What a friend Biafrans had in Awo! With a friend like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Biafra needed no enemies.

It is never a gentlemanly thing to cast (what might seem as) aspersions at a man posthumously. But we all know that “the evil that men do, lives after them”. Nevertheless, at times like this, especially when some elements on this Forum have the penchant to write from purely emotional sentimentalities that are either completely devoid of historical facts, or grossly tainted and biased by personal and idiosyncratic considerations, the truth has to be known.

A lot has been said about the perfidy of Awolowo: his evil machinations; the atrocities he engineered, orchestrated, and caused to be perpetrated against the innocent men, women and children of Biafra, in his pretend cause “to keep Nigeria one”. The man’s ever naked and shameless ambition to be a governing principal of Nigeria – a feat that he had hitherto aspired to, but had eluded him all his life – are historical facts.

I am not about to elicit more of the man’s treachery and opportunism, except to remind people, albeit, Biafrans of a few historical facts about this pretend lover of the Biafran (Igbo) people, and “one Nigeria”.

In 1948, it was Obafemi Awolowo who coined the statement ignominiously quoted today that “Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression. The word “Nigeria” is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within the boundaries of Nigeria from those who do not”.

Nevertheless, Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo went ahead and formed the Action Group party in 1950, and later became the Premier of a self-governing Western Nigeria.

In the 1959 general elections, Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s naked ambition was shattered when his Action Group party was soundly and decisively defeated. The humbled and defeated man found himself leader of the Opposition in the Federal House of Representatives, while his deputy leader in the Action Group party, Chief S.L. Akintola, remained the Premier of Western Nigeria.

The tussle and struggle for power that ensued within the Party ultimately came to a head in 1962, leading to well publicized disturbances in the Western Nigerian Regional House of Assembly. Consequently, the Federal Government had to intervene by suspending the Western Regional Constitution. After the dust had settled, and the Akintola faction of the Action Group were victorious; Chief Akintola and his followers subsequently left the Party to form the Nigerian National Democratic Party, which governed Western Nigeria until the coup d’état of January, 1966.

Meanwhile, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, having been trounced at the federal level, and his party, the Action Group having been defeated at the Western Regional House of Assembly; he and his loyalists began their plot to overthrow the Federal Government of Nigeria by force.

In 1963 Awolowo was convicted for masterminding the conspiracy to overthrow the government of Nigeria – a treasonable felony for which he and his co-conspirators were sentenced to ten years imprisonment. The jailbird was serving his term of imprisonment in Calabar of the then Eastern Nigeria.

The coup d’état of January 15, 1966 led to the suspension of the Nigerian federal constitution, thereby empowering military governments at the federal and regional levels. Lt. Colonel (later, General) Odumegwu-Ojukwu became the Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria.

Given the rapidly deteriorating situation in Nigeria, concomitant to the unpopular counter coup d’état of July 29, 1966, and followed by the genocidal pogrom unleashed on the ethnics of Eastern Nigerian origin in Northern Nigeria, Odumegwu-Ojukwu felt that it served no useful purpose to leave the felon, Awolowo, to continue to languish in jail.

Because he was in control of the then Eastern region including the Calabar prison where the convict was serving his term of imprisonment, Odumegwu-Ojukwu released Awolowo from prison on August 3, 1966.

No sooner did the ex-convict, Obafemi Awolowo, reach Lagos, than did Yakubu Gowon appoint him the Federal Commissioner of Finance and the Vice Chairman of the Federal Executive Council. His hitherto illusory life-long ambition to become the “a governing principal of his “geographical expression”, well in sight, and almost achieved, he began to lay the serpent’s eggs that would hatch to destroy the enclave and the people that gave him succor. Talk of biting the finger that fed you!

When Lt. Col. (later, General) Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu met with Chief Obafemi Awolowo at the State House in Enugu on Saturday, May 6, 1967, the ingrate demonstrated no iota, no gesture of gratitude towards the Military Governor who released him from jail, or to the Region that haboured him for over three years. Instead, the megalomaniac would later call the man who staked everything to save his people from the onslaught he had unleashed against them, “irredeemable”.