A former minister of Aviation and one-time Information and Culture minister, Chief John Nwodo, said he fought as a lieutenant in the Biafran Army during Nigeria’s civil war of 1967-1970.
He also said when the war ended, it was a tough task for his parents to accept to send him to school at the University College, London (now University of Ibadan), present-day Oyo State, to further his studies because, according to him, it had some history with a premier of the Western region, who was Minister of Finance during the war.
The immediate past President-General of the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, made this known during his opening remark at the 70th anniversary of the SIGMA Club, University of Ibadan, dinner held in Eko Convention Centre, Lagos.
Nwodo said, “I went to University of Ibadan at the end of the civil war. Going to UI at the end of the war was a difficult decision for my parents to support.
“We were so fresh from the police action turned into a war against the southeast. I was a lieutenant in the Biafran Army and I was going to study in a university which is ‘home’ to the former premier of the western region, who was the Minister of Finance during the war.
“My mother went to perform masses on my behalf. I came to Ibadan and a few of my seniors who were in the faculty said to me that there was one club I would join which would make me feel at home.
“That was how I became a member of the SIGMA club. I learnt decency and punctuality from the club, which have helped me in my life’s endeavours.”
Narrating his experience at the University of Ibadan where he had also aspired to be President, Student Union Government, he spoke of how a fellow contender had wanted to use ethnic sentiments to ‘buy’ his way out of giving a proper speech.
“After some time, I vied to be the SUG president of the school, and you can imagine what would happen if an Igbo man wants to be president (of Nigeria) at this time. One of the contestants had come up and used a song in Yoruba to begin his speech.
“This was against the ethics of the SUG elections, and my guardian then, who was also Dean, Student Affairs, one Dr Babalola, had watched this in shame. A loyal signite walked up to him and told him that I must speak as well. This shows the purity in the SIGMA Club. A club devoid of ethnic sentiments,” he added.
On his part, the SIGMA chief, Olarenwaju Ibrahim, ask members of the club to support a number of projects for indigent Nigerians and to set up a SIGMA Foundation.
Ibrahim said, “The SIGMA Foundation comprises the SIGMA house, scholarship, endowment fund, musical carnival, essay and quiz competitions, charity walk and others which would be included by the board of trustees.”