#BIAFRA: All I Wanted Was For This Country To Be Together, Gowon Exposes What Happened At Aburi (ABURI PHOTOS)
The civil war started in 1967 and ended in 1970.
Gowon became head of state in July 1966.
The former leader declared that the Federal Government, under his leadership, went to Aburi unprepared, following a disagreement which broke out between the Supreme Military Council (SMC) and the Eastern region, led by late Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu.
He was, however, quick to add that their decision to go to Aburi was borne out of the desire of leaders on both sides, at the time, to win back the trust and confidence of Nigerians and insisted that secession was never part of the resolutions they agreed on.
Gowon disclosed this, yesterday, on an Africa Independent Television (AIT) programme “People, Politics and Power,” monitored in Lagos.
“We agreed to put our heads together, to regain the trust and confidence of Nigerians. We went to Aburi, to agree to deal with the situation of our country, by ourselves. We did not go with any prepared position on the federal side, but, Ojukwu came with a paper he prepared. His prepared position was on a pink paper. Usually, pink paper at the Staff College is directing staff solution to the problem,”
He further disclosed that most of the positions presented by Ojukwu at the conference were accepted and that after their return to Nigeria, from Aburi, he (Gowon) was determined to keep the country together by assuaging the feelings of the South East but, Ojukwu thought otherwise.
The former military leader further said Ojukwu’s reluctance may have been informed by the killings of the Igbo in the North,which made him (Ojukwu) believe that secession was the way they could get the freedom and the security they desired.
According to Gowon, part of the understanding they had on both sides, while in Aburi, was that, as the leader, upon their return to the country, he would be the first to make any statement concerning the resolutions before any governor makes any statement.
“But, by the time I returned, I was ill; I had fever. I could not make any statement. But, Ojukwu went to the radio, to make a statement and said the things we never agreed on.
“David Ejoor was the one who called me one early morning to ask if I had heard what Ojukwu said, and I said no. He then reeled out all that Ojukwu had said and I asked David, in all honesty, if that was what we agreed. He said no.
“To keep the country together was not a task that I could do alone. I needed the cooperation and understanding of every Nigerian. And, in order to ensure we kept the country together, I reckoned that we needed to have discussions among ourselves. We had a civil servant who was exceptionally experienced and good. We went there (Aburi) to restore the trust of our country. If we were working together, anyone with conscience will assuage the feelings (of the South-easterners). But, Ojukwu thought otherwise. He had in mind all along, based on what happened to his people in the North, that secession was the only way out. But, we were thinking of the whole country, because all parts of the country were involved. The military was not involved in the killings of South-easterners in the North.”
Explaining how his passion to keep the country together, Gowon again said: “Thank God that God knows I love the country very dearly. I have no any other loyalty but to the country, even though we were Queen commissioned, our loyalty was to our country, once we became a republic. That love and loyalty to my country was first and foremost. That had been inculcated in me; right from the on set. Once you had that as the basis, the next was to deal with the situation.
“One day, when I was doing my best to keep Nigeria together, one young man wrote me a letter; and in the letter, he wrote: ‘Do you know the meaning of Gowon?’ Gowon in my language means owner of God’s masquerade. But, the young man in his letter wrote that ‘Gowon means, Go on With One Nigeria.’ And, I said to myself, ‘this is what I was trying to tell Nigerians that we must do, as a result of all the confusions that had taken place.’ But, Nigerians are saying this is what I must do. It made an impact on me. I was more determined to keep Nigeria together.”
More Aburi Pictures:
Ojukwu and Gowon exchange handshake
Agreement Food that later failed
Culled from Sun Newspaper