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 3.

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

Coup d’etat | January 15, 1966.

The Looming War . . .

The East had their palm produce, the West their cocoa and the North their groundnuts which were stacked in pyramids akin to the pyramid of Giza in Egypt. There was not as yet, oil (crude oil or the black gold as it came to be dubbed in the west) with its accompanying petro-dollars. As was generally acknowledged by the political pundits of that time, southern politicians belatedly realised that the ‘Northern politicians’ were not as naïve as they thought and that the lopsided Parliament meant the North would politically control Nigeria forever. The only way to alter the North’s political control of Nigeria was via a constitutional amendment (unlikely since the North controlled the Parliament) or violence? The latter looked more promising but dangerous.  

File Photo above: The late Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu | Coup executioner in the defunct Northern Nigeria.

awoAt this inauspicious time, a political crisis erupted in Western Nigeria. This crisis was due to a struggle between Chief Obafemi Awolowo (Awo) and Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola (SLA). Prior to that, SLA became Premier of Western Nigeria when he swapped positions with Awo who chose to lead the West from Lagos Nigeria’s capital. It became clear that a violent conflict was inevitable as both Awo and SLA disagreed when Awo refused to join the coalesced NPC/NCNC federal government. SLA believed the West was losing its pre-eminent position in business and administration in Nigeria to the Igbos of the East simply because the Igbo-controlled NCNC had joined the federal government.

The Western region of Nigeria merited the appellation Wild West in juxtaposition with the original Wild West which is the western United States during its frontier period. As a result of SLA and Awo’s intransigence, Western Nigeria went wild with Operation Wetie. Operation wetie refers to semi-organized ‘operations’ or spontaneous riots by hooligans and party thugs of both Awo and SLA who douse or wet fellow human beings (the opposition on both sides) with petrol and wrap discarded tyres around their necks nicknamed necklace. These victims were then set on fire to burn to death while party songs and cheering rent the black smoke-clouded atmosphere; in Ibadan and other towns and villages in the region. Opposition people were also put in their cars, locked inside and both car and owner are set on fire. 

Biafra . Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa BalewaThe English word wet is colloquially transcribed to Yoruba trite language wetie. The Yoruba language speakers broke the English language into syntax and casual enunciation of the conversational English word: wet to Yoruba word: wetie. The crisis in the West escalated to the extent of total breakdown of law and order which threatened to spill over to the rest of Nigeria. On June 29, 1962, Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (photo: left) imposed a state of emergency in the region sacking SLA’s government in the process and appointed Dr. Moses Adekoyejo Majekodunmi as the Sole Administrator of Western Nigeria. Majekodunmi held office in place of Premier Akintola until December 1962, a period of six months. During his stewardship, Majekodunmi insisted that Akintola was still the legally recognized Premier of Western Nigeria to the chagrin of Awo and his supporters. Akintola eventually resumed office after the situation had stabilized.

Awo suddenly became embroiled in a treasonable charge. According to the charge sheet, the conspiracy to commit treason by Awo against the Nigerian government reached all the way to Ghana. Subsequently, the controversial 1962 eleven month trial and 1963 conviction and imprisonment of Chief Obafemi Awolowo for treasonable felony dominated the airwaves. I was all ears listening, asking questions, talking and snooping around which is in my character when events tickled my fancy, especially political events which involved prominent political figures like Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Awo was incarcerated in Calabar prison in Eastern Nigeria.

There were rumours that Ahmadu Bello wanted to send Awo to a prison in the far North but Zik used his powers as president to oppose it and instead Awo was sent to the Calabar prison in the East. As the gist continued, it was feared in certain quarters that if Awo had been sent to the far north, he would have died mysteriously from unknown causes. After the regional elections in the west, many rejected the results, prompting a notable playwright (and bourgeoning international figure), who took an active role in Nigeria’s political history and its struggle for independence from Great Britain, to do the unthinkable. In 1965, Wole Soyinka seized the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service (WNBS) studio in Ibadan and broadcast a demand for the cancellation of the Western Nigeria regional elections.

ZikAs a rehash, there had been rumblings of possible military coup as early as 1964. The President Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe [(Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces) (photo: left)] refused to call Tawafa Balewa to form a new government following scandalous elections. On timely advice, Azikiwe eventually called on Tafawa Balewa to form a new government after the nation tottered towards anarchy. Corruption amongst federal ministers became de rigueur and Balewa couldn’t cope, so Five-Majors struck eradicating the uppermost echelons of politicians from the North on January 15, 1966. Those killed in the coup were mostly Northern leaders notable among them was the big man and descendant of Utman Dan Fodio the founder and pious benefactor who conquered the North and the Northern part of Yoruba land and established Islam. One of his descendants was this iconic big man who was a living legend in Northern Nigeria and he towered physically above other mortals in the North.

Biafra . Ahmadu Bello . Sarduana of SokotoSir Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the Sarduana of Sokoto, the Premier of Northern Nigeria and de facto leader of Nigeria (photo right) was assassinated by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu. Ahmadu Bello was killed in Nassarawa (the Premier’s residence in Kaduna, if my recollection is correct) on the night of January 14th, 1966. Media reports in the East stated that when Nzeogwu and his troops approached the official residence of the Saduana, the big man sensed danger and rushed for his gun. On Nzeogwu’s entering maneuver into the residence itself, he was ready with his wives screaming and blocking their husband from harm. However, superior firepower and sheer numbers of Nzeogwu and his mutinous soldiers overwhelmed his lethal opposition and Nzeogwu shot and killed him inside the government house in Kaduna.

In the process, he sustained injuries from gunshots by either the bid man himself or his government house security guards. Again, I remembered that black and white picture purchased by Basil in Nsukka market which showed Nzeogwu with a Plaster of Paris (POP) wrapped around his neck and smiling. The photo as I mentioned showed a bandage wrapped around his neck and strung over his left or right forearm in a sling. The news was everywhere of the assassination of the big man from Sokoto who ruled Nigeria from Kaduna, the capital of the Northern region.  

Another foremost Northerner, the Prime Minister Sir Alhaji Abubakar Tawafa Balewa was also killed in that Nzeogwu coup. In the West, notable westerners like the Premier Chief S. L. Akintola were killed by the mutineers assigned that job. In the East, the coup failed to materialize. I asked uncle Goddy why the coup succeeded in the North but failed in the East and he said Archbishop Makarios III of Cyprus was visiting the East, on a state visit to Enugu where the Governor of the Eastern region, Sir Francis Akanu Ibiam and the Premier of Eastern region Dr. Michael Okpara were hosting the man. “…is the ark bishop” he interjected “Archbishop” “Ok! Is the Archbishop a Head of State?”  

He said he is the President of the Republic of Cyprus and it would have been embarrassing to kill Ibiam and Okpara where they were hosting a foreign president. “But how can an Archbishop of a church be a president?” He ignored me but I persisted in another direction  “eh…uncle, you told me that…em…eh…the coup in Kaduna took place in the night…the ark…sorry Arch Bishop must have been sleeping…is he in the same house with Okpara or…” “I don’t think so…” he interjected. “ What about Zik?” I asked. “Ah! Zik was lucky he went on medical checkup in the West Indies…”

 “That’s not fair” I said “…eh…I know but Zik was sick so he had to fly out of the country…you mean Nzeogwu should have killed Zik, eh?” “He killed people from other regions, but you told me the North is not happy”. “Yeah that’s not fair” belted my aunty. “Yvonne abeg!” my uncle shot back. He finally agreed it was a popular coup at first but subsequently it garnered unpopularity. “It looked and seemed one-sided” my uncle said and my aunty vituperated with a sideways swing of her right hand to her husband “git outta here

 

To be continued 

______________________________________________________________________

There Was A Time . Book Cover 01.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]  
© 2014 Nnamdi Ebo . All Rights Reserved

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