By Hugo Odiogor, GbengaOke, Chukwuma Nwakama & Dotun Ibiwoye
LAGOS—SECOND Republic Vice President Dr, Alex Ekwueme, yesterday, described the “No Victor, No Vanquished” policy of General Yakubu Gowon as an economic failure for the people of South East.
He, however, commended the wisdom of Chief Obafemi Awolowo which saw the country through the woes of the 30 month civil war.
Ekwueme who was a special guest of honour at a book launch in Lagos, said the “No Victor, No Vanquished” policy of the Gowon administration might have saved the Igbos from physical annihilation but in economic terms, they were impoverished by the post war economic policies which did not take into consideration, the survival of the Igbos after the civil war.
Noting that Gowon was magnanimous for resisting the pressures from some quarters to institute the Nuremberg trial “to solve the Igbo problem in Nigeria,” Ekwueme said Gowon showed courage and patriotism in recognising that the civil war was caused by misunderstanding between two brothers.
Two of the books written by Mr. Femi Ogunsawo dwelt on the statesmanship of Gen. Yakubu Gowon and late Chief Obafemi Awolowo who was the Deputy Vice Chairman of the Supreme Military Council as well as the Commissioner for Finance.
Ekwueme said Chief Awolowo proved himself to be a prudent manager of human and material resources by maintaining strict fiscal discipline in government spending and equally ensured that the Federal Government did not borrow money to fight the war. The book on General Gowon was entitled: The Supreme Commander while the book on Chief Awolowo was entitled: Awo The Unfinished Greatness. The third was on the author himself entitled: The Baptism of Fire.
Failure of economic integration
Dr. Ekwueme said the failure of economic integration of the Igbos after the civil war was still hurting the country as the mass impoverishment suffered in the 1970s was still evident in the nation’s socio economic development.
Extolling the accomplishments of Gowon’s administration, Chairman of the occasion, Chief Harry Akande said the national development plan put in place by the administration was comprehensive and capable of transforming the economy beyond what had been envisioned by subsequent administrations.
Akande said the country had been groping in the dark with decaying infrastructure, abandonment of ethical values and total lack of leadership at all levels of governance.
In his remarks, General Gowon said he dropped the title “the supreme commander” after Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu opposed the idea in Aburi, Ghana, where the feuding Nigerian and Biafran delegations went to find diplomatic response to the civil war in Nigeria.
Gowon who was represented by Mr. Felix Adenaike, said he did not object to the use of the title because as a Christian he knew that the title Supreme is for the Creator.
Convener of the Save Nigeria Group, Pastor Tunde Bakare, at the event urged Nigerians to vote for leaders that would serve their interest in power instead of laying emphasis on unnecessary generational shift that has been a subject of argument.
He said: “What Nigerians need is generational integration from leaders that will serve Nigeria. We want leaders that will serve us not leaders that want to rule us but, we hope that in 2011, leaders that will do things right will be voted in to positions of authority.”
Personalities at the event included Dr Alex Ekwueme, Chief Harry Akande, former Lagos State Governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande; former Ekiti State Governor, Niyi Adebayo, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Ambassador Segun Olusola, Mr Yinka Odumakin, Professor Akin Oyebode, Chief Ayo Opadokun. Lagos State Governor’s representative, Mrs Ajike Ogunsanwo; Ondo State Governor’s representative, Hon Oluwasaka Lawal; Dr S.K Onafowokan; Olufon of Ifon in Osun state who represented Oba Okunade Sijuade, the Ooni of Ife.
Others were Chief Henry Odukomaiya, Chief Taiwo Alimi, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi, Tunde Thompson, Tunde Fagbemile, Mr Felix Adenaike, among others.