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Gowon’s statement of “no regret” for “what we did” on starvation, genocide in Biafra is irresponsible and callous
USAfrica, October 19, 2012: In the wake of the publication of Prof. Chinua Achebe’s Biafra memoir, There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra, unrepentant perpetrators, sons and servile hands of perpetrators of genocide against the Igbo and other Biafrans during the Nigeria-Biafra War between 1967 and 1970 have continued to make more irresponsible statements.
One of the most reckless of the statements so far made is credited to Nigeria’s former ruler, 78 years old retired Gen. Yakubu Gowon who levied an unjust and a most brutal war on Biafra (a shortlived country predominantly peopled by the Igbo, Efiks, Annangs, Ikwerres, etc). Fielding questions with a Vanguard newspaper reporter from his London home last week, Gen. Gowon was quoted as saying that: “We have no cause to regret what we did” — inadvertently complicated the roles as genocidists which himself and the late Yoruba leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the vice chairman and finance minister of his wartime cabinet played.
Professor Achebe had in his book stated with a mountain of evidence that Awolowo driven by ambition for power literally sought to annihilate the Igbo race through his infamous policy of using hunger as a weapon of war, which led to the death of more than 2 million Igbo women and children and other Biafrans. Prof. Achebe’s factual assertion is an unassailable truth.
That Gowon could make the above ignoble statement based on that truth quite frankly did not come to me as a surprise. Indeed, it did not come to my generation as a surprise. Why should it when we are the remnants of the future generations that Prof. Achebe referred to that Awolowo and Gowon slaughtered? It did not, because we bore the brunt of his hardheartedness. So, we have always known that in spite of his seemingly self-effacing public posture and his “Nigeria Prays Project”, the man, Gowon is more inhuman than many have thought.
Recall that in the run-up to the 2003 elections in Nigeria in which the late President of defunct Republic of Biafra, late Gen. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu ran for president, Gowon gave an interview to BBC in which he said that he would not have spared Ojukwu’s life if he had been captured at the “end” of the war. This was reported on
the front page of the Christmas 2002 international special edition USAfrica The Newspaper (Houston, dated January 15, 2003) and the Lagos newspaper, Vanguard (December 23, 2002).
If a man could still feel 32 years after the war, that he would not have spared the life of someone who provided
visionary leadership for his people against injustice and did in fact make effort at Aburi to avert war, if a man was still full of that much bile 32 years after that war, one should not be surprised at this later outrageous statement. And yet the man, Gowon, prays. Yes, he prays!
Really, I am wondering what would have been the fate of the Igbo race if Ojukwu had been captured and killed by Gowon and his cohorts at the “end” of the war. If Awolowo and Gowon could still mastermind an official multiple containment policy of exclusion and economic emasculation that every Nigerian government after him has implemented against the Igbo since the “end” of the war, I am absolutely sure that if Ojukwu did not leave the country with Dr. M.I. Okpara, former premier of Eastern region and his wartime political adviser at the time they did, the evil intentions of Gowon and his co-war criminals would have been realized. But thank God we had such eminent and highly revered Igbo people like Dr. Akanu Ibiam, Professor Eni Njoku and Dr. Alvan Ikoku, who prevailed on the duo to leave.
Knowing the capability of the two men who went on exile must have prevented the jihadists like Gen. Hassan Katsina, Gen Murtala Mohammed and Gen. Ibrahim Haruna in his (Gowon’s) government who he had relatively limited control over from implementing the contemplated “final solution” to the so-called Igbo “problem.”
From the critical review on the fate of the Igbo since the “end” of the war, the routine and selective targeting of them and their investments in Northern Nigeria, a real possibility truly existed that the race would have been wiped out. After all, Gen. Mohammed and Gen. Haruna had no inhibition whatsoever massacring the Igbo people of Asaba (and adjoining villages) — especially their male — in 1967 on a horrendous scale.
Make no mistake about it, in today’s Nigeria; Gowon is like the proverbial man chasing after rat while his abode is on fire. His home state, Plateau, in North Central Nigeria continues its slow, but steady
descent into the pit of violent religious and ethnic hell. If Gowon had a good humanitarian disposition, he should have been preoccupied with serious efforts directed at finding lasting solutions to the rounds of killings going on in his state. But past actions have ways of affecting our outlook hence, the stone-heartedness he acquired from working callously with Awolowo the starvation of Biafran children in their millions and the bombing/strafing of
markets, schools and churches with refugees where thousands of others were sent to their early death; the cold personae he exhibited by ordering the shooting down of humanitarian airplanes, will not let him spare a thought for the grim situation that persists in his state.
Rather, he is ever ready to justify genocide and to mouth his usual untruth that: “If there was no secession, there would not have been war.” He forgets that presently, Aburi Accord, the brainchild of some African leaders involving Gowon and Ojukwu, which Gowon repudiated, keeps resonating when issues relating to the national question are mentioned. He has no sense of history and no good reading of the unfolding events in his own Plateau State and the wider “One-Nigeria”. Such a man deserves to be pitied.
In saner climes, the likes of Gowon will constantly engage their conscience, that sane still voice in them, in a dialogue of true reflection and repentance. But as my mother would say, he is a case of one who basks in his commission of sin. And I think that his latest statement on a calamity that is like an unforgettable deep cut on our palms, which we see each time we look at them, is most irresponsible and the height of inhumanity. •Ekeopara is a columnist for USAfricaonline.com; he is based in Nigeria.
Why Chinua Achebe, the Eagle on the Iroko, is Africa’s writer of the century. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica, and first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com http://www.usafricaonline.com/chido.achebebest.html
Nigeria’s Federal Republic of Insecurity. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica, USAfricaonline.com and the Nigeria360 e-group. http://www.usafricaonline.com/2011/12/17/nigeria-federal-republic-of-insecurity-by-chido-nwangwu/ : IF any of the Nigerian President’s 100 advisers has the polite courage for the extraordinary task of reminding His Excellency of his foremost, sworn, constitutional obligation to the national interest about security and safety of Nigerians and all who sojourn in Nigeria, please whisper clearly to Mr. President that I said, respectfully: Nigerians, at home and abroad, are still concerned and afraid for living in what I call Nigeria’s Federal Republic of Insecurity. FULL text of commentary at USAfricaonline.com http://www.usafricaonline.com/2011/12/17/nigeria-federal-republic-of-insecurity-by-chido-nwangwu/
How and Why Romney beat Obama in first presidential debate. By Chido Nwangwu, Publisher of USAfrica. http://usafricaonline.com/2012/10/03/how-and-why-romney-beat-obama-in-first-presidential-debate-by-chido-nwangwu/
Related insight: USAfrica’s October 17, 2001 special report/alert: Nigeria’s bin-Laden cheerleaders could ignite religious war, destabilize Africa. By USAfrica’s Publisher Chido Nwangwu. http://www.usafricaonline.com/chido.binladennigeria.html
USAfrica: Ikemba ODUMEGWU OJUKWU’s farewell in Aba, today February 28, 2012, reflected a fitting tribute, historically meaningful celebration, proper regard and deserving appreciation of the greatest Igbo, in my opinion, to have ever lived (like him or hate him).
I SALUTE Aba (aka Enyimba city), the robust and fearless town I was born, bred and raised, for giving the Ikemba, our Ochiagha, Gburugburu, Oka oburu uzo, dike na ndu ma n’onwu, mgbadike anyi, a hero’s farewell.
To the Ikemba, may your valiant soul rest in peace and dignity.
We will, and I, Chido Nwangwu, will never forget to continue to tell my generation and the next about your towering courage through tempest and thunder; through sorrow, pain, tears, blood…. •Dr. Chido Nwangwu, Founder & Publisher of USAfrica multimedia networks, first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper published on the internet USAfricaonline.com; and recipient of several journalism and public policy awards, was recently profiled by the CNN International for his pioneering works on multimedia/news/public policy projects for Africans and Americans. http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/international/2010/07/29/mpa.african.media.bk.a.cnn.
• For seasoned insights and breaking news on these issues, log on to USAfricaonline.com and USAfrica powered e-groups including Nigeria360 at yahoogroups and USAfrica at googlegroups. Follow us at Facebook.com/USAfricaChido and Twitter.com/Chido247