Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

Nnamdi Ebo | NewsBlog

In my NewsBlog Nnamdi Ebo, I provide perspectives on news, events and analysis of unique stories, and I also offer original content, articles and photos; with contributions from some of the best minds.

 

ON ABURI WE STAND | Part 3.

IMPLEMENTATION OF ABURI AGREEMENTS.

  1. The Military Government of Eastern Nigeria was represented at the meeting of the Solicitors-General held in Benin on 14 and 15 January. (For the Report of the Law Officers see Appendix III). The Eastern delegation received full briefing in the light of the Aburi decisions to which its views strictly adhered. Since some other delegations had not been fully briefed it became necessary to refer a number of issues back to the Supreme Military Council. One of the most important was section 69 of the Nigerian Constitution in respect of which the Report of the Law Officers’ meeting reads —
Photo above: Lt. Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu | Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria | 1966.

“As regards the powers of the Federal Military Government vis-a-vis the Regional Government, all the Law Officers, excepting those from the East, are of the view that effect would be fully given to the Accra decision in this regard by repealing section 3 of Decree No. 1 and restoring the provisions of the suspended section 69 with necessary modifications whereby the Federal Military Government will now have power to make Decrees to the following extent:

(a) With respect to the Federal Territory of Lagos, on any matter whatever;

(b) With respect to the whole of Nigeria, or any part thereof (other than Lagos), on
matters included in the Exclusive Legislative List and the Concurrent Legislative List; provided that where there is an inconsistency between a Federal Decree on a Concurrent matter and a Regional Edict on the same matter, the Federal Decree will prevail.

“Under this arrangement the Military Governors will have no power to make Edicts on matters on the Exclusive Legislative List but will have powers to make Edicts on matters in the Concurrent Legislative List and on residual matters.”

“The view of the Eastern Law Officers is that the introduction of the element of Regional consent in Federal legislation must necessarily modify the position as it was before 17 January in the sense that there will be a lacuna in the legislative activities of both the Supreme Military Council and the Regions where consent is not given. It appears, therefore, to be the intention of the Accra decision that such a lacuna should be filled by the Regions. With respect to matters on the Concurrent Legislative List, it is their view that the Regions can legislate in relation to Federal Law.”

  1. The views of the Eastern Nigerian Law Officers quoted above from the Solicitors-General Report clearly reflect the spirit and letter of the Aburi decision on this matter. One of the main areas of friction between the Regions and the Central Government during the last civilian regime concerns the exercise of powers over matters on the Concurrent List. The controversial issue was the provision whereby a law passed by the Federal Government superseded any other law passed by a Regional Government on the same subject. This problem was fully recognized by most delegations to the meeting of the Ad Hoc Constitutional Conference in Lagos in September, 1966. It was the objective of the Aburi meeting to eliminate such sources of friction, hence the decision that “the legislative and executive authority of the Federal Military Government should remain in the Supreme Military Council (not in one man) to which any decision affecting the whole country (whether on the Exclusive or Concurrent List) shall be referred for determination provided that where it is not possible for a meeting to be held the matter requiring determination must be referred to Military Governors for their comment and concurrence.” There can be no doubt that this modified the position before 17 January, 1966, when the Military Regime took over, and that it provides a new governmental arrangement needed for Nigeria “in view of what the country has experienced in the past year (1966).”
  2. Since the receipt of the Report of the Law Officers by the members of the Supreme Military Council, the Military Governor of Western Nigeria has vindicated the stand of the Eastern Nigerian Law Officers as regards section 69. He commented—

“In the light of what has been stated at pages two to three of the Report, it is considered that only the Supreme Military Council should have power to make laws on matters on the Exclusive Legislative List. As regards matters on the Concurrent Legislative List, it is felt that the exercise of powers concurrently by the Supreme Military Council and the Military Governors of the Regions with respect to the same subjects could lead to conflict or friction of a type which ought to be avoided under the present Military Regime. It seems that one sure way to avoid such conflict or friction would be by making new provisions whereby the Supreme Military Council will have power to make laws on matters on the Concurrent Legislative List in respect of Lagos only whilst the Military Governors will have power to make laws by Edict on those matters in respect of their Regions.”

  1. The Law Officers held divergent views on such questions as the machinery for the meetings of the Supreme Military Council and the manner in which the concurrence of the Military Governors, as members of the Council, should be signified in the making of Decrees. On these questions the Military Governor, West, has again vindicated the stand of the East when he commented as follows:

“(a)…a meeting of the Supreme Military Council will be properly constituted and can properly be held if any Military Governor isabsent, but as agreed at Accra, any Military Governor not present will be given the opportunity to express his comments on, and concurrence with, the decisions taken in his absencebefore they are implemented.

(b) Where all the Military Governors are present at a meeting of the Supreme Military Council decisions should now be taken only with the concurrence or unanimity of all the Military Governors. Decisions by majority would have been the best thing in ordinary circumstances but in the present situation in the country, one has to admit that such a rule could lead to open disagreements and conflicts and so to the revival of tension which everything must be done now to reduce.”

27.Again, the Eastern Military Government readily sent representatives to the meeting of the Committee of Army Officers at Benin which, as was agreed at Aburi, would discuss matters relating to the quantity of arms and ammunition available in each Unit of the Army in each Region and in the unallocated stores, as well as the sharing out of such arms equitably to the various Commands. The Committee – -could not progress with its work for lack of co-operation from the representatives of Lt.-Col.Gowon.

  1. While the Military Government of Eastern Nigeria has been making a determined and sincere effort to act according to the spirit and decisions of Aburi, Lt.-Col. Gowon has deliberately set out to ignore both. Ten days after the Aburi meeting, the Gowon Government issued a booklet, entitled Nigeria 1966, parts of which attacked and libelled
    the Military Governor of the East. The booklet also contained tendentious statements the sole aim of which could only be to inflame passions and cause disaffection within the country. This booklet was launched in New York, London and other capitals of the world.
  2. Worse still, three weeks after the meeting, at a press conference which he held on 26 January, 1967, Lt.-Col. Gowon reproduced a truncated and distorted version of the agreements reached at Aburi. The source of Lt.-Col. Gowon’s statement was not the official minutes of the meeting, which had been prepared by his own officials, but a hostile commentary on the Aburi decisions prepared afterwards by people with vested interests in Lagos—men who were neither members of the Supreme Military Council nor were present at the meeting. These people were in a position to advise Lt.-Col. Gowon before the meeting since the agenda for the Aburi meeting were agreed to well beforehand. Furthermore, most of the major decisoins at Aburi were taken on the second day of the meeting after members had spent the night at their respective stations, consulting with their advisers.
  3. A few days after Aburi some Permanent Secretaries in Lagos met to criticize the decisions reached by the Supreme Military Council, the highest authority in the land. With regard to the reorganization of the Army they objected to the new title of “Commander-in-Chief” on the grounds that— “(1) it would be a subtle way of either abolishing the post of Supreme Commander or declaring it vacant to be filled by unanimous decision of the Supreme
    Military Council… and

(2) The Accra decision transfers the Executive Authority of the Federal Military Government from the Head of the Federal Military Government and Supreme Commander (in accordance with Decree No. 1) to the Supreme Military Council. The implication of this is that the Commander-in-Chief would have no power of control or dismissal over the Regional Governors…”

On the establishment of Military Headquarters, the Permanent Secretaries stated that “the establishment of Military Headquarters with equal representatives from the Regions headed by a Chief of Staff amounts to confederation”. They made no effort to define what they meant by a “confederation”. As regards the creation of Area Commands the Permanent Secretaries took exception to what they considered to be “dividing up the Nigerian Army into Regional ones, without links with or effective unifying control over the Army by the ‘Supreme Commander’.” This advice, which was clearly motivated by selfish interests, ignored the anxiety of the Nigerian public for a workable and effective settlement of the crisis and a quick return to normal conditions. In strict compliance with this advice, however, Lt.-Col. Gowon, true to his well-known characteristic of ignoring solemn agreements, made a volte-face at his press conference. On the issue of the reorganization of the Army he declared —

“We reviewed the situation in- the Nigerian Army and we all agreed that there should be one Nigerian Army under a unified command as at present. We recognized that in the context of the events of 1966, the most practical way of achieving this aim is to organize the Army into area commands. The preponderance of T the army personnel in each command will be drawn from the re indigenes of that area. Each area command will be under an P Area Commander who will take operational instructions from the Military Headquarters which will be directly under me as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Under the proposal, the Military Governors can use the area command for internal security purposes but this will normally be done with the express permission of the Head of the Federal Military Government. We definitely decided tit against Regional armies.”

As could be seen from the Minutes of the Aburi Conference, no decision was taken that the Area Commands should be directly under Lt.-Col. Gowon “as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces” nor that the Military Governors should obtain his permission to use the Area Commands for internal security.

  1. Again, instead of emphasizing that the Supreme Military Council, in recognition of the fact that no single government in the Federation has its writ running throughout the country, has introduced the element of Regional consent into the process of reaching its decisions, Lt.-Col. Gowon merely stated—

“We, however, agreed to return to the status quo ante 17 January, 1966, and this is in keeping with my earlier public pronouncements that Decrees or parts of Decrees which tended towards over- centralization should be repealed. We will continue to operate the existing Federal Constitution and the Federal system of government until a new Constitution is drawn up. A decree is now under preparation which will give effect to the decision to return to the Constitutional position before 17 January, 1966…”

  1. Turning to the problem of displaced persons the Permanent Secretaries suggested:

“(a) when the meeting of Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries of Finance resumes, the principle of revenue allocation should not be discussed as it was not mentioned in the minutes of the Accra meeting.

“(b) the decision to continue to pay salaries till the end of March, 1967, does not take into consideration economic factors which are linked with it . . . Secondly, it does not make sense to include daily paid workers among those whose salaries should continue to be paid. The decision should therefore be reconsidered.”

The insistence of the Permanent Secretaries that “the principle of revenue allocation should not be discussed” at any future meetings of Permanent Secretaries, Finance, is clear evidence that they intend to strangle the East economically since they are well aware of the mass return of nearly two million Easterners to the Region, the loss of £20,000,000 in property by refugees from the North and the forcible exclusion of Easterners from the Federal Civil Service, the Federal Statutory Corporations, the Foreign Service and other Federal institutions. – Surely they cannot expect the East to survive economically in these circumstances under the existing system of revenue allocation. Moreover, whatever economic factors are linked with the Supreme Military Council’s- decisions on this matter it is patent that the displaced employees are in no way responsible for their present plight. And the inequitable treatment suggested by the Permanent Secretaries in respect of daily paid workers can only remind the country of the industrial strife which such an application of double standards caused in the days of the former civilian regime.

Yakubu Gowon. 1966

  1. In spite of all these Lt.-Col. Gowon (photo above: Nigerian Military Head of State | 1966) in his press conference defers to the recommendations of the Permanent Secretaries on this head. Although the decision at Aburi was that the salaries of all displaced persons who had not obtained alternative employment should, without qualification, be paid until 31 March, 1967, Lt.-Col. Gowon stated that “each case is to be considered on its merit” and that Federal Corporations would find it “very difficult” to continue to pay their displaced employees.
  2. With respect to appointments to certain posts in the Federal Public Service, the Permanent Secretaries commented as follows:

“(a) whichever category of officer is meant, the effect of this decision will tend to paralyse the functions of the Federal Public and the Police Service Commissions;

“(b) if Regional Governors have power to appointments, the loyalty of Federal Officers would be to their regions of origin—meaning in effect that there will be no Federal Civil Service;

(c) the acceptance of this decision would also require, as the law officers have reported, amendments to those sections in the Constitution dealing with appointment to Nigeria Police,Federal Public Service Commission and sections of various acts dealing with appointment in Federal Statutory Corporations;

(d) furthermore it is observed that while Military Governors will have power to appoint or approve appointments of Federal Government Servants, there is no corresponding power of the Supreme Military Council to even influence the appointments to senior posts in the Regional Public Services. This clearly makes the Federal Military Government.”

Obviously the Permanent Secretaries are not concerned with the peace, stability and even the survival of Nigeria; their sole interest is to maintain the status quo because any attempt at a fair distribution of posts -in the Federal Civil Service, the Federal Corporations, the Foreign Service and other Federal institutions would mean a diminution of the powers they now enjoy. The East must remain permanently excluded from these services and institutions for the selfish ends of Federal Permanent Secretaries. The East must be relegated to obscure embassies abroad where they will- be ineffective and unheard. In his press statement Lt.-Col. Gowon, in his attempt to keep to the advice of the Permanent Secretaries, was caught up in contradictions. In one and the same breath he said that these appointments should be approved by the Supreme Military Council and that the Federal public Service and Police Commissions should retain their present functions. His exact words were-

“There have been some speculations about the effect of our decisions on senior appointments and – promotions in the Federal Public Service. It was agreed that top posts such as Permanent Secretaries and Ambassadors will have to be approved by the I ship Supreme Military Council. I would like to explain that the Armey Federal Public Service Commission as well as the Police Commission and i will continue to function as at present.”

  1. Finally, on the Ad Hoc Constitutional Conference the Permanent Secretaries stated that it was rather advisable for Gowon stick to their previous recommendations and advice, namely:

“(a) that the Ad Hoc Constitutional Conference should stand adjourned indefinitely;

“(b) that the immediate political programme announced to the nation on 30 November, 1966, by the ‘Supreme Commander’ should be implemented and the country must be so informed.”

The Permanent Secretaries have here revealed that the origin of Lt.Col. Gowon’s
“political programme” of 30 November, 1966, was “the recommendations and advice” given to him by these Permanent Secretaries. In accordance with this advice, however, Lt.-Col. Gowon, while not appearing to re-affirm “that the Ad Hoc Constitutional Conference should stand adjourned indefinitely”, said— “So far I have not set up the Drafting Committee and the Constituent Assembly promised in my broadcast (of 30 November, 1966) because it was the intention that normal conditions should be fully restored before they begin to function… I am carrying… on the necessary consultations with all sections of the Nigerian – community and when eventually the names we are screening are announced the general public will be satisfied.”

In this context, the indications are that Lt.-Col. Gowon would rather take steps to implement his pet programme than facilitate the resumption of the Ad Hoc Constitutional Conference as decided at Aburi. This is borne out by the draft Decree which he produced after Aburi.

  1. This draft Decree, which has been circulated to the Regional Military Governors by Lt.-Col. Gowon, accordingly by-passes or ignores all the major decisions taken at Aburi. It seeks to return Nigeria to the constitutional position before 17 January, 1966, while in fact the decisions of the Supreme Military Council were on specific issues and were not limited by dates. In the draft Decree the title of “Supreme Commander” is still retained contrary to the decision at Aburi to alter it to “Commander-in-Chief”. The draft Decree also retains the word “President” instead of “Chairman of the Supreme Military Council” as was agreed at Aburi. Again it enlarges the membership of the Supreme Military Council to include “Head of the Nigerian Army (a non-existent post), the “Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces” and the “Chief of Staff of the Nigerian Army”. No such decisions were taken at Aburi. It was merely agreed that there should be one Chief of Staff at Headquarters.
  2. In addition, contrary to the Aburi accord, the draft Decree vests executive and legislative powers either in the Federal Military Government or in the Federal Executive Council. But the Aburi meeting clearly decided that the legislative and executive authority of the

Federal Military Government should devolve on the Supreme Military Council to which any matter affecting the whole country should be referred for determination.

  1. The draft Decree also completely ignores the decision at Aburi that appointments and promotions within the upper hierarchy of the Army, Police, the Public Service and Corporations must be approved by the Supreme Military Council.
  2. Lastly, the draft Decree proceeds to restore sections 70, 71 and 86 of the old Constitution, which had been suspended, without also restoring the safeguards provided in that Constitution. By this action Lt.-Col. Gowon, contrary to the spirit and letter of the Aburi agreements, arrogates to himself the power to declare a state of emergency anywhere in Nigeria.
To be continued 

_________________________________________________________________________________________

There Was A Time . Book Cover 01. 202x300 ON ABURI WE STAND | Part 2.Culled from: THERE WAS A TIME | Author: Nnamdi Ebo  |  Published by africagenda Publications  
ISBN: 978-978-50804-3-8  | 1st Edition 2013
Buy the book, THERE WAS A TIME |  Click  Bookshop
Nnamdi Ebo | [email protected]  
© 2015 Nnamdi Ebo . All Rights Reserved

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

49,761 Spam Comments Blocked so far by Spam Free Wordpress

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>