I tried but could not restrain myself from expressing my utter repugnance and abhorrence at General Yakubu Gowon’s feeble and self-serving attempt at revisionism, vis-à-vis, the proximate cause of the Nigeria / Biafra War – the failure to implement the Aburi Accords.

Ipso facto, it was General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu who “did everything to avert the war”, including venturing out of the then Eastern Nigeria when his own life was threatened, to attend the Conference called by Lieutenant-General Ankra, in this last ditch effort, at Aburi, Ghana.

As implied, it was not a gentlemanly act for General Gowon to posthumously “indict” General “Ojukwu for not keeping his part of the bargain” in the Aburi Accord. In actual fact, it was General Gowon who upon returning to Lagos from Aburi, Ghana, and after consultations with his British advisers, unilaterally and flagrantly abrogated the terms of the Aburi Accord that could have prevented the Biafran secession. It was General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu on whom “the war was forced” upon, not the other way around. Every Biafran alive today remembers, or must have heard, or learnt of the slogan: “ON Aburi We Stand”. The mantra was coined in Biafra, and by Biafrans.

How could General Yakubu Gowon say that his heart bled for “those kwashiorkor-stricken children” of Biafra when he was the one who ordered the complete, comprehensive, and air-tight blockade of Biafra by land, sea, and air? Were they not his Russian and British mig-fighter planes that routinely shot down most of the European – mostly Swedish – airplanes braving monumental odds and danger in desperate nocturnal and clandestine attempts to deliver relief materials to the strafed and starved women and children of Biafra?

I hope that when he comes around to writing his memoirs, as inferred, he will make it factual and credible.

Chukwuemeka Chukwuma-Eze Obiajunwa, (Ph.D.)

Gowon: We Did Everything to Avert Civil War
08 May 2012

Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon
By Nseobong Okon-Ekong
More than four decades after the Nigerian Civil War, one of the key actors
and former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, has expressed regrets about the
carnage, saying he did everything possible to avoid it.
He said: ⒠Whatever the cause, there was no need to go into a civil war.⒠
Gowon also said the call for the Islamisation of Nigeria by Boko Haram
should not be interpreted to mean the position of the entire North.
Speaking at the Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos at the weekend at the sixth
edition of the Silverbird Man of the Year event where he was honoured with a
Lifetime Achievement Award along with Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and Gen.
Theophilus Danjuma, he said: ⒠It was not my wish or the wish of those
serving with me at the time (to prosecute the war). We did everything to
make sure it did not happen.⒠
Referring to the effort of the late Ghanaian Head of State, Gen Ankrah to
reconcile the Biafran secessionist leader, late Chief Chukwuemeka
Odumegwu-Ojukwu and himself at a parley in Aburi, which later became
famously known as the ‘Aburi Accord’, Gowon disclosed that a decision was
reached to give Ojukwu everything he wanted, ⒠including giving up my own
In a veiled pointer indicting Ojukwu for not keeping his part of the bargain
Gowon implied that the war was forced on him.
According to him, ⒠if there was no secession, the situation would not have
degenerated into war. In a situation where Nigeria was to be dismembered, we
had to order a police action to bring back that part of the country. But in
24 hours, the Biafran army had overrun parts of Western Nigerian and were
heading towards Lagos. Of course, their intention was not to come and shake
hands with Gowon. If they had succeeded, Ojukwu would have been Head of
State of Nigeria and he would have defended Nigeria.⒠
In an emotion-laden voice, Gowon, who spoke after watching highlights from a
film, ⒠Making of a Biafran Legend: Reminiscences of a Boy Soldier⒠ by Basil
Okafor, said the film brought back sad memories.
⒠My heart bleeds to see that (film) clip with those kwashiorkor-stricken
children. God knows how much effort I made to send food to those children,
but it was sabotaged by propaganda that the federal troops had poisoned the
food,⒠ he said.
Speaking on the popular interpretation of his name, Go-On-With-One-Nigeria,
the former head of state said: “I did not produce that coinage. I read it on
the pages of newspapers like everyone else. Then I thought to myself, ‘is
this what Nigerians want me to do?’ This made me more resolved in the task
of keeping Nigeria one.”
Gowon, who is yet to write his memoirs, recalled the warm welcome he got
from children in eastern Nigeria who survived the war.
⒠They sang songs of welcome and acknowledged us as their fathers and leaders
It drew tears from my eyes and I promised them that if I had anything to do
with Nigeria, I will make sure we did whatever we can to restore the hope of
those children.⒠
Acknowledging the efforts of former soldiers, officers and administrators
who have written books on the Nigeria Civil War, Gowon said: ⒠This calls for
me to write my own story.⒠
However, the former head of state regretted the current state of insecurity
in the country and said emphatically that the call by Boko Haram for
Islamisation of Nigeria and its attendant carnage were being done by that
particular sect and should not be misconstrued as the stance of the whole
⒠I feel very bad with what is happening (the way we kill ourselves). I had
hoped that after the civil war, there will be no more killing. We must do
whatever we can to halt this trend,⒠ he said.
Gowon also said the way out ⒠is for us to love Nigeria and believe in
Nigeria; good or bad, right or wrong. In the name of God, stop the excesses
and imbibe the love of your country. Bring all your grievances to the table
for discussion. Let us get together truly and sincerely and find a solution
to our differences.⒠
Gowon, who was Nigeria⒠s longest serving military head of state, was
described by Chief Edem Duke, Minister of Culture, Tourism and National
Orientation who presented him with the award on behalf of the organisers, as
a ⒠living legend⒠.