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: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs