Colonel Joe Achuzia would not have lived as long as he did if there was no World War and there was no Nigerian Civil War. Like Hannibal, like Napoleon Bonaparte, American George Patton, these species exist and enjoy the drama the anguish and the graveyard of the battlefields.
Peace times are offensive to their philosophies and even they are wounded and are admitted in the hospitals, the staccato rhymes of the machine guns, the drums of the bazookas, the Armageddon tremor and noise of the artillery would push these fighting leathernecks back to the trenches. The sound of war is their living call.
Looking to at my uncle, Ogbueshi na bo, Ikemba, Joe Achuzia now in total surrender, I realise at last that whatever the myth, one day the man that returned from the World War and fought to the last man in Biafra could also go to the Lord at the appointed date. I had promised my readers to wait on my conclusions on Alex Ekwueme. Then from nowhere came the thunderbolt, just at the time we are set to revise Achuzia’s Requiem Biafra: My First Foray into the Civil War memoires. This battlefield account was published by the Fourth Dimensions while I was still a student at University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).
For all of you, including my respected Professors Nwala, Chidi Osuagwu, Dr. Obinna, Cambridge Nworge and numerous other inquirers, I want to say that am still in shock and so may not be ready to answer all your questions at this time. I will advise the Ohanaeze to quickly organise a burial committee and make sure that the “Air Raid” is given a befitting funeral. Ohanaeze, because of the reality on the ground in Asaba, should go ahead and celebrate the Biafran war hero in Enugu, Onitsha and Owerri.
As a fully entitled Ogbueshi na bo, the Asaba Palace, by her tradition, would come up with their own celebrations of the life and times of the Ikemba of Asaba and the Ochiagha of Aboh.
As I say Goodbye to Hannibal, I go back to my files and publish in earnest admiration to this military generalissimo as my own tribute for all his inspiration despite his demons. His exclusives, while I was with the Satellite Newspapers, blossomed my career and set me up to more serious historical writings.
Below was Col. Achuzia giving his views on Major Onwuategwu, one of the glamorous January 15, 1966 boys, who, in Biafra, was the commander the S Brigade!: “The tempo of that clash increased with the emergency of a mercurial militia officer who went on to establish himself as one of the greatest commanders of that war. Colonel Joe Achuzia, as the commander of the rag-tag but spirited soldiers left behind to stop the second Division’s blitz, wanted to prove something. In his book, Requiem Biafra, his total commitment to battle was shown as he was taking up defensive positions at St. Patrick’s College, Asaba in the face of federal advance in to the town Mr. Augustine Odiwe, a Port Harcourt engineer, had brought him a lorry load of cutlasses.
“He told me that they had brought these to help arm the young men in the town were not in the army so that they could help defend the town. I was so touched by this incident that I vowed that regardless of the odds, I would fight and give the federal troops something to remember and if I failed to stop them I would engage them on any other ground and theatre of the war till the war ended. This promise I made to myself because the intensity of the mortaring and and artillery, which I experienced that evening in Asaba my hometown, convinced me that this was a total war and not a police action….’’