Nigeria and the Ghosts of 1966

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For a long time, I had held the notion that principal actors in the events that led to the collapse of the First Republic and its aftermath should document their accounts so that our generation and those after us can learn useful lessons. After reading “The First Regular Combatant: Brigadier General Zakariya Maimalari”, I am not so sure anymore. I am now inclined to believe that the scars may be too deep to engender dispassionate introspections and that Nigeria may be better off if the poison of that era is not passed to future generations by yesterday’s men of power.

However, the biggest lesson from the book, as far as I am concerned, is that whatever may be our challenges as a nation, and regardless of the upheavals we may currently experience, the military offers no solution. In fact, Nigeria is where we are today, essentially because we allowed the military to dabble into political affairs with disastrous consequences. Incidentally, both Generals Yakubu Gowon and Olusegun Obasanjo admitted as much on Tuesday. But many of the contributions and interpretations of the unfortunate events of January 1966, as contained in the book on Maimalari, also reveal that mutual ethnic suspicions still pervade the country.

For instance, former Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Salihu Ibrahim, who said the killing of Maimalari almost broke up the country, is still pointing fingers. “There are remnants still of the crisis we had in the beginning. If you observe, we still have some funny movements in the South-east. At the recently concluded national conference, they expressed demands that they should be paid several trillions of naira! It may sound funny, but actually they believe that they are expressing their genuine feelings. One side was responsible for that war, and of course, as with any war, consequences and repercussions must follow” said Ibrahim, easily regarded as one of the finest officers of his generation.

That military mind-set of “consequences and repercussions” carried to the political arena by politicians with garrison mentality is perhaps the reason for the current convulsion in our country today. But even that can be traced to the past. And that is where the book on Maimalari is very revealing in that it opened a new vista into the crisis of the First Republic and the role of the military in it. In fact, there is a way in which the coup of January 1966 and the counter-coup of July of the same year can be located in the appointment of the first Nigerian General Officer Commanding (GOC) the Army to succeed the last British man, Major General Christopher Welby-Everard.

According to Obasanjo, either Maimalari or Aguiyi Ironsi could have been picked as GOC of the Army by the Tafawa Balewa government but “the political leaders of the era did the wise thing by not rocking the boat of the subsisting Army seniority structure”. Yet, Obasanjo also added: “If those of us who were junior officers at the time Aguiyi Ironsi became the first Nigerian GOC of the Army were asked our opinion on the issue, I think our points of view might have differed. I have come to believe that junior officers are always better placed to assess their superiors”.

Another former Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Alani Akinrinade did not dissemble on an issue in which most of the retired Generals seem to have agreed: “If the selection was based on voting, Zakariya Maimalari would have been the first Nigerian to head the Army after Welby-Everard. His popularity was not in doubt. He related well with the officers and men and was well liked throughout the Army.” To Akinrinade, the coup of January 1966 killed spirit de corps in the Army. “I am sure till today, the scars of January 1966 is still in the Army. The officers of today were not participants in that event, but they are inheritors of that marred spirit of 15th January, 1966” he said.

Reading between the lines, it is evident in the book that there was rivalry between Aguiyi Ironsi and Maimalari. What is also not in doubt is that most of the officers at the time preferred Maimalari. According to the late Brigadier Sam Ogbemudia, “all the British officers who worked with Maimalari believed that he was the best and right person to command the Army. Unfortunately, the politicians of the day thought otherwise.”

In providing insights into how the first Nigerian GOC for the Army emerged, Alhaji Maitama Yusuf Sule who died on Monday, and was a member of the Balewa cabinet, justified the appointment of Ironsi. “Whereas Maimalari was deemed to be professionally more competent, Ironsi was appointed because he was the most senior officer in the Army at the time. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence at that time came from the Northern region. Maimalari himself also came from the north. If, therefore, the leadership of the Army had been given to Maimalari–in spite of his competence and universal popularity–it would have been interpreted as regionalism. The late Prime Minister, Sir Tafawa Balewa, was a man of justice and fair-play.”

Incidentally, Sule would say that Maimalari did not lobby for the job even when his recollection actually contradicted that position. Prior to the appointment of the GOC by Balewa, according to the late Sule, Maimalari had met him to say: “Now look, Welby-Everard, the last British GOC has left. You (the Federal Cabinet) are going to appoint somebody to take over command of the Army. Such appointments are political. You must consider not only seniority but also the loyalty of the officer to occupy the position”.

While I believe Balewa made the right call on Ironsi, I don’t think it was well received within the military. Such was the esteem in which Maimalari was held among the officers and men that Tony Eze, a retired colonel and Sandhurst trained officer who was commissioned into the Army in 1958 said “even if Aguiyi Ironsi as the GOC told me something that was different from what Maimalari said, I would go by what Maimalari told me”. This was perhaps because, as far as he and many of his colleagues were concerned, “Zakariya Maimalari was our Number One! Forget about the fact that a few were commissioned before him in the Army, like Wellington Bassey, Aguiyi Ironsi who became the first Nigerian GOC, Samuel Ademulegun, and so on. To us, Maimalari was the first Nigerian to attend a military academy and undergo the proper training of an Army officer. So, Zakariya Maimalari did not belong to that class of Other Ranks who were Sergeants or Sergeant-Majors but later attended three or four month short courses to become commissioned officers in the Army.”

From Eze’s insight, which can be glimpsed from that of others, the preference for Maimalari was based on class arrogance, or superiority complex, essentially because, unlike Aguiyi Ironsi who rose through the ranks, Maimalari was the first Regular Combatant and the most educated among the top echelon of the military at the time. He was therefore the one the new crop of officers looked up to. “We got to understand that at the time the last British GOC Commanding the Nigerian Army, Major General Welby-Everard, was formally leaving the country, he did not recommend Aguiyi-Ironsi as his successor. But Ironsi had the favour of the Prime Minister at the time, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa”, said Major General Paul Tarfa (rtd).

In a remark that suggests Tarfa may still be bitter, he admitted being part of the July 1966 counter-coup: “Ironsi was an accomplice in that coup of January 1966, so he wasn’t able to take any decision and try the officers who carried out the abortive coup. That was why we reacted in July of the same year. Maimalari was a father figure to us. Nobody would see his father slain at night and then just say ‘ok, we forgive it’…Maimalari never bothered about your ethnic or religious identity. That was why he liked Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna and drew him close to be his brigade major, only for Ifeajuna to turn round and kill him! Can you imagine?”

Like other retired officers from the North (and incidentally a few others from the South too), Tarfa believed the coup was sectional and Maimalari was a central target of the plotters and he gave his reasons. Ahmadu Ali, a medical doctor and retired Colonel–who has at different times been a Senator and PDP National Chairman–shares a similar view. “It was a one-sided coup and it looked to us that a particular group in the country wanted to hijack political power at all costs. And that coup of 15th January 1966 is what snowballed into the multiplicity of problems that Nigeria has been grappling with. Some of us have always said that any major event that does not carry along all the three major ethnic groups is bound to give us problem forever” Ali said in the book.

Captain Ben Gbulie, who was close to Maimalari and admitted being part of the January 1966 coup targeted at political leaders of the era, had harsh words for the most vilified character in the book, Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna, the “Judas” who killed Maimalari before he was eventually upended by the late Biafran leader, Dim Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu. But Gbulie was also critical of Maimalari to whom he was very close. “What I saw and thought of Zakariya Maimalari, when he was the second-in-command at NMTC Kaduna, was not the same thing when he rose to be a Brigadier commanding the 2nd Brigade in Apapa, Lagos. He started doing certain things which I thought he would never do, such as accelerating the promotions of some officers from a particular part of the country” said Gbulie.

Aside Gowon, Obasanjo and Generals Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar, other notable contributors to the book are retired Generals Joshua Dogonyaro, Alani Akinrinade, Mohammed Magoro, IBM Haruna, David Bamigboye, Mobolaji Johnson, Paul Tarfa, Garba Duba, Roland Ogbonna, Mohammed Magoro, Inuwa Wushishi, Abba Kyari, Ike Nwachukwu, Dantosho Mohammed, David Jemibewon, Martin Adamu, Salihu Ibrahim and Captain Ben Gbulie. Civilians like Ahmed Joda, Lawal Kaita, Tanko Yakassai, Aminu Alhassan Dantata, Sani Zangon Daura, Mrs Elizabeth Pam, Dan Iya Ado Sanusi and Liman Ciroma and Mamman Nasir also spoke on Maimalari and the events of January 1966.

Other contributors to the book which, according to the author, Haruna Yahaya Poloma, started in 1999, are Colonels Ahmadu Ali and Tony Eze while Generals like Samuel Ogbemudia, Joseph Garba, Adeyinka Adebayo and Emmanuel Abisoye shared their perspectives before they died.

As one would expect in a book of such nature, everybody spoke glowingly of Maimalari but it is very clear that beyond being charismatic, Maimalari was also an ambitious officer even though everybody was shy to point that out. Former Kaduna State Governor, Alhaji Lawal Kaita told a very revealing story in the book: “I was very close to the late Major General Hassan Usman Katsina, who was privy to top secret information surrounding the selection of the first General Officer to Command the Nigerian Army. He told me that Zakariya Maimalari was not appointed in place of Aguiyi Ironsi because of a prevailing fear; that if Zakariya Maimalari was appointed the General Officer Commanding the Nigerian Army after Welby-Everard, he would have staged a coup….Nobody could control Brigadier Maimalari in the Nigeria of his time.”

In fact, there can be no better testimony to Maimalari’s temperament than the one supplied by Akinrinade: “I remember an incident in 1964 when we were having an Army celebration in Ibadan, and Zakariya Maimalari as Brigade Commander of the 2nd brigade attended. There were senior army officers and top politicians present, including the Defence Minister, Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu and the premier of the Western Region, Chief Ladoke Akintola. Midway into the party, Brigadier Maimalari called the Battalion Commander, and to everyone’s amazement, said to the Battalion Commander: ‘You know, if I had a chance, I will shoot all these politicians with their fat stomachs!’

“The party immediately broke up! All the top politicians made their excuses and quickly departed. So, in retrospect, many officers didn’t quite like the way politicians were handling the affairs of the country. There was anger but we had no experience of coups at the time. I am sure if things came to a head, Maimalari would have said to the officers: ‘Look, we’ve got to get rid of these people’. The officers would certainly have supported him. But I am also sure he would have had the courage to walk up to the politicians and tell them to get out of the way to allow for the election of a new government. He wouldn’t have participated in the type of bloody killing that took place on 15th January, 1966. Maimalari was that popular in the Army!”

Ordinarily, the subordination of the military hierarchy to the political authority ought to be the most fundamental requirement of a democracy but it was evident that Maimalari and other military officers saw themselves as superior to the First Republic politicians. Indeed, from the disparate reactions to his unfortunate death from a cross section of retired army officers who served in Maimalari’s time, it is clear that most of them differed from the political establishment in terms of succession to the leadership of the army. This indicates the beginning of a dangerous ideology of mutiny against political authorities in the country.

The mindless killings of top military and political leaders from some sections of the country started the train of unfortunate events that have combined to hold our nation down from peace and prosperity. But within the context of the military as an institution,

it can be argued that both the military officers who opposed (directly or indirectly) the appointment of Aguiyi Ironsi as first GOC and the misguided and blood-thirsty coup makers who toppled the First Republic politicians were guilty of the same offences of indiscipline and insubordination. To that extent, the military as an institution must carry the burden of our national derailment. Even the latter day protestations and hypocritical preachments of key military actors cannot absolve them as individuals or indeed the institution of the sad heritage of that initial hubris.

More importantly, I find it interesting that the tradition of disrespect for civilian political leaders by military officers has continued from the First Republic till now. This arrogance and disrespect is at the root of all the coups that took place in Nigeria. On their part, our politicians, especially when they lose elections, have consistently embraced the military as their avatar. It is this quisling tendency that translates into the fear of political instability in the populace each time there is a simple constitutional problem.

Meanwhile, the current threats to our national survival–as a result of secession threats by some ‘Biafra’ fantasists and quit notices by some Arewa irredentists–remain potent and hinge majorly on the unhealed wounds of 1966 (the January coup, the July counter-coup and the civil war that broke shortly after). But with a nationalistic leadership, it is not too difficult to rally the whole country together and begin the urgent task of addressing the challenge of development without which any enduring peace will continue to be a mirage.

  • Ghude

    I read over and over different narrations on the January 1966 coup but up till now, the answer to the following questions were unable to be addressed!!!!
    (1). Why there was no ibo civilian or officer killed during the operation? (2).
    Who were the officers stationed in the south east? (3). Why there was no any
    attempt to assassinate Micheal Opara in the east? (4). Why all the officers and
    civilians of Ibo extraction in Lagos were left unharmed? (5). Why if the grudges
    was between civilians and the military they went ahead to assassinate Northern military
    officers? (6). Why there was celebration after the Northern figures were
    assassinated in all the barracks by ibo soldiers? (7). Why did the south
    easterners call the January mutineers heroes? (8). Why did Azikiwe travel out
    to carrebian on health cruise to the extent his physician came back when he run
    out of estacod leaving Azikiwe there? (9). Why did Nwafor Orizu refused to
    swear-in Zanna Bukar Dipcharema (The senior NPC minister) as acting Prime Minister but handed over to
    Ironsi? (10). Why did Ironsi took over power by force knowing fully the implication
    of his action? And many more!!!!!!!

  • Ghude

    I read over and over about this 1966 January and July coups but what I have never come across an answer to these questions: 1. Who were the officers stationed in the south east to execute the coup? 2. Why, there was NO any single Ibo-federal-politician assassinated despite the fact they were all in Lagos. 3. Why did Zik travel to abroad on medical trip to the extent that his physician run short of estacord and came back to Nigeria? 4. Why was Micheal Okpara’s life spared? 5. If their grievances is with the politicians, why wont they arrest them and prosecute them after the putsch as was done with Shagari? 6. Why Zanna Bukar Dipcharema was not sworn-in as acting Prime Minister by Orizu Nwafor? 7. Why should Ironsi ascend to power knowing fully the danger and the ethnic coloration of the coup? 8. Why Ironsi continue to delay the prosecution of the coupists? 9. Why did Ironsi ignore to announce the death of the January 1966 causalities on time? 10. Prior to July 1966, why did Ibo officers and men in the Barracks celebrated the January 1966 coup and to the extent of calling the coupists heroes?

  • Okurienne

    Truth they say nourishes the soul, whereas falsehood imprisons the mind. I have keenly enjoyed the various comments on this platform, because they were devoid of petty and uncanny insults and uncultured vituperations, that have always poisioned very healthy and constructive discourses, that make for brotherly cohabitation. Yes, the deed was done, even when the sage and indefatigable Awo saw from afar, the odds for avoiding the unworkable relationship. Even the princely and royal Ahmadu Bello was querulous and never agreed nor believed in the unification of this contraption. Zik himself, an African frontliner came from the angle of Pan-Africanism, towing the path other African crusaders fought for their people. The colonial British was outrightly vicious and treacherous, even though they baked a parliamentary arrangement pursuant to the fragile nature of the coalition. When the events in the West exacerbated and heralded the ensuing dislocation in the land, that incarcerated Chief Awo, the rascals in uniform had taken decision to carry out their plot, without ethnic flavours. The authentic plotters were: Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu (Igbo), Major Adewale Ademoyega (Yoruba), Major Ifeajuna (Igbo), Capt G. Adeleke (Yoruba), Lt. O. Olafemiyan (Yoruba), Lt. Fola Oyewole (Yoruba), Lt. Robert Egbiko (Ishan), Lt. Hope Harris Eghagha(Urhobo), Lt. Dag Warrior(Ijaw), Lt. Tijani Katsina(Hausa), Capt Gibson Jalo (Hausa), 2/Lt. Saleh Rambo(Hausa), 2/Lt. John Atom Kpera(Hausa) and Capt D. Swanton(Middle-Belt). The celebrated fallacy that the coup was an Igbo agenda is blatantly and treacherously uncharitable, satanly designed to tarnish Igbos. The worst enemy of Nigeria is Britain and other collaborators who have been teleguiding and confusing the north with wicked insinuations

  • Mystic mallam

    It is healthy to exhume all the buried devils of 1966 for close examination and scrutiny. That way we may come to grips with a past that has weighed Nigeria down for fifty years and counting. Keeping the events of those bloody days buried will not bring closure. But in scrutinising them, we must not exclude the events that followed 1966 which have also played hard on our progress to nationhood. Let’s reopen the history books, no pages sealed, no aspects hidden. Maybe, if we place the blames where they belong, we will find grace enough to forgive each other and finally move on to nation building.

  • Habergeon

    @ Obinna77

    I doff my hat to you. In a season of anguish over what happened in the past, you my friend are able to demonstrate the ability to go through facts presented by history in a very careful manner, I wish more of your people will adopt this uncommon attitude.

    You give me hope that it will be okay, even when what I read from some of your educated folks here get me worried.

  • Ojoko

    Too lengthy a piece and very boring to read. The analysis is uncalled for.

  • moribund9ja

    UP BIAFRA!!!
    ==============
    First of all, it is noteworthy that none those interviewed in the book said that Ironsi didn’t lead the Army competently.

    I’m a bona fide Biafran citizen. Take note!

    But I totally condemned the 1966 Nzeogwu led bloody coup. Nzeogwu has no business killing anyone. It was in fact Nzeogwu who laid the foundation that is consuming Nigeria today. May God forgive him. The killings were regrettable. It was indeed horrific, but I earnestly ask for mercy and forgiveness.

    For reasons best known to them, the fact is that Nigeria was carefully designed by British colonialists not to function smoothly as a nation.

    And since then, over a century now , Nigeria has indeed never functioned smoothly as a nation.

    As we speak, there are no indices that it will ever function, rather the indices are showing steadily that it will not function… I stand to be corrected.

    Common sense dictates that when you are doing the same thing and getting the same results, you do it a different way to get a different result.

    It is against this background and within this context that Biafran agitation must be located.

    There is no point saying we must remain one Nigeria when it is not producing any result whatsoever. These are voices of criminals who are benefiting from the collective rot.

    Those who are still bent on one ‘non-functional’ Nigeria have not genuinely and empirically defended their positions except serially alluding to the antiquated platitudes of Nigeria being a great nation. How? I think people are just nostalgic-stricken that they will no longer be identified as Nigerians. But we have no choice. Biafra must be. Final!

    We must allow common sense to prevail. To your Tents O
    Israel!

    Meanwhile up Biafra!!!

  • Fairgame

    While Segun Adeniyi is busy writing a revisionist version of events as presented in the book he read, one can only look to observe what region in Nigeria has been adjudged the guilty by mere observation ( man can rewrite history all they want but present day evidence will always always probe the validity of that history as presented)….And that region has the worst development indices – poverty, illiteracy, disease, infant mortality rate. Some call it karma but I say God is a God of justice.

  • Yemi

    I can’t not but agree with Gen Obasanjo’s comments at the book launch that “.,,,had Maimalari been the head of the army or the country (instead of Ironsi), Nigeria would have been a better place..,…”. Clearly, the unjustified actions of Ifeajuna robbed Nigeria of a fine leader, the consequences of whose loss we still bear. May God continue to punish Ifeajuna and his conspirators

  • Mazi JO

    The underlying feeling in the saga is a household on fire. The parents were out and the children were, in a peevish fit playing with inflammable stuff. The House was torched. Very badly torched. Some of the kids died and several survived. The parents in horror and anguish returned and put the kids to serious questioning to determine who was at fault here. The Igbo did it, the whole group yelled. The wrath therefore descended of the hapless Igbo people. I have learned more from this account by Olusegun Adeniyi and the magnificent post by “American Abroad” than every thing I figured about January 1966 and the counter combined. The perceptions in both renderings were very close to home. Each revealed their stories like they witnessed the affair up close and personal Now, the question remains when are we going to stop being nostalgic about this obvious tragedy? The account of the gathering at ABURI of brothers to take this monkey of the National back was reported to have been hugs and compliments through the negotiators. They made a headway. They reached a compromise. Why are we still in that forest? It did not pan out. Can we like a single household forge a way forward? These stories must be told but the more we dwell on them the more agony we invoke on ourselves. We must learn to forgive, fellow Nigerians!

  • KWOY

    1. The Claim that Jan 15, 1966 coup was ‘the’ turning Point is balderdash. The clam is made as if there were no ‘issues’ that predated it. For (a) Nigeria could’t get Independence in 1957 bcos the North was reluctant for association with the south on the fear of Domination. (b) There was also Awolowo’s upstaging of Zik in the Western house of Assembly, & other crises in the West. (c) There was somthing like the Tiv uprising; ETC. Crises, one way or the other, was unpreventable! There was always going to be a ‘burst.’ In fact, the Jan coup only was what (has) ‘united’ Nigeria (against the Igbo), bcos it hepled to subsume evry other Agitation & to unite others against Igbos. The likes of Gowon may lie all they like. But he is failing to say that the crises was resolved in Aburi & Nigeria would hvae had a new beginning from then, but he sabotaged it for the sake of oil. Nigeria could also have had a new beginning in 1970, but he sabotaged it again. And the Sabotage continues. And in that case who do they blame?

    2. It is easy to make Insinuation, perfect Analysis & impute motives bcos People are speaking with the benefit of hindsight,i.e,after the fact. They Forget there was no precedent. & moreso, most of those involved were very Young & inexperienced. (Which leads me to Point 3)

    3. The executors could never have had ulterior motives in mind: They were mere Idealists given all the factors considered. It is just that something might have gone wrong with execution. And it is something like this the Gowons, Danjuams, Obasanjos, Salisu Ibrahims, etc owe Explanation for.

    4. War criminals are talking about ‘consequences’, yet they are far behind those they are inflicting consequences upon in every indices of development. And are resisting Change bcos they know it is ‘consequences’ that is Holding their lives.

    5. If nothing else the war & ist consequences has gone to Show the Kind of breed Igbos are. It has ‘united’ Nigeria but elevated the Igbo. And 50 years from now it will even be more obvious!

  • Jon West

    Welcome to another season of anomie, anther season of revisionist, history packaged as truth, by the same players who have scuppered whatever hope that Nigeria had as a potential nation and player on the global stage.
    If Maimalari was such a great soldier and deserving Commander of the Nigerian army, why was he so beholden to Northern Nigerian and moslem interests? Was he grooomed to be the Commander of the army of Northern Nigeria? All these offerings have been timed to effect to counter the current yearnings for a change to the Nigerian reality , failing that , to arrange the end of the nightmare that Nigeria has become.

    The Nigerian army ruined itself and the country and should , if it were in saner and less hypocritical soceities, keep away from the glare of national publicity. However jere the dramatis personae in this despoliation of country and culture are waxing lyrical about their role in this sad period of national life, while a bedraggled populace is left wondering what hit them.

    Maimalari could not have taken the Army or Nigeria anywhere as subsequent events have shown. The Army was totally officered by ill-educated and sometimes barely literate people like Abacha, Babangida, Jerry Boy Useni, the Ota Ape, Yakubu Jackass Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Ibrahim Taiwo and a rogues list of genocidaires, buccaneers, carpetbaggers and sundry types. Their quality and capabilities are therefore clear for all to see as the Nigeria of their dreams comes crashing into the abyss of state failure. What hogwash about a quota system product of a discredited national institution.

    • obinnna77

      Jon, with realpolitik in mind, I beg to differ. Why do we have this damnable tendency to polyannaism on the Niger? Why do we keep insisting that a German should be more European than German? Of course Maimalari would be loyal to his tendency. Why should we expect otherwise? To my mind, that is simply unrealism.

      • Jon West

        A German drawing his pay from the resources of the European Union should not be loyal to Germany but to Europe. That is really an oxymoron .

        • obinnna77

          Yeah. Between 60 and 66, when all were drawing their weight? You very well know that there is no union on Earth where there isn’t a dominant tendency. Our ill-luck is that ours is retrogressive. However, admitting that a member of that tendency is worthy, does not diminish you. On the contrary, it shows objectivity.

    • Hah!

      When shall the Western Jon be optimistic on Institutions of a scape he called his country? Repent or handover the Green Passport you hold and join the Bia bandwagon on or before October. May be at that (new) hamlet you might be conferred with a Blue Passport or even a complimentary rank within the para-military.

      • Jon West

        Anybody can be optimistic about anything and any institution in a hypocritical sense. We are where we are, because of fake and hypocritical [patriots spewing platitudes while dying under the burden of their hypocrisy, for example, like a patriotic Almajiri. You are welcome to your country.

      • Tony Oshea

        MKO once said “he would rather be a servant in heaven,than be master in hell”and I concure .The choice is yours,but I would rather live peaceably and peacefully in a hamlet of likeminds, with respect for the constitution,freedom,liberty and justice than cohabit with murderous herdsmen usurping my land,armed with AK47 by certificate-less jackboots whose disdain for the constitution and education is legendary.

        • Dele Awogbeoba

          Every tribe in Nigeria is dealing with the herdsmen menace. Various states are starting to address its menance. None of the states of the SE have passed any legaislation on the state level that restricts the movement of herdsmen for public grazing. Ekiti, BENUE and Taraba has. The herdsmen are not the reason for your madness. The igbo have singularly made Lagos state a kidnapping prone state. The Igbo have made medicinal drugs sold in Nigeria a potential death sentence for very many people. The igbos have a large log in their eyes in Nigeria. They have no right to go around pointing fingers at anyone!

          • FrNinja

            Mr. Igbophobe, so was the manufacturer of MyPikin killer syrup that killed 84 children in 2010 an Igbo or a Yoruba? The kidnappers that carried those children attending Nigerian Turkish International school using creeks were they Igbos or Ijaws? The kidnapper of Falae were they Igbos or Fulani?

  • obinnna77

    You read accounts of the first republic, and Maimalari’s name keeps recurring. Particularly striking was Bernard Odogwu’s fear of the blow back, that would follow his assassination. And it was particularly harrowing to read about how Ifeajuna, his protege, killed him.Almost like parricide, like Brutus and Caesar. The sort of thing that the gods never forgave, but delivered instant retribution for.
    And, speaking of retribution, it made one’s blood boil that the Eastern officers did nothing, sat on their hands, played squash, while Murtala Mohammed, and co planned their annihilation. If they didn’t have a care for themselves, they should have thought of their hapless kin, which their inaction would expose.
    If wishes were horses, Maimalari may have been the North’s Kemal Attaturk. So what if he were ambitious? He seems to have been well suited for his ambition, in comparison to the blank-heads that followed in his wake. In truth, Major Ifeajuna murdered sleep for us all, when he turned his sten gun on Brigadier General Maimalari.

    • share Idea

      Your response is more of the reason why some people are agitating for Biafra. If Nigeria were one nation, anybody committing a crime against the state should have been treated based on the individual merit and not targeting the region where the person comes from as you and others are commenting. Nigeria we hail thee

      • obinnna77

        We are not in disagreement, share idea. Realism however necessitates that you recognise that a post colonial contraption is not ‘one nation’. When Mountbatten was assassinated, the English did not hunt down, and kill all Irish in their midst. Let us admit that we are antagonistic nationalities, trapped in a post colonial cage. If Buhari dies, there will be repercussions, if Osinbajo’s jet falls out the sky , people will die. If N.Kanu gets food poisoning, there will be mayhem. Is this an ideal State?You suppose that I mean that repercussions of the first coup, should be visited on the ethnic nationalities of the perpetrators? I am Igbo. My family lost people in 1966, in the North. Need I say more?

  • RumuPHC

    A most interesting article by Segun Adeniyi and incisive perspective from this gifted columnist.

    Mr Adeniyi presented some valid observations and drew cogent conclusions in his overview of this book on Gen Maimalari and events leading to the coups of ’66 but one cannot help but disagree with him on some points.

    First is on the topic and implications. It may not really be right to accept that Nigeria is still haunted by the ghost of ’66. The events of that tumultuous era only depicted the nature and character traits of Nigerians . The occurrences in ’66 simply portrayed how Nigerians approach issues even before the infamous period , and now long after the disastrous conflagration that engulfed the nation in the aftermath.

    The real and only ghost haunting Nigeria is that of low intelligence . Our grasps of issues are simplistic and selfish just as solutions are short term and self serving. It appear we lack the capacity for wholistic consideration of challenges and would always seek for resolutions that will give best advantages to us as individuals without considerations for others. This has been the main issue before , during and post colonial era including what is currently bedeviling modern Nigeria.

    Our character trait is responsible for all our predicaments. Otherwise how do we justify : almost 400yrs of slave raiding within the hinterlands and trading along our coasts; decades of colonial rule by a country much smaller in size and with an occupation colonial structure less than one hundredth of the population of the country; and now uninspiring governance by incompetent leadership? This ghost was with the people of Nigeria long before the horrors of 1966-1070 and is still with us till date. Apparently the same ghost roam many other countries in Africa.

    Also, the notion that the principal actors in the events of 66′-70′ ought to document their exploits and opinion is the right call and Segun must no waver on this. Learning is a process of developing intelligence and we can only learn by the recognition and full exposure of our mistakes. Written records and not hearsay or rumors are the best sources of materials for learning.

    Another missed call by Segun is the thought that the military offer no solution to the problems of Nigeria. This is wrong. The military as an important institution of the country must always be included in the consideration of solutions to challenges facing a relatively underdeveloped country like ours. It is only the military that can guarantee the stability of any government in our current state. How the military is part of the solution will depend essentially on the dynamics of the situation. Egypt is a much older and more stable democracy yet the military helped to restore democratic governance after a brief incursion.

    Now to the real issues. It is quite obvious that Sir Ahmadu Bello made the wrong call by insisting on political considerations and seniority to appoint Maj Gen Aguyi Ironsi as the first indigenous General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Nigerian Army following the departure of colonial officers. Even if the intention was genuine and consequences not intended, that Aguyi Ironsi was not nominated by Maj Gen Welby-Everald the outgoing GOC speak volume of the gravity of the error in such appointment , professionally speaking.

    Seniority is just not enough justification for elevation to higher positions in any profession. Promotions and appointments based on considerations other than merit and professional competency is the bane of all problems in Nigeria. This was why Aguyi Ironsi as GOC could not take effective charge as GOC of the Nigeria Army especially on all counts before and after 15 of Jan’66 when it mattered the most including sadly , circumstances leading to his own death. It took a relative younger and Sandurst trained Col Yakubu Gowon to retreat from Ikoyi to Ikeja barracks to coordinate the counter operation against the coupists of Jan ’66.

    Furthermore, the fears of an “ambitious ” Brig Gen Maimalari by Segun is quite unfounded. To aspire to the top is not a crime provided it is based on professional norms while being impetuous, bold and courageous is a desirable attribute of any good military commander. Top military officers worldwide are known to habour disdain and sometimes contemp for incompetent civilian leadership. Maimalari only voiced the jokes that must have been going round in the officers mess , though inappropriately.

    It should be quite pleasing to note that almost all the top southern officers in the military agree that Brig Gen Maimalari a northerner was the better choice as first Nigerian GOC of the army. This show that at every instance, there is always a few Nigerians that will elevate merit above ethnic considerations. However we know that there is equally in most cases a larger noisier and more vicious mob that will always promote parochial interest irrespective of the gains of merit. This is exactly what the execution of the coup of Jan ’16 showed and many other occurrences in Nigeria portray.

    Overall the events of ‘ 66 leading to the end of the civil war in the 1970 and the military regime of Gen Gowon represent a great watershed in the history of Nigeria. It is important that this era is properly documented and subjected to much discussions and analysis.

    There are important lessons to be learnt from this eventful era when mere boys in their 30’ took important decisions based on the information available to them and accepted all the consequences of their actions with equanimity. Apparently this was the only time Nigeria ever signaled its intention to be a strong nation and continental leader in Africa. War despite all its horrors is one of the foundations of any strong nation. Therefore to deny anything related to the civil war is to fail to acknowledge the exploits of combatants and heros on both sides and even deny the existence and future of Nigeria.

    • ayo

      I completely agree with you ……..”It appear we lack the capacity for wholistic consideration of challenges and would always seek for resolutions that will give best advantages to us as individuals without considerations for others.”………………………In this lies the real problem .

      • RumuPHC

        If only sociologists can research and tell us why this is so maybe there could be some hope for the future generations .

  • American Abroad

    The ghosts of 1966 will not lay still, in large part because we compulsively re-exhume them for re-examination. Which is not altogether a bad thing, if only our inquiry was demonstrably honest. It has never been: each opinion is a Rorschach test of the interlocutor, colored by ethnic prejudice, religious bias, regional animus, and in several instances, revisionist politics. Of the several published accounts, the most compelling and closest to factual renditions are Ademoyega’s first-person, eye-witness account in Why We Struck, and to lesser but differing degrees, Peter Baxter (Biafra: the Nigerian Civil War), NU Akan (The Struggle for Secession), John De St. Jorre (The Nigerian Civil War) and Alex Madiebo (The Nigerian Revolution and Biafra Civil War). Frederick Forsyth’s account appears too partisan to me, needlessly lionizing the major actors on the Biafran side, whilst Omoigui’s internet serialization in gamji.net which contains a lot of “insider” information, betrays his own political persuasions and pro-Northern diffidence. Neither is a route to truthful inquiry.

    Maimalari was, like most public officials, a complex character. He was clearly patriotic (or at least, an Arewa version of patriotism), well-informed, and inspirational. He was also craven, acting mostly as an errand boy for the Sarduana and Northern interests. His loyalties were less to the Constitution than to Northern patriarchy, and he was consequently untrusted by the Establishment or his peers. However, he was loved, almost to a fault, by the men serving under him.

    Ironsi, affectionately called Ironsides by his side-kicks, was a gruff, apolitical, plain-talking, barely literate, man-at-arms. He found himself embroiled in a plot which he was not equipped to understand or manage, and torn by the contrarian pull of the “progressives” led by Fajuyi, and the “conservatives” represented by Gowon, was never going to return to his favorite life of barracks anonymity, laced with booze, war stories (from Burma, Katanga & Tiv Riots) and loyalty to Queen and Country. He was the truest victim of 1966.

    Ifeajuna, the bete noire of 1966, was the instigator and helmsman of 1966. An ambitious, temperamental, but gifted individual, he burnt bright, loud, garish, and also extinguished very fast. HIs inexplicable blood lust on the night of January 15, led to the gratuitous murders of several leaders who were of no operational import to his putsch. Some were probably to settle old scores, a case in point being the execution of Lt Col Unegbe, a schoolmate (but not classmate, Unegbe being 1 year his senior in middle school) at DMGS Onitsha, who earned the distinction of being the only senior Igbo military officer to be killed on the night of January 15. Despite the resources available to him at Lagos, his leadership was at best mediocre, and as his putsch unraveled, he was the first to flee into exile in Ghana. More insidiously, he was likely a back-door courier to his kinsman, Azikiwe, whose behavior during the peak of national crisis could only be explained by foreknowledge of an impending military uprising, illustrated by his bizarre sailing vacation across the Carib seas through the Yuletide holidays of 1965. Nzeogwu, who was actually a late conscript but the only successful putschist, became by default the visible “leader” of January 1966.

    Lt Col Pam was, by all accounts, a simple, committed, outstanding military officer: he was reportedly killed, based on his close relationship to Ademulegun and Maimalari, but of all the gratuitous murders of 1966, his was probably the least necessary and most egregious.

    The greatest tragedy of our common history is the collective entrapment within a bubble of group-think, which has been nurtured by a spectrum of ethnically-colored political thought each tailored specifically to cater to a precise tribal sensibility: My tribe is better (and more innocent) than Yours. Therefore, nobody has to ever consider, much less accept, any contrarian viewpoint. We listen only to those who think like us, bear our same grievances, hate our well-defined common enemies, repeat the same lies we have been fed since childhood. Hence, 1966 is an Igbo coup (despite the fact the wider Igbo nation knew nothing about it, and the putschists were about as representative of Igbo as Gideon Orkar represented the Middle Belt or Abacha the Kanuri); Fajuyi was merely an innocent bystander (though he was clearly a mentor to several in the “progressive” military camp, making him a specific target of the July 1966 revanchists); Ojukwu was a great strategist (no, he wasn’t: he played his hand too often, too openly, too wrongly, as even Zik testified in his Post interview during the NPP days. However, no one could deliver a prepared speech nearly as well as Ojukwu); Gowon was an evil genocidalist (again, here we mistake Gowon with Murtala Mohammed, under whose command the Asaba Massacre happened, ably abetted by Ibrahim Taiwo; but Gowon bears the blame for shutting his eyes to some of the evil perpetrated under the name of his government); July 1966 was otiose (not necessarily, the North needed to vent at the time, as the manhood of Northern officers had been metaphorically challenged: but the response was excessive, precipitate and anarchic).

    There was enough blame to go round. The trick is to ponder on its abiding lessons too avoid an encore.

    • share Idea

      I thought narratives about the 1966 civil war was that Igbos killed people of other ethnic group and that the coup was sectional…I’m surprised by the excerpt from your comment…”Some were probably to settle old scores, a case in point being the execution of Lt Col Unegbe, a schoolmate (but not classmate, Unegbe being 1 year his senior in middle school) at DMGS Onitsha, who earned the distinction of being the only senior Igbo military officer to be killed on the night of January 15″ …. very insightful, thanks for that

      • AyoJon

        I’m assuming that also added to the legitimacy of the counter coup, being that Unegbe might not have been killed

    • Fidelis Arumala

      Your insightful thoughts here leaves me in awe. Again, another beautiful mind, sojourning in a land that is not of his Father’s, because the contradictory structure here does not promote your likes into limelight. Herein lies the Tragedy American Abroad. Thanks again for your elucidation!

    • obinnna77

      Apt, A.A. But, arguably, if Aburi had been adopted, hypothetically, what power would the centre have had to appoint the head of the Eastern region, in a confederation? How would sleight of hand have availed, when the psychological elephant in the room, at Aburi, was Ojukwu’s consideration of Gowon’s rulership as illegitimate? Deriving as it had, from the coronation of Northern soldiery?
      And it is arguable that Igbo would have felt that they had ‘nothing to gain from ‘those strong armed tactics’.Igbo were in the ascendant, but emerging realities, like the Northernisation policy, and other such merit-curtailing activity, harbingers of our current quota systems, clearly indicated to them that the level playing field under which they thrived, was about to vanish. One has only to read the reasons advanced by the vainglorious Ben Gbulie for the January 1966 coup, to appreciate that. I am no fan of the first coup. I however, do not see how its enactment could have been avoided. Imperial Britain should not have left the power of coercion in the hands of those that did not have political power. In terms of realpolitik, such a dichotomy, is untenable.
      Would that our current helmsmen are capable of pondering on the lessons of the past, as you said.

      • American Abroad

        Dear Obinna:
        Aburi, Aburi, Aburi.
        We agreed to seek a new way for my country of birth at Aburi, but later, Gowon’s Federal government reneged. Which was a crying shame, but hardly novel in politics, or in life. Every participant at Aburi came there playing to their own gallery of self-esteem, each inflicted wrong was magnified and subsequently used to flog the opposite party, but at the very end, each protagonist made nice, made up, and made good… until reality returned on arrival at Lagos.
        Aburi should have been renegotiated. What was so wrong about having an Aburi II? Of course, Gowon’s rulership was “illegitimate” based on military hierarchy; certainly, military rulership was “illegitimate” based on our Constitutional Laws; but the force of arms ultimately carried the day, with Nwafor Orizu, president ex-tempore of the Senate handing over to Ironsi, and 1 year later, the triumphalist July 29 boys hoisting destiny on a youthful Gowon.
        As for replacing Ojukwu, I frankly doubt that Gowon had the cojones or credibility to achieve that under any circumstance. But by “appointing” the best front-line warriors from the opposing Biafra side to a “shadow” governorship (however “illegitimate”), starting from Hillary Njoku, to Tim Onwuatuegwu, to Alex Madiebo, and perhaps, to Patrick Amadi, at the very least, Gowon might have created a divided front within the Eastern Region, caused diversion of limited resources to “monitor” otherwise skilled & very effective fighting men, or- perish the thought!- provoked insurrection right at the very top of Biafra’s military hierarchy. At the very least, it would have created confusion and, very likely, division within the opposing ranks. Like most Nigerians, I am happy that did not happen, given the genocidal mindset of Gowon’s forces at the onset of conflict.
        However, I read those tea leaves much differently than most political observers of the day: the fact that the originators of July 29, largely drawn from the “core” North, such as Murtala Mohammed, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Mohammed Shuwa, et cetera, were willing to voluntarily relinquish power to an effete, prim. non-political, Christian, Middle-Belt upstart, reveals a readiness to mollify and possibly appease their adversaries (within reason). Why did we not build on that gesture? The fact that Gowon did not initially renounce Aburi on returning to Lagos, but tried to first undercut it, then abbreviate it, shows at the very least, some embarrassment at breaking his own word to a fellow military officer: why not push him further to make good on other relevant aspects of Aburi? Despite the minor annoyances of quotas, selective merit, ethnic balance and other euphemisms for tipping the scales of national achievement, my reading of the Igbo, is that they were piqued (of course) but not suicidal.
        But yes, I agree, it is now all conjectural, and hindsight is always 20/20. Who knows? Who knew?

        • Dele Awogbeoba

          Aburi was never a real attempt at seeking resolution. It was simply an attempt by a cash and weapon strapped rebel outfit to buy critical time whilst it tries to arm up. Pray tell, every one is aware that the first rebellious act of secession came in 1966 and led by Isaac Boro and was directed against the igbo dominance of the Eastern region. Biafra encompassed the Eastern region just one year after the Niger Delta secession attempt. Biafra itself never took account of the Aburi principles the igbos wanted acknowledged in a restructured Nigeria. Biafra was structured in the most unitary fashion possible along the lines effected by Ironsi and overturned by Gowon. In fact, Nigeria by August 1967 had a more devolved government than multi ethnic Biafra had.

          Secondly, Gowon’s rule was not illegal. Military hierarchy was irrelevant once coups have been effected by coup plotters. It is the coup plotters that select the head of state. Neither Gowon, Murtala, OBJ, Buhari, IBB, or Abdusalam were the most senior army officer when the then current head of state was overthrown.

          It is also weird that you will attempt to determine what is the most accurate books to read when you were not an actor at the time and in no position what is the most accurate accounts of events. In all the books, an intelligent person knows to give credence to the authors narratives when he is reporting what he saw or did only. When such a person derails into discussing events that he neither witnessed nor undertook then from that moment onwards his account becomes suspect. Ademoyega can only speak to the parts of the plot that he witnessed. He cannot even talk much on the execution of the coup as his designated job was to secure buildings on the day of the coup.

          • American Abroad

            Dear Sir:
            Very broadly, history often relies on verifiable sources, first person, eye-witness accounts typically being given priority on a scale of relevance. That automatically pushes Ademoyega’s account to the very top, considering that he was one of the original “5 Majors” putschists, even if we do not like what he has to say. However, all accounts, including first person accounts are still subject to “housekeeping” evaluations, based on internal consistency (does it ring true, and do material details make sense: for example, if Ifeajuna shot Maimalari, he could not have possibly been at Enugu at that same time, so events attributed to him at Enugu must be false), corroborations (if Ademoyega, Nzeogwu, Gbulie, Banjo all thought Ifeajuna was the linchpin, then he probably was), biological plausibility (if the putschists claim they wanted to install Awo as President, but there was evidence they had planned to release him from Calabar, then it was probably, but not definitely, accurate) and scientific evidence (if injuries on Ironsi’s body were consistent with being mauled, and bullet wounds were not bleeding, it suggests he was indeed dragged by a Land Rover unto death as alleged, whilst the shots were fired only after the fact of death). That is why history is a profession, not dilettantism.
            Of course, you might surmise that Aburi was not a serious discussion, just a mere play for time. Perhaps. I keep an open mind on such matters, but you would have to come up with better reasons supported by evidence, not just beer parlor gossip.
            The historical evidence was that Biafra inherited Ironsi’s unitary government, which was centralized as a response to a state of anomie. I hated it, but I should not obscure its historical origins. It would have been bizarre for Ojukwu to throw away that particular consequence of Ironsi’s short rule, especially given that he needed that power implicit in a unitary government to prepare for possible armed conflict.
            All military insurrections are, by legal definition, unconstitutional and therefore illegal. Men have been tried- and executed- for less, even during military governments. Though Gowon’s (or more correctly, Murtala Mohammed’s) coup was successful, what was the rationale in military law for executing Vatsa, Dimka, Bisalla, et cetera?
            It is inaccurate to suggest that Ironsi carried out a coup also. It is even worse to imply a “private” conversation between Ironsi and Nwafor Orizu, who was chagrined at Ironsi’s brusque treatment of the remnant civilian government. If you have any historical evidence to either claim, besides beer parlor talk, please provide those. The historical evidence was that there was a breach in governance with the kidnapping (or abduction) of Balewa, and Nigeria actually had no formal leadership for 72 hours. Unfortunately, in the absence of the Prime Minister, the NPC, NCNC and AG politicians made a fatal mistake of meeting separately at individual “safe” houses, Dipcharima or Daggash for NPC, Mbadiwe for NCNC, and reportedly, Rotimi Williams for AG (by the way, Timi the Law denied this account). When a meeting was finally called by the military (it should have been the other way round), momentum was no longer on the civilian side. Ironsi, quite fairly, demanded “executive powers” to “arrest” the situation and put paid to the insurrection (which had, by all available evidence, been accomplished already). The timorous cabinet, still smarting from the outrage of Balewa’s abduction, acceded. The rest is history.
            The war was not “caused” by Gowon’s missteps, as you quaintly put it. Gowon’s fiancee, Ms Edith Ike, had already been flown to Germany, en route the United States. Her parents also had the option of moving overseas from their village redoubt. Such considerations had no obvious impact on war efforts. The real underlying reason(s) for delayed conflict was the unpreparedness of Gowon’s regime, which was not obvious to the “hawks” around him, demanding summary action which was estimated to take 2 weeks or less. It turned to nearly 3 years. Perhaps, Gowon was a lot smarter than we give him credit for. Perhaps, Ojukwu, was a lot doughtier than we presume. Perhaps, the historical accounts you have been reading are less than reliable.

          • Dele Awogbeoba

            Aburi was a play for time. Nothing beer parlour about that. Reasons- Biafra was cash and weapons starved. It needed to arm up and it needed the time to do so. Secondly, Biafra itself had ethnic tensions with the Ijaw dissatisfied with igbo rule that it embarked on its own armed secession just a year earlier. The imperative for the principles for Aburi in a united Nigeria was as compelling for a united Biafra for the same reasons. Thirdly, all discussions within the context of Aburi stopped the moment Gowon created the 12 states. From that time on wards, the roles reversed. Gowon was then happy to play for time and continue the discussion at Aburi knowing that the East had been carved up , Ojukwu surrounded and the minorities of the North and East now as free as the minorities of the west. Ojukwu no longer had the luxury of time. He had to act fast to obviate the effect of the 12 state creation. That was the reason why Biafra was declared 1 week after the 12 state creation and this is verified by Effiong in his book. Additionally, when his troops made the Mid west “independent”, even Okonkwo could not take any action without approval from Enugu. If ABURI was a principled stand for government in Nigeria where ethnic tensions are apparent, then that structure would have been implemented in Biafra which had much the same tensions as the wider Nigeria had.

            It is a historical fact as stated by Akinjide and Shagari, that Ironsi went into a private discussion with Orizu and when they both came out from the discussion Orizu declined to swear in the new PM and handed over power to Ironsi. From that moment on, Ironsi himself overthrew the elected government of Nigeria even if he did not kill any of the main elected officials. His job as COAS was to put down the insurrection and submit himself to civilian authority. He did not need executive powers to arrest his lawless subordinates just as Abacha did not need to assume the office of HEAD OF STATE to put down Orkar nor did Gowon need to assume executive power to put down Dimka. The NPC govt had selected a replacement for Balewa (as I am sure you know).

            Mr Amechi (first republic minister) put it thus (and that account was confirmed by Akinjide and Shagari):

            “When the first coup happened and the Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, disappeared, there was confusion. It later happened that we heard that the Prime Minister had been killed and so we elected Inua Wada to act as Prime Minister. That is what the arrangement was, really, until the military decided to forcefully take over. The military took over and appointed Ironsi. We did not hand over willingly to Ironsi. We wanted the government to continue with Inua Wada as Prime Minister.”

            http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/09/1966-coup-ironsi-rejected-nominee-replace-slain-prime-minister-balewa-mbazulike-amaechi/

            On your points with Ademoyega, you still did not controvert the main issues. 1, Ademoyega could only give evidence to his view of the intentions of the coup and his understanding of their intentions and his recollections of their discussions. 2, Ademoyega was not selected to arrest any political or military targets. Why was that? 3, Why was head of the Ibadan division killed whilst the head of the Kano division was honored with having emissaries sent to obtain Ojukwu’s loyalty? Why was efforts made to keep every military and politically relevant igboman free from harm and all efforts to ensure any Yoruba military or political person of significance killed? How was Awolowo to govern in such a situation if (as they say) it was all for Awolowo?

            Accounts are clear that Gowon had been under pressure to act way before the start of the police action. Ojukwu had no basis or power to make any demands of Gowon once Gowon assumed power and the troops under Ogunewe remained as constituted. Ogunewe himself never contested Gowon’s authority as commander in chief and gave effect to Gowon’s command to transfer out of the East Non Eastern troops under his command. Murtala mohammed and a number of core Northerners had been demanding concrete action fro Gowon for months. Gowon only really acted AFTER Biafra was formally declared. He spent the better part of his time procrastinating.

          • obinnna77

            Masterclass.

          • Ekpetu

            We need men like you in political office here in Nigeria.

          • Dele Awogbeoba

            For the benefit of readers only and to fight the propagation of ignorance in all its form, I finally got the source that contradicts the many dubious positions posited by AA. The classified files of American intelligence posted below made some judgments based on classified information gathered at the time

            https://therepublicannews.net/2017/05/09/u-s-classified-files-reveal-untold-story-of-ojukwu-biafra-by-americans-others/

            1. Aburi was a play for time

            “Unknown to the forward planners, according to the US documents, Ojukwu
            had been meticulously preparing for war as early as October 1966, after
            the second round of massacre in the North. He had stopped the Eastern
            share of revenues that were supposed to accrue to the Federation
            Account.”

            “All his performances in Ghana that culminated in the Aburi Accord of
            January 1967, or discussions with the Awolowo-led National Conciliation
            Committee five months later, turned out to be ruse.

            The underground war preparations, the secret arms stockpiles openly
            manifested themselves as Ojukwu’s stubborn refusal to accept offers or
            concessions during these peace meetings.”

            2. Gowon’s procrastination / date of Edith’s departure from Nigeria which occurredaround 3rd of July 1967 (after Biafra had been declared)-

            “To Major B.M. Usman and other northern officers around Gowon, who had attributed his slow response to the secession to the fact that his
            girlfriend was Igbo and that her parents were resettled in the East, it
            was such a huge relief that at the Supreme Military Council meeting of 3
            July 1967, Gowon authorized the long awaited military campaign.

            Edith had safely landed in West Germany. Gowon told the gathering:
            “Gentlemen, we are going to crush the rebellion, but note that we are
            going after the rebels, not the Ibos.” The military action, which was to
            become the Nigerian Civil War or the Biafran War or Operation Unicord,
            as it was coded in military circles, officially started on 6 July 1967
            at 5 a.m.”

          • American Abroad

            Sir:
            A man insisted there was no such animal that could be as large as a house. His friends took him to a zoo to see an elephant. He gazed at the large creature in wonderment for 15 minutes, rubbed his eyes, and declared, “I do not believe this”. That high school trope illustrates the perils of prolonged internet argumentation. But I will give it one last shot, and leave you to your own misconceptions, reflecting of course, your own peculiar education, or lack thereof.
            You know, don’t you, that the article you quote has been floating on the internet for years (even old Joe Hettich’s blog had excerpted it years ago, even before OblongMedia, Nigerian Village Square, and several other less-than-reputable rumor mills), and is based on 3rd-person reconstruction without directly citing any primary sources, not even from the cable dispatches from “American Intelligence”? And of course, I am assuming that you also realize that “American Intelligence” in the 1960s did not have a foothold or insight within Nigeria, that could remotely match or compare to either UK or France? And I am sure you realize that Ms Edith Ike did not trek to Germany or even use a seafaring boat: she flew!! Gowon would have known she landed within 8 hours of her departure from Lagos; to wait 7 weeks before declaring war suggests she either flew to Neptune or the attribution is wrong! I don’t want this to become a history class or a methodology seminar on oral historiography, but friend, don’t buy everything you read on the internet, especially from unattributed sources. This ends my discussion on this topic; time to move on mate, and stop feeding the trolls!

          • Dele Awogbeoba

            For the benefit of readers only and to prevent the dissemination of ignorance ( a phrase I use when it has become futile discussing directly with an ignorant person but it is important to prevent readers from being taken in by crap), Points made by my earlier references above made a number of references.

            1. “according to US documents”.

            2. “Major B.M Usman”

            3. “Gowon told the gathering” (i.e members of the SMC when the decision was taken to go to war.)

            4. At no point had the article mentioned when Edith actually arrived in West Germany. We know the date on which Gowon announced her arrival in West Germany to the SMC. Small nuances that tend to escape the Mr know it all). AA however have never stated when she in fact left to go to West Germany or whether she went by boat or by plane. I guess we should believe his own cock and bull story.

            AA is full of it and always have been.

          • Tony Oshea

            Question ! Was Issac Adaka Boro’s rebellion against The SE or Nigeria?

          • Dele Awogbeoba

            The Boro revolution was primarily against the igbo leadership of the Eastern region and became more acute when the Igbo became rulers of Nigeria under Ironsi. The secession by Boro occurred under Ironsi and was put down by Ironsi. Boro fought on the Nigerian side. The 12 state structure (beneficial for minorities) as implemented by Gowon and opposed by Ojukwu, ensured Boro put his hat in the ring on the side of Nigeria.

            American Abroad’s ethnicity is neither here nor there. I never raised it as an issue nor ever alluded to it at any time. We may have areas of dispute on some facts (discussions between Ironsi and Orizu and its nature) but the difference of opinion between us centres more on the our respective interpretations of agreed facts. As an fyi, I am unaware of American Abroad ever alluding to his ethnic origin in any case.

          • Tony Oshea

            The issue of American abroad’s ethnicity was an aside. Haven exhaustively explained the Isaac Boro phenomenon,I comprehend,but can this generation tone down the rhetorics of 1966 and live in the present,2017?

          • Dele Awogbeoba

            1966 is very relevant because its legacy is the basis of more recent agitations for Biafra today. A lot of lies have been told especially from the losing side that has needed to be corrected.

          • Tony Oshea

            ALSO READ: History, April 22 coup: The Trial, Conviction Of Gideon Orkar And Co-plotters.

            He formed the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF), the first armed militia of only Ijaw extraction. On February 23, 1966, Boro and his NDVF declared the Niger Delta Republic. This was the first time any part of Nigeria tried to secede. He believed that the Ijaw people deserved a fairer share of proceeds of the oil wealth than they were getting from the Federal Government. For twelve days Boro and his militias battled the Federal forces before they were finally defeated by the far superior Federal firepower. Isaac Boro and some of his men were convicted of treason and sentenced to death, but Ironsi out of mercy
            decided to jail him instead of killing him as demanded by the law.

          • Dele Awogbeoba

            Who was the head of state when this secession by Boro occurred? Answer Ironsi. Who changed the constitution to a unitary provisional state after the overthrow of Balewa? Answer Ironsi. Why did Boro fight on behalf of the federal government? Answer Ojukwu continued the policies and structures of government of the Ironsi govt.

          • Dele Awogbeoba

            I finally got the source that contradicts the many dubious positions posited by AA. The classified files of American intelligence posted below made some judgments based on classified information gathered at the time

            https://therepublicannews.net/2017/05/09/u-s-classified-files-reveal-untold-story-of-ojukwu-biafra-by-americans-others/

            1. Aburi was a play for time

            “Unknown to the forward planners, according to the US documents, Ojukwu
            had been meticulously preparing for war as early as October 1966, after
            the second round of massacre in the North. He had stopped the Eastern
            share of revenues that were supposed to accrue to the Federation
            Account.”

            “All his performances in Ghana that culminated in the Aburi Accord of
            January 1967, or discussions with the Awolowo-led National Conciliation
            Committee five months later, turned out to be ruse. The underground war preparations, the secret arms stockpiles openly manifested themselves as Ojukwu’s stubborn refusal to accept offers or
            concessions during these peace meetings.”

            2. Gowon’s procrastination / date of Edith’s departure from Nigeria which occurredaround 3rd of July 1967 (after Biafra had been declared)-

            “To Major B.M. Usman and other northern officers around Gowon, who had attributed his slow response to the secession to the fact that his
            girlfriend was Igbo and that her parents were resettled in the East, it
            was such a huge relief that at the Supreme Military Council meeting of 3
            July 1967, Gowon authorized the long awaited military campaign.

            Edith had safely landed in West Germany. Gowon told the gathering:
            “Gentlemen, we are going to crush the rebellion, but note that we are
            going after the rebels, not the Ibos.” The military action, which was to
            become the Nigerian Civil War or the Biafran War or Operation Unicord,
            as it was coded in military circles, officially started on 6 July 1967
            at 5 a.m.”

          • American Abroad

            Sir:
            You know, don’t you, that the article you quote has been floating on the internet for years (even old Joe Hettich’s blog had excerpted it years ago, even before OblongMedia, Nigerian Village Square, and several other less-than-reputable rumor mills), and is based on 3rd-person reconstruction without directly citing any primary sources, not even from the cable dispatches from “American Intelligence”? And of course, I am assuming that you also realize that “American Intelligence” in the 1960s did not have a foothold or insight within Nigeria, that could remotely match or compare to either UK or France? And I am sure you realize that Ms Edith Ike did not trek to Germany or even use a seafaring boat: she flew!! Gowon would have known she landed within 8 hours of her departure from Lagos; to wait 7 weeks before declaring war suggests she either flew to Neptune or the attribution is wrong! I don’t want this to become a history class or a methodology seminar on oral historiography, but friend, don’t buy everything you read on the internet, especially from unattributed sources. This ends my discussion on this topic; time to move on mate, and stop feeding the trolls!

          • Dele Awogbeoba

            Point above made a number of references.

            1. “according to US documents”.

            2. Major B.M Usman

            3. At no point had the article mentioned when Edith actually arrived in West Germany. We know the date on which Gowon announced it to the SMC. You however have never stated when she in fact left to go to West Germany or whether she went by boat or by plane.

            You are full of it and always have been.

    • AyoJon

      Yours article is more enlightening

    • Yemi

      Looking at the organizers, participants, mode of implementation and victims, it is understandable if some people call the 1966 coup an “Igbo coup”. Still, I think that is an unfair attribution of an “original sin” to a whole tribe. Apart from the mischief of using history to justify hatred and marginalization of Igbos, I think one other reason that makes it difficult for other Nigerians to forget the events of 1966 is the obvious lack of political sophistication of the current Igbo elite. As a people, Igbos should be able to honestly ask and answer a simple question. Why are we the least trusted and liked people by other tribes in Nigeria?

      • Fairgame

        Same question Jews should ask themselves. But true introspection reveals the answer. Having said that though Popularity contest isn’t part of nation building since it is the fodder for hypocrisy and lies and playing to the gallery. Some are ‘gifted’ thus others not.

      • Jon West

        The answer to your question is really historical. Why are the Jews always at the receiving end of global pogroms, even when the events preceding these brutal acts do not really concern them? The Germans blamed them for their loss of the First World War, a real preposterous allegation, since German Jewish soldiers fought on the side of the Germans. They were also blamed for international communism, perhaps because of Karl Max, but nobody slaughtered Trosky’s and Lenins Russians for being communists. In Russia the Tsar Nicholas accused them of propping up the Bolsheviks, even though the Bolsheviks accused the Jews of being capitalist vermin. The Ukrainians, Poles, Slovaks, Czechs and othe sundry opportunists wanted them dead or expelled , in order to inherit their assets.

        Let’s fast forward to 2016/17 France and the latest answer to your question. Islamic terrorists committed mayhem at the Stade de France, Nice and other French cities and attacked Jewish synagogues, resulting in hundreds of deaths. Who do the French people attack in retaliation? The Jews!! Unbelievable isn’t it? Synagogues, Jewish cemetries and institutions were vandalized all over France, causing a massive exodus of French Jews to Israel in 2016!!

        Again, rewind to Nigeria in 1940s, 50s Kano as pogroms were committed against the Igbo for perceived insults on the North by Yorubas. Then in the 1960s ,the ultimate pogroms took place because Igbo Army officers supposedly killed the top echelon of Northerners and this led to a genocidal civil war. However in 1976, Benue/Plateau officers killed the top leadership of the Fulani military elite, but no single Benue/Plateau civilian suffered any collateral damage as the Fulanis retaliated by taking out the Benue /Plateau military elite.
        In the 1980s Maitasines religious zealots attacked Igbos in Kano in their quest to destroy other Islamic sects, but Islam has no following among the all christian and animist Igbo. Again, when a Danish artist painted a caricature of the Islamic prophet Mohammed (an act considered by moslems as blasphemy) in far away Copenhagen, the Islamic hordes of Northern Nigeria fell upon the Igbo in retaliation, even though the Igbos have nothing in common with the blonde, European Danes and no other moslem peoples accross the globe were engaged in violent protests at this blasphemy.

        In conclusion, I shall hazard a guess why these things happen to the Jews and Igbos. As an exchange student in Germany in 1975, I was surprised by a classmate who ranted that at the end of the Second World War, a Jew, passing for a Gentile, became the head of the revered Frankfurt Stock Exchange. My then 22 year old German colleague ,was livid that someone from a people that were supposed to have been exterminated, survived to become very important in German society. In France, the Rotschilds and other Jewish families survived the Holocaust, to again become the great movers of the French economy.
        In Nigeria, the Igbo have survived every attempt to physically eliminate and economically imperil their existence and have instead thrived and are the real movers of the Nigerian economy, whatever that economy is. The geriatric “Northern youths” are currently collating their immovable assets in Northern Nigeria after they lost all in 1966-1970 and thereafter.

        Like the Jew, like the Igbo, the reason for the hate, distrust etc is really simple. It is human nature to envy and want to eliminate people who refuse to obey natural laws and stay down when beaten down and held down. Can you imagine any other Nigerian ethnic group surviving the total onslaught against the Igbo or any European group surviving the slaughter of over 85% of their population in a period of only 5 years? You hate those who survive and thrive in situations, where you know that you would die and disappear in a jiffy. Hope I have provided some education for you , my dear fellow countryman.

        • onyema22ohaka

          Kpom-kwem!
          Gbam and very insightful!

        • American Abroad

          As Supreme Court justices are won’t to say, “I adopt my learned brother’s opinion, which I have read in draft, as mine”.
          I would perhaps add that introspection is not a common or particularly valued trait amongst any Nigerian tribe. I would therefore have asked my compatriot, Yemi, who I think is also fair-minded, why is it that Igbo do not often wonder why most tribes “hate” (or disparage) them, but even more profoundly, why is it that other tribes do not wonder why they (really) do not like Igbo? Nobody likes a pushy, high-octane, loud-mouthed over-achiever, as it appears a lot of Igbo are genetically predisposed to be, but to murder them at the drop of a hat? What is wrong with us??

          • Jon West

            Thank you.

        • Grelia O

          This poor chap didn’t know he was going to run into a brick wall. I doubt that he would dare engage you any further on this issue. Doing so would amount to him trying to lift the Olympus.

          We are lucky to have your take on such issues. Ndigbo have been so traumatized and badly stereotyped since 1970 by the Nigerian establishment that a lot of anti-Igbo fiction have become facts to the victorious side. I took a course in Economic Geography in the university in the 1980s. The topic was Manpower Development. During the give-and-take, I told my non-Igbo lecturer that it was wrong of the Gowon administration to have ignored the many Biafran war time scientific achievements, which would have benefited the Defense Industry Corporation (DIC?). He became furious with me and forbade me to invoke Biafra again in his class. There was nothing I could do because there was no way for me to seek redress, and that was a core course, not an elective.

          That unnecessary outburst emotionally humiliated me, a young, innocent freshman. I lost my composure and could not bring myself to cite the example of the Western Allied Forces during the last days of World War 11, who preferred to capture and control the industrial Ruhr Region of Germany for its technological and economic befits, and left Berlin for the Soviet Union forces.

          I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your effort to set the record straight. Some of us are not as knowledgeable as you and others are. It is comforting, therefore, to read your rebuttals of many of the false anti-Igbo stereotypes that the Nigerian governments have spread and ingrained in the public mind since 1970. You mean so much to us, and I want to use this opportunity to express my gratitude to you. I know I speak for many readers of Thisday.

          • Jon West

            Thank you and dont despair. The Igbos , like the Jews, have triumphed against all odds.

          • Akaraka

            I and many of my silent colleagues here, also join you in appreciation of his ambidexterity in tackling ALL the falsity against the Igbos.
            Jon West tirelessly holds fort with a lucid in-depth knowledge, verifiable facts illuminated with historical perspective. He makes it look easy, it’s not.

            We also doff our hats to unbiased American Abroad, Obinnna77, Okechukwu, Daniel Obior, Dan Franco, KWOY, mania 1 etc.

            All the Igbos want and deserve is to live and let live. To pursue without hindrance nor subjugation that God’s given right to excellence and self determination.
            There is a realignment coming to your doorstep soon and no fraudulent Constitution no paper-tiger armies of diabolical Sarah and the Dele’s will stop the march on.

        • Yemi

          The common comparison between Igbos and Jews is not very helpful in understanding the dynamics of Nigerian politics. Unlike the Jews, the Igbos are not a very distinct communal group. What many Igbos don’t realize is that because of their individualistic nature, many Nigerians do not really hate Igbos as a group. Individual Igbos are disliked by other Nigerians for the same reason that Igbos themselves do not like each other. Forget the stereotype and reflect on that last statement deeply

          • Jon West

            ‘Unlike the Jews, the Igbos are not a distinct communal group’? Really? What is your definition of communal group? For your education, the Igbo tribe is as communal a group as the Jewish tribe and there is a common Igbo language and culture, even if not religion(for reasons of colonialism).
            As for the Igbos not liking themselves, that is a Nigerian myth, borne out out fear of Igbo unity.
            These people who are supposed not to like themselves fought Nigeria U.K., Russia etc to a standstill over 33monthe and while undergoing the most atrocious suffering in human history ,and are so compact that when they control anything, entry is almost impossible for “non-believers”, hence the hatred of these “non-believers”. They also do not kill themselves or any other people, except in self defence. and are not known to be treacherous to the group without considerable sanctions.
            Their peers in the Southwest are really the most divided group and the most historically treacherous. In the North, ignorance , religion and backwardness are deployed to create a semblance of “unity”, but this unity is constantly breached by unmitigated violence on sectarian and ethnic basis.
            Please my dear person, the Igbos are the only united Nigerian ethnicity. Let the Yoruba or Hausa call for a boycott and see the response; then you will swallow your words. Kanu has shown what “the disunited” Igbo can do.

          • Tony Oshea

            Once more how did you arrive at that conclusion that ” Igbo’s themselves do not like each other”? Did you conduct a survey,with Igbo’s exclusively as your sample population? Which thesis did your obtain that warped information from, that “Igbos are not a very distinct communal group”?

        • Fairgame

          Thank you Jon West!! I don’t even read anything that Dele Awogbeogba or perhaps Dele Momodu writes because it is written purely from a tribal perspective. I wonder whether an Igbo person bested him in class because anything and anywhere he sees comments about Igbos, he rushes to make a comment and always in the negative. Even when Igbos are praised, he finds something negative to add. When a person is filled with such hate you cannot help them. You can only feel sorry for them. Please carry of Jon West. Also American Abroad!! Both of you are very balanced and objective unlike the diseased negativity from Dele. Everyone knows him now. How sad!!!

      • Tony Oshea

        Again refer to my comments above on the issue of “likeness” and trust. What is your barometer and how would you gauge the level of “likeness” or determine that an Igboman is more hated than a Yoruba man in Nigeria? There are millions of Igbo’s residing even in remote places in the north,built houses in places where you can’t find a single Yorubaman. I lived in the north for fifteen(15) year traversing Kano,Miaduguri and Bauchi,I have seen Igbo’s offered free plots of land in Bauchi state,Azare LG. I have seen a Hausaman pay an Igboman money in advance for spare parts,and when he couldn’t meet the agreed time refunded the money. What is your barometer for measuring “likeness” and trust of the Igboman,viz a viz his Yoruba counterpart?

    • sunny okocha

      Thanks for the history if only some poor souls who post hatred will learn from your unbiased post with underlying history

      • American Abroad

        Thank you. As a public commentator, I am obliged to be as factual and unbiased as humanly possible.
        As for “hatred”, it is simply a reflection of one’s sense of peace with the wider world. With understanding comes peace, and the banishment of all “hatred”. Indeed, hatred, though deplorable, is worse for the “hater”: it is like drinking poison and expecting your adversary to drop dead.

    • Tony Oshea

      So very brilliant,American abroad! Listent to this tribalist engaged in verbal gymnastics to suit his parochial tendencies. “If the selection(of army GOC)was based on VOTING,Maimalari would …Good heavens, since when did voting by junior military officers become the process of appointing GOC and COAS? Again ” because he was well liked throughout the army”.Is “likeness” ,rather than competence and seniority a criteria for promotion in any army all over the world? “Midway into the party, Brigadier Maimalari called the Battalion Commander, and to everyone’s amazement, said to the Battalion Commander: ‘You know, if I had a chance, I will shoot all these politicians with their fat stomachs!’. The above comment betrays the character and personality of Maimalari,who by my estimation and interpretation of the above statement would have wiped out a generation of politicians,if he had an opportunity. What then made Maimalari any different from other offers who took part in other coups? The coup of 1995/96 against Abacha was predominantly ochestrated and designed by officers from the SW,unfortunately for them it failed woefully. The coup of 1976 was largely executed by middle belt officers,mostly plateau indegenes,and they killed senior military officers from a section of the country.Mr writer what is the difference between the coup of 1966 and subsequent bloody coups? The coup plotters of 1976 and 1995/96 were,following established process,arraigned before military tribunals,why then did northerners “misdirect their displeasure” against the coupist,by attacking unconcerned and uninterested Igbo traders in the north? Ordinarily,General Gowon would have contained the pogrom against unconcerned,uninterested and defenseless Igbo’s residing in the north,and proceed to arrest and arraigne the coupist of 1966, if he was sincere. It was that mindset of Maimalari “being liked” by junior officers,and supposedly better candidate than Ironsi,that gave birth to mediocrity and quota system in Nigeria. Talking about likness, my Yoruba friends often refer to Igbos as being hated by Nigerians ,while Yoruba’s are sooooooooo… liked by Nigerians,as if that is a condition for success in Nigeria.My point is Yoruba’s were soooooo.. liked by Northerners who killed MKO,even though he won a legitimate election.They are so..liked by northerners who never elected Awo,with all his successes in SW.So..liked that northerners incarcerated their most decorated officers and former HOS. Sooo..liked that Chief False,a prominent SW leader is perennially attacked by hudlums and terrorist,marauding as herdsmen.So liked that a Yoruba woman,preaching one early morning was killed in Abuja by northerners.Solo..like that northerners unleashed mayhem on indegenes of Ile Ife,a few months ago. After all,it was NOT the desire of Igbo’s to cohabit with other Nigerians,neither did they give concent to the aberration created by greedy and meddlesome British. Even Britain is NOT at peace with itself,given the constant agitation by Ireland and Scotland for separate entities,therefore any “geographical expression” cobbled together by Britain will only amount to a “Tower of Babel” and a recipe for anarchy. The quedtion is NOT about 1966,but whether Nigerians want to coexist as a united country,where everybody is equally guaranteed the right to life,liberty,freedom and justice as enshrined in the constitution. Those who want to live anachronistically in 1966, are free to perpetually reside there !

  • Olisa

    Since this article is mainly about the opinions of others, here are two interesting opinion posted on saharareporters in 2014. What do you think?

    “Brig Maimalari was a fine soldier, but was instrumental in fueling the lawlessness in the West, the situation that triggered the Nzeogwu coup in the first place. He provided security to Chief S. L. Akintola who was an ally to Ahmadu Bello and Awo’s political adversary. Awusa had Akintola’s full backing to put Awo away in jail.
    Maimalari provided training and weapons for Chief Akintola’s thugs /militia at the behest of Ahmadu Bello. All the casualty of that coup were Awo’s adversaries. Chief Awo was behind the Nzeogwu coup, but for reasons of convenience, Nigerians choose to be in denial of that fact. Maimalari was one of the names penciled down by Awo for elimination. –Garden-City Boy”

    ” Maimalari was one of the people that destroyed the professionalism of Nigeria army,the decay was made possible by Ahmadu Bello who asked people like this Maimalari to rapidly increase recruitment of people of northern Nigeria extraction into the army so that they will have the majority,this they carried out tenaciously by recruiting all sorts of urchins and almajiri and for this,they were seen as unpatriotic citizens. –Rommel”

    • the masked one

      In fact two coups were in the offing ever before the January 15 1966. One scheduled to be spearheaded in Niger Delta by Isaac Boro who was ‘supplied with funds for the purpose’. Simultaneously, another units officered by Northerners were to carry out a ‘ruthless blitz’ against the opposition (that is, UPGA) elements in Western region.
      The aims of the two-pronged coups are:
      1. Offer the Prime Minister opportunity to declare a state of emergency in the East.
      2. Reinforce Akintola as the Premier in the West.
      This will give Sarduana of Sokoto’s NNA party the supreme commander of Nigeria.

      For starters, after the arrest of Awolowo, Zik’s NCNC formed alliance with a faction of Adegbenro’s AG(loyal to Awolowo) to form UPGA. While Akintola’s UPP( a faction of AG) aligned with NPC to form NNA.

      So, in reality “Two coups were probably brewing during the first fortnight of 1966. The evidence for the one that did not occur is largely circumstantial; but subsequent assertions that the coup of 15 January baulked another coup scheduled for 17 January are certainly very plausible”.
      Can Maimalari claim ignorance of all these?

      The point is, the North was uncomfortable with the arrangement that gave birth to the independence, hence, their attempt to include secession and referendum in the constitution.

      The only way the North felt they can lay stranglehold on power was through military coups. In jettisoning NPC alliance with Zik’s NCNC Ahmadu Bello said “the Igbos have never been true friends of North and will never be”.

      Trace the origin of the crisis in the West region, the AG split, to the meddlesomeness of Sarduana and Maimalari. It wouldn’t have been out of place that both men were the targets of January 15 1966 coup!

      • KlasJ

        It wasn’t the north that wanted to include right of secession and referendum in the constitution.

        That right was one of the two principal proposals brought by Awolowo led Action Group on behalf of western region to 1953 constitutional conference.

        The second proposal which was about the status of (the federal side of) Lagos was shot down by the colonial Secretary of State at the 1953 London conference while the proposal about secession was deferred to 1954.

        At the reconvened 1954 conference in Lagos, The NCNC led by Azikiwe on behalf of eastern region made a convincing case against granting secession rights to regions. The NPC of the north led by Sardauna supported Azikiwe’s position and thus with two regions against one, the right of secession was disapproved.

      • Mazi JO

        Right! You forgot why the Prime Minister was reluctant to marshal the Federal Troops to quell the Western crisis. The duo(Premier and the Brigadier) in analytic judgment may have been responsible not the veritable Balewa. The ill-equipped police emergency action in that disturbance laid the ground works for the blown out agitation. But my brother, there are a lot of blames to go around. We have to leave the whole period to history. We must move on.

        • the masked one

          In this season of victimhood there are compelling reason to put some of the records right. Balewa took orders from Ahmadu Bello.

      • Olisa

        Your submission is shocking yet enlightening. Thanks for the response.

  • nothingdoyou

    TODAY IN HISTORY: The first shots of the Nigerian civil war were fired
    in 1967. Only 6th July 1967 in Gakem, a town in Bekwarra Local
    Government Area of Cross River state, troops from the Nigerian Army’s
    1st Division led by Major Mohammed Shuwa at about 5.30 am launched an
    artillery shell aimed at the Biafran soldiers camped around the hill in
    the town.
    The Commanders-in-Chief on both sides were young men in the strictest sense of the word.They were in their early 30’s. On
    the federal side was the straight-talking Yakubu Gowon, a teetotaler
    and on the Biafran side was the chain-smoking demagogue, Chukwuemeka
    Odumegwu-Ojukwu.
    One million dead later, our people waded through the debris to pick up
    their lives. The rebel leader fled into exile in the last flight from
    the Biafran enclave, not forgetting to ferry his official Mercedes-Benz
    with him.
    Unfortunately, the Nigerian civil war is simply too
    divisive a matter to be debated rationally. It simply evokes too much
    emotions. If you look at all our other national crises – Boko Haram,
    Niger Delta, etc, there is more or less a consensus but when it comes to
    the Civil War, we simply cannot agree despite the fact that there are
    multiplicity of books on the upheaval written by the active participants
    in the war which could be likened to the ” The PARABLE OF THE BLIND MEN
    AND AN ELEPHANT” which originated in ancient Indian subcontinent.
    A group of blind men heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had
    been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and
    form. Out of curiosity, they said: “We must inspect and know it by
    touch, of which we are capable”. So, they sought it out, and when they
    found it they groped about it. In the case of the first person, whose
    hand landed on the trunk, said “This being is like a thick snake”. For
    another one whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As
    for another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, the elephant is a
    pillar like a tree-trunk. The blind man who placed his hand upon its
    side said, “elephant is a wall”. Another who felt its tail, described it
    as a rope. The last felt its tusk, stating the elephant is that which
    is hard, smooth and like a spear.They come to suspect that the other
    person is dishonest and they come to blows. The moral of the parable is
    that humans have a tendency to project their partial experiences as the
    whole truth, ignore other people’s partial experiences, and one should
    consider that one may be partially right and may have partial
    information.

    • Don Franco

      You have demonstrated your own partiality and inexperience with life by referring to genocidaire Gowon as straight-talking teetotaler, but to Dim Ojukwu as a demagogue… then you wonder why we’re diametrically so opposed and hateful of each other in this Lugardian zoo.

      • Grelia O

        He didn’t write it, he lifted it from a biased article published several weeks ago.

        • Don Franco

          Dear Grelia O,

          Oh, no wonder… l see.

  • Sarah

    The best way to avoid an even bloodier chain of uncontrollable events at this stage is for all agitators and reactionaries to adhere to our Constitution in seeking redress for any grievances.
    The scars of Jan 1966 are indeed too deep to forget or heal. As a Yoruba I can NEVER forgive and forget the murder of Akintola by Igbo officers and Okpara, Igbo premier of eastern region facilitating their escape. Please refer to Dr Nowa Omoigui’s factual account (available online).
    We are where we are now. The Constitution is the only thing preventing a descent into outright war as we speak.

    • Daniel Obior

      Unfortunately, your constitution can never lead you to the promised land because it is a fraud. It is a part of the present problem. Can you see? It is a constitution delivered by the same military overwhelmingly acknowledged as the creator of the problems.

      • Sarah

        There is a route for constitutional amendment. Cumbersome as it may be, it is the only alternative to WAR.

        • Daniel Obior

          Thank God you realise also. Until a people’s constitution is available, don’t pin your hopes on delivering a better Nigeria based on a fraudulent constitution. That is my point.

        • Netanyahu

          What is this nonsense about war, war? Who is fighting who? Are you Yorubas fighting Ibos? For what? The Urobho, Ijaw, Efik, Ibibio, Tiv yorubas cannot claim to have any reason to fight the Ibo. So what is all this nonsense about war. Are Ibos the only people seeking self-determination worldwide? Why don’t the government conduct a simple referendum on this and other issues affecting the country instead of beating the drums of war. This is becoming crazy and irritating.

          • Sarah

            Referendums on secession are NOT allowed under our constitution, a document that Nigeria shall remain one united indissoluble federation. That document also sets up an Army to ensure the federation is protected from internal and external threats. Those seeking to be out of Nigeria should seek to amend the Constitution as a first step.
            If they adopt self help, the Army will be use against them as last resort. At that point Yoruba will mostly align with the Army against unconstitutional secessionists.

      • onyema22ohaka

        It is clear that both dele and sarah are one and the same person spewing their usual afonja reprobatic idiocy.

        Disregard the gibberish!

    • Don Franco

      Dear Sarah,

      You conveniently forget that the crisis in the western house was responsible for the precipitation of the unfortunate events of January 15th, carried to to install Chief Awolowo as president. Surely you’re aware that Ahmadu Bello had instructed Maimalari to invade Lagos in that week. Nobody needs your forgiveness or the healing of your self-inflicted hatred, for whether you know it or not; NOT one single Igbo person feels sorry or responsible for the coup and counter coup; nor should we.
      Secession for Biafrans and restructuring for those who still want to remain in this Lugardian zoo seems to be the only options left.

      • benedict chindi

        “Surely you’re aware that Ahmadu Bello had instructed Maimalari to invade Lagos in that week….”

        Lagos was not the capital of the old western region, any invasion of it would have been a coup on the central govt. I’m sure you mean Ibadan.

        • Don Franco

          Indeed, you’re right, but l was referring to the distemper of the time; and hottest flash points of operation wetie…

      • Sarah

        The facts of what actually happened are in contrast to the Biafran tales you and your ilk have been fed.
        We (Yoruba and Hausa/Fulani) have already extracted a painful penance from Igbos (1million Igbo deaths, Isolation and starvation, invasion and decimation of Igbo heartlands, humiliating surrender, your supreme leader Ojukwu fled with his tail between his legs).
        We are prepared to inflict even more severe punishment on Igbo should you violate our CONSTITUTION by following your new supreme leader, Kanu, down the same route as your old supreme leader, Ojukwu.
        The choice is for Igbos to make.

        • Don Franco

          Dear Sarah,

          At some point it will become clear to you that no entity has the monopoly on violence, as Boko Haram has ably demonstrated to the consternation of the armed forces. I make bold to say that despite and inspite your penance, the Igbos still boast the highest economic development index in Lugard’s zoo. I’m forever reminded of this fact everytime your children, juvenile, adults and old and infirm accost me to beg for alms on daily basis . ..oh death where’s your sting; grave where’s your victory?
          Unlike in the past, according to Odumakin, the consensus of opinion now is that nobody is prepared to take up arms to enforce a failing banana republic; but should your agitation for the war option become unbearable, action may become the only remedy; we’ll meet you at the gates, and see how you will survive two civil wars.

          • Dele Awogbeoba

            We have survived 2 civil wars. Biafra was the first. Boko Haram was the second. The second lasted longer and was with a more ruthless and better motivated rebel force. If a third does come, then Nigeria will be ready for that fight. Odumakin does not speak for the Yoruba and neither can he win a single elective seat in any part of Yoruba land.

          • Don Franco

            Dear Dele,

            You haven’t said anything. .

          • onyema22ohaka

            Both dele and sarah are one and the same person spewing their usual afonja reprobatic idiocy.

            Disregard the gibberish!

          • Don Franco

            Dear Onyema22ohaka,

            I agree with the second part of your statement; but I’m not so sure of the first part…the former is beyond redemption, and the later has a scintilla of redemptive quality. A daughter of perdition and a son of reprobate spirit.

          • onyema22ohaka

            The difference I have noticed between the two over the time I followed them is one between twelve and a dozen.

          • Netanyahu

            Just don’t respond to his comments. After a while he disappears. Just ignore, you hear? With his hatred for Ibos, I thought he would be the spokesperson for the arewa yoots to get Ibos out of Nigeria as quickly as possible.

          • Sarah

            Defeated sides to a war are allowed to create all sorts of narratives to suppress the reality of the abiding pain.
            I will not deny Igbos that much right.

          • Don Franco

            Dear Sarah,

            That’s indeed the case as the economic realities of defeated Germany, Japan and South Korea has amply demonstrated.

        • Naija United

          Do you know how many Yoruba and Housa people that perished in the battle or you think only igbos died. Go and eat your amala if you dont have better things to say than to spread hate. Who needs your forgiveness if i may ask?

        • benedict chindi

          I guess one has to live with the risks when one come on this board to read different view points and once in while contribute to important national issues, that sometimes one will encounter people like you.

          You are a poor excuse for a human being, and may God have mercy on miserable soul.

        • Fairgame

          If you views weren’t so dangerous I would have found them hilarious. God has a means and way of exacting justice. Your view doesn’t matter in that regard. 6 million Jews fell at the hands of someone that sounded like you whose name was Hitler but well look at the nation of Israel today. Supposed victory in way isn’t always a sign of whose side God is on. So One only needs to look at who the most illiterate , most poverty stricken and most diseased region in Nigeria is and will continue to be for sometime to know that there is the God who loves justice. Keep hanging on to power at the center and keep your diseases and illiteracy and poverty of thought and life.

      • remm ieet

        Which one should come first, secession or restructuring? I think it is better to restructure first. Perhaps secession won’t be necessary at that point.

        • Don Franco

          Dear Remm,

          Restructuring can include a Referendum for secession, for l don’t see majority of the Igbo being satisfied with any option that’s less than living in a republic that guarantees Christ, Liberty, Justice and self determination.

          • remm ieet

            Dear Don Franco,

            No doubt, the referendum will end up in secession. Secession after restructuring is like saying I will shoot myself (Biafra) in the head, and then shoot you (Nigeria) in the foot. Nobody wins for sure.

    • Cheta God

      Will you forget that TY Danjuma killed Adekunle Fajuyi and his supreme commander?

      • share Idea

        He will not answer that…lol

      • Sarah

        Fajuyi was collateral damage. The significant body of senior Army officers of Yoruba origin clearly understood who the enemy was and accordingly aligned with the friend.

        • Naija United

          friends that jailed your Awolowo at calabar until Igbo man released him. Friends that killed your Abiola and disgraced Diya out of office. Shut up and perish with your hate

  • John Paul

    We cannot get stuck in the past

    After the 1966 botched revolution, the 1966 pogrom against Igbo, the 1967 to 1970 civil war, Gowon’s administration, Murtala Mohammed’s assassination, OBJ’s first term in office, NPN’s looting, GMB’s war against indiscipline, IBB’s institutionalization of corruption and the June 12 fiasco, Nigeria arrived at the fourth republic

    On the 29th of May, 1999, OBJ acknowledged that corruption was Nigeria’s Achilles heel, during that OBJ’s – “there will be no sacred cow” – speech. OBJ followed words with action by establishing the ICPC in 2000 and the EFCC in 2003

    The establishment of the EFCC in 2003 was the red line

    Before 2003, public officials could plead ignorance to how their looting was stunting the development of Nigeria. But after EFCC was established in 2003, notice had been served that Nigerians wanted to bring to an end to the monster that had held us back for so long

    But many politicians pretend that they did not get the memo.

    They kept on plundering our resources, which caused infrastructural decay, societal decay, a high infant mortality rate, a high maternal mortality rate, a poor healthcare system, a poor education system, a high unemployment rate, low motivation among our youth, armed robbery, kidnapping, Boko Haram and the second coming of Biafra

    The French revolution of 1789 made France and the West a better place. The Russian revolution of 1917 made Russia a better place. The Ghanian revolution of 1979 made Ghana a better place. Nzeogwu’s revolution failed

    So our change will come through an evolutionary process. After multiple election circles. And Nigerians paid the first installment in 2015, by bringing about regime change

    • Daniel Obior

      But this your so called first installment in 2015 is a big failure and a dud!