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Sunday Perspectives

Final word on “The futility and irrationality of revenge”

Late Sani Abacha

DOUGLAS ANELE The concluding part of our marathon series on the pointlessness and folly of the revenge coup of 29 July 1966 published last Sunday needs some improvement. First, it ended a little bit abruptly, and seemed, in the words of the British novelist, Thomas Hardy, like “a fraction looking for its integer.” Aside from
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General Yakubu Gowon (Rtd)

The futility and irrationality of revenge (8)

To start with, when Gowon came back to Lagos, some top federal civil servants were surprised at the scope and depth of concessions he made to Ojukwu. Consequently, they advised him, wrongly, not to implement it because, in their opinion, the agreement was “unworkable.” Given that the Aburi summit essentially affirmed the structure of governance in the first republic which worked so well before the coup of January 15 truncated it, the only reasonable explanation of their negative stance was myopic selfishness motivated by desire to preserve their exalted positions in Gowon’s government.

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The futility and irrationality of revenge (6)

Why did Major Danjuma and his murderous band of soldiers humiliate, physically assault and kill Ironsi based on the unsubstantiated allegation that he was either complicit in theJanuary 15 coup or was unwilling to deal with Nzeogwu and his group because an overwhelming percentage of the prominent coup plotters were Igbo? What exactly was the role of Lieutenant-Colonel Gowon, Ironsi’s chief of army staff, in the revanchist coup?

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(FILES)- A March 2, 2012 file photo shows an Ohafia cultural troupe entertaining bystanders during the burial of Nigeria's secessionist leader Odumegwu Ojukwu at his native Nnewi country home, in Anambra State eastern Nigeria. Odumegwu Ojukwu, who championed the campaign for an independent Republic of Biafra in eastern Nigeria in the 1960s culminating in a 30-month civil war which left more than a million dead was buried at his Nnewi family home in Anambra State. Its name is synonomous with the declaration of independence and updates on the brutal conflict that followed, but nearly 50 years after Nigeria's civil war, Radio Biafra is again making headlines. AFP PHOTO

The futility and irrationality of revenge (4)

These attacks were partly due to the tendency of responding to crisis in Nigeria by blaming without careful thought and corroborating evidence those from the other ethnic group or other side of the country. As the late novelist, Prof. Chinua Achebe observed, “there seemed to be lust for revenge, which meant an excuse for Nigerians to take out their resentment on the Igbo who led the nation in virtually every sector – politics, education, commerce and the arts…an open target, scapegoats for the failings and grievances of colonial and post-independent Nigeria.”

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The futility and irrationality of revenge (3)

But before we identify those Ironsi promoted when and why, I should point out that Dr. Mbadiwe, Minister of Trade, who was among those pencilled down for assassination by the coup plotters, had a lucky escape. Having killed the Finance Minister, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, the dissidents went after Mbadiwe. No one knows precisely how Mbadiwe did it, but he eluded his would-be assassins and hid in the State House, residence of Dr. Azikiwe who was away in London for medical treatment.

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Umuada Ndigbo in diaspora

The futility and irrationality of revenge (2)

So, let us try to consider as dispassionately as we can, on the basis of available data, whether the first military coup was indeed an Igbo coup, as alleged by some writers such as Isama Elaigwu, in Gowon: The Biography of a Soldier-Statesman and Karl Maier, in This House has Fallen Nigeria: in Crisis. But before we do that, certain basic points must be highlighted.

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The futility and irrationality of revenge (1)

One of the most worrisome drawbacks in our educational system, particularly from the last three decades onwards, is the neglect of Nigerian history in the curricula of our primary and secondary schools. In the developed and serious-minded developing countries around the world, the importance of history as a source of ideas required for actualising the quest for national development and nation-building is recognised by most people.

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Sexuality, hypocrisy, and everything in-between (3)

The University of Lagos, Akoka, has an effective system for handling such cases. For instance, the university’s management does not waste time in sanctioning any staff or student found guilty of such offence after thorough investigation – indeed, the university has zero tolerance for improper sexual conduct. In addition, aside from organising orientation programmes during which students are educated on various aspects of life in the university, including appropriate interpersonal relationships, there is a Counselling Centre run by experts in the relevant disciplines to help them deal with life’s issues in a rational, civilised and levelheaded manner.

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Senator Oluremi Tinubu and Dino Melaye

Sexuality, hypocrisy, and everything in-between (2)

As I argued earlier, the clash of ego between Melaye and Mrs. Tinubu that occurred in the Senate, not in the House of Representatives as I erroneously stated last Sunday, was blown out of proportion in the press. Journalists relish sensationalism; oftentimes the make mountains out of molehills by focusing too much attention to inconsequential misbehavior of politicians and celebrities mainly to boost the sale of their newspapers and magazines.

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President Buhari

Pachyderms and governance (4)

Because the APC is in power right now and the need to maintain the misleading impression that everybody working for President Buhari is not corrupt, it would require public pressure and sustained effort backed by solid evidence from reliable sources outside officialdom to compel the EFCC to thoroughly investigate top officials of government.

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Pachyderms and governance (3)

Most Nigerians do not know that the foundation of northern domination of the country was surreptitiously laid before independence by the departing colonial administration. The late master storyteller, Prof. Chinua Achebe, refers to Osei Boateng, a journalist for the New African magazine who, in a November 2008 cover story captioned “Nigeria: Squalid End to Empire,” carefully documented how colonial Britain manipulated Nigeria’s independence elections “so that its compliant friends in the North would win power, dominate the country, and serve British interests after independence.”

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Buhari and Obasanjo

Pachyderms and governance (2)

Take the current recrudescence of gitation for the establishment of Republic of Biafra in the South-east and some areas in the South-south more than four decades after the civil war ended. With the possible exception of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, Ndigbo, the people who have contributed more than any other ethnic group to national development, have been treated as third class citizens by previous leaders especially in key federal appointments.

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