One of our foremost Igbo Patriots, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu rtd just joined his ancestors after a brief illness.
A man of principle and fine officer of the Nigerian navy, he hails from Isiukwuato in today’s Abia State from very humble beginning.
But curiously, he’s been celebrated in his death as former Governor of Lagos State without any mention of the fact that he became the Governor of old Imo state before his posting to Lagos.
Ndubuisi Kanu it was who laid the foundation for the Development of Owerri into a modern metropolis. Ndubuisi Kanu started building Owerri from Ama JK post office thereby making it the epicenter of a future modern capital development authority.
Ndubuisi Kanu fought against the Njemanzes and Umuororonjo scions that preferred to lay down their lives rather than allow development encroach the courtyard of umu mgboto Owerri.
He buried drainage tunnels in major road arteries to control flooding. Ndubuisi Kanu himself would come out to lead the construction companies doing the work otherwise the natives will block access.
He decided to move the city towards Portharcourt Rd by creating the New Owerri masterplan plan as a solution to unending tiff with the natives.
He brought in an international consultant from Amsterdam to design a New City to be called New Owerri. Central drainage systems, a city powered by armoured cables devoid of overhead cables, a city of avenues and cul de sacs, a city like no other in Nigeria at the time. Future planners of Abuja at the time had to copy and paste the New Owerri development plan.
Olusegun Obasanjo on visiting Owerri during his maiden visit as head of state had queried Ndubuisi Kanu publicly why he was in a hurry to develop Owerri?
It didn’t come as surprise that subsequent posting shortly after moved Ndubuisi Kanu to Lagos State to continue his beautiful work which his people had rejected through avalanche of petitions.
While Lagos State today has many monuments and roads and street named after him, in appreciation of his developmental strides, not much recognition is accorded him by his own people, Imo, Abia and Southern Ebonyi.
Most of the achievements of Ndubuisi Kanu in Imo State are credited to Dee Sam Mbakwe. While Dee Sam Mbakwe cried out over neglect of Aba, Shehu Shagari mocked him that he was busy building his own Abuja, ie New Owerri under implementation then.
While there’s no mention of his achievements in Abia and Ebonyi nor roads or streets or monuments named after him.
Ndubuisi Kanu went on to become a hero of NADECO whereby his house in London was donated as Secretariat of the struggle to fight Abacha and military interregnum in Nigeria politics.
General Alani Akinrinade, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Wole Soyinka etal used his London property as launching pad to fight the Abacha government to a standstill and force a return to democracy.
It will not be out of place to demand that the three Igbo states of Imo, Abia and Ebonyi fly their flag at half mast in honour of Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu rtd. A great Igbo Patriot, an officer and a gentleman. Odo Ijere.