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Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir - Politics - Nairaland

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Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by paranoiapill: 4:51pm On Oct 24, 2012
Wednesday, 24 October 2012 00:00 By Dr. Tony Nwaezeigwe

I HAVE not yet read the controversial personal history of Chinua Achebe, and as a professional historian, I don’t really think it is ethical to speak on a work one has not read. However, I have endeavoured to read Noo Saro-Wiwa’s review of the book posted on The Guardian of London on-line. I have also read the numerous comments on the book with specific reference to the roles of Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the civil war.

I could recall that this subject of Achebe’s attack on Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the Dr. Frederick Fasehun’s welcome address to me during my meeting with him on Thursday, October 11, 2012, at his Century Hotel, Okota, to discuss the subject of Igbo Presidency in 2015. Still on the same subject matter, while en route Nsukka by Ifesinachi luxury bus, just few kilometers to Ore, I received a call from Ghana, this time by the renowned Igbo literary critic and mathematician-turned historian, Professor Chinweizu, imploring me to comment on the controversy.

Over-flogged and irrelevant subject

I have, therefore, decided to comment on a subject I strongly feel is both over-flogged and irrelevant at this point of our history. However, to the professional historian, no literary work is an end to itself, not even the one coming from such literary icon as Professor Chinua Achebe. Every work of literary art is, therefore, to the professional historian, a means to an end, a tool and source-material for the professional historian in pursuit of the end. That end is definitely the solution to the intractable political socio-economic, and allied problems of mankind.

Achebe no doubt, like other writers and commentators has done his bit of contribution towards that end. However, whether Achebe’s contribution is adjudged to be positive or negative in orientation, it remains a matter literary conjecture, since every writer is entitled to his personal opinion based on his exclusive perception of a given subject matter. In this regard, the title of the book is self-explanatory. One does not, therefore, understand why the personal view of an individual will constitute a whole lot of an enveloping controversy. Or, could be because such a comment is coming out of the mouth of a “Professor Chinua Achebe”? Just like a Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, or a Mungo Park discovering the source of River Niger. I ask this question because the subject matter is no longer new, as it has over the years formed one of tools against possible Igbo-Yoruba common front against a perceived common enemy.

The fact remains, however, that the issue of Chief Awolowo’s anti-Igbo roles during the civil war is highly over-bloated with irreconcilable body of evidence. This issue was fully explained in my October 1998 Guest Lecture to the Department of

Political Science, University of Lagos, titled: “Ethnicity and the Politics of Igbo-Yoruba Relations: case of a celebration of defeat?”

In the first instance, the Igbo first lost the golden opportunity to have Chief Awolowo fully on their side when, neither General Ironsi nor Col. Ojukwu failed to see the wisdom in releasing the former from prison custody in Calabar. Chief Obafemi Awolowo had to wait for the six or seven months before he could be released and granted amnesty by General Yakubu Gowon, who subsequently elevated him.

There was no doubt that the Yoruba under the leadership of Chief Awolowo were ready to secede along with the Igbo, had circumstances on ground not prevented the scheme. Fundamental in that circumstance was the presence of the Northern troops in Ibadan, Abeokuta and Lagos. Since the Yoruba at that time lacked the needed military presence in the army to confront the occupying forces, there was little they could have done. The Yoruba leaders had actually demanded for the withdrawal of the Federal troops from their territory to enable them carry out their scheme of secession. It was actually on account of that demand that the Federal authorities announced on Thursday, May 25, 1967 that the Northern troops would be withdrawn from the West Region.

However, that withdrawal eventually meant the withdrawal of troops at Ibadan and Abeokuta for the reinforcement of the Lagos garrison as well as for the strategic

cities of Jebba and Ilorin. Even the acting Military Governor of the Western Region at that tme, Col. Adebayo, in his subtle protest on May 26, described the presence of Northern troops at Ikeja as “this outstanding problem,” and pleaded with his people to exercise patience since he was discussing the matter with General Gowon.

It was under this charged political atmosphere that Gowon announced the

following day, May 27, the creation of the 12-State structure. That action eventually led to the fission of Yoruba minds towards secession, particularly since the indigenes of the new Lagos State saw their new status as a freedom from the domineering image of Chief Awolowo. The subsequent elevation of Chief Obafemi Awolowo to number two position was to erase the idea of a Yoruba secession.

It could also be recalled that on March 3, 1967, the Biafran leader, Col. Odumegwu-Ojukwu, then still acting on the capacity of a Regional Governor, affirmed this evident incapacitation of the West by the occupying Northern troops. Odumegwu-Ojukwu had said that both Governors of the two Southern Regions of West and Midwest were in full support of his position against the North, but could not do much because of the presence of Northern troops in their territories.

Chief Awolowo’s inability to carry out his threat of secession if the East seceded could not therefore be interpreted as an act of betrayal. Beyond the matter of sentiments, objective judgment agrees that there can never be secession without a back-up military force. Comparatively, the Yoruba had thrown a much stronger loyal support to the leadership of Nnamdi Azikiwe than the Igbo ever exhibited toward Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Thus in speaking of Awolowo’s roles in the civil war, objectivity demands that reference be made also of such Yoruba-born pro-Igbo partisans of the war, like Professor Wole Soyinka and those who chose to fight and die for Biafra like Colonels Banjo and Ademoyega.

Gruesome experiences


There was no doubt that Professor Chinua Achebe, from the accounts of his civil war experiences was a privileged Biafran citizen who only watched but never suffered the gruesome experiences of hunger, diseases and homelessness during the war. If the father of African literature actually wants to be objective concerning the conduct of the civil war, then he should first focus his literary search-light at the internal mechanisms of the conduct of the war on the side of Biafra.

In other words, if any blame were to be apportioned for the defeat of Biafra and the suffering of the Igbo masses, it cannot be targeted at external forces such as Awolowo, but at the internal elite who masterminded the failed civil war policies of the leader, like Achebe himself. One would want Professor Achebe to explain to

Nigerians in general and the Igbo in particular, what happened to the millions in foreign currency raised abroad in support of Biafra but which never got to the shores of Biafra? How much of such money were actually raised and who were those Igbo leaders of Biafra entrusted with the duty of bringing the fund to Biafra?

What also happened to the millions given to such people as Dr. K.O. Mbadiwe and Mojekwu, a relative of Odumegwu-Ojukwu for the purpose of purchasing arms and ammunition to prosecute the war? Did they not cart away with the money and never returned to Biafra until after the defeat? Where again could one place those who sold relief materials meant for the poor and suffering citizens of Biafra, when it was meant to be distributed free? Were all these atrocities against the Igbo equally masterminded by Chief Obafemi Awolowo?

Viewed critically, even the literary icon himself, acting on the capacity of Biafra’s Minister of Communication, could not have supported any policy that would have given the Federal Government undue advantage over Biafra. Even the Federal Government’s policy of an all-round twenty pounds exchange cannot be faulted by any economic theory given the undetermined value of the Biafran currency. It is important for Professor Achebe to know that the Igbo of today fully understand who their actual friends and foes are in the present Federation.

Abandoned property saga


The 1966 pogroms against the Igbo were Hausa-Fulani schemes and not those of the Yoruba. Many Igbo lived unmolested in Yorubaland throughout the war. The coup d’etat that toppled General Aguiyi-Ironsi was a Northern act and not a single Yoruba soldier was involved. The abandoned property saga did not take place in Yorubaland.

Above all, although there could exist a situation of mutual rivalries between the Igbo and Yoruba, such competitions never for once degenerated into a state of anti-Igbo riots, with countless loss of lives and property. The Igbo thus know who their friends are, and they know that the Yoruba are not their foe. In conclusion, it is important to let Professor Achebe understand one evident fact: if any Igbo leader could have one-quarter of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s vision for the Yoruba, then the Igbo are saved the pains of recurrent political idiocy.



• Dr. Nwaezeigwe is Senior Research Fellow, Institute of African Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=102559:in-defence-of-awolowo-matters-arising-from-achebes-civil-war-memoir&catid=73:policy-a-politics&Itemid=607

37 Likes

Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by veraponpo: 7:23pm On Oct 24, 2012
See reasonable person. Front page pls. This deserves contribution from people.
Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by aljharem(m): 8:47pm On Oct 24, 2012
I don't understand why it is not on the FP angry
Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by naijababe(f): 8:55pm On Oct 24, 2012
I dey wait for the usual suspects o
Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by aljharem(m): 8:57pm On Oct 24, 2012
Dr. Nwaezeigwe has just put it out clearly. How can anyone fault this logic ? this is the SAME ISSUE we have been trying to explain.
Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by SisiKill1: 9:01pm On Oct 24, 2012
Interesting...
Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by tosank: 9:04pm On Oct 24, 2012
Front page plsss. My Ibo brothers and sisters should listen to the truth.

1 Like

Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by relchange: 9:57pm On Oct 24, 2012
somebody needs to send a nairaland link to the author of this article
i give him one week here to change his mind
Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by CyberG: 10:06pm On Oct 24, 2012
re@lchange:
somebody needs to send a nairaland link to the author of this article
i give him one week here to change his mind

I think the Yorubas are simply tired and don't care anymore. iboz should just go regardless of if they know their so called enemies or NOT! Yes, the author seems a deeply thoughtful and gracious man but Dr., the SWesterners are FINALLY TIRED of your ibo people's trouble. When Nigeria breaks, just go back to onitsha, aba and owerri.

14 Likes

Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by AndreUweh(m): 10:14pm On Oct 24, 2012
I earlier today asked Dr Nwaezeigwe whether he has read the book and his answer was no.
So Nairalanders, you can now decide.

2 Likes

Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by PaulJohn1: 10:14pm On Oct 24, 2012
Too many sensible points in the write up that I can't quote.
Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by dayokanu(m): 11:33pm On Oct 24, 2012
Well said Doctor
Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by revomind(m): 11:49pm On Oct 24, 2012
shocked

This guy is no real Igbo!

Efulefu !


cool

3 Likes

Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by shymexx(m): 11:54pm On Oct 24, 2012
Hmmm... Interesting read!! shocked grin cool
Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by AndreUweh(m): 11:57pm On Oct 24, 2012
revomind: shocked

This guy is no real Igbo!

Efulefu !


cool
He is Igbo to the core and I know him personally. I have even given him a call over this issue. My only worry is that he has behaved like some chaps here who have not read the memoirs yet are on rampage.
He is a nice guy though.

1 Like

Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by dayokanu(m): 12:04am On Oct 25, 2012
paranoia_pill:

In the first instance, the Igbo first lost the golden opportunity to have Chief Awolowo fully on their side when, neither General Ironsi nor Col. Ojukwu failed to see the wisdom in releasing the former from prison custody in Calabar. Chief Obafemi Awolowo had to wait for the six or seven months before he could be released and granted amnesty by General Yakubu Gowon, who subsequently elevated him.

12 Likes

Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by dayokanu(m): 12:06am On Oct 25, 2012
Comparatively, the Yoruba had thrown a much stronger loyal support to the leadership of Nnamdi Azikiwe than the Igbo ever exhibited toward Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Thus in speaking of Awolowo’s roles in the civil war, objectivity demands that reference be made also of such Yoruba-born pro-Igbo partisans of the war, like Professor Wole Soyinka and those who chose to fight and die for Biafra like Colonels Banjo and Ademoyega.

11 Likes

Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by dayokanu(m): 12:07am On Oct 25, 2012
In other words, if any blame were to be apportioned for the defeat of Biafra and the suffering of the Igbo masses, it cannot be targeted at external forces such as Awolowo, but at the internal elite who masterminded the failed civil war policies of the leader, like Achebe himself. One would want Professor Achebe to explain to

Nigerians in general and the Igbo in particular, what happened to the millions in foreign currency raised abroad in support of Biafra but which never got to the shores of Biafra? How much of such money were actually raised and who were those Igbo leaders of Biafra entrusted with the duty of bringing the fund to Biafra?

What also happened to the millions given to such people as Dr. K.O. Mbadiwe and Mojekwu, a relative of Odumegwu-Ojukwu for the purpose of purchasing arms and ammunition to prosecute the war? Did they not cart away with the money and never returned to Biafra until after the defeat? Where again could one place those who sold relief materials meant for the poor and suffering citizens of Biafra, when it was meant to be distributed free? Were all these atrocities against the Igbo equally masterminded by Chief Obafemi Awolowo?




OJUKU shame on you.

13 Likes

Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by njazra(m): 12:58am On Oct 25, 2012
veraponpo: See reasonable person. Front page pls. This deserves contribution from people.

yeah, Frontpage pls
Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by olenyi(m): 1:33am On Oct 25, 2012
And all this noise and criticisms from ppl who doesn't even know the color of the said books back cover let alone read the book. How do u even start commenting or carrying out an informed review of a book u haven't even read. Everybody is shouting out loud to be heard, when they dont even know how many pages are in the book. Its not done anywhere in the world excerpt Nigeria. Pheew. (Shakes head)

2 Likes

Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by preciousoz: 1:53am On Oct 25, 2012
Love this Guy !!!

How I wish all Nigerians can reason this objectively.
Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by PROUDIGBO(m): 2:09am On Oct 25, 2012
revomind: shocked

This guy is no real Igbo!

Efulefu !


cool

I agree with you bruh; but of course the Igbo-hating bastards on this thread are getting a raging bone/r (not minding for once that it's a 'Igbo' they're cheering) just b'cos he's 'trying' to absolve and whitewash their god and his minions of all blame.

1 Like

Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by Ariyke: 2:21am On Oct 25, 2012
Correct!

1 Like

Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by sesanrota(m): 2:58am On Oct 25, 2012
PROUD-IGBO:


I agree with you bruh; but of course the Igbo-hating bastards on this thread are getting a raging bone/r (not minding for once that it's a 'Igbo' they're cheering) just b'cos he's 'trying' to absolve and whitewash their god and his minions of all blame.

why wont you agree with him as the truth you refuse to see is bitter...
Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by ektbear: 3:34am On Oct 25, 2012
Shout out to my homie AWO

1 Like

Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by ACM10: 3:44am On Oct 25, 2012
space reserved
Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by ACM10: 3:44am On Oct 25, 2012
He made some very interesting contributions. But it will be unfair to review a book without reading it.
He has to understand that an average Onyeigbo do not consider Yorubas as enemies. Our grouse is with the conduct of Awolowo during and after the war.
The inference that Yoruba
had thrown a much stronger
loyal support to the
leadership of Nnamdi
Azikiwe than the Igbo ever
exhibited toward Chief
Obafemi Awolowo is a complete balderdash! It is true that NCNC were able to win some seats in the western region in 1952 election, but Yoruba support for Zik did not go beyond that. Remember that AG won some seats in the east too. Beyond Awo/Zik, Ndigbo have thrown their support behind Yorubas on countless occasions; Abiola, Obasanjo, etc. By the way, Awolowo and other Yoruba politicians often use an unflattering terms to describe Zik and Ndigbo. Read some of Awolowo's books or watch Akintola's video on youtube.

There are some rogue characters in Nigeria and Biafra during the civil war. So there is no doubt that some people engaged in activities which were inimical to the war effort. Singling out Biafrans is rather unfair.

On the other hand, Ironsi misread the mood of the northerners especially their elites. He did not envisage that situation will degenerate to 2nd coup de etat or pogrom. He kicked against all the advice from senior officers of the coup in the making. To demonstrate his detribalized nature, he surrounded himself with officers of northern origin.
When the mood of Nigerians were low, he embarked on "apology tour" trying to please the northerners who showed an outward contempt for his leadership. Releasing Awolowo who was a convicted felon during the regime of the deposed government headed by a northerner will be counterproductive to his "appease the north" effort. Ojukwu cannot release Awolowo either without an express permision from Ironsi.

There is no doubt that the true enemy of Ndigbo are Hausa/Fulani oligarchy. But they cannot do much if Yoruba withdraws their support for them.

The fact remains that Ndigbo and Yorubas are rivals; and Yorubas tends to exploit Hausa/Fulani-Igbo feuds to hurt us.

Yorubas made a feeble attempt to secede. But they could not do much since there was an intimidating presence of northern troops all over the western region.

I don't know Dr. Nwaezeigwe personally. Though he strikes me as an interesting character. But I'm disappointed with some of his assessment. Though some are logical from the revisionists point of view. I agree with him that Ndigbo and Yoruba should forge a common front which will be based on magnifying our common grounds and minimizing our point of differences. But he should consult his history books on where such mindless unity led us to in the past.

18 Likes

Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by Osiris211: 6:58am On Oct 25, 2012
None of these pro-Achebe's lies could even attempt to counter those objective points raised by this Dr.

Isn't these what we have been crying and trying hard to show that Achebe was driven by sheer bigotry to have tally the arrays of false information in his book primarily pointing to thier usual scapegoat in person of Awolowo? Do anyone need to feast on the hogwash Achebe churned to set the records straight or see through his lying teeth?

My take is that Achebe was influenced by his desire to be elevated to the statue of heroic in ibo land prolly after his death, hence he fraudulently piece together glaring balderdash to appeal to the emotions of his brethren by resurrecting their victim mentalities.

But then, I indulge my south western brothers to understand that the task of the survival of south west is ours, and ours alone.

9 Likes

Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by MrGlobe(m): 9:14am On Oct 25, 2012
I guess yorobber people finally have another fantasy from an indian hemp smoker to be happy about. This clown said he was discussing with fasheun about igbo presidency. what an iddiot. @Andre since you said you know this fool, tell him to shut up, both him and his opinions are irrelevant. maybe he is feeding on the bossoms of Tinubu or falseun and trying to keep his job. Looks like he is trying so hard to impress falseun. This bastaard fake doctor needs to be stoned to death for the sake of 3 million pregnant women and kids starved by awolowo. His name has been noted for the dustbins of igbo race. lying against truth to score cheap point. fool.

14 Likes

Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by salam001(m): 9:30am On Oct 25, 2012
Dr Nwaezeigwe is not = Ndigbo,just a confused man
Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by kunyeo(m): 9:36am On Oct 25, 2012
Mr. Globe:
I guess yorobber people finally have another fantasy from an indian hemp smoker to be happy about. This clown said he was discussing with fasheun about igbo presidency. what an iddiot. @Andre since you said you know this fool, tell him to shut up, both him and his opinions are irrelevant. maybe he is feeding on the bossoms of Tinubu or falseun and trying to keep his job. Looks like he is trying so hard to impress falseun. This bastaard fake doctor needs to be stoned to death for the sake of 3 million pregnant women and kids starved by awolowo. His name has been noted for the dustbins of igbo race. lying against truth to score cheap point. fool.
such torrent of bitterness.i respect people who make their points without resulting to personal insullt.

15 Likes

Re: Dr. Nwaezeigwe Defends Awolowo On Achebe’s Civil War Memoir by lacosanostra: 9:36am On Oct 25, 2012
OK ALL OF UNA, DAYOKANU,SHYMEX,OSIRIS.CYBER G truthfully speaking between this doctor review or comment and dat of our own ACM10 which is more objective,logical e.t.c

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