Pastor Tunde Bakare of The Citadel Global Community Church recently spoke through his hat while preaching a sermon.
He told his congregation that, during the January 15, 1966 military action that toppled the First Republic, the soldiers that took Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa removed his turban, poured wine on his head and force-fed him with the alcohol.
For abominating him, Balewa, just before he was shot, pronounced a cause on Ndigbo, to the effect that no one from the ethnic group will ever rule Nigeria. Mr Bakare’s story, fanciful as it sounds, is a pack of lies.
This article, therefore, is to educate Mr Bakare and others of his misguided persuasion about the truth, of which Jesus, the Christ, said in John 8: 32: “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
Here’s Major Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu:“Neither myself nor any other lads was in the least interested in governing the country. We were soldiers and not politicians. We had earmarked from the list known to every soldier in this operation who would be what. Chief Obafemi Awolowo was, for example, to be released from jail immediately and to be made the Executive President of Nigeria.” See West Africa magazine of July 29, 1967, page 981. And here’s Major Adewale Ademoyega:“At the end of the first week of January, Major Anuforo and I arranged to meet Captain Udeaja, a young engineering graduate from the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham, UK. We met in Major Chukwuka’s house at the Ikeja Cantonment but Chukwuka himself was not there. Having briefed Udeaja generally and got his consent, we gave him his task. He was to fly a special plane provided for the purpose to Calabar on the morning of D-Day, to effect the release of Chief Awolowo and bring him to Lagos on the plane. We had already arranged for a plane of the Nigeria Air Force to be made available that morning. This was done through Major Nzegwu (not Nzeogwu) of the Air Force.” See Adewale Ademoyega: Why We Struck: The Story of the First Nigerian Coup, Evans Brothers Limited, Ibadan, 1981; pp 68-69.
“It was learnt after the January coup that the authors had planned to release me from Calabar, fly me to Lagos, and install me as Head of State whether I liked it or not. If I refused the offer, they were prepared to govern in my name until I was persuaded to accept the offer. The authors of the coup had no plan to govern the country under a military administration.” See Obafemi Awolowo, My March Through Prison, Macmillan, Nigeria Publishers Limited, Ilupeju Lagos, 1985; page 297.
In spite of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, the myth of the Igbo coup has been sustained to this day.
According to Ademoyega, the innermost circle of the coup plot was composed of three Majors: Adewale Ademoyega from Ode Remo in today’s Ogun State, a History graduate of the University of London; Emmanuel Ifeajuna from Onitsha, a University of Ibadan Science graduate; and Chukwuma Nzeogwu from Okpanam, a town bordering Asaba in present day Delta State. Besides these facts, there were 50 Majors in the Nigerian Army on the morning of the coup; 24 of them were Igbo.
About 20 of these knew nothing of the coup and never participated in its execution. The coup cost the life of Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Chinyelu Unegbe, the Quarter-Master General of the Nigerian Army.
Chinyelu Unegbe was Igbo from Ozubulu in today’s Anambra State. General Aguiyi-Ironsi put down the coup; he was Igbo from Umuana Ndume in Umuhia in the present Abia State. These facts have never constituted extenuating circumstances.
The coup must forever be labelled an Igbo coup, a lie from the pit of hell that continues to be used as a basis for the sporadic massacring of Ndigbo and their consignment to fourth-class citizenship in their own country.
“President Babangida ruled out any Yoruba person if Chief Abiola who had been with the military and the North in various capacities could not win the support of the ethno-military clique. He ruled out the Igbo on the argument that the country and definitely the North would not buy an Igbo then or in the near future. More seriously, he argued that the Yoruba and the Igbo did not have strong representation in the Armed Forces to provide them with the kind of protection they would need. This is still at the heart of democratisation today” (page 253).
“This was when (General Babangida) called my attention to the feeling in the North about an Igbo as President. He thought that it would violate the curse placed on the Igbo by the late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa before he was executed on January 15, 1966. Sir Abubakar was quoted to have said: ‘I know you are going to kill me; you will never get a Prime Minister like me. The Igbo will suffer for twenty-five years.’” (Page 262
Now, under Pastor Bakare, the consummate wielder of the microphone, the falsehoods got added embellishment. The curse preventing any Igbo from becoming president over a period of 25 years assumed eternal dimensions.
The snippety nonsense of turban and wine got thrown in. No one seemed to underscore the impotence of the curse by General Aguiyi-Ironsi, an Igbo, being Balewa’s immediate successor.
I reacted thus to this story in Ironsi: Nigeria, The Army, Power And Politics (Press Alliance, 1999; and Eminent Biographies, 2019):
“The story that was put out claimed that Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa ‘cursed’ the Igbo, saying they will not rule Nigeria for 25 years. By the time Babangida used this fiction to discount an Igbo President in 1993, 27 years had elapsed since Sir Abubakar died. Yet, the “curse” was still potent. Babangida himself had no qualms marrying into a “cursed” ethnic group and raising four children who by extension must be half cursed. The main point here is that, apart from Sir Abubakar’s lack of locus standi to curse the Igbo, (how many million curses will the thousands of Igbo victims of the 1966 pogrom utter?), the story is patently false. Its authors lacked authenticity because their story was bereft of citation and attribution. The most detailed account of the interrogation of those that carried out the coup of January 1966 was released by the regime of General Yakubu Gowon. The details also appear in Crisis And Conflict in Nigeria: A Documentary Sourcebook (Oxford University Press, 1971) by A. H. M Kirk-Greene.
Nowhere is there anything about any curse. No authority ever corroborated the story. Yet this fiction is what the Clique has held on to in the protracted subjugation of Ndigbo.
That was why Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, a principled officer and gentleman, was ignominiously removed as Chief of General Staff within months of his appointment.
That was why Ndigbo led the formation of the PDP and gave it their all, only for the currently acclaimed Igbo leader, Dr Alex Ekwueme, to be given a short shrift.” (pp 242-243.)
General Babangida posited in 1993 that, “the Yoruba and the Igbo did not have strong representation in the Armed Forces to provide them with the kind of protection they would need.”Yoruba and Igbo representation in the military today are for more minuscular than ever before, due to the conscious and deliberate nepotistic policy of the man at the helm today. Besides, no one has bothered to decipher the Caliphate’s thinking on 2023.Perhaps the assumption is that its deafening silence is symptomatic of non-alignment? How could this be when Sultan Dasuki was one of the prime forces against Chief Abiola’s presidential election?All these point to the fact that, in the ultimate, even the Jagaban would discover that he washed his hands and cracked a nut for an errant fowl to carry the seed away.At that point only would the incalculable harm done to Yoruba and Southern interests by the forward-looking politics of Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu become ever so clear.