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.

 

THERE WAS A TIME | Biafra: The beginning 2.

Nnamdi Ebo 2BOOKS . There was a Time  | By Nnamdi Ebo.

Coup d’etat | January 15, 1966.

There had been a coup d’etat in January 15, 1966. Five majors in the Nigerian Army had struck and in one fell swoop they wiped out the upper political echelon of the Hausa/Fulani oligarchy. This word: oligarchy came to be brandished a lot in the rhetorics of the Eastern Nigerian and later Biafran political leadership. The Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu led-group with the mastermind Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna had disrupted Nigeria’s Westminster model of democracy which fizzled out in a twinkle of an eye. Uncle Goddy said Nzeogwu is from Okpanam near Asaba in present day Delta state and Ifeajuna is from my mother’s village Umuase in Onitsha. I had met Ifeajuna’s senior brother in my maternal grandmother’s house on old Market Road, Onitsha. He is now an Onitsha Ozo titled man called Akunwata. Ifeajuna is the first Nigerian hero of the Commonwealth games in Vancouver Canada in 1956 where he won the first medal (gold) in high jump.

Biafra . Major Chukwuma Kaduna NzeogwuBiafra . Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna with his Commonwealth Games Gold Medal

Photo: Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu – Executioner (left) & Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna – Mastermind (right) of the Jan 15 1st military Coup in Nigeria.

After the coup failed to metamorphose to a government, Northern leaders put pressure (after the counter-coup that I will soon tell a story about) on the Nigerian federalgovernment and it stopped recognizing Ifeajuna’s sporting feat in Canada and struck out his name from the annals of sports heroes in the Nigerian register of icons. I doubt whether this move shook the Major because he knew that his name will still be in the records of the organizing committee of the 1956 Commonwealth games in Vancouver Canada (and the Commonwealth Games Association) whether Nigeria liked it or not. I am sure that this worry was far from his mastermind as he planned the coup with his compatriots sometime in 1965.

I accompanied Basil to the market in Nsukka town on a Saturday and he bought a black and white picture of Nzeogwu who was then regarded as a hero of sorts in Eastern Nigeria. In that picture, Nzeogwu had a POP around his neck and also a bandage sling around his neck supported his left or right forearm, a mischievous smile radiating on his handsome face. I asked Basil and he said he is a hero. He saved Nigeria from the greedy politicians and the ten percenters. Ten percenters were corrupt Nigerian politicians who demanded bribes and payoffs of 10% of the contracts or project costs from government contractors, suppliers and businessmen.

ZikTurning back the time clock to the pre- and post- independence period, the North got more seats in the Nigerian Parliament in Lagos (situated near the square later named after the Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa Square) than the Eastern and Western regions put together. This situation presented a dilemma for Zik and Awo as no governmental decision could be taken without the consent of the North as the bulwark. There was the NPC/NCNC shaky coalition that formed the federal government. The NPC’s deputy Sir Alhaji Abubakar Tafewa Balewa became Prime Minister, the NCNC’s Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe (photo) became President and the AG’s Chief Obafemi Awolowo became the federal opposition. This makeup of the Government was odd. NPC’s Sir Alhaji Ahmadu Bello should be Prime Minister as the leader of the NPC and major coalition partner; instead he remained as the Premier of the Northern region and handed over the Prime Minister’s chair to Alhaji Tafawa Balewa. It was reported that Ahmadu Bello even referred to Nigeria’s Prime Minister Abubakar Tawafa Balewa as “my lieutenant in Lagos.

BBC Bush House London said in a news bulletin at the time that Kaduna, the capital of the Northern region was the de facto capital of Nigeria and Lagos was de jure. I was curious so I asked uncle Goddy and he said “…the big man sent his deputy to Lagos and stayed back in Kaduna…” Aunty Yvonne interjected “…he is not a greedy man…” to which uncle Goddy retorted “…he is afraid of Zik…” Aunty Yvonne shook her head “No! You mean Awo?” uncle Goddy said No! Zik!  

Biafra . Ahmadu Bello . Sarduana of SokotoIn October 12, 1960 after independence from Britain on October 1, the North underscored their preeminent position in Nigeria and how the region looked at the newly independent country vis-a-vis the region’s “One North, One People slogan. They were resolute in their assertions because in less than two weeks after independence, a newspaper published a comment made by Sir Alhaji Ahmadu Bello (photo). THE PARROT newspaper quoted the big man as saying unequivocally:

The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our great grandfather Uthman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We use the minorities in the North as willing tools and the South as a conqurered territory and never allow them to have control over their future.”

 

That comment by Ahmadu Bello in October 12, 1960 took my mind back to another comment he was supposed to have made in relation to the major religious preference in the South especially in the East, saying that he will soon march to the Atlantic Ocean or something to that effect. Another clincher was a black and white newspaper clipping I found in Basil’s room in the boys quarters. It showed Nigeria’s three main founding fathers: Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo.  Zik and Awo flanked the big man from Sokoto in a formal pose for Nigeria. Zik on his right was attired in a white agbada, wearing a black cap and smiling. Awo on his left was attired in a white agbada wearing a greyish white cap and smiling (photo). 

Biafra . Zik, Bello & AwoAhmadu Bello bestrode the center of these two men, resplendent in his Fulani Royal flowing apparel, with his ubiquitous turban wrapped around his head, held high majestically and smiling with more assurance. It also struck me that I have never seen a picture of these three great men together without the big man either sitting or standing in the middle. To me it was significant because in government and state protocol, sitting and standing positions matter in official public functions; and that is why Prince Philip struts two steps, walking behind and not on parallel line with Elizabeth, The Queen of England even though she is his wife.

I resigned myself reluctantly to the perceived knowledgeability of Zik and Awo and concluded that if Zik didn’t know that he should be in the center as either The Governor General or The President and Awo should be on Zik’s right, then Ahmadu Bello must be the guy with the knowledgeability, not the other duo. Ahmadu Bello was the smart guy while Zik and Awo were the fall guys, period! Uncle Goddy’s face twisted as he told his wife that as the leader of NPC he should have accepted the Prime Minister position and handed over the Premiership of the North to Tafawa Balewa. After all, Zik handed over to DR. Michael Okpara in Enugu the capital of the East and Awo handed over in Ibadan the capital of the West to Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola and both went to Lagos to become President and federal opposition leader respectively.

Biafra . Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa BalewaI remember saying to no one in particular “…when eh Bale…” and uncle Goddy said Balewa, “ehe! Balewa…his voice on the radio is eh…” baritone! Said uncle Goddy and he said the Prime Minister (photo) speaks very well and Aunty Yvonne added “very articulate and sound eh!” That’s not the issue my uncle said and went on about how Ahmadu Bello wants to remain in Kaduna and pull the strings in Lagos through his deputy. He also said that after deliberations in the parliament, meetings of his cabinet like a federal executive council (FEC) meeting and meetings with Zik the President, he runs to Kaduna to dorbale (prostrate) before his boss who should really be his citizen.

His boss counters everything and the Prime Minister returns to Lagos with a different decision, much like the North’s position of things. “He’s a smart goy” I said and my aunty said “Nnamdi, guy! Not goy”. “I said he is afraid of Zik” my uncle emphasised to his wife and she said “No! Awo!” And my uncle said “that man would have preferred to be the Sultan of Sokoto than the Prime Minister of Nigeria”. I asked why and he said the Northern Premier prefers the Sokoto caliphate than the prime minister’s position to which Aunty Yvonne frowned at her husband and said with seeming finality in black American English vernacular with a sideways swing of her right hand “git outta here

Under the regional arrangement, every region was expected to be the architect of its fortune or may be misfortune. The North charted the course of the country which bred dangerous opposition, mistrust and unhealthy regional competition. In this milieu of mistrust and competition and unhealthy rivalry, the Northern leadership favoured the situation of:

 

The East for the Easterners, the West for the Westerners,

the North for the Northerners and we all meet at the centre

To be continued

______________________________________________________________

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 TIMEClick  Bookshop
Nnamdi Ebo [email protected]  © 2014 Nnamdi Ebo . All Rights Reserved

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