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In book, Alison Madueke rides the storms with God

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Riding the storms with God in my sails is the title of the autobiography of Admiral Alison Madueke. Educated in England, where he attended the Britannia Royal Naval College and was commissioned acting Sub Lieutenant in September 1967. Alison was declared the best Commonwealth midshipman of the course. Since the Nigerian civil war had started by the time he left Britain in December 1967; instead of returning to the Nigerian Navy, he made a beeline for Port Harcourt to join the Biafran Navy.

In the Biafran Navy, Alison sustained three battlefront injuries in the Niger Delta and on the River Niger near Onitsha. After the war, Alison returned to the Nigerian Navy in January 1972. Although he loss his rank like other reabsorbed ex-Biafran Officer, he rose steadily to become, 21 years later, the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) as a Rear Admiral.

Alison, thus, is the first Igbo to head an arm of the Nigerian Armed Forces since General Aguiyi-Ironsi was appointed the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the Nigerian Army in 1965.

Despite the vicissitudes of his life, the intrigues in Nigerian Armed Forces and the insincerity in Nigerian politics, Alison rose to the pinnacle of his career. His record of unblemished service, his matchless integrity and boldness as a member of Sani Abacha’s Provisional Ruling Council (PRC), sets him apart as a man of destiny.

At once this book is an epic story of a survivalist, as it is a 30-year history of military dictatorship in Nigeria.

As an invaluable document, the book represents a concise chronicle of how the Nigerian Armed Forces destroyed true federalism bequeathed to Nigeria by Britain. Riding the storms has 516 pages; 56 pages of pictures; 11 pages of index; 16 chapters, two pages of abbreviations and five pages of prologue from the author.

In reviewing this massive book, it has to be broken into four sections of four chapters each. Section one covers Alison’s youth; his joining the Navy and the civil war. Though born in Inyienu, Ogidi, Enugu State, Alison grew up with his parents in Otukpo, Benue State. He started school at five in Otukpo Camp the stranger’s quarters of the town. For his secondary school education he had to move to the East since there were not enough space for students in Northern Nigeria. As a result the few spaces were reserved for Northern indigenes. He thus had to enroll at Our Lady’s High School, Onitsha because his cousin, Felix, had graduated from there. Sir Peter Chukwurah, a devout Catholic and an ardent nationalist founded Our Lady’s in 1938. He schooled there from January 1957 and graduated in 1962.

“My life’s story would be incomplete if particular attention is not paid to discussing my roots, the land and people that gave me birth.

Inyi town is in Oji River Council of Enugu State. According to the 2006 national population census, the town has a population of 126,587. The majority of my people are Christians but they happily coexist with the traditional religious practitioners, together they usually celebrate their festivals.”

According to Alison, there were many attempts to write Inyi history. Notable among them were those written by Barrister Matthew Ude, Igwe Mike Mberede and Chief Pius Madu. From all their publications, there is one agreement and that is the name Inyi was derived from the tree under which a hunter who fostered and named the child Inyi picked up an abandoned child from Enugwu Abo Ufuma.

Inyi grew up to father five sons. Ferocious claims are being carried to this day by different villages that descended from Inyi’s sons as to which of the sons is the most senior. Sadly, Alison made no attempt to join issues with the contenders. It is interesting to note that when the Central Bank ordered commercial banks to develop rural branches, Alison lobbied the CBN governor, Dr. Paul Ogwuma, to approve the siting of a First Bank rural branch at Inyi.

The bank branch later became the most viable rural bank branch in Eastern Nigeria. However, Alison’s effort to procure a rural water scheme for Inyi was truncated by a land dispute between Inyi and Achi over the site of the project.

After obtaining good grades at his School Certificate Examination, he moved to Lagos to plot how to obtain higher education. Immediately, after the other, he obtained jobs at the Customs Service, but after training and was posted to Kano, he resigned because he wanted a Lagos posting.

Then, he applied to the Ministry of Communications. He was accepted for training at the Posts and Telegraphs, Oshodi but because he was required to sign a bond to work for five years before leaving the service, he also declined the job offer. Lastly, he joined the Meteorological Service and was trained as Meteorological Officer Grade 2. He accepted the job because it didn’t require the signing of a bond.

Alison finally applied to join the Nigerian Navy. After a series of tests, he was finally admitted, in 1964, to the Nigerian Defence Academy Kaduna. Alison was in NDA Course One and the cadets were reading for the Nigerian Defence Academy Certificate of Education. NDA started as a college of the University of Ibadan, today the Academy is a full-fledged university. The NDA teachers taught with zeal and commitment and all them were experts in their fields. After two years and four months, Navy Course One cadets graduated in April 1966, just after ambitious soldiers seized the Nigerian government in a bloody military coup. Thus far is the most interesting aspect of riding the storms.


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