How Ndi-Igbo Blew A Very Good Chance Of Producing Nigeria's President

by Bode Eluyera

Под лежающий камень, вода не течет.

(Русская пословица)


Water does not flow under a lying stone.

(Russian proverb)

“There was a personal conflict between Gowon and Ojukwu. When General Ironsi was overthrown in July 1966, barely before the nation knew what had happened to Ironsi, Gowon had become the Head of State.

But there were officers who were senior to Gowon and the Army depends very largely on hierarchy. Brigadier Ogundipe who was then Ironsi’s Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters was by far senior to Gowon. Brig. Bob Adebayo as well was by far senior to Gowon. Most of the senior Igbo officers were slaughtered in 1966 pogroms that took place in Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Jos and so on and others fled to the East. There were one or two officers senior to Gowon. Ejoor was senior to Gowon. Ojukwu actually had slight seniority over Gowon, Ogundipe or Adebayo should have taken over as the head of state, but, those who perpetrated the counter-coup of 1966 said they would not have a southern officer to head the army or the country. That was how Gowon who was N 29 in the hierarchy became the Head of State. Not on merit, not on seniority but purely because he came from the North.

Brig Ogundipe refused to take over because he was then in charge of affairs in Lagos and gave instructions to some soldiers as a Brigadier, and they refused to obey him. Wondering how he can be Head of State when his subordinates cannot carry out his instructions?

Ogundipe’s refusal to take over and the subsequent seniority clash between Ojukwu and Gowon opened a brand new problem. For one, the sidelining of this Yoruba man reduced the problem into an Igbo versus Hausa imbroglio. Had Ogundipe been allowed to mediate and succeed Ironsi -as Ojukwu indeed encouraged him to do- it might have calmed the frayed nerves of the two striving groups. As it were, the subsequent ego-tripping between Gowon and Ojukwu clearly precipitated the civil war.

He joined NPN. It is true that Shagari of NPN pardoned him, but nothing stopped him from taking time out to study the political situation in the country before he hurriedly went back to the same Hausa/Fulani people he abused and denounced during the war a few years back. And what effect did that have on the Igbo psyche after fighting a protracted thirty month war with millions of Igbo fatalities only to see their leader twelve years later in the fold and bosom of the “oppressors”, wining and dining with same?

So many Igbos were disappointed with that his move. It is ironic that Ojukwu all of a sudden, started preaching “one Nigeria”, wining and dining with his erstwhile archenemies. I see selfishness here…

Gowon unleashed three Divisions on the Igbos during the war and ruthless and merciless human beings commanded these three Divisions. In fact, those commanders were sub-human, judging from their actions during that war. They had genocidal tendencies.

Out of the three, Muritala Muhammed had the worst genocide instincts and he used it during his military onslaught.

It was this same Muritala Muhammed and Theophilus Danjuma that oversaw the killing of over 300 Igbo Army officers and men from July 29 to August 1, 1966.

Col. Mohammed Shuwa (and Col. Theophilus Danjuma, his deputy) and his men invaded Biafra from the north in July 1969, they were also mean and ruthless and the commander personally instructed his troops to exercise all levels of violence against the Biafrans.

This is one of his directives:

“You are therefore required to push ahead ruthlessly to vanquish the rebels in your way. You will tell this to all your men because rebels have no honor and no respect for the dignity of mankind. You are bound to have heavier casualties than hitherto but you cannot win a war without heavy casualties” (See New York Times, Tuesday, October 24, 1967, p 20, Column 3)

Muritala Muhammed unlike the other two Commanders was a failure at the battlefront. His act at Asaba was unimaginable, he massacred Igbo males there, and he wanted to wipe out the entire Asaba people. In Onitsha he met his match. He tried at least twice to take Onitsha but was beaten back and he took in heavy casualties. He then assembled the greatest motorized army at the time and tried again to take Onitsha from the northeast. The result was even more crushing: The famous “Abagana Ambush”. The devastation was so intense that many wondered if there was more to it than just fighting a war. Biafrans were determined to make him pay for what he did to their Asaba brothers and sisters. But he miraculously escaped and was later airlifted away from the complete carnage.

. At a point during the war, Muritala was cornered at Abagana, he was almost killed there. He ran and one man from Abagana took Muritala in and hid him in his house. When the Biafran soldiers pursuing Muritala came to the house and asked the man whether he saw a Nigerian soldier around, this man lied, swore never to have seen anybody. Muritala was saved and later was airlifted out of Abagana by the re-enforcement that came to rescue him.

When Muritala Muhammed became the Head of State, he repaid this Abagana man that saved his life with a job at Nigerian office at the United Nations in New York. There in New York, the man and his wife had their children who are American citizens by birth.

Igbos already had 5 Senate Presidents since 1999 as against the 3 Speakers of the House of Representatives because of back- biting, sabotaging and corruption. They allowed the powers that be to play them one against another. The powers that be are using the divide and conquer tactics against the Igbo leaders and they fell hook, line and sinker for it.

When the imposed Obasanjo administration came on board, an Igboman became the senate president even though he was not the popular choice, Igbos in the senate was the brain behind his removal from the office, then came in another Igboman who people think was the popular choice of the majority of the senate members but not of the executive, still the same Igbos were used to frame him up and he was removed, though he was part of his own problem, then came another and now another Igboman is there but every Igbo senate member want to be senate president at the expense of his brother, Ndigbo this is not good for us. Can’t we learn from our Hausa/Fulani counterparts how to protect and support our own no matter who is involved? Look how solidly the Hausa/Fulanis stay behind the speaker of the House of Representatives who is one of their own, it shows the strength of team work and being united for a common cause…”

Temple Chima Ubochi.

excerpt of article published on a Nigerian web site.

“The truth is that nobody is marginalizing the Igbo man; he is the one marginalizing himself. There is a saying here which is called PHD – Pull Him Down syndrome. It is among the Igbo. The Igbo don’t build their own people, they rather pull them down. That is one factor the second factor is greed and the third factor is selfishness. I must be the only shining star or the only Iroko in the forest. So when the time comes to find a quality person, like a technocrat; we don’t project our own, we tear them down. So when the opportunities arise we cannot play. We don’t have the first eleven that can match the south west or the north east or the North West”.

See the way the Hausa Fulani prepared their own people. There is a transition, if they offer me a minister I say no it is not me let Aminu go because Aminu is more competent, he has been to the university. But if it is here, what you here is no it is my son who must go, so this level of selfishness is what is killing the Igbo; they are the ones marginalizing themselves in the scheme of things in Nigeria. We are talking about leadership, who is to produce the president; what homework have we done? What preparations have we set in motion? See the way Umar Yar’Adua emerged. The North in one voice said power must return to the north. They did not say it will go to Yar’Adua or Buhari. Power must return to the north and they blocked our ears with their insistence, and they pushed Obasanjo and Obasanjo afraid to displeased them began to look with a toothcomb and eventually he found the man with the right qualities and that man is Yar’Adua. The North now said we would support him whether he has K leg or whatever he lacks we would make it up for him.”

Charles Ugwuh,

PDP governorship candidate in Imo State.

excerpt of interview given in early June to Sunday Independent.

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NSLC July 22, 2007 - 11:29 pm


What a refreshing and intelligent article and important message to Ndigbo, the so called “Jews Of Africa”.

You’ve hit the nail on the head.

The injustice which had been done to the Igbo people for about 40 yrs now would be corrected in a few years.

There is a secret plan underway for that.

It will be the final solution.

After it is implemented, more than 60% of the population will be cleaned off, and there will not be anymore Nigeria. (shhhh)

This is "what" the Hausas want and this will be what they will get.

hunter July 17, 2007 - 4:58 pm

i think right now every nigerian should be thinking of what we can do, to stop being use to the present situation in the country. instead of blabing about who or what tribe is president, we should stop being afraid of matching out in unisim to confront this selfish pigs that calls them selves leaders. about the light , road,schools, hospital situation in the country, i dont know if our government has any forum to communicate with the people, if yes pls i like to know. this crap about who or what is ruling, should end, and as nigerian lets find a way out of this " no light ,no good roads, no clean water, lack of hospital eqiupments.

Kwemah Emeka July 11, 2007 - 10:37 am

Hilarious article. If Igbos are as brilliant as you say, why have all these Igbos fled the East? Why will they shed tears if you ask them to leave Lagos? Why is Aba such a dump? Why do you not find tons of other Nigerians migrating to Igboland? Simple: because Igbos have created a hell for themselves in South East Nigeria. The average Igbo man in Onitsha is looking for ways to flee Onitsha and reach Lagos, yes, the very South-Western, very Yoruba Lagos!

Julius June 26, 2007 - 3:06 pm

People have different version of what really happened during the war depending on who you support or where you are from, so I guess this is just the version of the writer. About Igbo president, that ain't a bad idea as long as there is improvement in Nigeria. I had the opportunity of residing in the north for years and the west for years, I visited the east many times. Poverty that I have seen doesn't discriminate, igbos are as poor as yorubas or hausas or any other ethinc group. What we need right now is the right leadership whether yoruba, hausa, ibo or even a foreigner.

AWKA June 26, 2007 - 10:48 am

Much as I agree with the writer I would like to make one thing very clear. The Igbos have been marginalised and are being marginalised by the whole of the country. I want the write to know that nobody will surrender the presidency to Ndi-Igbo on emotional ground.Never. And more importantly, Ndi-Igbo do not need the presidency for now because they have not laid any structure that would lead them to Aso rock. But what does an Igbo man need the presidency for? There are two types of power that make things happen- political (military) and economic. The igbos can organise themselves now and capture the economic base of the country and the political power will be a childs play. Imagine a situation where the total gross domestic output of the five states of the Igbo man is 10 times the GDP of the rest of the country. What do you think? Do you think the conspiracy among the Nigerian people against the Igbos will still stand? We the Igbos are a disappointment to the whole country not in terms of not coming together to capturing the political power but our failure to have transformed Igbo land into a modern industrialised region comparable to Japan. We have the intellectual ability and all that it takes to have GDP comparable to Japan or at least south Korea and we waste our time on issues that are not important. When Obasanjo came here in Japan early this year it was not mentioned in their local news- to tell you how unimportant we appear before them. How can we be important in their eyes when annual profit of Toyota company is more than what we get annually from crude oil. Toyota as a company is richer than Nigeria as a country. I am always annoyed when I read pathetic write-ups about how the Igbos are edged out of Aso rock . let me tell you, we were defeated in a war and we have lost the political strength to climb to Aso rock. When the Japanese were defeated in world war II they knew they had been defeated militarily. They fought and captured economic power and today they are not push-over in world affairs. We were defeated in a war , all we need to do is to come together if we really love our igboness and plan how to capture the economic power and become one of the richest tribe in the world and then the presidency shall be added unto us.

Anonymous June 25, 2007 - 11:25 pm

I concur with commentators 1 & 2; irrespective of which region produced the president, the fact still remains that, hausas, ibos, yorubas, and others are still looking for way out of that god forsaken country. ask any college graduate in nigerian; they are ready to get out of nigeria

Toyin June 25, 2007 - 7:08 pm

While this article is very elaborate at siting history I think its reflects more of the author's sentiments about the Ndi-Igbos. I love all Nigerians and my question is what difference would an Igbo president make to the current welfare of Nigeria as a sovereign state ? Quite frankly I can care less what tribe, religion or social orientation the President or the leader of our country is so long as he or she possess the qualities of a great leader.

james June 25, 2007 - 11:51 am

Hush already! The way some of these non-igbo nigerians write about igbo people, you would think the average yoruba or hausa man is better off than the average igbo man in that forsaken country………quite to the contrary. Don't be fooled by lagos, go deep into the west and see the massive poverty there. Yes, there is poverty in nigeria among all the ethnic groups but there is no doubt that the average igbo man have it way better than the average hausa or yoruba man. Igbo presidency is useless if he can't improve the life of nigerians and thats how non-igbo nigerians should be thinking, instead of jubiliating that a yoruba man is president. What have opbasanjo done for the average yoruba man for eight years? what has the hausa/fulani dictators done for the common hausa/fulani for the past twenty years before obasanjo took over?


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