Former Military Governor of old Rivers State, Major-General Zamani Lekwot, retd, has described former Military Governor of old Imo State, Major-General Ike Omar Sanda Nwachukwu, retd, as one of the most experienced and best-trained officers the army has produced.
Lekwot, who turned 80 last month, celebrated Senator Nwachukwu, his course mate, who will be 80 on September 1.
Given Nwachukwu’s experience, amiable disposition, detribalized nature, understanding of Nigeria’s affairs, and fluent speaking of the three major languages – Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa, Lekwot said his experience would have been brought to bear if Nwachukwu was elected president in 2003.
Nwachukwu, who served as a senator between 1999 and 2003, aspired for the presidency in 2003 on the banner of the National Democratic Party, NDP, and lost out.
‘’ If he (Nwachukwu) had been elected president, given his pedigree, I am sure he would have put that to very effective use. However, in the political terrain, the best may not emerge; other political factors come to bear in the selection process.
‘’As a rule of thumb overseas, in the US, Soviet Union, and Europe some prominent heads of state had a military background. Nigeria is a developing country; we don’t have strong political institutions. That is why political godfathers are having a field day.
‘’The military training is one thing, how to survive in the political terrain is another thing, so a blending of the two may be necessary. Maybe, one of the things that affected him was his lack of experience in this domain, and politicians have one proclivity, they don’t welcome strangers into their rank; people coming from the outside have to be up and doing to win their confidence and be accepted. I still see that as part of our developing process. One day all this will be fine-tuned for Nigeria to match forward,” Lekwot said.
Congratulating Nwachukwu for attaining 80 years, he said: ‘’I congratulate him and pray to God to grant him more years in robust health and stability in the service of our great country. We call him Ike. He is one of the best-trained officers the army has produced. We did a course in the UK in 1971. I went there as an Adjutant of the Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA. When we came back, I was posted so he took over from me as adjutant. So, we served together, I know him very well. He is a very fine officer with an amiable disposition. He gets along with people, very easily because of his simplicity and good nature.
‘’He once told me that he practiced journalism on leaving secondary school before joining the army, and from what I saw, he put it to effective use in terms of lucid expression both in speech and writing.
Moreover, he speaks the three major Nigerian languages — Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa. I believe his mother was Hausa that’s why he answers Sanda. When he was appointed Minister of External Affairs during the military government he also played a dominant role. He was one of the very experienced officers we had in the military. Living up to the age of 80 is a thing of joy. His good nature, patriotism, and cordial interaction with people are commendable, so we thank God for his life and wish him many happy returns.”