Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Biography / Profile

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu (fondly called Emeka) was born in Zungeru, Niger State, in northern Nigeria on November 4th, 1933 to Sir Louis Phillippe Odumegwu Ojukwu, a transport businessman from Nnewi, Anambra State.

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Age

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu would have been 90 years old, if he were alive today. May his soul rest in peace.

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Early Life

Ojukwu received the best education money could buy. His primary education was at a private Catholic school in the Nigerian city of Lagos. Before he was ten years old, he was enrolled at nearby King's College as the youngest pupil in the institution's history. Two years later, Odumegwu Ojukwu's father transferred him to a school in Surrey, England, called Epson College, to finish secondary studies. Odumegwu Ojukwu had a natural athletic ability and, during his years in England, he honed his skills on the playing field when not attending classes. In school-sponsored sports he served as captain of the rugby and soccer teams. He also set the All England Junior record in the discus throw. 

In 1952, Odumegwu Ojukwu was admitted to Oxford University. He majored in history, graduating in 1955 with honors. As an undergraduate, Ojukwu continued to pursue his love of athletics while developing outside interests in drama and journalism. He served as a leader in the Oxford branch of the West African Students Union during this time. In addition, he was known for his flashy sports cars, which he frequently drove at high speeds between Oxford and London.

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Career

After graduating from the University of Oxford in 1955, Ojukwu returned to Nigeria to serve as an administrative officer. After two years, however, he joined the army and was rapidly promoted thereafter. In January 1966 a group of largely Igbo junior army officers overthrew Nigeria’s civilian government but then were forced to hand power to the highest-ranking military officer, Major General T.U. Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi (also an Igbo); he appointed Lieutenant Colonel Ojukwu as military governor of the mostly Igbo Eastern region. However, Hausa and Yoruba army officers from the Northern and Western regions feared a government dominated by the Igbo, and in July 1966 northern officers staged a successful countercoup in which Lieutenant Colonel (later General) Yakubu Gowon was installed as the new head of state. Under Gowon’s rule, Ojukwu retained his command of the Eastern region. Meanwhile, the rising tide of feeling against the Igbo in the Northern region led to large-scale massacres of Igbos by northerners in May–September 1966.

The Eastern region felt increasingly alienated from the federal military government under Gowon. Ojukwu’s main proposal to end the ethnic strife was a significant devolution of power to the regions. The federal government initially agreed to this solution at a conference in January 1967 but then rejected it soon afterward. Ojukwu responded in March–April 1967 by separating the Eastern regional government’s administration and revenues from those of the federal government. Mounting secessionist pressures from his fellow Igbo finally compelled Ojukwu on May 30, 1967, to declare the Eastern region an independent sovereign state as the Republic of Biafra. Federal troops soon afterward invaded Biafra, and civil war broke out in July 1967. Ojukwu led Biafra’s unsuccessful struggle to survive as an independent state throughout the civil war, and on the eve of Biafra’s surrender in 1970, he fled to Côte d’Ivoire, where he was granted asylum.

Ojukwu remained in exile until 1982, when he was pardoned and returned to Nigeria. He joined the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in January 1983 and subsequently attempted to reenter politics; his bid for the senate representing the state of Anambra was unsuccessful. He was detained for 10 months following a coup that brought Muhammad Buhari to power at the end of 1983. In 1993 he once again joined a political party, this time the Social Democratic Party, but he was disqualified from running for president.

A member of constitutional conferences in 1993 and again from 1994 to 1995, he, along with other former Nigerian leaders, was consulted in 1998 by Abdusalam Abubakar, the military head of state, as Nigeria once again began the process of converting from military to civilian rule. In 2003 Ojukwu, representing a new political party that he helped form, the All Progressive Grand Alliance, unsuccessfully ran for president. He ran again in 2007 but was defeated by the ruling party’s candidate, Umaru Yar’Adua, in an election that was strongly criticized by international observers as being marred by voting irregularities.


Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Personal Life

Ojukwu had all its takes to attract women. He was from a wealthy family and was educated in Oxford. His voice was poetry and could spin women’s heads. It is said that he combined romantic poetry with love letters, and deployed very soothing words for his women. He was married three times. Ojukwu’s first wife was Elizabeth Okoli from ‘Nnukwu Awka’ (in Awka town) in Anambra State.  She was a senior Nursing Sister, by profession. They got married between 1956 and 1958. Elizabeth’s father was the first Nigerian Post-Master General in Nigeria. He wedded her in court when he was a D.O., and they lived at Udi,  Enugu but mainly at Aba. But the marriage suffered, maybe because she did not have a baby and they divorced after about two or three years.

Ojukwu’s second wife was Njideka, daughter of the once famous C.T. Onyekwelu from Nawfia, Anambra State. She had earlier been married to one Dr. Mends. His mother, Elina-Nwamama, was very popular then in Onitsha. Njideka had a set of twins for Dr Mends, a boy and a girl, before they quarrelled and separated. Njideka and Ojukwu were said to have met through their fathers who were friends and business partners.  After their first encounter, they met again three years later at a tube station in London. A relationship ensued soon after wards and culminated in a marriage, which produced three children, two of whom were named Emeka (Jnr) and Okigbo.

Another woman in Ojukwu’s life was Victoria, whom he met during his sojourn in Cote d’Ivoire.  They were married till the early 80’s when Ojukwu was granted a state pardon by the then Nigeria’s president, Alhaji Usman Shagari.

Ojukwu later got engaged to Stella Onyeador from Arochukwu in Abia State, who was Njideka’s chief bridesmaid during her wedding. She was a lawyer by profession and moved to Cote d’Ivoire to join Emeka where he lived. She later came back to Nigeria with him in 1982. Stella died in her sleep with no traces of any major illness in 2011. They later quarrelled and even went to court because they were fighting for the custody of a girl-child they adopted while in Cote d’Ivoire. Emeka was eventually awarded custody and ownership of the baby because the court said that under French law, a woman is not eligible to adopt babies, which was the case then in Cote d’Ivoire. They eventually separated.

In 1994, Ojukwu married Bianca, nee Onoh, the 1989 Miss Inter-Continental Pageant and a former Nigeria Ambassador to Spain. He was said to have attended the Silverbird beauty pageant where Bianca was crowned and wrote a love note to her witha flower inside. They had three children - Afamefuna, Chineme and Nwachukwu.

On November 26th, 2011, Ojukwu died in the United Kingdom after a brief illness, aged 78. The Nigerian army accorded him the highest military accolade and conducted funeral parade for him in Abuja. On February 27th, 2012 the day his body was flown back to Nigeria from London before his burial on Friday, March 2nd, 2012. He was buried in a newly built mausoleum in his compound at Nnewi. 

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Awards

Ojukwu had several honours and titles bestowed upon him during his life, including the honorary chieftaincy title Ikemba of Nnewi.

Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Net Worth

His net worth is not available.

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