Do Nigerian’s owe Ojukwu an apology?

Nigerians On the Internet Part 5 – “All Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu ever wanted was a fair and equitable Nigeria. That was and is still all. Those of them who think Odumegwu-Ojukwu was about something to lead or head, there you have it”. Read Johnson (Ojukwu endorsed Gowon as head of state )

RE: Ojukwu Endorsed Gowon as Head of State – Gen Mobolaji Johnson 

My week’s topic among Virtual Nigerians is the weekend’s interview granted by Gen Mobolaji Johnson to Saturday Sun (Published here). Our choice views are those expressed by Peter Opara and Nowa Omogui. To peter, ‘Nigerians owe Ojukwu an apology’. But to Nowa, ‘There is absolutely no difference between a “Supreme Commander” and a “Commander-in- Chief”, The real undercurrent ofcourse was that Ojukwu wanted absolute control over Eastern Forces – preparatory to secession’.

Please read the full statement by Mobolaji first, then read the take by Peter and Nowa below; Nigerians never agree on any issue!

Nigerians owe Ojukwu apologyPeter Opara

One does not expect Mobalaji Johnson to lie or twist facts.

The man has no need to, and he is entirely of a different stock from those that reneged on Aburi Accord, lied and twisted facts and brought upon us the Nigeria we have today – a Curse.

All Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu ever wanted was a fair and equitable Nigeria. That was and is still all. Those of them who think Odumegwu-Ojukwu was about something to lead or head, there you have it. Read Johnson.

Ojukwu wanted Gowon to carry on, if only, he would keep agreements. Gowon never did. I call Gowon, Mr. Renegede, for the sole reason that there was hardly a word of his to Odumegwu-Ojukwu that he ever kept.

Working with Gowon, for Odumegwu-Ojukwu – the way I saw it – was worse than working with a two year-old. Gowon was and peharps still mindless. He gave you his word now, and forgot or abandoned his words the next minute. Was it not said that all them “super perm secretaries” who surrounded Gowon – the Asiodus et al, were his mind?

Tell me any here, who would work with one who cannot keep his words, more so when life and living are involved? That was the case with Igbo and Gowon – this following his supervision of the mass slaughter of Igbo across Nigeria.

Odumegwu-Ojukwu went through hell to try to avert what was sure to come – collision of Nigerians and disintegration of Nigeria therefrom which increasingly stemmed from Gowon’s inability to keep his words.

Let us recall that Ojukwu had first tried to recruit Brigadier Ogundipe, the most senior officer after Ironsi to take the reings of power in Lagos. Scared Ogundipe went into hiding in a British ship, and soon grabbed a cozy ambassadorial appoointment from his junior – Gowon. 

Then, Ojukwu had to deal with slippery, renegade, mindless Gowon. It got to a point where Igbo began to deem Ojukwu a “SABO”. Yes, “SABO”, as the man was dragged his feet about separating us from NigeriaNigeria that could not kill enough of us Igbo.

At this moment in time – IGBO DID NOT WANT TO BE A PART OF NIGERIA NO MORE. No Igbo wanted anything to do with Hausa/Fulani/Yoruba/Edo/Tiv/…you name them in Nigeria, that wanted Igbo all exterminated.

Then Gowon dumped the accord in Aburi. And that was it! The hell with Nigeria

The unfortunate thing about Nigeria even now, is that no one is willing to tell the truth timely. It took Obasanjo 26 years – 1966-1986 to write his book – Nzeogwu – where he declared that the coup of 1966 was a nationalist coup, not an Igbo coup.

But the same Obasanjo had led the charge by Nigeria to kill more Igbo on account of Nigeria and Nigerian’s lies and propaganda that the coup of 1966 was Igbo coup.

Now, it took Mobolaji Johnson all of 42 years to exonerate Odumegwu-Ojukwu on the common albatross held above his head by innumerable Nigerians – among them – college educated, secondary school educated, primary school educated, half-educated, farmers, traders, truck pushers, beggars, natives, truth tellers, liars, thieves, crooks….every kind of Nigerians, even from among his fellow Igbo – that he – Odumegwu-Ojukwu was about having a place to lead or that he was about wanting to rule Nigeria, instead of Gowon.

So where does Ojukwu go to get his honor back – that he was never ever about ruling or leading, as has been falsely alleged and swallowed hook and sinker by the afore unthinking and uncritical Nigerians?

There is the depth of evil and hypocrisy Nigerians dug themselves, and out of which they are now unable to dig themselves. And people keep wondering, what went wrong.

Where does Odumegwu-Ojukwu go to get his honor back? Nigerians all owe Odumegwu-Ojukwu an apology.


Ojukwu wanted absolute control over Eastern Forces – preparatory to secession – Nowa Omogui

There is absolutely no difference between a “Supreme Commander” and a “Commander-in- Chief”. One is sometimes referred to as the other and vice versa.

The “Supreme” merely means the person is the HIGHEST in rank or authority. (Latin = supremus)

The phrase “Commander-in- Chief” derives from the latin word ‘imperator’ – a throw back to the days of the Roman republic and empire. In the context of British/Commonwealth h countries, the term first came into usage in 1639 by King Charles of England.

A “Commander-in Chief” is the supreme commander of all the armed forces of a nation, unless specifically qualified otherwise as an officer who has supreme command of designated military forces classified by region (eg C-in-C Central Command – as has been used in the USA), or by function. Such regional and functional CINCs are subordinate to the overall CINC (The President).

Similarly, a “Supreme Commander” can be regionalized, as in SACEUR – Supreme Allied Commander Europe, or SCAP – Supreme Commander Allied Powers, which was the title held by General Douglas MacArthur during the Occupation of Japan after WWII. Both the SACEUR AND SCAP were subordinate to the C-in-C of the USA who holds supreme command of ALL military forces.

When Ojukwu was resisting the use of the term “Supreme Commander” by Gowon, it was in the context of aiming to diversify the command structure of the Army – through the creation of horizontal regional commands – which would then function in a committee-like manner over which Gowon would not have veto command power from Lagos.

The real undercurrent ofcourse was that Ojukwu wanted absolute control over Eastern Forces – preparatory to secession, which he had already decided upon before Aburi. The concession to Gowon as “Head of State” was ceremonial and, therefore, militarily meaningless (in Ojukwu’s mind).

Ojukwu’s subsequent refusal to accept Decree #8 [against the advice of his Secretary to the Government, NU Akpan, and his Eastern regional Army Area Commander, Col. Hilary Njoku] betrayed his sensitivity to any mechanism that could somehow limit his freedom of military action to follow the course he had already decided. The one thing he objected to was Gowon’s ability as Head of State (and by implication C-in-C, defacto or dejure) to declare a state of emergency in any region. Gowon had conceded every other point.

But the term ‘Commander-in- Chief” invested Gowon with just as much power as “Supreme Commander” – the title Ironsi originally adopted in January 1966 after the overthrow of the old civilian regime during which there had been constitutional crises over whether it was the PM (Balewa) or ceremonial President (Azikiwe) that had “supreme” control over the military.

When, as per Decree No. 14 of 1967, Gowon later declared a state of emergency over the entire country (and created states) on May 27, 1967 (to pre-empt the imminent announcement of secession in the East) Gowon formally and publicly described himself as “Commander-in- Chief” and was promoted to Major General (to supercede everyone else by rank) a few days later. It was as C-in-C (in supreme command) that he ordered combined military action (Air, Land and Sea) to oppose Ojukwu.

The rest is history.

My take:

Quoting Lt Col Ojukwu: 

“What I envisage is that whoever is at the top is a constitutional chap, constitutional within the context of the Military Government. That is, he is the titular head but he would only act when we have met and taken a decision…..I would like to say that he should again be a Titular Commander-in- Chief of the Armed Forces….By so doing we have limited the powers, by so doing our people will have the confidence that whatever he says must at least have been referred to us all and that we are doing it in the best interest of the entirety rather than saying that this chap is there he is a Northerner and suspect every action of his, this chap is there an Easterner, he must be pushing only Eastern things for the Eastern good. If we spell it out as I have just said I think we would go a long way…. 

Very soon after, I had occasion to talk to you, Jack [nickname of Lt.-Col. Gowon], I did mention amongst other things, two things. The first one was this question of solving the problem and I thought the Army together should solve it.  I said also that any break at this time from our normal line would write in something into the Nigerian Army which is bigger than all of us and that thing is indiscipline. How can you ride above people’s heads and sit in Lagos purely because you are at the Head of a group who have their fingers poised on the trigger? If you do it you remain forever a living example of that indiscipline which we want to get rid of because tomorrow a Corporal will think because he has his finger on the trigger he could just take over the company from the Major Commanding the company and so on. I knew then that we were heading for something terrible. Despite that and by force of circumstance as we did talk on the telephone, I think twice, you brought up the question of supreme command and I made quite plain my objections, but despite those objections you announced yourself as the Supreme Commander. Now, Supreme Commander by virtue of the fact that you head or that you are acceptable to people who had mutinied against their Commander, kidnapped him and taken him away ? By virtue of the support of Officers and men who had in the dead of night murdered their brother Officers, by virtue of the fact that you stood at the head of a group who had turned their brother Officers from the Eastern Region out of the barracks which they shared ? Our people came home, there are other circumstances which even make the return more tragic. Immediately after I had opportunity to speak to you again, I said on that occasion that there had been too much killing in Nigeria and it was my sincere hope that we can stop these killings. I said then, and have continued to say that in the interest of peace I would co-operate with you to stop the fighting, to stop the killing” 

One can truly see Ojukwu’s stance above, not as one prepared to war or to separate, but as one prepared to remedy structural deficiencies in the army at the time.

For events at the Aburi meeting, see the Aburi Exchange at Copyright 20009