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2
General Board / Yar’Adua had kidney transplant – WikiLeaks
« on: January 23, 2011, 10:11:46 PM »
http://www.vanguardngr.com/2011/01/yar%E2%80%99adua-had-kidney-transplant-wikileaks/


Yar’Adua had kidney transplant – WikiLeaks
Headlines Jan 23, 2011

LAGOS—LATE President Umaru Yar’Adua had a kidney transplant in 2002 while still a state governor in Katsina State, but avoided having another one while he was President over fears it would cause unrest, according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

Late President Umar Yar'Adua...had kidney transplant in 2002

The cables suggest the country’s top power brokers in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, knew about Yar’Adua’s condition, but still propped him up to become the winning presidential candidate in 2007. Aides to the President stuffed his clothes to hide his weight loss and used makeup to hide his pallor, the cables claim, but his illness ultimately led to a long absence from the country that fuelled public discontent.

Yar’Adua died in May 2010, propelling Vice President Goodluck Jonathan into the presidency. Jonathan recently became the ruling party’s presidential candidate for the coming April election, upsetting a balance of power in the country.

Wikileaks quoted a diplomatic cable from February 2009 as stating: “What is clear is that the president’s health is a matter of growing concern, particularly on the minds of the northern Nigerian elite. We have noted a considerable uptick in what appears to be behind-the-scenes machinations and back-room dealing.”

WikiLeaks publicly released the cables late Saturday night. A spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, has said officials would have no comment on anything released by the website.

A diplomatic cable from June 2008 claimed that Yar’Adua first began experiencing renal failure in 1999, just as he became governor of Katsina State. The cable said German company, Julius Berger, one of the dominant road construction firms in the country, set up a dialysis clinic in Yar’Adua’s home. The firm later would fly German experts in and out of Nigeria to privately treat Yar’Adua, the cables claim.

The cables claim Yar’Adua received the transplant in 2002 from donor, Sayyadi Abba Ruma, who would serve as Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources when Yar’Adua came into power. Ruma could not be immediately reached for comment Sunday.

The discolourations long noticed on Yar’Adua’s face, fuelling rumours about his ill health, came from the steroids doctors gave him to help his body accept the transplant, according to the cables.


Yar’Adua became president in 2007 through an election international observers described as rigged. His health continued to fail.
At a December 2008 event, Yar’Adua “appeared to weigh no more than 140 pounds, his skin was very taunt, his handshake was weak, voice was fainter than on previous meetings, his eyes were deep set with dark circles underneath, and his teeth were also very badly tarred,” the February 2009 cable reads.

Doctors apparently told Yar’Adua he needed a second transplant and Ruma’s brother was sent to Germany to be checked as a possible donor, according to the cable. However, a planned trip got put on hold over political calculations.

“Yar’Adua did not take this planned trip given public reaction to rumours about travel and concerns about his ability to govern,” the February cable reads. “We have no information on whether this trip may be rescheduled.”

The president’s health continued to worsen. Yar’Adua left Nigeria on November 23, 2009, to seek medical treatment in Saudi Arabia. His physician later told journalists that Yar’Adua suffered from acute pericarditis, an inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart. However, Yar’Adua’s stay in Saudi Arabia drifted from days to weeks to months, stalling government activity in a nation vital to U.S. oil supplies.

Yar’Adua returned to Nigeria in late February 2010, but never appeared publicly. He died May 5.

Yar’Adua’s death still reverberates through the country’s political system. An unwritten power-sharing agreement in the ruling party calls for the nation’s presidency to shift between the north and the south. Yar’Adua died before finishing the first of what politicians had assumed would be two, four-year terms.

Jonathan now faces minor party candidates from across the north in the April 9 presidential election. However, only the ruling People’s Democratic Party has the muscle and money necessary to manipulate Nigeria’s unruly electoral system.

3
Literature / Re: What are you reading today?
« on: January 19, 2011, 03:22:31 AM »
I am so grateful. Another glowing review just in....

By Maggie of Sociolingo. Maggie is a sociolinguist with a PhD in education and a keen interest in African affairs.

http://www.sociolingo.com/2011/01/nigeria-book-review-oil-politics-and-violence/

Jan 18, 2011

http://www.amazon.com/Oil-Politics-Violence-Nigerias-1966-1976/dp/0875867081/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1295402852&sr=8-1

In the year that many Nigerians celebrate their 50th Anniversary of Independence, it is also an opportunity to reflect on all that has happened since 1960. If you do a search on Amazon you’ll find quite a number of Nigeria books published around this anniversary.

One of these books, Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria’s Military Coup Culture 1966-1976, is by Max Siollun, a well respected Nigerian historian, who has a gift of making the history of this complex country clearer to non-specialists.

In his book Siollun opens up one of the most troublesome and distressing periods in Nigeria’s history and introduces us to the mindset of the Nigerian military which has so influenced the turmoil that ensued following independence. Although the book is a historical narrative, it goes beyond ‘dry’ dates and events to take the reader on a journey. The author does this by utilising recently de-classified material and old intelligence reports together with personal knowledge and in depth analysis .

I like the way this book sets the scene by presenting us with a series of maps at the beginning. Before the opening pages we are presented with a map of the major ethnic groups, although I’m not quite sure why that map was not included with the other maps in the preface as it would go better with the map of major Nigerian languages and the more general map locating Nigeria in Africa would have been better in its place, but that is just my preference.  The series of historical maps in the preface cover the political development  from the four regions of 1966  to the present 36 States and are worth referring back to from time to time.

It is impossible to appreciate the political complexity of Nigeria without a passing understanding of how the country came into being, its ethnic complexity and its mineral wealth and this book provides good background material in the preface and the opening chapter for those who are not so familiar with Nigeria.  The writer introduces us to these issues in the opening chapters by describing the situation leading up to independence and  introducing us to several strands - political and military – which culminate in the post-independence turmoil of 1966 which was a pivotal and dreadful year.

It is important to understand that like many African countries ‘Nigeria’ was an artificial construct.

    The country was artificially constructed by a colonial power without the consent of its citizens. Over 250 ethnic groups were arbitrarily herded together into an unwieldy and non-consensual union by the UK. Nigeria was so ethnically, religiously and linguistically complex that even some of its leading politicians initially doubted it could constitute a real country.

The division of the huge area called Nigeria into the original 3 Regions by the British in the earlier part of the 20th century was largely pragmatic. The very large Northern Region was predominantly Muslim and dominated by the Hausa and Fulani, while the predominantly Christian south was dominated by two competing groups, the Yoruba and the Igbo. Among these main groups were 250 other ethnic groups of varying size. Most ethnic groups had little in common, and Siollun says that ‘The cultural differences between the ethnic groups made it virtually impossible for Nigerians to have any commonality of purpose’. It was within this artificially constructed maelstrom that political divides took on the identity and ideology of the these three geo-political regions.  The Western Region in the south was further divided into a Mid-Western region in 1963 after rising tensions and what could almost be considered the first coup plot. The antagonism between the north and south continued after independence and was further exacerbated by the fragmentation in the more numerous south and the uneven distribution of mineral wealth.

It is as a military historian that Siollun has his strength and this shows in his masterly analysis in the chapters that introduce the military background to the coups and the detailed description and analysis of the coups themselves. In some ways, although this is devastatingly real, I was reminded of a detective novel as the protagonists are revealed and their motives and actions analysed.

It would be tempting to give you a chapter by chapter summary of how the coup culture developed, but you’ll just have to read the book to understand the depth of detail that gives a fascinating insight into the way that friends can become rivals and enemies, and to see how Siollun answers the question of ‘how an apolitical professional army with less than fifty indigenous officers at independence in 1960 became politicized and overthrew its country’s government less than six years later’.

The lessons to be learnt from the critical analysis in this book are grim but necessary reading. Siollun’s final points are that ‘most of the coups …. were carried out by the same cabal of officers, and that ‘an unpunished coup will be followed by a bloodier coup’.  It is also significant that it was only after 1999 when ‘all the serving army officers who had held political office for 6 months or more were compulsorily retired’ that the events set in motion in 1966 that lead to the military coups and military rule were able to be put to rest.

I think this book will become a seminal source for Nigerian historians and will be a fascinating read for anyone interested in Nigeria and in how coups develop.


http://www.amazon.com/Oil-Politics-Violence-Nigerias-1966-1976/dp/0875867081/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1295402852&sr=8-1

Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria’s Military Coup Culture (1966-1976) by Max Siollun, Algora Publishing, New York. 2009  ISBN: 9780875867083

4
General Board / Re: From Nzeogwu To Dimka - A Book Review
« on: January 19, 2011, 03:21:02 AM »
I am so grateful. Another glowing review just in....

By Maggie of Sociolingo. Maggie is a sociolinguist with a PhD in education and a keen interest in African affairs.

http://www.sociolingo.com/2011/01/nigeria-book-review-oil-politics-and-violence/

Jan 18, 2011

http://www.amazon.com/Oil-Politics-Violence-Nigerias-1966-1976/dp/0875867081/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1295402852&sr=8-1

In the year that many Nigerians celebrate their 50th Anniversary of Independence, it is also an opportunity to reflect on all that has happened since 1960. If you do a search on Amazon you’ll find quite a number of Nigeria books published around this anniversary.

One of these books, Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria’s Military Coup Culture 1966-1976, is by Max Siollun, a well respected Nigerian historian, who has a gift of making the history of this complex country clearer to non-specialists.

In his book Siollun opens up one of the most troublesome and distressing periods in Nigeria’s history and introduces us to the mindset of the Nigerian military which has so influenced the turmoil that ensued following independence. Although the book is a historical narrative, it goes beyond ‘dry’ dates and events to take the reader on a journey. The author does this by utilising recently de-classified material and old intelligence reports together with personal knowledge and in depth analysis .

I like the way this book sets the scene by presenting us with a series of maps at the beginning. Before the opening pages we are presented with a map of the major ethnic groups, although I’m not quite sure why that map was not included with the other maps in the preface as it would go better with the map of major Nigerian languages and the more general map locating Nigeria in Africa would have been better in its place, but that is just my preference.  The series of historical maps in the preface cover the political development  from the four regions of 1966  to the present 36 States and are worth referring back to from time to time.

It is impossible to appreciate the political complexity of Nigeria without a passing understanding of how the country came into being, its ethnic complexity and its mineral wealth and this book provides good background material in the preface and the opening chapter for those who are not so familiar with Nigeria.  The writer introduces us to these issues in the opening chapters by describing the situation leading up to independence and  introducing us to several strands - political and military – which culminate in the post-independence turmoil of 1966 which was a pivotal and dreadful year.

It is important to understand that like many African countries ‘Nigeria’ was an artificial construct.

    The country was artificially constructed by a colonial power without the consent of its citizens. Over 250 ethnic groups were arbitrarily herded together into an unwieldy and non-consensual union by the UK. Nigeria was so ethnically, religiously and linguistically complex that even some of its leading politicians initially doubted it could constitute a real country.

The division of the huge area called Nigeria into the original 3 Regions by the British in the earlier part of the 20th century was largely pragmatic. The very large Northern Region was predominantly Muslim and dominated by the Hausa and Fulani, while the predominantly Christian south was dominated by two competing groups, the Yoruba and the Igbo. Among these main groups were 250 other ethnic groups of varying size. Most ethnic groups had little in common, and Siollun says that ‘The cultural differences between the ethnic groups made it virtually impossible for Nigerians to have any commonality of purpose’. It was within this artificially constructed maelstrom that political divides took on the identity and ideology of the these three geo-political regions.  The Western Region in the south was further divided into a Mid-Western region in 1963 after rising tensions and what could almost be considered the first coup plot. The antagonism between the north and south continued after independence and was further exacerbated by the fragmentation in the more numerous south and the uneven distribution of mineral wealth.

It is as a military historian that Siollun has his strength and this shows in his masterly analysis in the chapters that introduce the military background to the coups and the detailed description and analysis of the coups themselves. In some ways, although this is devastatingly real, I was reminded of a detective novel as the protagonists are revealed and their motives and actions analysed.

It would be tempting to give you a chapter by chapter summary of how the coup culture developed, but you’ll just have to read the book to understand the depth of detail that gives a fascinating insight into the way that friends can become rivals and enemies, and to see how Siollun answers the question of ‘how an apolitical professional army with less than fifty indigenous officers at independence in 1960 became politicized and overthrew its country’s government less than six years later’.

The lessons to be learnt from the critical analysis in this book are grim but necessary reading. Siollun’s final points are that ‘most of the coups …. were carried out by the same cabal of officers, and that ‘an unpunished coup will be followed by a bloodier coup’.  It is also significant that it was only after 1999 when ‘all the serving army officers who had held political office for 6 months or more were compulsorily retired’ that the events set in motion in 1966 that lead to the military coups and military rule were able to be put to rest.

I think this book will become a seminal source for Nigerian historians and will be a fascinating read for anyone interested in Nigeria and in how coups develop.


http://www.amazon.com/Oil-Politics-Violence-Nigerias-1966-1976/dp/0875867081/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1295402852&sr=8-1

Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria’s Military Coup Culture (1966-1976) by Max Siollun, Algora Publishing, New York. 2009  ISBN: 9780875867083

5
Literature / Re: What are you reading today?
« on: December 08, 2010, 04:46:15 AM »
I am humbled. Sylva Nze Ifedigbo just wrote another glowing review for the latest edition of Sentinel Magazine (Issue 4)

http://sentinelnigeria.org/online/issue4/max-siolluns-oil-politics-violence-nigeria%E2%80%99s-military-coup-culture-1966-1976/

Max Siollun’s Oil Politics & Violence: Nigeria’s Military Coup Culture (1966-1976)

Book Review

By Sylva Nze Ifedigbo

In a recent piece in NEXT ‘Making the Next 50 Count’ (http://bit.ly/bThmiw) I noted a seemingly conscious effort to erase parts of our national history by making it seem like they never happened, letting them fizzle out of memory. In that piece, I argued; for us to make the most of the next fifty years of Nigeria’s life as a nation, we must go back to our history and for once take seriously the lessons of the past. If we accept that the last fifty years of nationhood has been more or less wasted, then, we must make a conscious effort to appreciate what made it a waste so we can understand how to correct the wrongs. All this is a function of history and that is what Max Siollun offers us in his book “Violence: Nigeria’s Military Coup Culture (1966-1976)”.

Besides the dearth of books on our national history and the near complete erosion of History as a subject of importance in our universities, it is saddening to note that most of the few materials available are mediocre and poorly researched, often betraying either an academic seeking to move up the ranks or a roadside hustler eager to make a quick buck selling books to “History students” equally eager to pass exams. It is in these two respects, standing against them, that Max Siollun establishes the credence of his work.

With evident objectivity, every page of the 268-page book exudes detailed research and is presented as a free flowing blow-by-blow account of events; Siollun carefully separates speculation from fact and myth from actual happenings.
This book, a detailed expose on the first four coups and the Nigerian civil war, helps bring to fore what really happened in those years, who were involved and why they did what they did. Siollun packs his work with dates and names – all easily verifiable.

Popular for his many history laced political essays in Nigerian news forums both online and off, Siollun, who writes Nigerian history almost from an outsiders point of view, comes across as free from the ethnic chauvinism which limits the work of other Nigerian Historians. Siollun traces the history of the Nation before independence, particularly that of the military, and sequentially leads the reader on to the events leading up to the first coup, the counter coup, the Civil War and then traces the discussion further on to the two post-Civil War coups. The writer shows the relationship between all four coups. He highlights, in particular, the recurrent involvement of certain names, such as Babangida, Abacha, Yaradua and Buhari, in Nigeria’s coup plotting history and touches on the fact that for many years, coup plotting seemed to be the main agenda in the country’s military, quite like a culture, and how the failure to punish coup plotters helped to sustain the tradition and how this, in turn, led to instability in the polity and attendant underdevelopment which still stares Nigeria in the face today.

Siollun’s book presents new insights into widely held opinions, revealing what was hitherto not known in the public space about the working of the military and the inner happenings within its ranks, especially as they concerned the coups.
It reveals that the January 15th 1966 coup, seen largely as an “Igbo Coup”, was essentially instigated by southern politicians working behind the curtain to unseat their Northern rivals and change the power equation. It also reveals the personal emotions, reactions and idiosyncrasies of the popular officers of the time and helps us understand them better, shedding light on why they did what they did then as well as their contemporary posturing.

It is generally held that there is always more than one angle to a story; therefore, many people would disagree with Siollun’s arguments or explanations on some of the events discussed in the book. This is expected and indeed the author does not pretend to have written an infallible history but has rather, simply, opened an avenue for reflection and knowledge sharing on our history. Another obvious inadequacy of the book is the fact that it covers just ten of our fifty years of national existence, this again highlights the need for other historians to rise to the challenge and tell the story after 1976.

This book is a good read, made even more easily readable by Max Siollun’s fantastic prose and use of simple language in a manner which takes away the oft complained at drabness of history books. I would recommend this to all writers, political commentators and indeed all persons who love Nigeria. We can not make the next fifty years of our life as a nation worth the while if we don’t appreciate where we are coming from.
____________________________________________________________
Ifedigbo, an award winning writer, is the ‘Features and Reviews’ editor for the Sentinel Nigeria Magazine
____________________________________________________________

Oil Politics & Violence: Nigeria’s Military Coup Culture (1966-1976)
Max Siollun
Algora Publishing, New York; 2009
268pp

7
Not really sure why the revisionist stories are emerging. The people who recovered Balewa\'s body (including his ADC, police officers and the Madaki of Bauchi) have all testified that Balewa\'s corpse had terrible injuries from gunshot wounds. Every other victim in the Jan 66 coup was SHOT. Why would Balewa\'s death be mysteriously different?

8
Sadly, I cannot post it online.

But the casualness with which Nzeogwu spoke made me wonder whether he truly grasped the magnitude of what he had just done, and the terrible consequences that were about to follow.

9
The Awolowo angle is nothing new. All the key plotters: Ifeajuna, Nzeogwu, Gbulie, Ademoyega, Nwobosi etc, have all said they intended to release Awolowo and make him the new leader.

Ironsi foiled all that of course.

10
General Board / Re: "Nzeogwu's Mentor" Spills the Beans (Col Conrad Nwawo)
« on: September 29, 2010, 03:14:39 AM »
A few weeks ago, I watched a TV clip of a Jan 1966 interview with Major Nzeogwu just days after the coup. He spoke to a reporter and as he was interviewed, casually spoke about the night he killed the Sardauna. He spoke about it with a casualness and aloofness that boggled the mind.

I thought to myself...I wonder what many northerners (inc soldiers) who watched that interview must have felt inside as they watched the Sardauna\'s murderer casually talk about killing their leader on worldwide TV.

11
General Board / 50 Years of Nigerian Memories - Unmissable Video
« on: September 29, 2010, 03:12:08 AM »
http://maxsiollun.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/nigerias-50th-independence-anniversary-october-1-2010/

All you Nigerian history buffs out there. This video is unmissable. This video is a brilliant journey through Nigeria\'s post-Independence history from 1960 till today.

Al-Jazeera did a wonderful job here of chronicling Nigeria\'s history in videos and interviews. It also features great feature length interviews with people like Wole Soyinka and Ibrahim Babangida, and video footage of Nigeria’s past leaders like Ironsi, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, General Yakubu Gowon, Phillip Effiong, Olusegin Obasanjo, and footage from the 1966 pogroms and civil war.

*Warning – there are some harrowing scenes of dying/suffering during Biafra.*

http://maxsiollun.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/nigerias-50th-independence-anniversary-october-1-2010/

12
General Board / "Nzeogwu's Mentor" Spills the Beans (Col Conrad Nwawo)
« on: September 20, 2010, 04:25:23 AM »
Jan. 1966 coup
Nzeogwu’s mentor, Col Nwawo, spills the beans
By JOSFYN UBA
Monday, September 20, 2010



Lt-Col Conrad Nwawo (rtd), 78, was a mentor to the late Major Kaduna Nzeogwu, leader of Nigeria’s first military coup which occurred on January 15, 1966. The Nigerian civil war veteran also taught the young Nzeogwu at the military school. But for Nwawo’s intervention, who was then, Defence Attache at the Nigerian High Commission, London, UK, the 1966 coup would have degenerated into an immediate civil war. He, alone could stop the “unstoppable Nzeogwu.”

During the civil war, his name meant different things to different people, depending on which side of the divide you were. To some, it evoked bravery and courage, while for others, it signaled imminent danger. Recently, at his Onicha Olona, Aniocha North Local Government, Delta State, residence, the former warlord took Daily Sun down memory lane. He spoke on his relationship with Nzeogwu and the previous battles he fought before the Nigerian civil war. Excerpts:

When did you join the military?
I joined the Nigerian Army on December 1, 1950. It was then called the West African Frontier Force. I was commissioned on May 28, 1954, at Ettenhall, UK, as a second Lieutenant. I would later become number 10 in the Nigerian Army. During the crisis of 1966, in the four major regions, there was a shake-up in the Armed Forces.

Where were you during the first coup?
By January 1966, I was the military attaché and Defence aAviser in London. I had to fly back to Nigeria because of the situation then and I had to come from Lagos to Kaduna.

Why did it have to be you that were called back?
I had to be called back because I was a very senior military officer. I was a Lieutenant Colonel and I happened to be from the same region with Major Nzeogwu. Apart from that, I was also Nzeogwu’s teacher in Military School and we had a very good relationship. So, that relationship had to be tapped to get Nzeogwu convinced to follow me to Lagos. No other person could have taken Nzeogwu to Lagos except me because he regarded me so much. He was just like a son to me.

If Nzeogwu had no respect for any other person, he had very high regards for me and respected me so much. On that day in Kaduna, I addressed the officers and told them of my mission which was to go with Nzeogwu to Lagos. The address was cordial and the parade was good. He was more like my own son and so he had no problem as he too, briefly told the officers that he was going to Lagos.

Could you recall what happened between Kaduna and Lagos?
At the time of Ahmadu Bello’s encounter, during the shoot-out, so many things happened. Nzeogwu was injured. He had shrapnels on his hands and was taken to the Military Hospital, Kaduna. He was treated by one young lady, Miss Alice Mordi, who later became Mrs. Alice Onogwu. She is from around my place here. She hails from Ukala in Delta State. She is married to an Ogwashi Uku man.

What kind of person was Major Nzeogwu?

He was a patriot and a nationalist to the core. He wanted the best for Nigeria. He was so much like a son to me. We had a very close relationship

Before the Nigerian civil war, did you fight any other war?
Yes, I was in the Congo. It was in 1963 in the Congo, so Congo experience had come before the Nigeria civil war. Nigerian Army was then known as the Queens Own Regiment. When the queen came to Nigeria in 1956, it had to be changed to Queen’s Own Nigeria Regiment. Until Nigeria became a republic, it was still the Queens Own Nigeria Regiment.

From the Congo operations, the Queen of England gave us an award, the MC which means the Military Cross. The award was given to just the two of us. I and Adekunle Fajuyi were the only Nigerian military officers to be so honoured in the history of the Nigerian Army. We were the only two. It was a professional award given by the queen then. By the time I got the award, the Nigerian Army was still known as Queen’s Own Nigeria Regiment.

What was your relationship with the late Adekunle Fajuyi?

He was a junior officer to me. Adekunle Fajuyi was killed on the same day when they killed Major-General Johnson Thomas Aguyi-Ironsi.

Can you remember one striking experience in the Congo operations?
The Congo United Nations operations were brought about by the fact that they were not organized to do things so the Nigerian Army was left to do that. Other Commonwealth countries were there. And of course, we were very efficient. We knew our job. I was a Major. I was a Company Commander in the Congo. It was not as a result of a company action. It was a lot of individual action.

Could you recall your parents’ reaction when you were going to the military?

My father was not very happy at all. I remember that day. It was on a Saturday. I was ready to go to the NMTC, military school. I was very happy. I had come from Lagos, working my way through the military. It was not an easy matter at all. They had to get to the divisional officer in Benin City to find out about my parentage. That was in those days. I knew that was happening but I couldn’t care less because I knew that nothing would happen. They just wanted to know whether we were from a fighting stock. You know what it means, then.

How old were you when you joined the Army?
I was in my early 20s because I had finished secondary education and gone to the School of Agriculture, Moore plantation, Ibadan. I graduated in December 1946 and started working as a civil servant before I went to the Cameroon.

What happened and how did you move from the Nigerian Army to Biafra Army?

The thing came and swept all of us. It was at the 4th Area Command in Benin City, then. Emeka Odimegwu-Ojukwu was very keen to have me in particular. It was a question of loyalty. One had to be careful about it. I was very loyal to the Nigerian Army. Whatever happened, I couldn’t care less. I was in the Nigerian Army until things started happening.

At that time, though, I had travelled out of the country and had not returned when things began to happen. When I returned, I came from London through Cameroon, Daula to Enugu. I travelled from London to Daula to Enugu.

At Umuahia, where you were said to have been caught off in ambush, although, you still pulled through, what gave you the courage to fight the way you did at that time?

The courage was because I was the Commander and a Commander is a courageous man anytime. I had a strike force at Umuahia and we were caught off. Then, we got there and bulldozed with my group across the federal forces. When we had succeeded in clearing them, and we were coming back across a river, I told my men that I would not step into the river or walk across it.

I told them to lift me over and above the river which they did, of course. The idea was that I wanted to see the picture of that particular portion so about 10 men had to carry me over the river. That was an incident that has remained memorable. It was an experience for about two days in the bush with the federal forces before we cleared them.

Was there any other striking experience?
As the Commander of the 4th Area Command, when we had taken off our defensive positions, which was why I was sent to Onitsha to take over the defensive there, along the River Niger. Having deployed all available men there, I observed that the troops had fought there but they were not quite organized and not very reliable too.

We had to push in some strength by visiting them, redeploying men. At that point, I was moved in there to hold them and to try and organize them because those we met were not so reliable.
Sometimes, when I went through the bridge now, and on the left, I remember things. When I saw the river, I remember Abagana and the incidents leading to it and all of that. I remember Achuzia and Madiebo when we deployed at Abagana.

I also remember one very striking incident at Itikwukpo junction when Achuzia had told all the other soldiers to go back to their places as he didn’t want the senior people to be behind him. Just as they were preparing to move after telling them, and in less than 10 minutes, they started bombing. One of the bombs fell just on where we were standing. Madiebo was wounded with some shrapnels. I also had a small one at the back. We were all rushed to Iyienu Hospital. So these are some of experiences that I try to recall.

Did you have a specific position in the Biafran High Command?
Of course, yes. I was the head of the strike command.

What is the name of the strike division that you had?
It was called the 11 Division. That was the command that moved from Onitsha. There was another one, the 13 Division. Then, there was the Commando Group which was the final one. We had people like Emeka Ananaba.

Can you remember any major decision you took that either helped or influenced Ojukwu during those hey days to accomplish what you people had aimed at?

I can’t remember now, I can’t remember. Unless, I have to go through my memoirs, I can’t remember now.

What was your relationship with Ojukwu?
Ojukwu had great respect for me throughout the Biafran war and I knew that. He showed me a great measure of respect. And he was always saying it that he had great hope in my capability. That was quite understandable. He knew that I was there with my whole being. And there was no question about that. He always said it

13
This issue will not go away, other people are now claiming that Balewa was NOT shot dead, and was actually alive for FIVE DAYS after the coup. Read on:

http://thenationonlineng.net/web3/index.html?search_options=YTo2OntzOjEyOiJzZWFyY2hfbGltaXQiO2k6MTA7czoxNDoic2VhcmNoX29wdGlvbnMiO2E6Mzp7czoyMToic2VhcmNoX2NyZWF0ZWRfZmlsdGVyIjtpOjE7czoxOToic2VhcmNoX3N0YXR1c19saW1pdCI7aToxO3M6MTI6InNlYXJjaF9xdWVyeSI7czoxMjoib3NvYmEgYmFsZXdhIjt9czoxNDoic2VhcmNoX3NvcnRfYnkiO3M6OToib3JkZXJfbnVtIjtzOjEyOiJzZWFyY2hfb3JkZXIiO3M6MTA6ImRlc2NlbmRpbmciO3M6Njoib2Zmc2V0IjtpOjA7czoxODoic2VhcmNoX2RvX2FkdmFuY2VkIjtiOjE7fQ

It was a few minutes to 11 pm, on Friday, January 14, 1966, around Onikan, on Lagos Island, opposite the then Race Course, now Tafawa Balewa Square. A handful of Nigerian soldiers, led by Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna abducted the country’s first Prime Minister, Sir. Tafawa Balewa. The Prime Minister’s abduction was a well planned operation that went well without any fatalities.

At about the same time, just about a kilometre away in Ikoyi Island, also in Lagos, another group of soldiers, led by another officer, arrested the country’s Minister of Finance, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh. That military operation too went well, although eye-witness accounts quoted by the British Broadcasting Corporation then, gave hint of a violent abduction, referring to slaps and beatings the flamboyant Finance Minister was given, even before the soldiers drove away with him.

Another group of soldiers was at that same time being led by a Major Donatus Okafor, to arrest or kill, if necessary, the country’s most senior Army officer, Major General Aguiyi Ironsi. This group failed to get the officer. The General was reportedly not found in his official residence. Neither was he to be found in his office.

The three groups and several others, were working in concert, coordinated by a Major Wale Ademoyega. The groups were communicating with and updating Ademoyega by radio. A few days earlier, Ademoyega himself had sent out a single message.

The Message said \" Major Ademoyega will leave Lagos for a forty one days holiday and will arrive in Kaduna after fifty one days.\" It was a terse radio message, made seemingly so innocuous as to arouse no suspicions.

Indeed it went on the operations signaling radio of the Nigerian Army. Yet it was a call to mutiny by soldiers. It was actually a signal announcing the D-Day of Nigeria’s first military coup.

Major Wale Ademoyega, one of the three leaders of Nigeria’s first coup, sent from Lagos to their leader, Major Kaduna Nzeogwu, incidentally Nigeria’s first trained military intelligence officer announcing the readiness of Lagos for the coup.

Major Nzeogwu was waiting in Kaduna for the signal to begin operations that will take care of the Kaduna end of what the uninitiated were told there and then, was fairly routine \"special internal security operation\" by the military.

The message in reality, was only saying a firm date has been set for the coup in Lagos. Translated, the message meant \"the coup will take off on the night of the 14 and continue until the morning of the 15th.\" The coupists had, at a prior meeting, all agreed that the coup had to be in the month of January. This and so much more has always been known about the coup on January 15, 1966.

This much that is known for sure, has been more of providence than by design. Only one of the three coup leaders lived long enough to tell the world how they planned the coup over a four-year period. In fact only two of the five Nigerian Army majors who led different aspects of the operations nationwide, on coup day, lived for more than two years after the coup.

The very rare eye witness accounts which told the story of the country’s first coup, has been largely facilitated by the direct accounts of Major Ademoyega, the only survivor of the troika whose coup set off a political tsunami that changed the story of Nigeria for ever.

Indeed Major Ademoyega’s two other compatriots, Majors Nzeogwu and Ifeajuna, lived for barely three years after January 1966 coup. Both died during Nigerian civil war which ensued less than 15 months after the January 1966 coup.

Ademoyega lived for more than 40 years after the event and was able to write probably the most vivid recount of the January 15, 1966 coup in his book \"Why we Struck\".

But 44 years after the coup attempt, a seemingly small piece of detail that Ademoyega’s true to life account, failed to resolve conclusively is now coming to the fore. It is the issue of how Nigeria’s first Prime Minister Sir. Tafawa Balewa died in the early hours of Saturday January 15, 1966.

An investigation by The Nation now suggests that the late Prime Minister may have indeed been alive up to at least the 20th day of January, 1966.

Nigeria’s first Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa was not killed on coup day, January 15, 1966, contrary to widely-held belief on the country’s first coup.

Also curiously, 44 years after his death, no official reports have conclusively given any answers to the many loopholes in the many stories the world has been told of how Nigeria’s first and last Prime Minister died. A curiosity it has become, considering that newspaper reports at that time, even indicated that the Prime Minister may not have been shot to death on January 15, 1966 by the coupists.

The trigger was pulled three weeks ago. The Nation began investigations of a hint given at a personality interview with Dr. Mathew Mbu, Nigeria’s first High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

Nigeria’s first private digital archive, The Nation Databank started going round the country interviewing elder-statesmen and senior citizens for the country’s first-ever multimedia biographical databank.

While responding to a plea to write his memoirs, at the end of a four hour video interview, Dr. Mbu said he was told by the renowned poet, Christopher Okigbo, who was very close to the late Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna, that Prime Minister Balewa was not shot to death by the coupists, but died of an asthmatic attack while he was been held by coupists.

But revelations now coming from investigations by The Nation have been even more shocking. The indications are that there may have been high level official cover-up and deliberate disinformation in the last 44-years, to the effect that Prime Minister Balewa was brutally killed in the course of the coup.

Indeed, books have been published, some even by foreign authors, suggesting that the late Prime Minister may have been tied to stake and executed by soldiers in the course of the coup. Some other books even suggest that he was driven round Lagos and tortured before he was callously shot at close range. Yet for reasons still unknown, the Nigerian government has never made a comprehensive official disclosure of where, when and how the late Prime Minister died. Even official publications which would have thrown more light on the dark events of January 15, 1966 have been glibly, at the best.

Forty-four years after, none of the newspaper reports on the discovery of the body of the late prime Minister, have ever been controverted. The young journalist author then, who, with many villagers near Ota, on the Abeokuta express road, saw the body of the Prime Minister, around Iyana Ilogbo, before it was retrieved and flown to Bauchi for burial, has never been questioned by security agents, on the account he reported in the Sunday Times of the 23rd of January 1966. No reporter has ever been reprimanded or even questioned simply because there were many other corroborative \"eye witnesses\" among the villagers near the site of the discovery.

Similar reports were made in The New Nigeria of Tuesday January 25, 1966, suggesting that the late Prime Minister’s body was intact as at January 21, 1966 when it was found in the forest beside a badly decomposed bodies of Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, the then Finance Minister. The reports specifically said the body of the late Prime Minister was in a sitting position, propped by a kolanut tree. The reports said Chief Okotie-Eboh’s body was badly decomposed and bullet riddled. Yet the Prime Minister was supposed to have been killed on the same day, six days earlier. It is inconceivable that a dead body will be in an open forest for six days without decomposing.

More confounding was the first report in the Sunday Times of January 23, 1966, that the Prime Minister’s body was actually fresh instead of been decomposed. The report said the late Prime Minister’s body had a white babanriga which was still \"snow white\". The report said the body had no marks, while the white toga, had no blood stains. Yet the Prime Minister body was supposed to have been bullet riddled and dumped in the open forest for at least six days prior to the discovery.

The Sunday Times in the front page report on January 23, 1966, carried the official announcement of the discovery of the Prime Minister’s body. But the official announcement was completely silent on the possible manner of the Prime Ministers’ death or time of death. Yet the same front page had an eye-witness report from a young roving reporter, Segun Osoba, which suggested that Prime Minister may have been alive for at least five days after he was supposed to have been killed by his abductors.

The young Sunday Times reporter then, is now Chief Segun Osoba, two-time civilian governor of Ogun state. Last week, in Lagos, the veteran journalist insisted that the body of Tafawa Balewa he saw about 7pm on Friday January 21, 1966 was a fresh body. That was what he reported then and which has never been controverted.

Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode was however vehement in his defence of seeming official position, which flies in the face of logic and newspaper reports of the period. He only agreed that it may be somewhat difficult to see believe the official position that an autopsy done on the body of the late Prime Minister confirmed that he was shot to death.

Last Tuesday, Fani-Kayode agreed with The Nation that it is \"really difficult to see how the supposedly badly decomposed body of the late prime Minister could have been evacuated to LUTH, Idi-Araba, some 30 kilometres from the site of discovery and an autopsy conducted on the same dismembered body, the body to be put together and packaged into a coffin and driven to Ikeja airport for the flight to Bauchi all within five hours\". That was last week.

At the weekend, Fani-Kayode said he has been reliably informed that the autopsy was indeed carried out, but not at LUTH. He said he has been reliably informed that the autopsy was carried out at the site where the body was found in the forest and at night, by a doctor from LUTH. It was after the autopsy that the body was prepared for a flight and taken under watch of heavily-armed soldiers to the Lagos Airport, for a flight that took off for Bauchi, at 12.30 am Saturday January 22, 1966, with only the pilot and the flight engineer as civilians.

Chief Osoba was however emphatic last Wednesday that he left the Iyana Ilogbo site where he saw the bodies of Balewa and Okotie-Eboh at 8pm, after spending about one hour interviewing people and generally looking around. And that no autopsies could ever have been carried out on the body of the PrimeMinister because the body was on the way to Bauchi by flight four hours later, considering the impossibility of the logistics such would have necessitated.

Investigations are continuing
has for example, confirmed that all newspaper reports on the discovery of the body of the late Prime Minister in January 1966, suggest that Prime Minister was probably alive until at least January 20, 1966.

14
General Board / Balewa "Died of Asthma Attack", not Killed by Soldiers - Mbu
« on: September 19, 2010, 02:14:07 PM »
http://thenationonlineng.net/web3/news/12210.html

Forty-four years after, the controversy over how Nigeria’s first Prime Minister, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa died may have been finally laid to rest.

Contrary to the widely-held belief, Nigerian soldiers did not kill the country’s first Commander- in-Chief in the bloody coup of 1966. Rather, Prime Minister Balewa succumbed to asthma, according to a key player in his government. He reportedly died while soldiers were taking him out of Lagos in the aftermath of the putsch.

Nigeria’s first High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and one of only three surviving members of the first Federal cabinet, Dr. Mathew Taiwo Mbu made this known to The Nation in an exclusive interview in Lagos.

Prime Minister Balewa died as a result of an asthmatic attack while he was being driven to Calabar by soldiers under the command of Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna who arrested him, Mbu said. Veteran journalist Chief Segun Osoba, who led the Police to the bodies of the late Prime Minister and his Finance Minister, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, could not be reached last night for a corroboration.

Previous accounts of what actually happened on the night of January 15, 1966 have been hazy. Even BBC archive reports on the day of infamy only spoke of a kidnapping of the Prime Minister by soldiers.

Most on-site acccounts to date, only reported that the body of the late Prime Minister was found in a seating position by a tree, in a plantation, on the road to Abeokuta, near Ifo, some 35 kilometres from his Ikoyi residence where he was arrested by soldiers on the night of January 15, 1966. The Prime Minister’s body was found beside the bullet-riddled body of Chief Okotie-Eboh, Nigeria’s first Minister of Finance.

No report of the macabre events of January 15, 1966, has been categorical that the Prime Minister was shot death; and no autopsies were carried out on the bodies discovered several days after the two had been reported kidnapped from their official residences by soldiers.

But Dr. Mbu, who was a close confidant of the late Prime Minister, recounted a momentous encounter 44 years ago, with the late poet Christopher Okigbo, one of the last people to see the late Prime Minister alive before he was arrested by the coup plotters.

He said Christopher Okigbo, who was also a close friend of Major Ifeajuna, who led the coupists in Lagos, recounted the arrest of the Prime Minister to him first hand. Okigbo and Ifeajuna themselves were killed in action during the Nigerian civil war.

Mbu, who many also regarded as Tafawa Balewa’s de-facto foreign minister, was ironically sent out to India for a State funeral by the Prime Minister, only hours before the coup. He had warned the late Prime Minister of an impending coup just days earlier.

He said he was reliably informed that Prime Minister Balewa had been accosted by the soldiers who first gave him the salute due to a Commander-in-Chief before informing him that they were effecting a change of government. They allowed him to say his Islamic prayers before taking him in a car.

The plans of the putschists according to Mbu’s account, did not include killing the Prime Minister. He was to be taken to Calabar and forced to release and handover power to Chief Obafemi Awolowo, then in prison for treasonable felony.

Balewa unfortunately did not make it out of Lagos. He reportedly suffered an asthmatic attack and died in the car. The announcement by the Army chief, General Aguiyi Ironsi of a failed coup, led to the dumping of the late Prime Minister’s body in the forest off the road to Abeokuta.

Okotie-Eboh, against whom the military high command then, had the most serious of the allegations of bribery and corruption the Balewa regime was accused of, was apparently executed at close range in the forest, leading to speculations that the Prime Minister too was shot to death. The several days that lapsed before the bodies were discovered must have made it difficult to find out the real cause of the Prime Minister’s death. His body was taken to Bauchi for burial.

Mbu spoke with The Nation Databank, in one of several interviews the country’s premier private digital archive conducted with senior Nigerian citizens and elderstatesmen. The interviews, on historical and contemporary events in Nigeria over the last 50 years, are to be packaged in special video and data discs to mark Nigeria’s golden jubilee independence anniversary. Two million copies of the discs, coming as the Nigeria’s premier national e-Reference ,will be given out FREE to Nigerians, particularly Nigerian youths.

15
General Board / Re: Greatest Nigerian of the Past 50 Years
« on: September 17, 2010, 04:20:37 AM »
With apologies for the technical glitch, I have updated the poll page and you can now actually cast your vote at the link below. Make yourself heard!

http://maxsiollun.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/who-is-the-greatest-nigerian-of-the-past-50-years/

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