Obafemi Awolowo

By Eric Teniola

This is the concluding part of this piece which last week focused on Awo’s argument that if the COR State was created by decree after the Eastern Region would have made its severance from Nigeria effective, then the country would be waging an unjust war against a foreign state. 

THAT, with immediate effect, all military personnel should be posted to their regions of origin…. If we are to live in harmony, one with another as Nigerians, it is imperative that these demands and others which are not related should be met without further delay by those who have hitherto resisted them. 

To those who may argue that the acceptance of these demands will amount to transforming Nigeria into a federation with a weak central government, my comment is that any link, however tenuous, which keeps the East in the Nigerian union is better in my view than no link at all.

Before the Western delegates went to Lagos to attend the meetings of the ad hoc committee, they were given a clear mandate that if any region should opt out of the Federation of Nigeria, then the Federation should be considered to be at an end, and that the Western Region and Lagos should also opt out of it. 

It would then be up to Western Nigeria and Lagos as an independent sovereign state to enter into association with any of the Nigerian units of its own choosing, and on terms mutually acceptable to them. I see no reason for departing from this mandate. 

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If any region in Nigeria considers itself strong enough to compel us to enter into association with it on its own terms, I would only wish such region luck. But such luck, I must warn, will, in the long run, be no better than that which has attended the doings of all colonial powers down the ages. 

This much I must say in addition on this point. We have neither military might nor the overwhelming advantage of numbers here in Western Nigeria and Lagos. 

But we have justice of a noble and imperishable cause on our side, namely: the right of a people to unfettered self-determination. If this is so, then God is on our side, and if God is with us then we have nothing whatsoever in this world to fear.

The fourth imperative, and the second conditional one, has been fully dealt with in my recent letter to the Military Governor of Western Nigeria, Colonel Robert Adebayo, and in the representation which your deputation made last year to the head of the Federal Military Government, Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon. 

As a matter of fact, as far back as November last year a smaller meeting of leaders of thought in this Region decided that unless certain things were done, we would no longer participate in the meeting of the ad hoc committee. 

But since then, not even one of our legitimate requests has been granted. I will, therefore, take no more of your time in making further comments on a point with which you are well familiar. As soon as our humble and earnest requests are met, I shall be ready to take my place on the ad hoc committee. But certainly, not before.

In closing, I have this piece of advice to give. In order to resolve amiably and in the best interests of all Nigerians certain attributes are required on the part of Nigerian leaders, military as well as non-military leaders alike, namely: vision, realism and unselfishness. 

But above all, what will keep Nigerian leaders in the North and East unwaveringly in the path of wisdom, realism and moderation is courage and steadfastness on the part of Yoruba people in the course of what they sincerely believe to be right, equitable and just.

In the past five years we in the West and Lagos have shown that we possess these qualities in a large measure. If we demonstrate them again as we did in the past, calmly and heroically, we will save Nigeria from further bloodshed and imminent wreck and, at the same time, preserve our freedom and self-respect into the bargain.

May God rule and guide our deliberations here, and endow all the Nigerian leaders with the vision, realism, and unselfishness as well as courage and steadfastness in the course of truth, which the present circumstances demand.

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