In his own words: How Awolowo defended himself from Achebe’s accusations when he was alive

by Reuben Daba

Since Achebe released his book, ‘There was a country’, in the United Kingdom a week ago, lots of Nigerians have stated their stands on the touchy issue of Nigeria’s Civil war, either agreeing or disagreeing with the renowned author on the role played by Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

Some have wondered how Awolowo would have responded to Achebe’s criticism if he was alive. Well, it so happens that we know how he would have responded, because he did respond to these same accusations when he was alive. They were issues and controversies that followed him throughout his years on earth.

First, this is what Achebe wrote about Awo:

“The wartime cabinet of General Gowon, the military ruler, it should also be remembered, was full of intellectuals, like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, among others, who came up with a boatload of infamous and regrettable policies. A statement credited to Awolowo and echoed by his cohorts is the most callous and unfortunate: all is fair in war, and starvation is one of the weapons of war. I don’t see why we should feed our enemies fat in order for them to fight harder’.

“It is my impression that Awolowo was driven by an overriding ambition for power, for himself and for his Yoruba people. There is, on the surface at least, nothing wrong with those aspirations. However, Awolowo saw the dominant Igbo at the time as the obstacles to that goal, and when the opportunity arose with the Nigeria-Biafra war, his ambition drove him into a frenzy to go to every length to achieve his dreams. In the Biafran case, it meant hatching up a diabolical policy to reduce the numbers of his enemies significantly through starvation eliminating over two million people, mainly members of future generations.”

So how would Awo have responded? Thanks to www.nigeriavillagesquare.com, we have transcripts of an interview in which the late Yoruba sage personally responded to some of these issues raised.

In the build up to the 1983 elections, as Chief Awolowo went campaigning, he was hosted to a town hall interview in Abeokuta, where in addition to other pertinent topics of the day, he spoke on his role in the civil war, the 20-pound policy, starvation as a weapon, change of currency, abandoned property and many more.

Read below, and tell us what you think:

CIVIL WAR

MODERATOR: Yes Mr…….Mr. Oparadike.

QUESTION: Chief Awolowo, your stand on the civil war…Your stand on the civil war, however unpopular it may have been to the Biafrans or Ibo people, helped to shorten the war. Today, you’re being cast as the sole enemy of the Ibo people because of that stand, by among others, some of the people who as members of the federal military government at that time, were party to that decision and are today, in some cases, inheritors of power in one Nigeria which that decision of yours helped to save. How do you feel being cast in this role, and what steps are you taking to endear yourself once again to that large chunk of Nigerians who feel embittered?

AWOLOWO: As far as I know, the Ibo masses are friendly to me, towards me. In fact, whenever I visit Iboland, either Anambra or Imo, and there’s no campaigning for elections, the Ibo people receive me warmly and affectionately. But there are some elements in Iboland who believe that they can maintain their popularity only by denigrating me, and so they keep on telling lies against me. Ojukwu is one of them. I don’t want to mention the names of the others because they are still redeemable, but ….Ojukwu is irredeemable so I mention his name, and my attitude to these lies is one of indifference, I must confess to you.

I’ve learnt to rely completely on the providence and vindication of Almighty God in some of these things. I’ve tried to explain myself in the past, but these liars persist. Ojukwu had only recently told the same lie against me. What’s the point in correcting lies when people are determined to persist in telling lies against you, what’s the point. I know that someday the Ibos, the masses of the Ibo people will realize who their friends are, and who their real enemies are. And the day that happens woe betide those enemies. The Ibos will deal with them very roughly, very roughly.

That has happened in my life. I have a nickname now, if you see my letterhead you’ll find something on top, you’ll find a fish done on the letterhead. Some people put Lion on theirs, some people put Tiger, but mine is Fish. And Fish represents my zodiac sign, those of you who read the stars and so on in the newspapers; you’ll find out that there’s a zodiac sign known as pisces, in Latin pisces mean Fish.

So I put pisces on top, that’s my zodiac sign being born on the 6th of March,…er well, the year doesn’t matter, it’s the day that matters. And then on top of it I write Eebudola. All of you know the meaning of that. You know I don’t want to tell a long story but….Awolowo school, omo Awolowo, the started in Urhobo land, in Mid-west in those days. They were ridiculing my schools, I was building schools -brick and cement, to dpc level, block to dpc level and mud thereafter. And so the big shots in the place..”ah what kind of school is this? Is this Awolowo school? Useless school” and when they saw the children..”ah these Awolowo children, they can’t read and write, Awolowo children” that’s how it started, with ridicule, and it became blessing, and now they say “Awolowo children, they are good people” no more ridicule about it, that’s how it started, so the Eebu becomes honor, the abuse became honor.

And so when I look back to all my life, treasonable felony, jail, all the abuses that were heaped on me, to Coker Inquiry, all sorts, and I see what has happened to the people who led, who led all these denigration campaign, where are they today? Those that are alive are what I call Homo Mortuus- dead living, oku eniyan, that’s what they are, those that their lives have gone.

So when I look back, I come to the conclusion that all these abuses which have been heaped on me all my life for doing nothing, for doing good, they have become honor, and so Eebudola is one of my nicknames.

So I’ve cultivated an attitude of indifference, I’ve done no evil to the Ibos. During the war I saw to it that the revenue which was due to the Iboland- South Eastern states they call it, at that time..east central state, I kept it, I saved the money for them. And when they ….was librated I handed over the money to them- millions. If I’d decided to do so, I could have kept the money away from them and then when they took over I saw to it that subvention was given to them at the rate of 990,000 pounds every month. I didn’t go to the executive council to ask for support, or for approval because I knew if I went to the executive council at that time the subvention would not be approved because there were more enemies in the executive council for the Ibos than friends. And since I wasn’t going to take a percentage from what I was going to give them, and I knew I was doing what was right, I wanted the state to survive, I kept on giving the subvention – 990,000 almost a million, every month, and I did that for other states of course- South eastern state, North central state, Kwara and so on.

But I did that for the Ibos, and when the war was over, I saw to it that the ACB got three and a half million pounds to start with. This was distributed immediately and I gave another sum of money. The attitude of the experts, officials at the time of the ACB was that ACB should be closed down, and I held the view you couldn’t close the ACB down because that is the bank that gives finance to the Ibo traders, and if you close it down they’ll find it difficult to revive or to survive. So it was given. I did the same thing for the Cooperative Bank of Eastern Nigeria, to rehabilitate all these places, and I saw to it as commissioner for finance that no obstacle was placed in the way of the ministry of economic planning in planning for rehabilitation of the war affected areas.

TWENTY POUNDS POLICY

That’s what I did, and the case of the money they said was not given back to them, you know during the war all the pounds were looted, they printed Biafran currency notes, which they circulated, at the close of the war some people wanted their Biafran notes to be exchanged for them. Of course I couldn’t do that, if I did that the whole country would be bankrupt. We didn’t know about Biafran notes and we didn’t know on what basis they have printed them, so we refused the Biafran note, but I laid down the principle that all those who had savings in the banks on the eve of the declaration of the Biafran war or Biafra, will get their money back if they could satisfy us that they had the savings there, or the money there.

Unfortunately, all the banks’ books had been burnt, and many of the people who had savings there didn’t have their saving books or their last statement of account, so a panel had to be set up. I didn’t take part in setting up the panel, it was done by the Central bank and the pertinent officials of the ministry of finance, to look into the matter, and they went carefully into the matter, they took some months to do so, and then make some recommendation which I approved. Go to the archives, all I did was approve, I didn’t write anything more than that, I don’t even remember the name of any of them who took part.

So I did everything in this world to assist our Ibo brothers and sisters during and after the war. And anyone who goes back to look at my broadcast in August 1967, which dealt with post-war reconstruction would see what I said there.

STARVATION POLICY

Then, but above all, the ending of the war itself that I’m accused of, accused of starving the Ibos, I did nothing of the sort. You know, shortly after the liberation of these places, Calabar, Enugu and Port Harcort, I decided to pay a visit. There are certain things which I knew which you don’t know, which I don’t want to say here now, when I write my reminisces in the future I will do so.

Some of the soldiers were not truthful with us, they didn’t tell us correct stories and so on. I wanted to be there and see things for myself, bear in mind that Gowon himself did not go there at that time, it was after the war was over that he dorn himself up in various military dresses- Air force dress, Army dress and so on, and went to the war torn areas. But I went and some people tried to frighten me out of my goal by saying that Adekunle was my enemy and he was going to see to it that I never returned from the place, so I went.

But when I went what did I see? I saw the kwashiorkor victims. If you see a kwashiorkor victim you’ll never like war to be waged. Terrible sight, in Enugu, in Port Harcourt, not many in Calabar, but mainly in Enugu and Port Harcourt. Then I enquired what happened to the food we are sending to the civilians. We were sending food through the Red cross, and CARITAS to them, but what happen was that the vehicles carrying the food were always ambushed by the soldiers. That’s what I discovered, and the food would then be taken to the soldiers to feed them, and so they were able to continue to fight. And I said that was a very dangerous policy, we didn’t intend the food for soldiers. But who will go behind the line to stop the soldiers from ambushing the vehicles that were carrying the food? And as long as soldiers were fed, the war will continue, and who’ll continue to suffer? And those who didn’t go to the place to see things as I did, you remember that all the big guns, all the soldiers in the Biafran army looked all well fed after the war, its only the mass of the people that suffered kwashiorkor.

You won’t hear of a single lawyer, a single doctor, a single architect, who suffered from kwashiorkor? None of their children either, so they waylaid the foods, they ambushed the vehicles and took the foods to their friends and to their collaborators and to their children and the masses were suffering. So I decided to stop sending the food there. In the process the civilians would suffer, but the soldiers will suffer most.

CHANGE OF CURRENCY

And it is on record that Ojukwu admitted that two things defeated him in this war, that’s as at the day he left Biafra. He said one, the change of currency, he said that was the first thing that defeated him, and we did that to prevent Ojukwu taking the money which his soldiers has stolen from our Central bank for sale abroad to buy arms. We discovered he looted our Central bank in Benin, he looted the one in Port Harcourt, looted the one in Calabar and he was taking the currency notes abroad to sell to earn foreign exchange to buy arms.

So I decided to change the currency, and for your benefit, it can now be told the whole world, only Gowon knew the day before, the day before the change took place. I decided, only three of us knew before then- Isong now governor of Cross River, Attah and myself. It was a closely guarded secret, if any commissioner at the time say that he knew about it, he’s only boosting his own ego. Because once you tell someone, he’ll tell another person. So we refused to tell them and we changed the currency notes. So Ojukwu said the change in currency defeated him, and starvation of his soldiers also defeated him. These were the two things that defeated Ojukwu. And, he reminds me, when you saw Ojukwu’s picture after the war, did he look like someone who’s not well fed? But he has been taking the food which we send to civilians, and so we stopped the food.

ABANDONED PROPERTY

And then finally, I saw to it that the houses owned by the Ibos in Lagos and on this side, were kept for them. I had an estate agent friend who told me that one of them collected half a million pounds rent which has been kept for him. All his rent were collected, but since we didn’t seize their houses, he came back and collected half a million pounds. So that is the position. I’m a friend of the Ibos and the mass of the Ibos are my friends, but there are certain elements who want to continue to deceive the Ibos by telling lies against me, and one day, they’ll discover and then that day will be terrible for those who have been telling the lies.

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Comments (19)

  1. It is disheartening that the kinds of comments here could come from people living in.
    the same geographic space. The unimpeachable facts marshaled by Odia Ofeimun seem not to matter to many who will rather embrace fables to justify tribal animosity. Sadly, Achebe in all of his achievements, has always betrayed a Yoruba animosity quite unbecoming of one you would consider liberated from the shackles of ignorance, pettiness and mendacity. I recall his comment when Wole Soyinka won the Nobel that "European prize can not make anyone the 'ashiwaju' of African literature"! That comment was a reaction to a simple question from a journalist asking how he felt about his friend winning the prize. Yet, it is an open secret that he badly longs for the nobel, and he might well deserve it.
    And for all the righteous certitude of Achebe's defenders, his claims about Awolowo are largely false and anyone not blinded by hate can verify this by simply looking up primary resources. For one, Awolowo never said "hunger as a weapon of war'. If you say he did, show me where. The stoppage of food shipment by the Nigerian side to Biafra after the fall of Enugu was prompted by the realization – rightly or wrongly – that it wasn't getting to the civilians, particularly children. One wonders what Achebe's real intentions are to dredge up 40 year old goebellian propaganda from a past many have put behind them, and foul up public space and shred commonweal in the process. A man of enlightenment and of light will not join in the wholesale and unremitting embitterment of his tribe, even if – unlike this case – he has the truth on his side. Achebe will do well to learn from Soyinka who suffered incarceration advocating for the Igbos and who has helped Nigerians of all tribes all over the world , not the least several Igbos. At 70 something, it must be a burden indeed for Achebe to hate so much!
    It is also somewhat surreal that I would stumble on this quite fortuitously. Just about 72 hours ago, I got an email from an American friend who stumbled on.
    a documentary on the Civil War essentially put together by the same foreigners.
    (Padmore et al) employed by Ojukwu for war propaganda – which they described in.
    the film (is on YouTube) as mostly lies. Ojukwu prominently participated in the.
    documentary.

    Now, I am not at all suggesting that the pogrom could ever be justified or that the Igbos.
    did not have genuine grievances leading to the war, but to ignore, even.
    venerate, the group that inflicted the atrocity on them in the first place and.
    blame the Yoruba – many of whom fought and died on their side – for their.
    predicament is, to put it mildly, insane and intellectually dishonest. Yet, it
    is the cancer producing ceaseless bile in many of our Igbo compatriots.

  2. Please Tony what is the truth? I wish that instead of pushing bleams provide "reasonable" solution. I wish we willbe more progressives then been TRIBALISTIC.

  3. I am expecting insults from people with writing disorder who are more barbaric than the Aluu people in jungle justice.

    Awolowo is dead. Why is nobody condemning Gowon? Gowon is still alive to defend himself. Am sure some cowards will write a book after his death since they cant confront him while alive.

    43 years after this genocide, Igbos are still mourning and no one had muster the courage to cry out for justice over the killing of 3 million people?

    Awolowo said if he had not used starvation, the war would have continued and probably the Igbo race would have been wiped off because of the greed of a political class. Wondered why it took Achebe 4 decades to write this.

    They were siphoning food meant for the people they claimed they were fighting to protect. Feeding fat while 3 million women and children were starving of kwashiokor. That is the main point and not the man with a human feeling who saw it was wrong. COWARDS!

    Some Igbos in Lagos are already accusing Fashola of marginalizing them when Igbos are free to work in Lagos civil service and there is a even an Igbo commissioner in his cabinet. Is there any Eastern state that have such a policy?

    Why are you always crying of being marginalized? Complex?

    Please let us wake up and take our future seriously. To remain one Nigeria is not by force. Even South South by agitation and providence have gotten the Presidency and there is no hope Igbos will get there in the next 10 years except something is done now and urgently too.

    Ghana was deporting Nigerian traders and imposing huge fees, I expected South Eastern legislators and Governors to be at the front of the issue, alas, they were enmeshed in their self-enrichment scheme knowing Igbos are the best of traders we have in Nigeria and are easily affected by such foreign policy.

    Igbo elders (if there are any) need to think and if they cant,let their young people stand up and save their father land.

  4. tony,

    i wasn't alive in 1966, but anyone who was knew that every action in nigeria was viewed through through the prism of tribalism. so i'm glad you acknowledge the january 1966 coup as an ibo coup

    as to their patriotism, perhaps. but we can't argue about their naivety. there was only one way killing balewa, sardauna, okoti-eboh, akintolal and not killing any ibo politicians was going to be interpreted. and it was

    as for our 'strong centre' that was imposed on us by ironsi and his civil service technocrats & civilian advisors (mostly ibo). which is why the hausa and yorubas reacted to it like that. in the atmosphere of 1966 it was seen as an attempt to dominate nigeria by the ibos

    federalism, which was proposed by gowon (at awo's behest) was perhaps the only possibility for dealing with some of the structural issues nigeria faced at that time. why did ojukwu not support this?

    as for free mass education to drive development, it was never zik or the ncnc's policy. it isn't dissing him or the ibos. it is a fact (something you can't seem to differentiate from opinion) that it was awo's policy throughout his political career

    here's another fact. ojukwu's masters from oxford university was not earned through study. oxford only graduate MA's – which you earn by having passed your undergraduate (3rd year) and having no debts when you graduate at the ceremony. same with cambridge

    anyway, i expect my fair share of abuse because of my name – even though i'm actually from the south-south and not yoruba

    1. @ayo, i personally do not support the coup because i beleive that the officers had no business going to involve themselves in a yoruba crisis, but the fact remains that whatever the mistakes or demerits of the coup the bottomline and what you cannot deny is that the igbo officers acted to stop the violence in yorubaland which at that time was consuming hundreds of lives everyday.

      And please get your facts right and stop being ignorant, when Aguiyi introduced the unitary decree it was a strategy to restore order as a result of the crisis he inherited, note that Aguiyi retained the regions and the regional autonomy with each region controlling their resources and paying taxes to the centre. Funny enough gowon and Awolowo were the ones who now dissolved the regions, created states without a plebiscite or referenndum and started the parasitic unitary system of allocating money to the states from the centre with which we are still trapped till today. You can make your point without telling blatant lies, because it was Ojukwu who proposed the Aburi accord federal system with total federalism which Gowon and Awolowo refused because their eyes were in the crude oil resources. I would advice you to go and do some research on Aburi accord and see the facts for yourself.yakubu gowon and awolowo dissolved regions, created states and consolidated the unitary system. The hypocrites who blamed Aguiyi for a mere temporary unitary decree are the ones who now consolidated the unitary system till today and continue to refuse any move to true federalism.

      As for free education that was awolowo's party policy. Every party is free to have their own ideology and policy, that is democracy for you. In America the democrats have programs that favour government sponsored social programmes, while the republicans beleive government has no business in being involved in social programmes. NCNC did not have free education as a party policy but the East never lagged behind in education, so each party had their own strategy. The university of nigeria nsukka was the first indigenous nigerian university and it was established by Azikiwe.As i said earlier Dr Azikiwe was the most educated of the 3 regional leaders with a doctoral post-graduate degree. Since when did masters degrees in oxford and cambridge which are the most reputable universities in the world now reduced to not being indebted? What a load of absolute rubbish and stupidity. This is the kind of lie you expect from a typical nigerian. As a matter of fact my sisters daughter did her masters degree in cambridge and she got her masters through hard academic work. It is nigerians like you who is willing to call white black and who are incapable of accepting a simple truth that is behind the nations predicanment. Nigeria will never make progress untill we as a people a willing to accept the truth and make amends. Lies like all you wasted time writing here will not get either you or your nigeria anywhere.

      1. tony,

        there is no need to be insulting. it just shows you as being the ignorant one

        again you are mentioning facts, and confusing with opinion. it is your opinion that the officers tried to stop the crisis in the western region – it does not make it a fact. strangely enough, most non-ibo politicians & miltary officers considered it to be an ibo coup (another fact)

        as for the unitary decree – i'm perplexed how you could argue that it wasn't a unitary decree. the clue is in the title

        with regards to oxford & cambridge – i went to oxford, so i'll bet i know what i'm talking about. you can also check online – wikipedia.org or ask.com – please notice i DID not say there are no pg courses in oxford, only that your assertion that ojukwu had a 'pg masters' is unfactual

        as for the aburi principles – feel free to argue with all the notable political scientist who have studied them as to whether it proposed a confederation or a federation and save your abuse for them… if you like i can send you a list. though it's apparent that you don't know the difference between the two state types

        with regards to free education, are you seriously trying to dispute that is was a consistent policy of awo throughout his career? i have no idea why you're carrying on about dr azikiwe, as if i or anyone said anything disparaging about him or the educational achievements of the ibos. it doesn't change the FACT that he never believed in or enacted free education as a policy during his political career

        fyi, the reason nigeria doesn't progress is ignorant people like you – who is clearly a tribalist who feels he knows everything

  5. tony,

    it's ironic that you are accusing awo of 'presenting opinion as fact, then being more guilty of this in your comment…..

    the 'jihadist cause' you talk about is opinion, as gowon certainly wasn't one. nor was there any imposition of islam on the ibos (unless i've been experiencing a different reality). by the way, in case you wondered what jihadists are like, see BH and their demands/actions.

    but worse than that, you are presenting fiction as fact. the aburi accords were a proposed confederation – not a federal system. there's a significant (some would argue vast) difference between a confederacy (strong regions/states & weak center) and a federation (strong center & weaker states/regions).

    the 'rationalism' of a confederation at that moment in time, is another question altogether. it was the single tribe complete domination of 3 of our regions (except mid-west, which the bini did not comprise over 50% of the population) that caused the political problems in niogeria in the 1st place. please ask the minority tribes in the eastern region/biafra (half of the current south-south) if this was the case or not.

    so i'm at a loss as how aburi would have been a panacea for nigeria's problems, by basically entrenching the idea of 3 major tribe domination as a constitutional principle. i can see how it would have served ojukwu's (and the ibo's) aspirations at that time, but that's a different matter

    also, to describe them as 'accords' is a bridge too far. gowon ruled through the smc (or whatever it was called) which included civilians like awo, etc. if the smc didn't agree to the aburi principles they were hardly an accord. after all, an agreement in principle is not an agreement in practice (which has to be signed and ratified by the due authority). or is it?

  6. " But he has been taking the food which we send to civilians, and so we stopped the food." Direct quote by Awo. So he admitted in this imterview that he stopped the shipment of food because the soldiers were eating the food also. In other words starvation was his policy pure and simple.

  7. @Totimi Adebola Salami, it is typical of people like you who have nothing to say to resort to abuses. You are not even qualified to clean Achebe's toilet. The problem is that the guilt of the genocide Awolowo committed and his mistake that created this useless and dysfunctional nigeria for which all of us are presently paying the price is too much for yorubas to accept, that is why all of you are jumping around defending the indefensible. If the situation was reversed and it was Azikiwe and igbos who joined the north to commit such genocide on yorubas, your people would never have forgiven igbos. As nigeria continues to fail and continues to be trapped in increasing ethnic and religious violence and social injustice, the campaign for a sovereign national conference is the verdict of history which has vindicated ojukwu and shamed Awolowo.

  8. Achebe is a story teller, a biggot seeking to sell his book. All this noise are working in his favour. Even Ojukwu eulogized Awo, he said of him 'the best president Naigeria never had' o pari

  9. @ Al Hakiu and Akolawole Micheal; the simple question is who has been vindicated today, Ojukwu or Awolowo? Nigeria is presently torn by crisis and there is a massive campaign for a sovereign national conference to return to the Aburi accord structure of true federalism which ojukwu proposed but which was truncated by the conspiracy of gowon and awolowo. Awolowo's family are among those asking for a sovereign national conference today and If Awolowo was alive he would be among those asking for a sovereign national conference today. So we know who has been vindicated. Most importantly the crisis that led to the coup and subsequently the civil war originated in the western region after the 1964 election rigging in the west which led to unprecedented violence (wetie) and the Igbo officers intervened out of patriotism to halt the carnage in the west. The yorubas are supposed to be grateful for that patriotic intervention which halted the violence and crisis in the west but all the igbos got was ungratefulness and betrayal by the likes of awolowo. No amount of story telling, self defense or semantics by awolowo and yorubas can change the fact that awolowo made a mistake for which all nigerians are paying the price today. The present campaign for a sovereign national conference and true federalism is a verdict of history on the wrong and selfish choices awolowo and his civil war genocidists made. As nigeria continues to be ripped apart by ethno-religious violence and social, political and economic injustice Awolowo as one of those who made this unjust and badly structured nigeria possible is on the wrong side of history. Yorubas should have the humility to accept that awolowo was wrong! As for Akolawole micheal who is talking of education, it is obvious that he is a very ignorant person who doesnt even know the history of his country because the East never lagged behind in education. For starters, out of the 3 regional leaders, Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe was by far the most educated with a post-graduate doctoral degree and Easterners at that time dominated the federal civil service. Ojukwu was the first post-graduate oxford university masters degree holder to join the nigerian army and the first ever nigerian university vice chancellor in the then university college ibadan was professor Kenneth Dike from the East. It is said that people perish for lack of knowledge and ignorance and that is the problem with people like Akolawole. I will advice him to do some research on the first republic and the regions to see the achievements of the regions before coming to the public to display his crass ignorance.

  10. @Obinna, And your post also couldn't have been different given your name. I'm sure you don't mind me saying that as regards to your 'name' since you said same of someone else. Thank you.

  11. It is strange that despite having a direct explanation from Awolowo as to what happened some people are still hell bent on believing only what they want to believe. One even went as far as to call it an 'opinion'. I don't know how a first-hand account of an event can be termed an 'opinion' by someone who was not present when the events in question happened. Only in Nigeria.

    I want to guess that the Mr. Oparadike – the journalist – who asked the question was the same as Mr. Innocent Oparadike who later became Editor-in-chief of the Champion newspapers. I still wonder how anyone can accuse him of being 'biased in his tone' when he asked the question. Maybe he should have started his question with an insult, then he would not have been unbiased.

    It is also pertinent to point it out that this interview was held in 1983, and Awolowo pointedly mentioned Ojukwu by name in making his assertions yet there are no records of Ojukwu or any Igbo person refuting any of the points Awo raised.

    Awolowo was not a flippant person. He was very meticulous and not known for making empty noises. He could be wrong but he never just talked for the purpose of just talking. He had a reason for his words and he usually had his facts as basis for his assertions. Like every human being, sometimes he was right, sometimes he was wrong.

    Ojukwu could have refuted them easily if he felt Awolowo was wrong. They were in different political camps and had no pacts with each other apart from the facts of history. Ojukwu has written his memoirs but he never responded to these assertions of Awo. Rather he said was the best President Nigeria never had.

    Achebe was alive when Awolowo made this interview and he had all the opportunity to refute all the points therein, if he disagreed with them.

    Why did he have to wait until Awolowo was dead and Ojukwu was dead before releasing his "satanic verses"?

  12. @Akolawole Michael, your post couldn't have been different, given your name. I do not blame you at all because you do not know what actually led to the war, and i presume you do not care to know because of 'die-hard tribalism' which you are known for. I only ask God to forgive you and direct you aright.

    Secondly, why must we go back to the drawing board to define the basis of our existence as suggested by you? The country is still suffering from Awo's contributions during the war, it is really unfortunate that what Ojukwu saw 45yrs ago as a youth, the rest of the country are just beginning to see them, and yet shame could not allow them to accept it. We are watching developments keenly, in God we trust.

  13. Let not be blaming other for our woes, what Awo did was in the best interest of Nigeria, the above reading shown a selfless man that is having the interest of the country. His intellectual depth and insight speak volumes, he was also a believer in education as a weapon for development and not trading of imported goods which will make our economic to be dependent, due diligence as he made sure verified things be taking action. His intentions were right all through and he knew the northern people well and would not have believed on their promise as a true democrat.If the North and East have imbibed education and embrace true federalism and competitive regional development we won't be where we are today and instead be among the top five economy of the world.Awo to me was the best president we never had.

    We need to go back to the drawing table and define the basis of our existence as a Nation, weaken the power at the centre, promote regional development,integration and autonomy and remove all sentiments that have ruined us this far.

  14. awolowo,that's an interesting story + lies.

  15. The moderator who asked the question was already biased judging from his tone. And Awo was stating his opinion as if its the fact, with no one there to dispute him and ask counter questions .
    The truth is that both Awo, Danjuma and Gowon Were used by the hausa/fulani to fight propagate the jihadist cause.
    Awo is a firm believer of regional autonomy and true federalism, but he sacrificed those ideals and went with the north because they promised him the presidency . This is a known fact that we can't continue to deny.
    If Awo had given a return to first republic constitution as a conditions for him to support one Nigeria, we all know that the north will have no choice but to accept because they couldn't have gone to war without the support of the west. But Awo was more driven by his presidential ambition that anything else, so he sold the whole of southern Nigeria to the north.
    Bear in mind that the same principles of rationalism and true federalism is the core of the aburi accord and there would not have been a war if the war did not walk back on it and fooled the west and south south.
    Today, all progressive minded Nigerians including the west and south south are still clamoring for that same principle and i don't see Nigeria moving any forward until we address that.
    So tell me who was right then , those who supported the aburi accord or those who opposed it?
    Ojukwu may have been over ambitious, but you can't deny the fact that Nigeria would have been far better today if we adopted that proposal(perhaps with a few modifications like changing the clause that allows any region to secede whenever they feel like)
    So its understandable that Awo was just out of the prison and broke, being offered a federal minister of finance with a promise of the presidency is not easy to turn down. But let not pretend that he was very selfless and visionary because he had the opportunity to decide which part Nigeria would go and caste his deciding vote for northern domination without any commitments for reforms.
    Here we are 43 yrs later still dealing with the same problem.

  16. We are beating around the bush in this matter! The question is did Awo do as accused or not? If yes then his family should apologize to the igbos but if no then some one should provide evidence that shows didn't ! Simple!

    1. i wonder d type of school u attended, if u did at all. so you can not make a single sence out of this post. keep blaming awo for ur misfurtune.

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