The First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Hajia Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, weekend, described Nigeria’s First Military Head of State, Major General Johnson Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi as an excellent soldier and great patriot. Aguiyi-Ironsi The tribute was the highlight of eulogies after a Mass at St. Finbarrs Catholic Church, Umuahia, Abia State to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of the late patriot whom the wife of the President also defined as ‘a soldier’s-soldier who stood for everything good about Nigeria.’
Represented by the wife of Anambra state governor, Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano, who informed guests that the First Lady was unavoidably absent but had sent her in a representative capacity to underscore the importance of the 50th Anniversary of Ironsi whom she described as “a great Nigerian patriot who excelled in all his commissions.” According to Aisha Buhari, “It is fitting to remind those who may have forgotten or didn’t know the excellent track record of this great man, that Gen. Aguiyi-Ironsi excelled as Equerry to the Queen Elizabeth in 1949; as Force Commander of the United Nations Operation in the Congo in 1960; as the General Officer Commanding the Nigerian Army I965; as well as Military Head of State in 1966 who from all indications, stood for one united and and indivisible Nigeria.”
She also called on Nigerians to appreciate and emulate the ideals that Ironsi lived by and died for the good of the nation; and commended the matriarch of the Aguiyi-Ironsi family and widow of the late Head of State, Lady Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi, for holding forth with commitment, courage and selfless service. The Nigerian Army, the late General Aguiyi- Ironi’s immediate constituency, also lauded his virtues. Speaking on behalf of the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), Major General Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin, Maj. Gen Edward Nze recalled that the event that led to the death of General Ironsi was as a result of the actions or inactions of past leaders which he said were still haunting the nation today.
Olonishakin therefore advised present leaders in the country to be wary of their actions or inactions and consider the impact on future generations. “We should therefore learn from experience and think deeply before we take actions. Let us aspire to serve our country, love more, hate less and build a nation where justice and peace reign”, the CDS admonished.
The wife of the Governor of Abia State, Deaconess Nkechi Ikpeazu, said that her husband, the governor was unavoidably absent and observed that, “If Aguiyi-Ironsi were alive today he would have been celebrating his 91st birthday as an elder statesman who will be proffering advise for the good of the country. Unfortunately his life was snatched from him.” Earlier in his Homily, Rev. Fr. Aloysious Nwabekee said that “A righteous man “ is a man who constantly hungers for God and is obedient to God. He said that the late Maj Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi was such a man and a Soldier to the core, who never took advantage of his subordinates.
A man who took over power to fight for his subordinates and the unity of Nigeria. But alas that unity which he died for still eludes Nigeria 50 years after.” According to the Priest, “Ironsi lived and died an ideal soldier; a man who when he died had no chair to call his own except his family. He concluded that Ironsi was a dedicated nationalist and champion of national unity who died poor and is hardly remembered in the annals of the great leaders of this nation.”
In his Vote of Thanks, Ambassador Chief Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi, thanked the wife of the President and other dignitaries who had gathered in honour of his father and singled out the late Gen. Fajuyi for praise as a great man who “became a sacrificial lamb during the counter coup, a virtue he said is scarcely found in Nigeria today.” He also urged the family of Fajuyi to keep the flag flying.