It was not common in those days that one would make a huge success both in military career and in civilian political life. You either reached the zenith of your career in the military; retire thereafter or you join politics and also reach the height. But things and times have changed. We now have retired Generals making a huge success of politics and even becoming Presidents of their countries. Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, David Mark, Obasanjo and Muhammedu Buhari all retired generals, stand up to be counted.
In my own community, Okija Anambra State of Nigeria, Rt. Hon Captain Michael Uzochukwu Ikokwu (rtd), Chief Nzeabata I is one of those to be so counted. After making a huge success of his military career and retired in 1977, he joined politics and became Deputy Chairman of Ihiala Local Government and later Hon. member House of Representatives 1992 – 1993.
Mich Ikokwu was born into the family of late Moris Nwafor (Power) and Mrs Maria Ikokwu in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State on 23rd April 1947. After his primary education at St. Engene Primary school in Aba where he was born, he proceeded to Ngor Okpala High School for his secondary school education. Captain Ikokwu as a young boy was a Star goal keeper in the then Eastern State football team. His resilience in the field of play got him the nick name “Phensic” in those days “Phensic” was a medicine for headache. Once he was at a goal post, his team “had no headache”.
He made a Grade I in his West Africa School Certificate (WASC) Examination and was admitted into the prestigious University of Nigeria Nsukka in 1967. Unfortunately his studies were disrupted by the Nigerian Civil War. As was common in those days he enlisted in the Biafaran Army and eventually joined the Nigerian Army during the war. While in the Military, he went to the Nigerian Institute of Journalism from where he got Diploma in Journalism. He served in various units of Nigeria Army Public Relations and the Directorate of Military Intelligence. Many Certificates of commendation attest to his glorious career in the Military.
His illustrious career in the Army made him rise to the position of Head of Public Relations before his retirement in 1977, after serving a 10 years Short Service Commission (1967 – 1977).
After retiring from the Army he was called to serve his local government in various capacities – Councilor, Supervisory Councilor and Local Government Chairman.
In 1992 he contested and won election into the House of Representatives and served in various committees until their tenure was cut short by General Sani Abacha in Nov. 1993.
Late Mich Ikokwu also held many high political positions in his civilian life including the Chairmanship of Nigerian National Supply Company (NNSC).
He played the role of a political leader who must be consulted on the way forward for his people.
By Uzochukwu’s death, Okija Community, the political class, the retired Military class and the generality of progressive politicians have lost a rare gem, a decent mind, a giant intellectual and a great lover of his people.
The vacuum created by his death will be very difficult to fill. Survived