|Tributes in Honor of General Philip Efiong
(November 18, 1925 - November 6, 2003)
The entire nation shares your loss for, as you know, your father played an active role at a decisive moment in our nation’s history. His place in the annals of Nigeria’s evolution as a nation is assured.
He will be warmly remembered by his immediate community for his leadership, by the Nigerian Army for his professionalism in service and by the entire nation for his exemplary courage and initiative, which saved many lives.
In my interaction with him over the years, I was opportuned to observe at close quarters the sterling characteristics that marked him out as a leader of men and worthy ambassador of his people. In transition, he has bequeathed this honourable legacy to you and subsequent generation of Nigerians.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Tribute to General Philip Efiong: A Biafran hero is gone
The boom sound of artillery shook the land
Staccato echo of rifle fire permeated the still air,
As the rancid smell of death hung eerily over the air
More are cut down by hell fire from the wicked
The blood of the innocent here repose
Spilled with sadistic glee by those who oppress
Like hungry vultures they lie in wait
Final assault on departed souls on their minds
Moved by the holocaust unfolding
And palpable inaction by the world community,
A solemn oath in his mind he took
To see justice served in time
Stoic and unwavering in his belief;
Eyes set on victory and triumph of the oppressed,
Lust for power not his style;
Betrayal of brethren not on his mind
When hopes diminished and all seemed lost;
The onerous mantle fell on him
His life at stake and the world watching
A dignified end to the genocide he assured
A true soldier of our generation he was;
Gave all he had so many would live
Selfless service to a nation in need
And selfless quest to see justice done
Egalitarianism for all he sought
A fight he fought with zeal and vigour
But the wicked jaws of death came calling
With a damper on the gains thus made
But success is not always measured
By what the human eye can see
Intent and sincerity of purpose do count
He gave it all to the Land of the Rising Sun
The Biafran hero with the heart of gold is gone
A reverent place in the hearts of many he occupies
The General who saved the lives of many
The brave General with grace, dignity and candour
Adieu General Philip Efiong
Alfred Obiora Uzokwe
Excerpts from OBONG (General) PHILIP EFIONG: A TRIBUTE TO AN UNCOMMON NIGERIAN (Parts 1 & 2)
General Efiong’s life is significant for a number of reasons, which include but are not limited to:
a. His wise and masterful handling of Biafra’s surrender
b. His efforts in ensuring the return of Ojukwu from exile
c. His efforts at securing the rights and privileges of former members of the Nigerian army of eastern origin
d. His efforts to preserve the facts of the civil war from intentional and dubious adulteration and revisionism
e. The hostile and unfriendly attitude of Nigeria’s federal government towards him, including denial of his military entitlements
f. His determination and conviction that his civil war role was for the good of the country and therefore refusal to be intimidated by the subsequent post-war federal governments
g. His post-war relationship with the Igbos.
General Efiong’s handling of Biafra’s surrender is one of the most tactical and devoted maneuvers ever seen on the Nigerian scene. Those who do not appreciate the depth of it may not have appreciated what was at stake as Biafra capitulated.
But beyond Efiong’s tactical and dexterous handling of the surrender that ensured maximal salvage of Igbo lives at the end of the war, the Akangkang Ibiono Ibom did not relent in his efforts after the war to set the records right. He did that with superb success.
General Efiong’s zeal to defend the true facts of the war never diminished, even to his last breath.
Again, beyond his roles in Biafra’s surrender and efforts to set the records right, General Efiong spent a great deal of effort trying to secure the military benefits and entitlements of the former Nigerian soldiers of eastern origin who fought on the Biafran side. Obviously, like many others after the war, it would have been easier for General Efiong to go behind and try to use whatever connections he had in the army to secure only his own benefits. But true to his form, he thought it a mark of betrayal and insensitivity to fight only for his own benefits while the rest of the affected eastern officers were left in the rain.