~vanguard Nigeria. Monday, November 6, 2017.
…Says Ojukwu never supported secession.
abuja-Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, stalwart and publisher of Champion newspaper, Dr. Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu has debunked the belief that Igbo policial leaders instigated the January 1966 coup that ended the first republic.
Chief Iwunyanwu made the assertion at the weekend during the celebration of his 75th birthday in Abuja.
He said it was wrong for anybody to insult Igbo by claiming that political leaders from the region masterminded the coup, when in the real sense, the same Igbo leaders stopped the coup from actualising its main objectives.
"Before I die, I want to correct the erroneous belief being fed to Nigerian youths that the January 1966 coup was instigated by Igbo leaders. It is not true. Yes, the person who led it was an Igbo from Delta State but he had with him people from other tribes: Yoruba, Niger Delta and other places.It was a purely military coup. It was not Igbo coup. There was no time Igbo leaders told the military to carry out the coup.
"If for anything, Nnamdi Azikiwe was very sad at the death of Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello and others. I want the younger generation of Nigerians to know that they are being told lies.”
On why the coup failed, he said: "I want them also to know why the coup failed. It failed because an Igbo man, General Aguiyi Ironsitook up arms and arrested the coup plotters and put them in prison.
”Ironsi was the one controlling the army then. If he had supported the coup, it could have succeeded. So,it was Igbo that stopped the coup. Ironsi was eventually killed because all of us said we do not want unitary government. We wanted political restructuring. We are very serious about it and many Nigerians have said it."
NASS should hasten restructuring process
The former presidential aspirant called for restructuring of the country, saying that it remains the only way to keep the country united and strong,calling on the national Assembly to hasten the process.
"The National Assembly should hasten the process of restructuring this country. The three tiers must be independent of each other. Local councils in my own opinion is the most important tier.They are the one with the masses.
"I advise politicians to stop thinking that councils are for learners. It is for experienced politicians. When people retire, they should be able to aspire for council positions. When that policy is adopted, it means you can carry the experience you have to go and develop your community.
"Councils should be able to build roads, hospitals, boreholes and schools. I don't see how somebody can sit here in Abuja and build all the roads in Nigeria. It is not possible.We have been working forpower to be given to states and it has not worked. We support restructuring."
Zik deserved credit
Further on the civil war, Iwuanyanwu said although the war ended with no victor and vanquish, Federal Government is yet to give Zik the credit he deserved.
He urged the Federal Government to give Zik the honour he deserved as an icon that sacrificed so much for the country.
Ojukwu never supported secession
On Ojukwu’s role in the war, he said that contrary to popular belief, Ojukwu never supported secession of Biafra.
"When he went to Aburi, he went to negotiate political restructuring of Nigeria. He never talked about secession in Aburi. It was when Aburi collapsed, I am talking as a witness, and he came back, that a constituent Assembly was established in the East. That Assembly declared Biafra, not Ojukwu. It is important for me to tell you this before I die.”
It's wrong to insult Igbo
He said Igbos have contributed so much for Nigeria’s unity more than any other tribe, considering their manner of cohabiting with other tribes and quantum of their investment outside their region.
"Igbos have given so much for one Nigeria. That is why, if you go to any state in Nigeria, when you look at the investment in those places, after the indigenes, the next highest group is Igbos.
"I challenge anybody to prove me wrong. How else, can you say, people who are from this area do not believe in the country. What we want is fairness, people have to be fair to us, people should not abuse us.We want fairness, that is all we want and we will support and work for one Nigeria."