By Emeka Obasi
The Governor of Northern Nigeria, Sir Kashim Ibrahim was being held prisoner in the Brigade Major’s Office while many Northern Nigeria soldiers surrounded the building demanding that he be killed for his important role in a regime of corruption, oppression and dishonesty. I clearly overheard Captain Onwuatuegwu trying very hard to convince the soldiers to spare the life of the Governor, and later threatening that the Governor could only be killed over his dead body.
In the end, Onwuatuegwu, with the timely intervention of Nzeogwu, saved the Governor’s life. Explaining later his reasons for protecting the Governor’s life, Onwuatuegwu said he was personally responsible for arresting the Governor during the night of the revolution. What impressed him was that the Governor, unlike many others, had behaved toward him very well, and had given him full cooperation during his arrest.’
I am quoting General Alexander Madiebo, author of the book, ‘The Nigerian Revolution and the Biafran War.’ Senator Kashim Ibrahim Shettima was not yet on Planet Earth that bloody January 15, 1966 night. He arrived as a baby eight months later on September 2.
Senator Shettima is the immediate past governor of Borno State. His father was the first Nigerian Governor of the Northern Region ( 1962- 1966). He survived the first military coup, thanks to Timothy Ifeanyi Onwuatuegwu.
Onwuatuegwu unleashed terror in Kaduna. He led 14 soldiers to the home of Brigadier Samuel Ademulegun, Commander, One Brigade. After shooting his superior officer, he murdered his wife, Lateefat,in the presence of their baby girl, Solape.
The same Onwuatuegwu followed his boss, Maj. Chukwuma Nzeogwu to kill Col. Raphael Shodeinde. They shot his wife too but she survived. Maj. Israel Okoro, Second- in -charge at Third battalion in the absence of CO, Lt.col George Kurubo was smart enough to pledge loyalty.
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When the CO of Fifth battalion Kano, Lt.col Emeka Ojukwu detained Captain Chris Ude who was sent by Nzeogwu to collect money for troops, it was Onwuatuegwu that Nzeogwu deployed to go wage war against Ojukwu. Sanity prevailed and that plan was stepped down.
This was the same Onwuatuegwu that was sane enough to spare the Governor of the Northern Region. Sir Kashim Ibrahim outlived Onwuatuegwu. The former died at 80 in 1990. The latter was executed by Maj. Bukar Suka Dimka in 1970 as he tried to escape to Cameroon after the Civil War.
I am sure Senator Shettima was close to his father. What I do not know is if the younger former governor studied History in any form. If he did and was around his father, he would not make me look at him as someone who has become a huge disappointment.
In 2017, there was a leaked video of conversation between Shettima and Senator Ibikunle Amosun, who was Governor of Ogun State at the time. It potrayed the Kanuri man as a complete Igbo hater. Thank GOD he quickly distanced himself from it.
Today, Shettima is chairman, Senate committe on Interior and I must say, it does appear there is a deliberate attempt by this regime to shut out the Igbo from relevance. The meaning of the denied leaked video cannot be better interpreted.
There are four paramiltary agencies under the Interior ministry: Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigerian Correctional Service, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Federal Fire Service. All four are headed by officers from Northern Nigeria.
To be fair to Shettima he was not Committe chairman when Muhammed Babandede, from Jigawa State was appointed to head Immigration in 2016. He was also not in Abuja at the time Liman Alhaji Ibrahim, from Niger State was handed over the leadership of Fire Brigade in March 2019.
However, under him Dr. Ahmed Abubakar Audi, from Nasarawa State was confirmed as Commandant General of Civil Defence. Haliru Nababa, from Sokoto has taken charge of the Correctional Service. If you add these four to the other six paramiltary agencies headed by Northerners, it becomes clear that it is a regime decision.
As things stand now,the South-East Geo political zone has no place in national military and paramiltary architecture. After denying the leaked video one would have expected Shettima to show that indeed he had nothing against the Igbo. Onwuatuegwu, who saved his father was Igbo.
When Nababa was nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari, I made it clear that it was not politically correct because the announcement did not reflect Federal Character. I waited for the Kanuri led Senate and its Committe on Interior to correct the anomaly as part of oversight function.
Shettima knows that an Igbo man chose to keep his father alive in 1966. He knows that two Igbo generals did so well in the fight against insurgency in the the North-East. He must not forget that an Igbo woman stayed put to teach his people while many ran away because of Boko Haram.
Gen. Rogers Ibe Nicholas, from Alaeze, Mbaitoli in Imo State and Gen. Victor Okwudili Ezugwu, Ochiagha Odenigbo, from Ukehe, Igbo Etiti, Enugu State distinhuished themselves. Col. Timothy Opurum, from Dim-na-Nume, Isu, Nwangele in Imo State advanced to conquer while some of his troops ran away.
Mrs Obiageli Mazi, from Abia State has spent 32 years trying to raise Kanuri children. Shettima must prove that he does not hate the Igbo who have done so much for him and his people.