By Chudi Okoye
Double birthday celebrations are being held for Major General (Rtd.) Alexander A. Madiebo who turned 88 on April 29, 2020, and his wife, Mrs. Regina Ifeyinwa Madiebo, who turned 90 today, April 30, 2020.
General Madiebo had had a promising career in the Nigerian Army, and also later a distinguished leadership role in the Biafran Army.
He had been an outstanding student at the storied Government College Umuahia, which was breeding ground for many of Nigeria’s future leaders. Later, deciding on a military career, Madiebo went for his first military training at the Regular Officers’ Special Training School in Teshie, Ghana. Subsequently he attended the renowned Eaton Hall Officer Cadet School in Chester, England, along with General Yakubu Gowon, with whom he also trained at the legendary Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, England.
Alex Madiebo was commissioned into the Nigerian Army in 1956 as a 2nd Lieutenant. He rose quickly, soon promoted to become the first Regimental Commander of the Nigeria Army Artillery. At Nigeria’s independence in 1960, he became ADC to the first Nigerian Governor-General, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe.
After the Nigerian Civil War broke out in July 1967, Madiebo, who had narrowly escaped the pogrom in the North, became the Commander of the 51 Brigade. Soon, however, in the wake of several early battlefront setbacks on the secessionist side, then Biafran Head of State, General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, promoted Madiebo to become the General Officer Commanding of the entire Biafran Army. He held that role until the cessation of conflicts.
The civil war ended in a defeat for Biafra, but all sides in the war acknowledged Major General Madiebo’s brilliance as a military tactician who fought gallantly against heavy odds, outmatched in men and munitions but never in personal bravery.
He would later tell the story of the civil war in a critically acclaimed book, The Nigerian Revolution And The Biafran War, published in 1980 by Fourth Dimension Publishers.
The Biafran icon lives in well-deserved retirement these days, and at this time is enjoying birthday celebrations with his beautiful wife and joint celebrant, surrounded by family and friends.
Awka Times salutes General and Mrs. Madiebo, wishing the sprightly couple many more years ahead.