News / Africa

Former Nigerian Leader Pays Tribute to Late Secessionist Ojukwu

Yakubo Gowon, who was head of state during the Biafran war, says he and Ojukwu became reconciled friends to move Nigeria forward

Lieutenant Colonel C. Odumegwu Ojukwu, then military governor of East Nigeria, center, is pictured addressing a press conference at the state house in Engu, Nigeria, in this May, 1967 file photo.
Lieutenant Colonel C. Odumegwu Ojukwu, then military governor of East Nigeria, center, is pictured addressing a press conference at the state house in Engu, Nigeria, in this May, 1967 file photo.

Multimedia

Audio
James Butty

Former Nigerian head of state General Yakubo Gowon, in power during the three-year civil war in Biafra, has expressed sadness over the death of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, leader of the secessionist state.

Ojukwu died Saturday in a London hospital after a protracted illness.  He was 78.  Ojukwu led the Igbo secession effort between 1967 and 1970.

Gowon, who was head of state during the civil war, said he and Ojukwu became reconciled friends committed to move Nigeria forward after the civil war.

“Let me say how sorry and sad I am to hear the passing away of my old colleague and friend and aspirant partner during the period of our crisis. But, both of us were reconciled friends in the end.  He certainly will be missed by all, especially the family and partisans and friends and other well-wishers.  I pray for the repose of his soul and may God grant his soul everlasting rest,” he said.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, in a statement praised the late Ojukwu for his “immense love for his people, justice, equity and fairness which forced him into the leading role he played in the civil war.”

Gowon said, while the treatment of the Igbos at the time was undesirable, he does not think it was necessary for the region to secede.

“Let us say that the civil was for the unity of the country.  If there was no secession, there would not have been a civil war.  Although all men of good will to Nigeria will admit that, yes, what happened to the Igbos in Nigeria at the time, it was really bad enough, but I do not think that it should get [to] the stage whereby any leader of a people would wish to take his people out of nation,” Gowon said.

He said he was happy that, in the end, there was no clear victor.

Despite today’s militant agitation in the Niger Delta and the Islamist sect Boko Haram in the north, Gowon said he does not think Nigeria is on the brink of another insurrection like the Biafran civil war.

“I think these are some of the problems that any nation, or many nations, goes through before they have the total peace and stability that they want.  I don’t think that these problems are going to lead to any secession,” Gowon said.

He said, even if  today’s problems in Nigeria would lead to another insurrection like the Biafran civil war, he believes “there are enough men and women of good will who would be able to negotiate a solution that is fair and just to all concerned,” Gowon said.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid