BY EMMA OKOCHA
"Before he enlisted into the army, Nzeogwu told me he was going to South Africa to fight for the liberation of the Blacks ....We spoke Hausa each time he came around. We used to go see the Sarduana through Alhaji Muktar Tahir. When I saw him in 1967 and asked him why he overthrew the government, he said he felt shocked that what he complained about in South Africa was happening in Nigeria. He was unhappy that Nigerians were losing jobs to Pakistanis and Indians.’’—John Edozie to Emeka Mamah, Sunday Vanguard Interview, March 28, 1999, Page 3.
"Chukwuma started thinking about military combat and dying in a battlefield somewhere in Southern Africa five years before Nigeria Independence. His readings in the late 50s had turned his focus towards the armed struggles of Southern Africa and his career choice was to prepare him for such conflicts. He understood what his father once told him about his choice, that joining the army was an invitation to early death...The Nzeogwu household had known him to keep his promises and resisted the family pressure to mould and shape his views
and choices; he followed his conscience on the senior class revolt at St John’s, rather than his parents’ desires; he joined the army instead of the police, he remained single, childless rather than become a progenitor....’’
—Nzeogwu, Okeleke: Major C.K Nzeogwu, Ibadan: Spectrum Books, 2003 Page119.
"The campaign period in Western Nigeria proved to be the bloodiest the country ever had; petrol was sometimes poured on opponents who were then set on fire, polling agents and electoral officers were shot. On the evening that Chief S.L Akintola was to make his first broadcast as Premier, a masked gunman entered the broadcasting station, seized the pre-recorded tape of Chief Akintola’s speech and submitted another tape.
Instead of Akintola’s voice, thousands of listeners heard a voice saying: ‘This is the voice, the true voice of the people of Western Nigeria. Akintola, get out, get out and take with you your band of renegades who have lost all sense of shame’. If there was any case for declaring a state of emergency in any region, the state of Western Nigeria in December 1965, was one very good case.
The Prime Minister and the Federal Government appeared not to take notice of what was happening in Western Nigeria. The situation in 1965 was worse than in 1962, when the Federal Government declared a state of emergency.’’
— Osadebay Dennis: Building A Nation, Ibadan:Macmillan Publishers 1978, Page174.
"Apart from these Yoruba officers, Major W. Ademoyega, Captain G.Adeleke, Lt.Oyewole, Lt. F. Olafimihan there were Northerners, close disciples of Nzeogwu who participated in the January 15 uprising. Captain Gibson Jalo, Captain Swanton, Lt. T. Katsina and Lt. John. Kpera [Pse.see The Five Majors, Pages 51 158-158...
Also see Blood On The Niger, New York: Triatlantic Books, Page 216].... it is most likely that the putsch was clearly anti-Igbo. The Majors overthrew a four regional structure that had two Igbo Premiers in the richest two regions of the East and the Midwest.
The main objective of the January 15 revolution was to release Chief Obafemi Awolowo from prison and appoint him the Prime Minister (See also the unpublished Findings on the Jan.15 1966 coup by the late Major Ibanga Ekanem, Provost Marshall, Nigerian Army)
There is a popular documentary on the Nigerian civil war showing presently on You Tube. Originally produced by the National Television Authority, the film featured interviews by some of the former top Nigerian civil war bureaucrats and army commanders on both sides of the civil war. I was elated to hear the voice of General Mohammed Shuwa, the former Commander of the Nigerian First Division, perhaps the most unsung hero of that war. Shuwa saved a lot of Igbos during the pogrom and continued in the same vein during his operations to reach his war objective.
He was the enduring commander of the Nigerian First Division. A Division which had the orders to capture the Biafran capitals of Enugu and Umuahia. To capture the hill top city of Enugu the First division was almost depleted as it battled through the red hot volcanoes of Nsukka, Opi junction, into the slaughter house of the Milkin hills. When the Biafrans evacuated Enugu and moved its capital to Aba and finally to Umuahia, the orders to the commanders of the First Division did not change.
To capture the city of knowledge, the Eastern Railway junction town, the city of the great Government College that gave the world Chinua Achebe, Chris Okigbo, Saro Wiwa, the gritty Division pushed through forests of Ogbunigwe-infested landscape, and through the perilous valleys of the truculent Biafran heartland. When the First Division finally limped into Umuahia, the earthquake casualties on both sides were beyond Carthage. It was time to call off the bluff. A coercive outcome to end the fratricide was the only option, as the two sides had by their intransigent and uncompromising stances ditched the resolution of the conflict through negotiations or diplomacy.
Through those bloody attrition in Biafra, and during the hours the Biafran Expeditionary Forces almost turned the tide of the war, after their entry into the Midwest on the 9th of August 1967, nobody heard of David Ejoor. Which side was he fighting for? There was no report on his field activities.
We therefore appreciate the stand of General Shuwa on You tube . Brigadier Conrad Nwawor, Brigadier S. Ogbemudia, Brigadier Johnson, Chief P.C Asiodu, Damcida, Tayo Akpata, Ojukwu and General Yakubu Gowon. These soldiers and gentlemen made decisions and answered the call as true soldiers.
They can discuss with authority the war in which they were actors. In his recent interview with a local newspaper where he allegedly denigrated the whole Igbos, following the failure of ‘their light Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’ who never made it as the Prime Minister’’.
In the first place Zik was not an Igbo light. He was the African light of the 21st century. He inspired the seminarian Kwame Nkrumah, the Uwalimu Julius Nyerere, K.K. Kaunda, countless Nigerians including Festus Okotie-Eboh, Chief S.J. Mariere the late Governor of the Midwest, James Otobo, Shaka Momodu, Chief Humphrey Omo-Osagie.
As the pioneer Nigerian publisher, Zik appointed Anthony Enahoro the youngest editor of a Nigerian newspaper. Mandela lived with him at his Commercial residence in Yaba, when he returned from Accra to publish the West African Pilot and the rest of the Zik’s chain of papers.
Ejoor was disrespectful of the dead as he failed to see the difference between Major Nzeogwu’s revolution and the subsequent coups that have bedeviled the Nigerian nation. Major Kaduna Nzeogwu was not Igbo, he was the last of the Nigerian Mohicans. His coup saved from obliteration the rebelling Tiv peasants. Restored stability in the streets of the wild west.
Those streets were sentencing hundreds of innocent citizens to their early deaths. And the government of the day was irresponsibly standing by. His coup was unique. He did not come to be President or to make any Igbo one. According to Lateef Jakande in the Comet of January 15, 2000....he acknowledged that the January 15 boys were revolutionaries who were seeking relief to the suffering masses of the west and planned to release from jail the following; Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Jakande, Anthony Enahoro, Chief Onitiri, Chief Omisade etc. Chief Awolowo was going to be handed over the executive powers of the Federal Government. Nzeogwu and his colleagues were heading to South Africa to fight and die for the liberation of the oppressed Blacks in that region.
That is why Tai Solarin the prospective Minister of Education in the Majors’ list did not forget the last of the Mohicans. The good old headmaster did not care if the heavens fell and right then as the guns boomed in 1967, he went forward and immortalised the Nigerian hero by dedicating the street leading to the Mayflower College to the memory of Chukwuma Nzeogwu! Any other doubting Thomases should take a trip and visit Ogun state. Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu has a street to his name.
As for Ejoor’s vituperations against Ojukwu, we have no comments as the general is alive and can respond to him. However, his second stab into the dead scars of General Aguiyi Ironsi and Adekunle Fajuyi is unAfrican.
Contrary to your diatribe, it was General Aguiyi-Ironsi who elevated you and appointed you Military Governor and member Supreme Council.
Two officers from the Midwest who were higher than you in rank were not considered and did not hold it against you. Cols. Conrad Nwawo was commissioned before Independence and is the only living Nigerian officer ever to win the British highest medal of courage...the Victory Cross. R.F Trimnel after the bloodbath of July 29 1966, was the only standing officer second in rank to Brigadier Ogundipe and was tempted by the British to take over after the abdication of the Brigadier. However the late Aboh mullato was not the type. Ejoor told his interviewer that he was senior to everybody but for three other Nigerian officers.
Sir, when will your stories end? Were you senior to Generals Babafemi Ogundipe, Generals Adebayo, Olufemi Olutoye, Brigadier Nwawor, Col. Trimnel, Col Fajuyi, Col. Imo, Col. Phillip Effiong etc?
While we forgive you for your slips, we shall advise that the bitterness of the civil war is gradually becoming a thing of the past. David Ejoor, you cannot slander our history.
For only the lost tribe will allow others to write their history.