One Nigeria Historical Diary (episode 14) | Biography of Yakubu Gowon

Yakubu Gowon
Yakubu Gowon was born October 19, 1934, He is from Plateau state. Yakubu Gowon had his early education in Zaria before joining the Nigerian Army. He attended Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the year 1955 – 1956, Staff College, Camberley, UK (1962) and later further to University of Warwick in the year 1983. After, He became a professor of political science at the University of Jos.

In January 1966, he became Nigeria's youngest military chief of staff at the age of 31, because a military coup d'état by a group of junior officers under Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu led to the overthrow of Nigeria's civilian government. In the course of this coup, mostly northern and western leaders were killed, including Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria's Prime Minister; Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of the Northern Region; and Samuel Akintola, Premier of the Western Region, Lt Col Arthur Unegbe and so many more. The then Lieutenant Colonel Gowon returned from his course at the Joint Staff College, Latimer UK two days before the coup – a late arrival that possibly exempted him from the coupist hit list. Success in twentieth century world affairs since 1919 and the subsequent failure by Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi (who was the head of state following the January 1966 coup-with Gowon his Chief of Staff) to meet Northern demands for the prosecution of the coup plotters further inflamed Northern anger. It should be noted that there was significant support for the coup plotters from both the Eastern Region as well as the mostly left-wing "Lagos-Ibadan" press.

Yakubu Gowon was mobilized to Congo region as a member of the Nigerian peacekeeping force. Later, General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi appointed him the chief of staff after the military coup of 1966. In July 1966, he was selected as the military head of government, after a coup that removed Aguiyi-Ironsi from power.




His Role in Biafran War



In anticipation of eastern secession, Gowon moved quickly to weaken the support base of the region by decreeing the creation of twelve new states to replace the four regions. Six of these states contained minority groups that had demanded state creation since the 1950s. Gowon rightly calculated that the eastern minorities would not actively support the Igbos, given the prospect of having their own states if the secession effort were defeated. Many of the federal troops who fought in the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran War, to bring the Eastern Region back to the federation, were members of minority groups.

The war lasted thirty months and ended in January 1970. In accepting Biafra' unconditional cease-fire, Gowon declared that there would be no victor and no vanquished. In this spirit, the years afterward were declared to be a period of rehabilitation, reconstruction, and reconciliation. The oil-price boom, which began as a result of the high price of crude oil (the country's major revenue earner) in the world market in 1973, increased the federal government's ability to undertake these tasks.

Gowon as war leader


On 30 May 1967, Ojukwu responded to Gowon's announcement by declaring the formal secession of the Eastern Region, which was now to be known as the Republic of Biafra. This was to trigger a war that would last some 30 months, and see the deaths of more than 100,000 SOLDIERS AND OVER A MILLION CIVILIANS, most of the latter of which would perish of starvation under a Nigeria-imposed blockade. The war saw a massive expansion of the Nigerian army in size and a steep increase in its doctrinal and technical sophistication, while the Nigerian Air Force was essentially born in the course of the conflict.

However, significant controversy has surrounded the air operations of the Nigerian Forces, as several residents of Biafra, including Red Cross workers, foreign missionaries and journalists accused the Nigerian Air Force of specifically targeting civilian populations, relief centers and marketplaces. 

Gowon has steadfastly denied those claims, along with claims that his army committed atrocities such as rape, wholesale executions of civilian populations and extensive looting in occupied areas; however, one of his wartime commanders, Benjamin Adekunle seems to give some credence to these claims in his book, while excusing them as unfortunate by-products of war.

The victims of air force bombings, and those who starved to death during the blockade, were brought again to popular consideration in 2014 when Gowon was declared the tenth most lethal dictator of modern history in an internet meme which was stated by viral meme hosting website imgur to have gone viral on the internet. Gowon has always denied the charges of being a violent dictator.

The end of the war came about on 13 January 1970, with Colonel Olusegun Obasanjo's acceptance of the surrender of Biafran forces. The next day Obasanjo announced the situation on the former rebel radio station Radio Biafra Enugu. Gowon subsequently declared his famous "no victor, no vanquished" speech, and followed it up with an amnesty for the majority of those who had participated in the Biafran uprising, as well as a program of "Reconciliation, Reconstruction, and Rehabilitation", to repair the extensive damage done to the economy and infrastructure of the Eastern Region during the years of war.[10] Unfortunately, some of these efforts never left the drawing board. In addition to this, Gen. Gowon's administration's policy of giving 20 pounds to Biafran who had a bank account in Nigeria before the war, regardless of how much money had been in their account, was criticised by foreign and local aid workers, as this led to an unprecedented scale of begging, looting and robbery in the former Biafran areas after the war.


His Death



In February 1976, Gowon was implicated in the coup d'état led by Lt. Col Buka Suka Dimka, which resulted in the death of the now Gen Murtala Mohammed. According to Dimka's "confession", he met with Gowon in London, and obtained support from him for the coup. In addition, Dimka mentioned before his execution that the purpose of the Coup d'état was to re-install Gowon as Head of State. As a result of the coup tribunal findings, Gowon was declared wanted by the Nigerian government, stripped of his rank in absentia and had his pension cut off. Gen Gowon was finally pardoned (along with the ex-Biafran President, Emeka Ojukwu) during the Second Republic under President Shehu Shagari. Gowon's rank (of general) wasn't restored until 1987 however by General Ibrahim Babangida
.
Source:
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Yakubu-Gowon


Daily Trust, 19 October 2004 (Chief Sunday Awoniyi).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yakubu_Gowon

http://www.nigerianbiography.com/…/biography-of-yakubu-gowo…


Gowon's 12 January Speech Welcoming Biafran Surrender

http://www.triumphnewspapers.com/ga12122008.html

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