Biafra: General Remembering Philip Asuquo Effiong
By Nsikak Udo
General Philip Asuquo Effiong was the man saddled with the suicidal job of meeting with the Nigerians after Biafra had lost steam. General Philip Asuquo Effiong was already a soldier the year Col. Olusegun Obasanjo was eight years old.
He was commissioned before Generals Emeka Ojukwu and Yakubu Gowon.
When the chips were down, Gen. Effiong braved all odds to put the war to an end with the corollary humiliation, as Biafran Head of State. Ojukwu had joined the Grey Ghost to begin a life in exile. The erstwhile Biafran leader told his Chief of General Staff, he was travelling to Cote D’Ivoire in search of peace.
Thanks to Gen. Effiong, the war was brought to an end. This man who did so much for Biafra and Nigeria, unfortunately, has become largely forgotten by those who should celebrate him as a true hero. By bringing the crisis to an end he saved many lives and united the country once again.
Until he died on November 6, 2003, I doubt if Gen. Effiong drove more than a rickety Peugeot 505 car. Nigeria forgot him. The Army abandoned him. Gen. Ojukwu was welcomed back like a hero in 1982 and even in death, was buried like a President. His wife also became an Ambassador.
Some other Biafran soldiers would later benefit from Nigeria. Chief of Army Staff (after Gen. Alex Madiebo), Brig. Patrick Amadi became member of the House of Representatives in 1979. Col. David Ogunewe was reabsorbed and unlike other officers, did not lose rank.
His son would later become a Two-Star general. His nephew, Independence, was in the National Assembly. Emeka Omeruah emerged as governor, minister, NFF Chairman. His younger brother, Paul Ndimele Omeruo, was governor too. Ndubuisi Kanu, Alison Madueke,
Robert Akonobi and Ifeanyi Aniebo were also governors. Emeka Ananaba got the job of Deputy governor, his wife Nnenne worked with INEC in Akwa Ibom. Sam Momah and Canice Umenwaliri were ministers, Juventus Ojukwu, member of the Federal House.
At the time of the July 29, 1966 coup, Effiong was acting Commander of First Brigade, Kaduna. When Biafra was declared, he was given the lowly job of Commander, Biafra Militia. His junior, Hilary Njoku, was appointed Army Chief.
Effiong was also senior to Ojukwu. He served under the same Ojukwu who did not want to serve under Gowon. Effiong was loyal and when it was time to take risk, he gladly accepted to bring the bloody war to a close. You can imagine being called Philip by Obasanjo, a junior, in Amichi and Gowon, another subordinate officer, in Lagos. Ojukwu could not bear the shame of surrendering to a junior Obasanjo. Effiong did it to save the country. And we should remain eternally grateful to him. Effiong could have chosen to continue the battle thereby wasting more lives.
Born in Akangkang, Ibiono Ibom in Akwa Ibom State on November 25 1925, Effiong married Josephine Abbott in 1956. Their children include Rose, Mercy, Val, Charles, Junior, Francis, Philippa, Liz and Paul. Two of them, Philip (Junior) and Philippa are married to Igbo spouses.
We celebrate the great General, A hero we would never forget!
We should have allowed Massob carry his corpse when ojukwu came for his burial to igboland ,Philip has no house of his and his body lies in a lonely local government headquarters with overgrown grasses covering the tombstone