Brigadier Emmanuel Ebije Ikwue was born on 6th June 1940 in Otukpo, Benue State. He attended the Methodist Central School Otukpo after which he proceeded to the Nigerian Military School from 1954 to 1958. He enlisted into the Nigerian Army and was sent for training as a member of Course 11, Regular Officers Special Training School Teshie, Accra, Ghana (1958 – 1959) (now Ghana Military Academy). Thereafter he attended the Mons Officer Cadet School, Aldershot England and Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst (1959).
He was commissioned in 1961 and posted to 1st Battalion Enugu. In 1962 he served in a peacekeeping operation in the Congo under the auspices of the United Nations. In 1963, he was appointed Staff Captain (A) to Late Brigadier Maimalari, the then Commander of 2 Brigade NA. It was while serving in this capacity that he was seconded to the NAF. On secondment to the NAF, Brigadier Ikwue underwent an air force indoctrination and orientation training in Germany between 1963 and 1964.
On return from Germany, he was appointed as Senior Air Officer Administration at HQ NAF, Lagos in 1965 with a German as his adviser. It was in this capacity that he established the Service numbering for NAF officers. In 1965, Brigadier Ikwue was appointed Nigeria’s Military Attaché to Germany by Late Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa. In Germany, he was responsible for all military matters in all the Nigerian Embassies in Eu155 rope. In 1968, he was appointed the Doyen, head of Military Attaché Referat (Corps) in Germany. Thus he became the first African and first non-NATO General to head the Corp which had Military Attachés from 35 countries. In 1969, Brigadier Ikwue was recalled and appointed the fifth commander of the NAF and member of the Supreme Military and Federal Executive Councils. He was the first officer to be officially designated as the Chief of the Air Staff. He held this appointment until his retirement in 1975.
Reflecting on his achievements while in office, Brigadier Ikwue stated that he ensured that all NAF training was conducted abroad in order to consolidate the initial efforts of the Germans. He also stated that he emphasised excellence in the training of NAF aircrew, thus NAF pilots were trained mainly in Russia and the United States of America. The NAF C-130 aircraft were negotiated for and ordered during his administration. Training remained his utmost priority throughout his tenure.
In recognition of these services to the nation he was awarded the Independence Medal, the Congo Medal and the Long Service and Good Conduct Medals. The NAF on its part, recognised his services with the award of the Distinguished Service Medal and Distinguished Flying Star. Brigadier Ikwue on retirement went into quarrying. He was also at one time the Chairman, Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industry. He is at present, the Chairman, Board of Directors, Ashaka Cement Plc. He also acquired a Bachelor’s degree in theology on retirement.
- Brigadier Ikwue biography. Available from http://www.nigerianairforce.net/PastChiefs/BrigadierEIkwue.aspx [Access… 8th January 2011] (website no longer available online)