In paragraph 11 of Omatseye’s write up, he alleged that Hassan Usman Katsina, the then Northern Region Governor was an instigator of Northern Region; what was his description of the Igbos that were both overt and covert instigators of the first coup of January 15, 1966, that ushered in open ethnic discrimination that has engulfed Nigeria till date?
All hope is not lost. There are still honest elder statesmen within the South-South and Niger Delta Region respectively. Those who have sad evergreen memory of the civil war have spoken to those who are presently under-50 years. The former governor of Akwa Ibom, Victor Atta, has said it all. He described Biafra agitators, especially, The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), led by Nnamdi Kanu as “misguided elements”, even as he reminded them that their dream died with the instrument of surrender handed to the Nigerian government in January 1970.
I support Governor Victor Atta with the surrender document here attached for those misguided youth to see. This is in reference to Saturday Sun newspaper publication of Saturday, July 30, 2016, page 44 entitled, “BIAFRA: IPOB IS A MISGUIDED GROUP” – Victor Atta.
As a living witness of the first coup of January 15, 1966, a reporter to the Nigerian Citizen newspaper, Kaduna, between 1964-1966, a war correspondent, and a colleague of another war correspondent killed in 1968 at the warfront, Late Mallam Dambua of the New Nigerian newspaper, I make this rejoinder to the Daily Trust of Sunday, August 7, 2016, September 4, 2016, page 52, and series to September 4, 2016, and attest to the whole facts contained in the publication of British secret files on Nigeria’s first bloody coup-path to Biafra.
Haven gone through all the publications in the print media about the coup and counter coup, the summary boils down to greed, over ambition and penchant to dominate as exhibited by the Igbos.
If you go through the statistics of all the participants of the coup of January 15, 1966, from Northern Regional axis (Kaduna) to Southern axis, (Lagos/Ibadan) respectively, the dominant tribes were Igbos. The Igbos dominated the Federal Civil Service and Nigerian Army officer corps; thus proving that if not for selfish reasons and domineering tendency there would not have been any reason for the coupists to concentrate on Northerners and their allies during the first coup of 1966?
Corruption was one of the basis of the coup, but alas, the Lagos axis leader of the coupists, Major Ifeajuna, was found wanting for embezzling soldiers’ unit money but was sympathetically exonerated by Maimalari who Major Ifeajuna eventually killed.
One can also query why the visibly corrupt Mbadiwe was not killed? It is on record how Mbadiwe corruptly enriched himself. According to the unchallengeable records of the British secret files on Nigeria’s first bloody coup, Path to Biafra, volume 4, published by Daily Trust of 28/08/2016, pages 53 paragraph 7, it was written thus.
Why was Sir Tafawa Balewa (meaning Black Rock) so powerless an agent of change in the face of his colleagues’ corruption extremism? Why wasn’t there enough of him to go around? In February 1964, for instance, the NCNC Parliamentary leader and Minister of Trade Dr. Ozumba Mbadiwe, was caught using his office to divert a government land at Ijora Causeway to his private company, Afro Properties and Investment Company, since 1961. He then assigned the land lease to Niger Pool in return for a hefty annual profit. The discovery generated another media exposed corruption scandal. Abubakar met privately with Babatunde Jose, the editor of the powerful Daily Times, spearheading the intense campaign to remove the corruption extremist if he declined to resign. Mbadiwe never bothered. There were those who were attracted by the durability of rock. They wished to be massive and unmovable. They wished not to change.
Abubakar told the editor: “You want me to remove this man? What he did fell below what is proper. Under British standards, he would go, but the NCNC which put him in my original coalition are solidly for him. Its central working committee had just passed a unanimous vote of confidence in him. If they withdraw, since Awolowo can’t join, the (coalition) government will collapse.”
Hence, Abubakar made peace with being a little rock thrown to the bottom of a polluted river; the polluted water washed over him all the time but never penetrated him. On December 19, 1965, he even attended the commissioning of the Mbadiwe’s Palace of people constructed with the proceeds of corrupt practices in the village of Arondizuogu. But on the night of the Revolution, it was Abubakar that Ifeajuna arrested and marched on to his eventual death while Mbadiwe kept on sleeping at home undisturbed by bedbugs. He lived happily ever after.
If there was no ulterior motive laced with ethnicity, greed and bias, where were Dr Azikiwe and Aguiyi Ironsi, one of who was at the court tail party for officers on the eve of the coup. Also, why were Chief Michael Opara and other Igbo officers of senior rank in the Nigerian Army not killed? If Ironsi is not aware of the coup, why was he left untouched by the coupists?
Finally, while it is necessary to recall past events for purpose of record/correction, it should be done using undistorted facts/figures. It is also instructive that we live in harmony as one. We must shun greed, selfishness, dominance and hate.
This is where the principle of Federal Character comes in; it must be strictly adhered to in our body polity.
– Adoke wrote in from Adavi, Kogi State.