Former head of state, Yakubu Gowon, was gifted with opportunity for atonement when he recently appeared on AIT’s People, Politics and Power programme. Unfortunately, the man, who wanted to ‘go on with one Nigeria’ (Gowon), flunked the grace of history.
Perhaps, the greatest take-away was Gowon’s inadvertent exoneration of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu. He had actually set out to vilify the venerable Biafra leader by heaping inordinate falsehood on the dead, who can no longer defend himself.
Gowon claimed he went to Ghana for the famed Aburi Accord unprepared. That, according to him, accounted for why highly cerebral Ojukwu bamboozled all of them and wringed the concessions he got. He added that secession was not on the card in Ghana and, of course, it couldn’t have been. It was not on Ojukwu’s agenda either. However, secession crept into the matter when the pogrom against the Igbo in the North continued unabated and Gowon, admittedly, could not halt it. According to Gowon and rightly so, the Igbo saw Biafra as the only hope for safety and freedom.
One curious thing about Gowon’s weird claims was the agreement that nobody should talk about decisions reached in Aburi back home until he did. Strangely, Gowon claimed he was struck down by fever and could not tell Nigerians what was agreed at Aburi. Nobody knows why Gowon must speak directly when he could easily delegate the job to government officials or issue a statement, assuming he was truly indisposed. It was his devious silence and continued killing of the Igbo that compelled Ojukwu to speak out. Immediately Gowon became aware of Ojukwu’s ‘lies’, his fever disappeared and he led the most sweltering policy against a people in Africa. His attempt to rewrite history failed woefully but awaiting the judgment of time.
I don’t think Gowon has recovered from that strange fever. In fact, he may never recover under the circumstance if he, the man leading Nigeria to pray, could miss the opportunity to set records straight and lead us into a new light of love, unity and greatness. Nigeria has remained dry sand that refuses to stick together in one heap because of activities of Gowon and his co-travelers.
He told the world that the military was not involved in the Igbo massacre up North. Did it matter who was involved? What mattered was that genocide was going on but Gowon’s government gave tacit approval by failing to nip it. He merely said killing Igbo was ungodly but couldn’t he have declared state of emergency in the North to stem the killing instead of taking steps that further aggravated the situation by alienating and infuriating an already suspicious people? If the exasperated they saw Biafra as escape route from extinction, why blame them?
However, Gowon, who very well understood that Biafra was survivalist quest callously supervised the worst massacre in Nigeria’s history, foisting a civil war with its obnoxious blockade and starvation policy, as weapon of warfare spearheaded by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. God has graciously allowed Gowon to outlive Awolowo and Ojukwu but it is a tragic testimony that he remains remorseless despite his grand old age of 83 years. Some leader, this! And to think that he flaunts assumed credential of a pious Christian, leading Nigeria to pray points to end-time prophecy of fakery in the house of God.
Gowon’s multi-speak is baffling. I would not call him a liar but he owes history explanation ofa duty to explain inconsistencies in his account of what transpired before, during and after the Aburi Accord, which he reneged and plunged Nigeria into gross darkness that consumed three million lives, especially Igbo children and women. There are documentary evidences that his account of the sad episode keeps changing like shifting sand. He wants us to believe that he fought the war to keep Nigeria one and not preserve his blood-soaked ‘throne’ as was self-evident. If indeed keeping Nigeria united was his goal, how come then his no victor, no vanquished policy to achieve same was spurious? His touted three ‘Rs’ – reconciliation, reconstruction and reintegration – was for mere political correctness, as the Igbo were neither reconciled to Nigeria nor reintegrated. Today, they are reconstructing North East that destroyed itself but nobody has reconstructed South East that Nigeria destroyed and the region remains derelict except for self-efforts.
Gowon should tell the world if he succeeded in keeping Nigeria united. He laid foundation for bleeding the Igbo, a path succeeding governments have religiously trodden. He balkanised the land and superintended over the crushing of the Igbo but unfortunately for him and gloating Nigeria, Biafra, like an abiku, no dey die easy.
Today, Nigeria has lost sleep because of strident cries of the people over marginalisation, which has given rise to Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, Independent People of Biafra, IPOB, and others. Other afflicted sections of the country, reeling under the weight of hegemony of Hausa Fulani have joined the fray. The Yoruba is clamouring to go solo under Odua Republic; the Niger Delta is ever on the boil and has brought Nigeria to its knees, proposing five separate republics instead. The Middle Belt has debunked the myth of ‘One North’ and has asserted its separate identity. All these clearly point to failure of Gowon’s touted drive to save the monolith.
Of course, Nigeria must be saved but not just by prayer, as my elder and brother in the Lord, Gowon purposes. It is doubtful if those that attend his prayer meetings are not praying amiss. He that comes to equity (God) must come with clean hands. Gowon’s hands are stained with blood and he cannot be raising them up, praying to a holy God. I don’t know how God reacts to him but commonsense dictates that he should purge his heart of its blackness so that he can have clearer view of heaven.
The blood of Abel (Ndigbo) still cries from the ground many years after it was spilled by Cain (Gowon and Nigeria), prancing about in magisterial impudence. When God heeded the cry for vengeance, it hit Cain so hard but his lamentations did not save him. Soon, that too may be the lot of Nigeria and her unconscionable leaders; unless….