony, celebrate and bid goodbye to one of the Igbo icons that swore and ensured that they lived to see December 3, 2020, which was the singular objective of the declaration on that 30th May, 1967 in Enugu, Eastern Nigeria.

Yes! Millions never lived to tell the story, but millions lived and still live today to do so, thanks to the likes of Colonel Ejike Ebenezer Obumneme Aghanya, the ‘Lion of Biafra.’ Ndigbo are grateful. That they not only lived but still remain the indomitable and unconquerable spirit of the society today - the heatbeat of Nigeria, a nation they still find themselves in today's world, they will be eternally be grateful. They shall never forget!

 

 

Source Whirlwindnews.com

Posted on December, 3 2020

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