- They stood for true federalism and regional autonomy
Reform, a demand for federating units that can truly self-administer like in the days of our founding fathers
- Abrogation of the federal system led to counter-coup
By Ademola Babalola in Ibadan and Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
The General Overseer of the Latter Rain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare yesterday stated that Northern elders opposed to the call for the restructuring of Nigeria have deviated from the ideals of the founding fathers of Northern Nigeria.
Bakare spoke yesterday at the International Conference Centre of the University of Ibadan (UI), at one of the ven- ues for the 50-year memorial of a former military governor of the defunct Western Province of Nigeria, Lt. Col Adekunle Fajuyi, who was murdered in a counter-coup on July 29, 1966, along with the visiting Head of State, Major Gen Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi.
He said the likes of the late Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello and former Prime Minister, late Tafawa Balewa were true nationalists who, throughout their sojourn, stood for true federalism with regional autonomy.
The great Nigerian leaders from the North, he said, made it clear in series of constitu- tional conferences that heralded Nigeria’s independence that true federalism with regional autonomy was the only condi- tion under which they would exist within a Nigerian nation.
To this end, he bemoaned the position of some elders from Northern Nigeria that are opposing the restructuring of the country, saying such posture would bring to the courts of historical opinion the sincerity of the motives of the perpetra- tors of the counter-coup that led to the death of Adekunle Fajuyi.
“Need we remind those in opposition to restructuring today that one of the main grouses of Nigerians of northern extraction within the army and civil society after the first coup was the abrogation of the federal system by the Aguiyi-Ironsi led government?
“This, without doubt, was the main reason the northern lead- ers and the counter-coupists, who took the lives of Aguiyi- Ironsi and Fajuyi demanded a reversal of the unification decree and a return to the federal system of government.
“Consequently, to oppose restructuring now, 50 years after, is to confirm the words of Aesop that ‘the injury we do and the one we suffer are not
weighed in the same scales.’ “In case it is not clearly understood by the antagonists of restructuring, whether they be from the North or the South, let me make it clear that the call for restructuring is a demand for true federalism; a demand for federating units that can truly self-administer like the regions like in the days of our founding fathers, a demand for the prosperity of the constituent parts that make up the whole. “It is therefore inconsistent with the interest of the North or the South for the current pseudo-federal structure to persist. If the elders of the North are true elders in this generation, I charge them with the words of the wisest king who ever lived: Do not remove the ancient landmark which
your fathers have set.”
The UI version of the golden remembrance lecture, entitled: “Fajuyi and the Politics of Re- membrance,” was organised by the Yoruba Think-Tank. Another lecture was held in Fajuyi’s honour at the Nigeria Union of Journalists Press Centre, Iyaganku Ibadan under the auspices of the Alhaji Wale Adele-led League of Veteran
The guests present included
the family of the late gallant officer, Donald Fajuyi, repre- sentatives of State Governors, Diplomats, military personnel and politicians.
Bakare said Sir Ahmadu Bello and Sir Tafawa Balewa were forerunners of Fajuyi in the Nigerian hall of martyrdom,
but expressed regret that Fajuyi, a national hero with blood of ‘Omoluabiism’, remained unsung in the nation’s body politic.
In the lecture, Professor Niyi Osundare noted that a country would be known by the kind of people it remembers and by the kind of people it chooses not to remember, adding: “Show me your hero and I will tell you who you are. Because in Nigeria, our memory is so scanty and skewed, we do not only remember differently much more frightfully, we remember defectively.”
He argued that the federal government sanctioned the gross devaluation of worth or integrity “by the way it doles out its national honours to recipients, some of whom are notorious treasury looters, election riggers and so on.”
A four-point communiqué, issued at the end of the programme, urged state governments to restore the teaching of History in primary and secondary schools in the South-West, adding that government should conduct regional examinations, and issue certificates to the students.
“Yoruba Language should be a compulsory subject in our schools, and our Houses of Assembly should use it, as is now done in the Lagos State House of Assembly,” the communiqué read in part.
At Ironsi’s 50th memorial in Abia State, Nigerians urged to imbibe patriotic virtues…
Eulogies also poured in yesterday for Ironsi in Abia State, with calls on Nigerians to imbibe patriotism, love and unity that characterised the life of the fallen hero.
The memorial mass held at St Finbars Catholic Church Umuahia attracted notable personalities who came to pay tributes and honour the man that was a symbol of unity that has become elusive in Nigeria of today.
Wife of the president, Hajia Aisha Buhari described Ironsi as “a great patriot and a soldier’s soldier, adding from all indications, he stood for everything good about Nigeria in the beginning.”
The First Lady, who was represented by the wife of Anambra State governor, Mrs. Ebere Obiano, noted that the first military head of state worked for the unity of the nation, hence what he stood for should be emulated for the good of the nation.
“From all indications he stood for one Nigeria. We appreciate and support the ideals he lived and died for,” she said.
Mrs. Buhari also commended Lady Victoria Ironsi, the widow of the late head of state for holding forth for half a century after the death of her husband, adding that Mrs. Ironsi has shown commitment, courage and selfless service.
Abia State governor, Dr Vic- tor Okezie Ikpeazu, who was represented by his wife, Nkechi said that Ironsi lived and died for the unity of Nigeria and “represented everything good about Nigeria in the beginning”.
Ikpeazu urged Nigerians to imbibe the virtue of hard work, patriotism and love for our fellow men.
The Nigerian Army, which Ironsi was at its helm of affairs and pioneered every rank from captain to general was fully represented at the memorial ceremony with the Chief of De- fence Staff (CDS), Major General Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin pointing out the good virtues of the late Supreme Commander.
The CDS, who was repre- sented by Maj Gen Edward Nze, stated that the event that led to the death of Ironsi was due to the actions or inactions of past leaders, adding that it is still having effect on the nation.
He therefore advised that the present crop of leaders should also be wary of their actions or inactions and consider the impact of future generations.
The first son of the late head of state, Ambassador Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi, in his remarks profusely praised the late Col Adekunle Fajuyi, the then military governor of defunct Western Region, who died with his father, who was his guest. “Lt Col Fajuyi was a great man. He became a sacrificial lamb and followed the head of state to death,” he said, adding, “We salute the entire Fajuyi family and urge them to keep the flag flying”.
Earlier in his homily at the memorial mass, Rev Fr Aloysius Nwabeke noted that 50 years have gone since the assassination of Ironsi yet nationhood is still elusive, adding that the only people that really believe in Nigeria are those not benefitting from the inequitable system.
According to him, Ironsi was “a champion of unity, who gave his life for his country and yet is not remembered by his country”.
He said that overwhelming majority of the Nigeria’s popu- lation still wallow in poverty while corruption thrives in spite of the numerous churches in Nigeria as people worship and praise money instead of worshipping God in spirit and in truth.
Highlight of the event was the blessing of Ironsi’s tomb by the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia Diocese, Most Rev Lucius Ugorji followed by laying of wreaths by wife of President Buhari, (represented by Mrs. Obiano), Mrs. Ikpeazu, the CDS, and Nigerian Legion representative.