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General Board / Yar’Adua had kidney transplant – WikiLeaks
« on: January 23, 2011, 10:11:46 PM »

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.

General Board / 50 Years of Nigerian Memories - Unmissable Video
« on: September 29, 2010, 03:12:08 AM »

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.*

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
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

General Board / Balewa "Died of Asthma Attack", not Killed by Soldiers - Mbu
« on: September 19, 2010, 02:14:07 PM »

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.

General Board / Greatest Nigerian of the Past 50 Years
« on: September 14, 2010, 02:29:35 AM »

As Nigeria approaches its 50th Independence anniversary, who is the greatest Nigerian of the post independence era? Cast your vote above.

General Board / Remembering Tunde Idiagbon
« on: July 30, 2010, 12:27:49 PM »
The News (Lagos)
Nigeria: Idiagbon: His Life, His Times Till he died last week

Ayodele Ojo

29 March 1999

Lagos — As sympathisers left the 4, Aderemi Adeleye residence of General Tunde Idiagbon after his interment last Thursday, many of them were overheard wondering what killed the fiery soldier.

Could he have died from his reported \"concern about the state of the nation? Did he die of frustration with the unparalleled corruption, desecration and perversion of the army he joined in 1962 or of the exposure to ridicule, and irreparable damage of the institution he served diligently? Above all, was he poisoned? All these, according to some Ilorin residents who claimed anonymity, will remain conjectures as no autopsy was performed on his remains to determine the cause of death. Born on 14 September 1943 in Ilorin to the late Alhaji Hassan Dogo and Alhaja Ayisatu Iyabeji Hassan Idiagbon he attended United School, Ilorin from 1950-1952 and later Okesuna Senior Primary School in the same town from 1953 to 1957.

He started his military career in 1958 when he enlisted at the Nigerian Military School, Zaria (1958-1962). From there he proceeded to the Pakistani Military Academy, Kakul (1962-65) and later attended a junior commander course at the Nigerian Military Training College, Kaduna.

In 1966, he attended a young officers\' course at the Nigerian Military Training College, Kaduna and also a junior staff course in the Nigerian Army Brigade. He was at the Command and Staff College, Pakistan in 1976 and the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru near Jos in 1981. In 1982, he attended an International Defence Management, Naval Post Graduate School, US (1982). He held a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the Pakistani Military Academy. An associate member of the Nigerian Institute of Management, Idiagbon is a holder of the Senior International Defence Management Diploma. In 1962, he enlisted as officer cadet and was commissioned as second lieutenant in April 1965.

He was promoted lieutenant in 1966 and captain in 1968. At the end of the civil war, Idiagbon became a major and Lt.-Colonel in 1974; Colonel in July 1978 and Brigadier in May 1980. In the course of a distinguished military career, he held various military posts.

He served as company commander, 4 Battalion, from August 1965 to February 1966; intelligence officer 4 Battalion and later GS0 3 Intelligence, 1 sector; commanding officer, 20 Battalion from October 1967 to February 1968 and 125 Battalion from 1968 to 1970. He was brigade major and deputy- commander, 33 Brigade from March 1970 to March 1971 and commander, 29 Brigade from March 1971 to December 1972.

Appointed general staff officer, grade 1 and later principal staff officer, supreme headquarters from January 1973 to August 1975, Idiagbon was the Brigade Commander, 31 and 15 Brigades respectively from August 1975 to August 1978. While he was serving as Commander, 15 Brigade, he was at the same time a member of the Governing Council of the University of Jos. General Idiagbon\'s political appointment began in August 1978 when he was made the military governor of Borno State.

He was in this capacity till 1 October 1979. Simultaneously, he was the Commander, 33 Brigade and member of the National Council of State. He served as director of manpower and planning, Army Headquarters from October 1979 to February 1981 and military secretary (army) 1981-1983 from where he was appointed chief of staff, supreme headquarters when the military overthrew the civilians on 31 December 1983. A lover of jazz music of Miles David and Herbie Hankock, Gen. Idiagbon was reportedly tender with his five children, products of Mrs. Biodun Idiagbon whom he married in August 1970. Because he loves his children, Ronke, an MBA student in Cardiff, Wales enjoyed a N1 million pocket money per annum.

Kunle, one of his sons is said to be a business man who\'s had juicy deals at the PTF. The author of a book titled \'Strategies for Liberating Southern Africa,\' he was toppled together with his boss in a palace coup on 27 August 1985 while on a pilgrimage to Mecca with his 14-year-old son. Despite threats to his life, Idiagbon returned to the country a few days after the coup and was detained alongside Buhari for 40 months. After he was released, Idiagbon was a recluse throughout the Babangida years. And despite the disenchantment with his constituency, Idiagbon refused to undertake any risky venture during the Abacha years obviously for fear of arrest or extermination.

\"Now he has died like a chicken, killed by a stomach upset,\" an analyst said. While in government, various programmes were introduced. Among them are the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) which he oversaw and the National Environmental Sanitation which is still in force. But the Buhari-Idiagbon war against drug trafficking, their war against the press and the repression of ousted politicians were the anti-climax of the regime.

The regime\'s incarceration of many politicians was condemned as barbaric. In fact, many of the jailed governors -Professor Ambrose Ali, Aper Aku, Tatari Ali, Zabo Barkin Zuwo and Alhaji Busari Adelakun died in detention.

Also, the death of Chief Bisi Onabanjo was not unconnected with his prison experience. To deal with politicians who fled Nigeria for Britain, Idiagbon ordered the abduction of one of Nigerian\'s most wanted fugitives then, Alhaji Umaru Dikko who fled to London and launched from his base plans to return Nigeria to democratic rule without delay. The failed attempt to fly Dikko home in a diplomatic crate sparked off a diplomatic row between London and Lagos. Idiagbon was quoted to have said that: \"Normalisation of ties between Nigeria and Britain, if any, must come from Britain because Nigeria did not create the present situation.\" This was in obvious reference to the request of the British government that the Nigerian High Commissioner to Britain, Major- General Hananniya be recalled for consultation over the Dikko affair. A story in the Sunday Telegraph of 5 August 1984, written by Andrew Phillips entitled \"Nigeria\'s Reign of Terror\" ridiculed the regime in apparent reference to the botched kidnap attempt in London.

While the conservative British newspaper castigated the junta abroad, the Nigerian Bar Association, Lagos, on Monday 13 August 1984, issued a communique after its meeting in Lagos expressing concern that decrees that were being churned out of then Supreme Military Council threatened the jurisdiction of courts. Idiagbon was dreaded throughout his sojourn in power. He was the only signatory to the Detention of Persons Decree Number 2 of 1984. But his death, last week, has closed a chapter in Nigeria\'s history.

Additional reports by Idowu Akinrosoye and Horace Ekpe

Publication Date: April 5, 1999

Copyright © 1999 The News. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

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