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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs