Obafemi Awolowo in own words responding to issues Achebe raised

This is a reproduction of an interview Chief Awolowo granted while on a campaign trail preceding the 1983 presidential election.

At the age of 11, he struggled through primary school here at Wesleyan School Imo, Abeokuta. He then became a teacher, he was a trader, he was a school clerk, he was a stenographer, he was a transporter, he was a produce buyer, a unionist, name it, he has experienced it all. He even knows the problems of the police, the warders and the prisoners, because he was there.
When he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in 1963, and he predicted a glorious dawn many did not believe that he will live to see the glorious morn which we are having today in Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Bendel and Lagos states.
That at 74, he’s here today is a testimony to the fact that the great good Lord and Allah needs him to save Nigeria.
Ladies and gentlemen, here is a self made man, who battled all the institutes of life to rise to the highest peak of his calling as Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He was first leader of government business, and first premier of the old western region. The first leader of opposition in the federal republic of Nigeria, the first chancellor of the University of Ife, first civilian deputy chairman in any military government in Africa, the first man ever to win the highest honor from an opponent as the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the greatest moment of my life as I present to you the next president of the federal republic of Nigeria.
At this point I’ll hand you over to the moderator.
Papa Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Governor of the state- Chief Bisi Onabanjo, the deputy governor- Chief Sesan Soluade, distinguished ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of the interview panel, I’m welcoming our distinguished guest – Chief Obafemi Awolowo to this program. Its going to be a 90 minutes program during which one hour of the period will be spent by the interview panel to ask various questions on various issues from Papa Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The following 30 minutes will be devoted to the audience to ask questions either English language or in Yoruba. And I want to appeal to the audience to keep very quiet throughout the program because this is an important program which we are having today, we want to use the program to get as much information as possible from Papa Chief Obafemi Awolowo and to enable us determine who to vote for in the presidential election.
Expanding  the Base Beyond the West
Question (Sina Bamgbose): I have a follow up question – Chief Obafemi Awolowo, there is no doubt that you are full of talents, and that you are one of the idols in the realm of politics in this continent, but it seems that …..today needs leaders with national outlooks and it seems your problem and political party is acceptability by the other ethnic groups in this country, what do you say to that?
Moderator: Can you repeat the question please.
Question: There is no doubt as I said earlier, that you are a man of talents, but the problem you seem to face is that other, although among the Yorubas your very person and your party are very popular, among the Yorubas. But it seems that the problem you have is breaking the frontiers, that is reaching into other ethnic groups in Nigeria. That seems to be your problem. What do you say to that?
Well, that’s a very good and fair question. He’s been pointing out to me, if I heard him properly, that whilst am accepted in the old western region, among the Yorubas mainly, my problem is acceptability among the other ethnic groups in the country.
Well, in the old days of the Action Group, I was well accepted among the so-called middle belt people, that is, among the people of Plateau, Benue, Gongola, and Kwara. Then, in the eastern side of the country, I was well accepted by the people of what is now known as Cross River, Calabar province at that time and also by the people of Rivers state which we then know as Rivers province. And also I was accepted in Borno I’m being reminded.
But then something happened, and I don’t like to go into that long history. Some leaders in the north thought I was too much of a threat to them and they went all out to fight back, first of all, by imprisoning me, and wherever they thought they could get away with it.. even killing some of my followers. And then of course they turned their attention to me and then got me out of circulation for some time in the hope that once I was out of circulation, it will be possible in the meantime to pass a preventive detention act which will then keep me in prison for the rest of my life. But man proposes, God disposes.
That went on, until 1979 or 78 when ban on political activities was lifted. Then I went all out to campaign among the people of non-Yoruba areas. It has been suggested that I didn’t make efforts enough to widen my base. Since 1952 I made strenuous, strenuous and relentless effort to widen the base of the Action Group, and I succeeded to the extent that the Action Group at that time was the only party that control the regional government and have opposition members in all the other regions, in the other two regions, the only party that did, no any other party did.
Anyway, now the position is that, as a result of perseverance and preaching the same doctrines, doctrine which when implemented will benefit all the people without exemption. I’ve persisted in preaching free education since 1942. The first memorial that we submitted to the secretary of state on the subject was written in 1942. And since then I’ve openly advocated free education at all levels, and mass education for the adults so that they too can become literates, and I still advocate these things up till now.
Because of this persistence in advocating what is good for the people, the people now realize that they have no other friend or they have no better friend than UPN under my, by the grace of God, my leadership.
The result is that today, and it use to be the case that wherever I walk the masses use to hail me but when it came to voting they will vote differently, because they were under very great stress and duress to vote differently. But today, the position is completely different, whether we go to Sokoto, or to Borno, or to Bauchi, or to Kano, or to Kaduna or Benue or Plateau, wherever you go, the school master is already abroad. Everyone wants to be educated, everyone wants his children to be educated, and for these reasons, the masses throughout the country are prepared to vote for the UPN. I shall not be surprised if at the conclusion of the election, the UPN gets more votes, so you should beware, the UPN gets more votes, in percentage terms, in the northern region- the old northern region, than in the southern part.

Moderator: Yes Mr…….Mr. Oparadike.
Question: Chief Awolowo, your stand on the civil war, however unpopular it may have been to the Biafran people…Your stand on the civil war, however unpopular it may have been to the Biafrans or Ibo people, helped to shorten the war. Today, you’re being cast as the sole enemy of the Ibo people because of that stand, by among others, some of the people who as members of the federal military government at that time, were party to that decision and are today, in some cases, inheritors of power in one Nigeria which that decision of yours helped to save. How do you feel being cast in this role, and what steps are you taking to endear yourself once again to that large chunk of Nigerians who feels embittered.
Awolowo: As far as I know, the Ibo masses are friendly to me, towards me. In fact, whenever I visit Iboland, either Anambra or Imo, and there’s no campaigning for elections on, the Ibo people receive me warmly and affectionately. But there are some elements in Iboland who believe that they can maintain their popularity only by denigrating me, and so they keep on telling lies against me. Ojukwu is one of them. I don’t want to mention the names of the others because they are still redeemable, but ….Ojukwu is irredeemable so I mention his name, and my attitude to these lies is one of indifference, I must confess to you.
I’ve learnt to rely completely on the providence and vindication of Almighty God in some of these things. I’ve tried to explain myself in the past, but these liars persist. Ojukwu had only recently told the same lie against me. What’s the point in correcting lies when people are determined to persist in telling lies against you, what’s the point. I know that someday the Ibos, the masses of the Ibo people will realize who their friends are, and who their real enemies are. And the day that happens woe betide those enemies. The Ibos will deal with them very roughly, very roughly.
That has happened in my life. I have a nickname now, if you see my letterhead you’ll find something on top, you’ll find a fish done on the letterhead. Some people put Lion on theirs, some people put Tiger, but mine is Fish. And Fish represents my zodiac sign, those of you who read the stars and so on in the newspapers; you’ll find out that there’s a zodiac sign known as pieces, in Latin pieces mean Fish.
So I put pieces on top, that’s my zodiac sign being born on the 6th of March,….er well, the year doesn’t matter, it’s the day that matter. And then on top of it I write Eebudola. All of you know the meaning of that. You know I don’t want to tell a long story but………………Awolowo school, omo Awolowo, the…… started in Urobo land, in mid-west in those days. They were ridiculing my schools, I was building schools –brick and cement, to dpc level, block to dpc level and mud thereafter. And so the big shots in the place..”ah what kind of school is this? is this Awolowo school? Useless school” and when they saw the children..”ah this Awolowo children, they can’t read and write, Awolowo children” that’s how it started, with ridicule, and it became blessing, and now they say “Awolowo children, they are good people” no more ridicule about it, that’s how it started, so the Eebu becomes honor, the abuse became honor.
And so when I look back to all my life, treasonable felony, jail, all the abuses that were heaped on me, to Coker Inquiry, all sorts, and I see what has happened to the people who led, who led all these denigration campaign, where are they today? Those that are alive are what I call Homo Mortuus- dead living, oku eniyan, that’s what they are, those that their lives have gone.
So when I look back, I come to the conclusion that all these abuses which have been heaped on me all my life for doing nothing, for doing good, they have become honor, and so Eebudola is one of my nicknames. So I’ve cultivated an attitude of indifference, I’ve done no evil to the Ibos.
During the war I saw to it that the revenue which was due to the Iboland- South Eastern states they call it, at that time..East Central State, I kept it, I saved the money for them. And when they ….was liberated I handed over the money to them- millions. If I’d decided to do so, I could have kept the money away from them and then when they took over I saw to it that subvention was given to them at the rate of 990,000 pounds every month. I didn’t go to the executive council to ask for support, or for approval because I knew if I went to the Executive Council at that time the subvention would not be approved because there were more enemies in the Executive Council for the Ibos than friends. And since I wasn’t going to take a percentage from what I was going to give them, and I knew I was doing what was right, I wanted the state to survive, I kept on giving the subvention – 990,000 almost a million, every month, and I did that for other states of course- South eastern state, North central state, Kwara and so on.
But I did that for the Ibos, and when the war was over, I saw to it that the ACB got three and a half million pounds to start with. This was distributed  immediately and I gave another sum of money. The attitude of the experts, officials at the time of the ACB was that ACB should be closed down, and I held the view you couldn’t close the ACB down because that is the bank that gives finance to the Ibo traders, and if you close it down they’ll find it difficult to revive or to survive. So it was given. I did the same thing for the Cooperative Bank of Eastern Nigeria, to rehabilitate all these places, and I saw to it as commissioner for finance that no obstacle was placed in the way of the ministry of economic planning in planning for rehabilitation of the war affected areas.
That’s what I did, and the case of the money they said was not given back to them, you know during the war all the pounds were looted, they printed Biafran currency notes, which they circulated, at the close of the war some people wanted their Biafran notes to be exchanged for them. Of course I couldn’t do that, if I did that the whole country would be bankrupt. We didn’t know about Biafran notes and we didn’t know on what basis they have printed them, so we refused the Biafran note, but I laid down the principle that all those who had savings in the banks on the eve of the declaration of the Biafran war or Biafra, will get their money back if they could satisfy us that they had the savings there, or the money there. Unfortunately, all the banks’s books had been burnt, and many of the people who had savings there didn’t have their saving books or their last statement of account, so a panel had to be set up.
I didn’t take part in setting up the panel, it was done by the Central bank and the pertinent officials of the ministry of finance, to look into the matter, and they went carefully into the matter, they took some months to do so, and then make some recommendation which I approved. Go to the archives, all I did was approve, I didn’t write anything more than that, I don’t even remember the name of any of them who took part. So I did everything in this world to assist our Ibo brothers and sisters during and after the war.
And anyone who goes back to look at my broadcast in August 1967, which dealt with post-war reconstruction would see what I said there.
Then, but above all, the ending of the war itself that I’m accused of, accused of starving the Ibos, I did nothing of the sort. You know, shortly after the liberation of these places, Calabar, Enugu and Port Harcourt, I decided to pay a visit. There are certain things which I knew which you don’t know, which I don’t want to say here now, when I write my reminisces in the future I will do so. Some of the soldiers were not truthful with us, they didn’t tell us correct stories and so on.
I wanted to be there and see things for myself, bear in mind that Gowon himself did not go there at that time, it was after the war was over that he dorn himself up in various military dresses- Air force dress, Army dress and so on, and went to the war torn areas. But I went and some people tried to frighten me out of my goal by saying that Adekunle was my enemy and he was going to see to it that I never return from the place, so I went.
But when I went what did I see? I saw the kwashiorkor victims. If you see a kwashiorkor victim you’ll never like war to be waged. Terrible sight, in Enugu, in Port Harcourt, not many in Calabar, but mainly in Enugu and Port Harcourt. Then I enquired what happened to the food we are sending to the civilians. We were sending food through the Red Cross, and CARITAS to them, but what happen was that the vehicles carrying the food were always ambushed by the soldiers. That’s what I discovered, and the food would then be taken to the soldiers to feed them, and so they were able to continue to fight. And I said that was a very dangerous policy, we didn’t intend the food for soldiers. But who will go behind the line to stop the soldiers from ambushing the vehicles that were carrying the food? And as long as soldiers were fed, the war will continue, and who’ll continue to suffer? and those who didn’t go to the place to see things as I did, you remember that all the big guns, all the soldiers in the Biafran army looked all well fed after the war, its only the mass of the people that suffered kwashiorkor.
You won’t hear of a single lawyer, a single doctor, a single architect, who suffered from kwashiorkor? None of their children either, so they waylaid the foods, they ambush the vehicles and took the foods to their friends and to their collaborators and to their children and the masses were suffering. So I decided to stop sending the food there. In the process the civilians would suffer, but the soldiers will suffer most.
And it is on record that Ojukwu admitted that two things defeated him in this war, that’s as at the day he left Biafra. He said one, the change of currency, he said that was the first thing that defeated him, and we did that to prevent Ojukwu taking the money which his soldiers has stolen from our Central bank for sale abroad to buy arms. We discovered he looted our Central bank in Benin, he looted the one in Port Harcourt, looted the one in Calabar and he was taking the currency notes abroad to sell to earn foreign exchange to buy arms.
So I decided to change the currency, and for your benefit, it can now be told the whole world, only Gowon knew the day before, the day before the change took place. I decided, only three of us knew before then- Isong now governor of Cross River, Attah and myself. It was a closely guarded secret, if any commissioner at the time say that he knew about it, he’s only boosting his own ego. Because once you tell someone, he’ll tell another person. So we refused to tell them and we changed the currency notes. So Ojukwu said the change in currency defeated him, and starvation of his soldiers also defeated him.
These were the two things that defeated Ojukwu. And, he reminds me, when you saw Ojukwu’s picture after the war, did he look like someone who’s not well fed? But he has been taking the food which we send to civilians, and so we stopped the food.
And then finally, I saw to it that the houses owned by the Ibos in Lagos and on this side, were kept for them. I had an estate agent friend who told me that one of them collected half a million pounds rent which has been kept for him. All his rent were collected, but since we didn’t seize their houses, he came back and collected half a million pounds.
So that is the position. I’m a friend of the Ibos and the mass of the Ibos are my friends, but there are certain elements who want to continue to deceive the Ibos by telling lies against me, and one day, they’ll discover and then that day will be terrible for those who have been telling the lies.


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  • I have said it earlier that we should allow history to go with history because most of us at τ̲̅ђe intellectual circle are already abreast with this stories and τ̲̅ђe political circumstances that necessitated each of τ̲̅ђe actions that were taken by this leaders. This interview by PA Awolowo ΐƨ nothing but a corroboration of Ache be’s memoir. This ΐƨ not time for us to begin to embark on this. Macabre Dance. But I do believe there are lessons for us that are living to learn. One of these lessons ΐƨ that, Ɣõu̶̲̥̅̊ ω​ΐℓℓ be remembered for two things; τ̲̅ђe problems Ɣõu̶̲̥̅̊ solved or τ̲̅ђe ones Ɣõu̶̲̥̅̊ created.

    • Imodoye

      Isaac, Did Achebe tell the WHOLE story? What is the role of a scholar? Tell AN ASPECT or THE WHOLE STORY? That is the main rational question. When you take an aspect of an event and you present it as THE EVENT, then you have attacked TRUTH. And that is unacceptable, it can NOT be allowed to go because it is bad lesson for our Nigerian children. Thank you.

  • Ngozika

    It is good to note that Achebe’s perception of what happened during the
    war are the same today as they were when this interview was conducted.
    Obviously, he was unsatisfied with Awo’s response. As venerable as Awo was, I
    am inclined to believe that being the politician that he was, he could never
    have openly conceded that he had taken any actions not in the favour of the
    When a reporter asks an interviewee a question, does the reporter really expect him to up and say: ‘yes, I did so and so bad thing’? Of course not. If he did the ‘bad thing’, he will only give an excuse and paint a picture that makes him look like a good person who had to do the ‘bad thing’!

    Because as far as the yorubas as concerned, Awo is like a God so it
    would be easier to claim that every single word that emanated from Awo was
    true. But this is history and history is often two sided, depending on who is giving the account. You cannot then fault Achebe’s perception but then claim Awo’s is totally true.

    How dare Awo accuse Ojukwu of eating the food that was meant for the
    starving children? If he had the guts to go to war (everyone knows that a
    typical yoruba man is depicted as a coward), he would have known the rules of
    war. Sacrifices had to be made and you cannot starve the one person who is
    leading the war. Should he have starved so Awo would know that Ojukwu loved his
    people and could never have preferred them to starve? Why did Ojukwu go to war
    in the first place? I too have read accounts of the war and I too have heard of
    how the general would not eat out of despair.

    How dare Awo accuse Ojukwu of looting the banks? Do people leave money
    in the banks during war? Should the igbos have left the money for the Nigerian
    government to take for themselves? It is even ridiculous for Awo to call Ojukwu
    a thief for spending the money to buy arms. What does he think happens during
    wars? If he had to take the yorubas to war for example, what would he have done in the same situation?

    If the igbos, and indeed Achebe, are bitter because Awo’s stance and his
    policies (especially the currency change) defeated them, are they not right to
    feel that way? Is it not the truth? How can he suddenly claim ignorance of the
    Central Bank’s processes in refunding the money owned by Igbos during the war
    when he, as he has claimed, was able to effect a currency change almost
    independently? Hogwash, I say.

    Go tell that to your adulating
    children who will never be critical of you because their very culture does not
    permit them to question their elders much less someone who did so much for the
    race. As far as I see it, Awo’s policies were tailored to move the yorubas
    forward. No yoruba man has a right to be offended because Igbos know that Awo
    never had their interest at heart especially as Biafra was concerned.

    • Imodoye

      The movement of a people forward is a social act. The progress of the Yoruba in Nigeria is derived from Awolowo’s policies which are that of a liberal democratic government. Free and compulsory education stands at the core of the modern liberal policy. The money to fund free education came from COCOA money in the west. That money DID NOT come from Igbo or Eastern economy. The Yorubas will make their position known on any issue. If the Igbos say they do not want a country called Nigeria, let them say so , so that we close this damn thing called Nigeria. We Yorubas do not need it to survive. But if you want a debate we will have it. So the resources at the core of the progress in the west DID NOT COME from Igbo resources. Like I said if you want a debate, we will have it.

      • Ngozika

        First you have not responded to any of the issues I raised. I have not once accused Awo of not moving his people forward; I admire him for that. I too did not say that the money he used to do so came from the igbos.
        But I will respond to your points. Question is, why did the north and west suddenly fight tooth and nail for one Nigeria since these regions were already self sufficient as you claim? Why did they not let the South go? Simple. The oil.
        No one is naive here. Awo, like other politicians, saw the prospects of the oil money and he was not going to let the igbos go off and enjoy that on their own. I do not think that was a bad decision but let no one paint me a picture of a saint here!
        I don’t want any debate. I just want you to go over the initial points I raised and then tell me why the hell Achebe has no right to say things the way he saw/sees them.

        • Imodoye

          Ngozika, Apparently you have not read my posts on this in other pages. I have copied and pasted for you to read. And I will quote your words and reply you on some of your untenable and offensive comments. but read this. Okay?
          On this I have this to say. Depending on someone’s job , my question : is what are
          your goals on your job? On your role in a job situation what should you
          do after you have a specific definition of your role? If you are a
          teacher called John , what are you supposed to do, what are your
          ultimate goals as a teacher? I think it is to teach. And in doing that
          you take EVERY segment of the PROCESS of teaching into consideration,
          i.e. your job. That PROCESS includes, (i) pre-class preparation, (ii)
          actual classroom teaching of your students, (iii) post class review of
          your teaching including grading the scripts of your students,
          examination etc. And that PROCESS takes place EVERYDAY from DAY 1 to the
          last DAY of the term of about three months, and for a WHOLE year of
          THREE TERMS if you are still on the job. Okay. If you want to write a
          HISTORY of the teaching of John for the term or for the year, what
          SHOULD YOU DO as a historian? You can do either of two things. (i) You
          can become atomistic. What does being atomistic in your writing of the
          history of the teaching Mr. John mean? It means you may take an
          aspect-just pre-class and in a day! And if you are a previously popular
          writer, everyone will say “Oh that is so great , it was well minted in
          sweet words, well written by XYZ excellent writer” But kindly recall
          that that history of Mr. John’s teaching includes THREE ASPECTS THAT
          OF 12 MONTHS!!!. Our “great” writer of Mr. john took AN ASPECT IN A
          DAY! Is that coooool! Now there is a SECOND way to
          write the history of Mr. John’s teaching. The second way is to take ALL
          of 12 MONTHS IN A YEAR of Mr. John’s teaching. Regrettably, and
          disappointingly, Mr. Chinua Achebe DID NOT DO THIS. If you apply this
          to what Mr. Awolowo did with the role the nation called Nigeria gave him
          to perform AT THAT TIME, he was part of a NIGERIAN TEAM to (i) prepare
          to end the war, (ii) end the war, (iii) clean up our collective grief,
          sadness, negative economic consequences, tragedies, -in other words post
          war roles.-what in Mr. John’s analogy will mean post class activities.
          Mr. Achebe our renowned writer TOOK AN ASPECT. This is a DISASTER in
          scholarship if we all want to be honest with rational
          thinking and rise about a tribal enclave. Now each one has a right NOT to
          above a tribal enclave. As legitimate and necessary as it is, however,
          I am NOT saying everyone should or can. But if you SIT
          in your tribal enclave , then DO NOT call a defence and
          explanation of Mr. Achebe’s explanation of an aspect of our life in the
          civil war a rational engagement of the issue.
          As a Nigerian, I do
          not know what to call what Mr. Achebe has done. Given his intellect, it
          cannot be about his intellectual skills and knowledge. As someone on
          this platform pointed out, if he were a practising politician, we will
          understand for we will say this is mere politicking. Since he has the
          intellectual skill to write a FULL HISTORY and he did NOT and since he
          is openly(at least openly) as a vocation not a politician, and since we
          must be able to analytically explain this intellectual disaster which he
          has lend himself to commit, we can only say perhaps Achebe is an Igbo
          tribalist all along and we did not know. Now like someone said, he has a
          right to defend his Igbo tribe, but he has NO RIGHT to ASSAULT the
          integrity of SCHOLARSHIP and METHODOLOGY in INTELLECTUAL pursuit. Mr.
          Chinua Achebe HAS DONE this, i.e. conducted an ASSAULT on REASON as
          REASON in scholarly work. At his late age HE TORE to PIECES ALL the
          PUBLIC ESTEEM he has garnered by allowing his Igbo tribalism to make him
          fail to pay attention to the basic conditions in scholarship-something a
          part 1 student in a good university will not do. I have read Chinua
          Achebe for over twenty five years. I have taught him to my children. Now
          he did this in his late age? What am I going to tell my Nigerian children about who he
          is? Now my children are reading all these, and they will come after me
          to defend what I have told them about Chinua Achebe. Honestly, I am in a
          situation of “had I known…” hmmm the egg has broken, the wind has
          blown and we have seen the behind of the fowl. Had I known….

          • Omoluabi

            Imodoye, in fact am in the same situation as yours. so sad Achebe could descend so low into tribalistic poopoo in his very old age using his literary position to write falsehood he call history, anyway his personal history. Old people above 80 should stop writing before they miswrite due to memory or brain failure.

        • Enemona

          ” Awo, like other politicians, saw the prospects of the oil money and he was not going to let the igbos go off and enjoy that on their own.”

          You don’t think the oil belonged to the Igbos, do you?

          • Imodoye

            Where is the oil in Nigeria? These are facts and NOT history writing. Or are you saying the South-South is Igbo? We are talking about facts now. And in contemporary times even if we want to begin to drink oil as our natural resources, you know also that there is oil in the west. We Yorubas do NOT even count on that because we DO NOT need oil to survive. The human resources and the physical infrastructures of the Yorubas come from their COCOA, PALM OIL, PALM TREE and the exportation of their human labor abroad. Now baby a memoir, this is why the icon or logo of the Action Group was PALM TREE. baby think do not cry. You need some history we will give it to you. I will put it to you bluntly. We are the most critical of our situation. We hold no bar when it comes to excellence. So we ask guys: Do you want to keep Nigeria, if you say yes, okay we keep it. If you want it smashed, we will kick it . And finally talking about tribalism.Tell me which state in Nigeria has been most hospitable to non-indigenes of that state? That state is Lagos, a Yoruba state. There are even non-indigenes in the cabinet. Is the same happening in any of the Igbo states or any state in Nigeria. This is why i told you that if you want us to talk, we will. We keep quiet ONLY out of a sense of dignity and the Yoruba civility. But if you do not understand this and you want a conversation , we will give it. okay?

          • Nasir

            So the Igbos own the oil in bayelsa, rivers and cross rivers, delta-the now South-South zone? Haba! It is now clear why you are bitter about the way the war ended. if you can suggest in 2012 that the oil belonged to Igbos, then we now know the agenda then. It seems history goes beyond its official chronicling. From your post and based on your post the unofficial chronicle of history is that the south south oil belong to Igbo. No wonder the south-south people kick you out. No wonder you are bitter at the end of the war. You are expansionist. The Igbos DO NOT own the oil, it belongs to the south south people. You are not south south. You are East. Do not like Achebe distort history again.

          • Ngozika

            First off, Biafra was made up of the south and the east. Do not deliberately twist what I said. The south of Nigeria had largely taken sides with Biafra so if Biafra won the war, the oil would have belonged to Biafra.
            Back then, there was no South-South as you well know!

          • Nasir

            Ngozika, I like your response very well. It has brought a lot out into the open about the unwritten part of history-the unchronicled part. These are the questions: Which South took side with Biafra and what were the dynamics? Did the non-Igbos of the “south” see themselves as Biafra then and now? If you have your unofficial history right, havent you heard of the position of the non-Igbo south to the Biafra cause? Dont you know what Ojukwu and the Igbo elite were using the non-Igbo south to do for Biafra? if the non-Igbo south “had largely taken sides with Biafra” why did we not see that during and after the war? Like everyone except the few Igbo elites are saying, the Achebe is unfortunate. Like what you are doing, it lacks the basic rational, intellectual, scholarly conditions of history writing. You do not just put pen to paper like Mr. Achebe has done and like you are doing without paying attention to the FULL FACTS and INTERNAL DYNAMICS of a serious event. When the Igbos put their eyes on a resource that is not theirs, I wonder what that means for the non-Igbos south. Someone said that we should stop this, but if you like you can continue, other Nigerians will continue to reply the Igbos like you who are distorting our history. I know many igbos do not share this way of doing things. But we Nigerians of all hue and color will NOT like you and Mr. Achebe get away with an attack on history. But like I said your response has brought out the agenda then. You need to do a lot of re-thinking.

          • Enemona

            @Nasir: I only posed a question from Ngozika’s post. Pls read again.

          • Nasir

            I am sorry Enemona. I no no!!!

    • Imodoye

      These are your words. “Go tell that to your adulating
      children who will never be critical of you because their very culture does not
      permit them to question their elders much less someone who did so much for the
      race. As far as I see it, Awo’s policies were tailored to move the yorubas
      1. First on Culture. Different cultures have their sense of civility. I am sure Igbos have theirs. We Yorubas pay serious attention to issues of civility and conduct. I am not saying others do not. They have it their own ways. But it is sad that you will take civility and proper conduct as alien to human civilization the way you allude to it. No wonder our kids do not even know how to write basic civil letters anymore. It is that mode of civility in Yoruba culture that you simply cannot see. And I understand if you cannot see it. Yours is different. Why not? But I am just wondering why graduating university students are suddenly taught civility in conduct both in language, and relations when they are looking for job?
      2. Awo’s policies were tailored to move Yoruba forward. Even when we have oil in Ondo state, we have moved forward NOT because of some silly natural resources, but because of visionary policies. Japan is a super power NOT because of some silly thing called natural resources but by labour and human resources. Both if you still want to talk natural resources, please kindly note that the Yoruba land is abundantly blessed with immense natural resources. A word is enough for the wise. I really advise that we should stop this , but if you want we can continue.

    • Achebe Vs Awolowo: If a man who naturally despises you is to write a story of you, did you expect him to praise you or condemn you? This is a food for thought.

      • No-fan-pdp-nor-apc

        Is awo infallible? Perfect without a dent? Saint?

      • No-fan-pdp-nor-apc

        In ur own words, was he perfect and infallible?

    • Omoluabi

      Ngozika must be very funny..lolz… Yoruba believe that “brain” is far better than “muscle” and you will agree with me that Yoruba intellectualism won the war clean and clear. Don’t forget, Biafra authority was handed over to General Olusegun Obasanjo whose troop concquared the rebels and drove Ojukwu to exile as he shamelessly abandoned his people. Did you forget the roles of Benjamen Adekunle (the black scorpion) in the war? even on the side of Biafra. Yorubas will not go into a war foolishly but will carefuly do a SWOT analysis of situation to determine possibility of success. Of course, Awolowo has no regret in taken all those decisions and if you think he should support Ibos against the Federal Authorities while as a Federal Minister of Finance and Vice Chair to Head of State, then you need to go back to school. Yorubas are proud of Awo, and our culture demands respects for our elders, sactity of human live, tolerance, hospitality, universality of human race, noble birth (omoluabi) and we also believe that good name is far better than silver and gold. When we express these virtues we appears to the greedy, selfish, murderous and criminal race(s) like cowards and fools. However, many of these virtues can be taught others ethnic groups (like Ibos) so that Nigeria can enjoy peace and development.

  • Enemona

    Let bygone be bygone. Achebe needs to know that the world has moved on and we’re faced with a different kind of challenge now. The problem we have now is the cabal (made up of people from the different ethnic groups), they’re bent on keep in the rt of suppressed. We all need to come together to fight these vultures. Achebe needs to drop his toga of ethnicity, we don’t need more tribesmen, we need more statesmen.

  • ilajeeseodo

    I am going to be factual and base my response on simple
    questions. Chinua Achebe made the following statements: “Awolowo was
    driven by an overriding ambition for power, for himself and for his

    Yoruba people. There is, on the surface at least, nothing wrong with those

    aspirations. However, Awolowo saw the dominant Igbos at the time as the

    to that goal, and when the opportunity arose – the Nigeria-Biafra war – his

    ambition drove him into a frenzy to go to every length to achieve his dreams.

    In the Biafran case it meant hatching up a diabolical policy to reduce the

    numbers of his enemies significantly through starvation — eliminating over two

    million people, mainly members of future generations…”

    1. Fact 1. I am 65 year old. My mother inherited a Kola nut coastal
    trading business between Okitipupa and Lagos from her mother. In
    other words my grandmother travelled on waters from Okitipupa to Lagos to sell
    kola nuts. According to my mother, my granny would return from Lagos after
    weeks and months with clothes to sell in Okitipupa and adjoining areas. My own
    mother inherited this business married my father and used these resources to
    train us their children-in both African and western education.

    2. I am Yoruba. My granny lived and traded between Okitipupa before Nigeria as
    an entity was created. In other words, my grand mother and her family had a
    cultural, social, economic and business lives late 19th and early 20th centuries before Nigeria and by extension before Awolowo. We
    are Yorubas even when given our contemporary social experiences my
    siblings and I see ourselves as Nigerians and Africans -period. We just say we
    are culturally Yoruba only but that we are Nigerians and Africans.

    3. I have trained my children from the emotional, social, economic and
    cultural investments and proceeds of my parents which dated back to
    pre-Nigeria. Because these social, economic, cultural and business
    investments date to pre-Nigeria, it means they are pre-Awolowo era both
    in Nigeria and in Yoruba land.

    4. Now readers should place items 1-3 in my write up against Mr. Chinua
    Achebe’s assertions which I pasted at the beginning of my response.

    5. Let us take Chinua Achebe on. What can we deduce.? (i) Mr. Awolowo held down
    the Igbos so that his Yoruba people can make progress, and (ii) the Yorubas,
    given that they are rational like all humans are, took advantage
    of Mr. Awolowo’s strategy of holding down the Igbos.

    6. Many commentators have talked about how Mr. Achebe took an aspect of
    history of 4 years and made that aspect the whole history. That is a
    theoretical challenge in real historical scholarship to Mr. Achebe, his
    academic assistants in the university where he works and his social
    and political defenders to deal with. While that is a legitimate
    theoretical issue in the job of the academia that is not what I am concerned
    with here in this post.

    7. Rather in this post I am concerned with a basic lie undeserving of an
    academic in a university to give the impression to his students that my
    grandmother’s business (and the extension of that in my mother and us her
    children) which pre-dated Nigeria and Awolowo is a product of or benefited from an alleged policy of Mr. Awolowo which was designed to hold down Mr. Chinua Achebe’s people-the Igbos-for the benefit of the Yorubas. This is what I am
    concerned with. This is what others have not pointed out and which is really
    troubling. The unsettling consequences of Mr. Achebe’s assertions may
    be the reason some people have said that this man should stop writing
    history and continue to translate Igbo proverbs to English as literature. In
    other words, they mean this man does not know what he is talking about whenever
    he ventures out of his literary enterprise.

    8. I call your attention to items 4 and 7 in my response. If my Yoruba family’s
    social, economic, business and cultural investments predated Nigeria and
    Awolowo era, how on earth can I be a beneficiary of an alleged plot by Awolowo
    against Igbos and for Yorubas? I am putting this to Chinua Achebe’s assistants
    in his university-Does this make sense? Is this something about age telling on
    this fellow? In other words, we presume that knowledge is about truth. We know
    it is an assumption, but we still make that assumption. Therefore to put pen to
    paper and write is to make a claim about the search for truth. Scholarly, why
    should and how can Mr. Chinua Achebe ever suggest that Mr. Awolowo
    designed a policy to hold down Igbos so that Yorubas will benefit.?
    How is it that my Yoruba family’s commercial forays on the high oceans back and forth
    Okitipupa, Ilaje, and Lagos Coasts and which my lineage and
    generation inherited and developed to train our children to be highly cultured,
    cultivated and respectful and to be good citizens of the world wherever they
    are on earth be a derivative of and the benefit of holding down the Igbos? This assertion is
    a shock Nigerians will not overcome from. It will set us back and has set
    us back in a very sad and shocking manner.

    9. For some Igbo elites and intelligentsia who defend Mr. Achebe NOT to see the implications in
    item 8 and attempt to paper over it is even more shocking and revealing.

    10. Now I have the following questions for Mr. Achebe, his academic
    assistants in the university where he teaches, his university, and his political and
    social defenders on the net.

    a. To Mr. Achebe’s university: Is Mr. Achebe’s assertions as quoted part
    of what he teaches American and non-American students in the university? Mr.
    Achebe teaches at Boston University, US.

    b. To Mr. Achebe’s university: what is the epistemological and historical worth; and implications of assertions such as this? What are American
    and non-American students learning from these assertions from Mr. Achebe?

    c. To Mr. Achebe and his academic assistants in the university: Is this what
    Mr. Achebe calls knowledge and is this what he teaches?

    d. Is this what you help him to moderate and pass on to American and
    non-American students who must include African and Nigerian students?
    So you teach them that Mr. Awolowo held down the Igbos so that the
    Yorubas will make progress at the advantage of the Igbos.

    e. To Mr. Achebe and his academic assistants: You are supposed to be men
    and women of culture-So my question is: Is the development of Yoruba
    cultural imagination as an aspect of African, Black and world imagination
    and cultures a result of a policy by Awolowo which held down the Igbos
    and allowed the Yoruba intelligentsia to develop and extend this imagination?
    Is this what you people teach in the American classrooms? You have the
    moral obligation to answer these questions. You may also not. You are not
    compelled to answer. But we must put everything in the public square. That is
    the nature of knowledge-its production and dissemination.

    11. Just in case you miss out the relevance of 10a-e as result of the length of
    this post, I will again call your attention to Mr. Achebe’s words:
    “Awolowo was driven by an overriding ambition for power, for himself and
    for his Yoruba people. There is, on the surface at least, nothing wrong with
    those aspirations. However, Awolowo saw the dominant Igbos at the time as the
    obstacles to that goal, and when the opportunity arose – the Nigeria-Biafra war – his
    ambition drove him into a frenzy to go to every length to achieve his dreams.
    In the Biafran case it meant hatching up a diabolical policy to reduce the
    numbers of his enemies significantly through starvation — eliminating over two
    million people, mainly members of future generations…” Subsequently from item
    12 and on i will call your attention to the deductions from this assertion.

    12.a “,,,Awolowo saw the dominant Igbos at the time…”

    12b. “…obstacles…”

    12c. “…goals..”

    12d. “…when the opportunity arose…”

    12e. ‘diabolical policy to reduce number of his enemies…”

    12f. Since Awolowo is culturally Yoruba he did not act alone. So Awolowo saw
    Igbos as dominant. The Yorubas saw Igbos as dominant. My question is :Dominant
    about what? How does the life of the Igbos in the East affect my family
    businesses in Okitipupa and Lagos? What kind of illusion and
    self-delusion on the part of Mr. Achebe and whoever believe in such nonsense are these? These are too revealing historically. I had to go back to Nigerian map once again -even when I know it and can draw it offhand-to actually check if there is any contiguity between the Yoruba areas and the Igbo areas. I checked . None. So why cook up a delusion in your head Mr. Achebe? One thing the Yoruba national group does NOT have is hegemonic ambitions. This is the reason is the safest and most welcoming parts of Nigeria. This is the area that allows every Nigerian to shine. But is that sense of inclusiveness and welcoming that even some national groups in Nigeria call “docility”. So how can a national group said to be “docile” also want to “dominate” or see others as rivals.? Something simply does not work out rationally in Mr. Achebe’s self delusion and illusion. The absolute self confidence of the Yorubas predate Mr. Awolowo era. It is derived from their resources and highly developed cultures and languages. But mind you, self -confidence is NOT arrogance. It is a belief in self, and one’s human and intellectual capacities in a civilised and cultured manner-a trait of the modern and modernity. And all these pre-date Awo and Nigeria. But more
    importantly did Mr. Achebe and his assistants teach these self delusions and illusions in
    American classrooms?

    12g. “over riding ambition for power for himself and his people..” I
    am a Yoruba man culturally. So whatever I have become today, whatever citizens
    of the world who are of Yoruba extraction culturally have become today and
    whatever respect Yoruba cultures as aspects of Black and African cultures
    have today is a result of the ‘over riding ambition for power by Awolowo and
    his people” Mr. Achebe, do you teach this to students-American,
    non-American, Nigerian and other African students in American classrooms?

    12h. “obstacles and enemies..’ Igbos are obstacles and enemies that need
    to be cleared for Yorubas to rise. So my parents’ transfer of their age old
    coastal business between Okitipupa and Lagos are irrelevant to my success and to that
    of my children wherever they are in the globe. What is relevant to Mr. Achebe’s
    historiography is that the Igbos were “obstacles and enemies” that were cleared
    for the Yorubas to rise. And the Yorubas rose as a result of this. Mr. Achebe
    and Mr. Achebe’s assistants: Do you teach this to Boston University
    students? Will this be a scholarly representation of Nigeria to
    Boston University students? Can you defend this theoretically and
    rationally in the public space outside the academic freedom the
    sanctity of the university classroom give you to teach what you like?
    Mind you your academic freedom to teach what you like as you deem it fit is
    given. No one can take that away from you or dilute it. But outside the halo of the
    classroom, and in the public square, can you rationally defend this?

    13. These are the rationally and intellectually untenable issues in Mr.
    Achebe’s historiography and literatures.

    Even when the African Yoruba thought
    asserts that you cannot walk without your head shaking-in other words no one is
    imbued with perfection, we all make mistakes. This is one mistake too much. I
    doubt if Nigeria will recover from this. I hope so.

    • No-fan-pdp-nor-apc

      Rebuttal, full of pettiness and long-windedness. What made awo’s account of history accurate? Because is awo de perfect politician. U sounded more tribalistic than awo. No! Awo never had political ambitions for himself that was the reason for carpet crossing, right?


    You all need to read the book like I am doing now. In the first place, the issue of ‘starvation as a legitimate means of warfare’ by Nigerian government officials (including Awo) during the war is not strange to any political conscious Nigerian unless the fellow does not want to face facts. This is well documented by people and even some governments (ask the British government). History has it that the Yorubas were early starters with regards to western education but between 1930 and 1950 the Igbos dominated and occupied more than 60 percent of civil and public sectors which lingered till the period of the civil war.
    My advised is that we should read the book first (as I am doing now. Thank you Amazon UK). One good thing about the book is that it has good referencing. More so, we should ask for Soyinka’s opinion (if you have not read his book ‘The Man Died’). Achebe like others before him, did not say any strange thing. My fear with Nigerians is that we hate facts. Unfortunately, one cannot hide facts forever.

    • ilajeeseodo

      These are the kinds of ill founded comments that people
      make. They do not make sense. You do not need to paper over issue. Achebe and I belong to the same generation. I witnessed the same thing this fellow had lied about. So please enough is enough . Do not monkey around these issues . And you lend your weight behind the silly claim this fellow made. I will quote you here :History has it that
      the Yorubas were early starters with regards to
      western education but between 1930 and 1950 the Igbos dominated and
      occupied more than 60 percent of civil and public sectors which lingered
      till the period of the civil war.” So what follows? This comment of yours justifies the illiterate comments
      from this fellow-Chinua Achebe that Awolowo saw a so called “dominant
      Igbo” and cleared them for Yorubas to rise. Can you see the illiterate
      and unfortunate remark you are lending yourself to support?. I am ilajeeseodo. I wrote the
      mail below. When my family’s progress and rise predated Nigeria
      itself(for we have been doing business and investing between the Yoruba coastal land from Okitipupa to Lagos since the 19th
      century), somebody called Chinua Achebe given his personal problems , sickening hatred and jealousy of the Yorubas, and being a surviving operative of Biafra woke up
      to have the audacity to suggest that something called “Igbos are
      dominant” and they need to be cleared for “something called Yoruba” to
      rise. This is the silly thing I am talking about. It is the a-historical
      thing I am talking about. It takes some senile mind, someone who hates
      intensely and someone who lacks the scholarly capacity for analytic work
      (he is just a story teller translating Igbo proverbs to English, and the white world loves listening to comic
      books from Africans-so they listen to him and throw some dollars at him-point to ANY ANALYTIC work by
      this fellow called Achebe) to make such silly insinuation. And for you
      to lend your weight behind it thru your own quote tells me something
      very deep. So in this fellow’s-Chinua Achebe- imagination the Yorubas
      are also “dominant” they need to be cleared! hmmm. I am talking this way
      because as I implied Achebe and I belong to the same generation. I saw and witnessed precisely what he is lying about. He
      simply murdered sleep. And it is unfortunate. So please do not add any insult to
      this illiteracy from Chinua. You do not have a point. So just stay off if you have nothing tangible to say. Some of us have access to the book. Do not ask me how. So stay off if you do not have any rational thing to say.

      • URTCHMAN

        You should find out if what I said is wrong. I did not hold brief for Chinue but said what I know is the fact. And to verify whether what Chinue said concerning Awo is right, may be you should consult sincere people like Soyinka. Do not go to OBJ as he will not say the fact. Gowon is still alive hence we are expecting him to deny it (let him try and deny it). Your heritage is your heritage and I am in no position to contest it. Everyone has inherited one or two things from their ancestors. But for the glaring fact, we must accept. No more, no less.

    • alabi

      what yu said is nice and revealing. These are yur words: This is well documented by people and even some governments (ask the
      British government). History has it that the Yorubas were early starters
      with regards to western education but between 1930 and 1950 the Igbos
      dominated and occupied more than 60 percent of civil and public sectors
      which lingered till the period of the civil war.” First who gave you these data? Second you in your own words said the Yorubas were early starters in education and therefore must have “occupied… the coveted” seats in civil service and public sectors..” abi? So after that the between 1930 and 1950 the Igbos overtook them” abi? who gave yu these data? if true how did it happen? so the yorubas were sleeping -abi? does it make any common sense to yu that that can never happen if your data are true that there were those who started first? and again turn it around , if those who started forst were “overtaken” by those who started later, was there something fishy to cause that-the usual tribal politics? ohh ohh ohh. we don see now. I am just using your won words to show this just in case you believe your own data. it is just basic thing of asking you to be rational, and if you are rational and follow your data thru it is either that your data is false or with the tribal thing your ancestors played wayo then to make those who came last to be “first” and occupied 60 % of civil service and public sector jobs.” so when you reply just look at the rational thing in your own data and narrative I am calling your atention to .okay? It is obvious that you are trying to on the side respond to ilajeeseodo powerful post, but your data eiither collapsed on your face or they show your people played the tribal politics then to push you forward-it is either of the two

      • URTCHMAN

        I did not say what I did not verify. You might shout from now till tomorrow but if you try and find out the fact objectively. I you will be surprised.

    • muyiwa

      thank you urtchman. there can not be a better source for us to understand why this your achebe man should distort history so shamelessly. so this is the way you people think. this is your mindset. this is what the igbos think behind the backs of other groups in naija. the yorubas first occupy this. the igbos occupy that post? first how can a people whose main interest is trading fit the image you just created? second, what we yorubas take for granted and just do our own thing, you people -the igbos are counting. haba! Now i understand why your achebe hate so badly and went to the extent of distorting history so horribly the way he did. he must also be counting who occupy what post like you are doing here. this explains why you people do what you do-everything is rivalry as if we are in a jungle, a forest. too bad. but even then people whose forte is trading does not fit the picture you create here. Please note that yorubas are not in rivalry with anyone . We stay in our cities and build them. that is why our places, towns and cities are the most hospitable for ALL nigerians. please learn from this and stop this hatred and rivalry that will make an achebe lie to history so badly.

      • URTCHMAN

        In the first place, I do not have time to think negative of anyone. I only stated what I have verified over the years. I pray for people’s good and success. The problem with Nigerians is that we think everyone is like us. Nop! It is not like that. And if you are sincere, you will know that what I said is the fact. You should ask Soyinka (I see him as the most sincere man in Nigeria). Fela should have been alive by now. I would have directed you to him if he was alive.

  • iretiidajo

    Who Killed Col Victor Banjo?

    Chinua Achebe the Igbo novelist
    and writer who now lives in the US has written a memoir. This memoir includes
    events of the unfortunate Nigerian Civil War between 1966-1970. I am a Nigerian
    of Yoruba extraction. I am concerned about the death of many Nigerians during
    the unfortunate civil war. One of the numerous deaths was that of a promising
    young family man-Col Victor Banjo. The factual information we have are as

    1. Col
    Victor Banjo was in the Biafra Army.

    2. Col
    Victor Banjo was a Nigerian of Yoruba cultural extraction who joined forces
    with Col Odumegwu Ojukwu the leader of the Biafra Army who was fighting the
    federal forces.

    3. Col.
    Victor Banjo was sent by the Biafra Army under the command of Col Ojukwu to
    take over Lagos, the then seat of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

    4. We
    are not sure of the details of the fact. But we have the information (to be confirmed) that Col
    Victor Banjo allegedly had 7000
    ill equipped troops under him on his mission on behalf of Biafra to capture

    5. We
    are yet to make confirmation. But the unconfirmed information was that Col.
    Victor Banjo honorably made a detour in Ore, in the present
    Ondo state on learning of the inferior troop under him for his mission
    to capture Lagos on behalf of Biafra.

    6. Col
    Victor Banjo returned to Col Odumegwu Ojukwu. But Col Odumegwu Ojukwu shot and
    killed Col Victor Banjo.

    7. As
    a Nigerian and as a Yoruba man of over 70 years, I make the following

    8. Chinua
    Achebe was involved in the Biafra crusade and he should address the death of Col
    Victor Banjo in the hands of
    Biafra soldiers.

    9. Chinua
    Achebe was a cultural ambassador
    of Biafra so he is liable as part of the Biafra structure for the death of Col
    Victor Banjo a Nigerian of Yoruba extraction.

    10. Since we
    are in the season of investigation and memoirs, and Chinua Achebe
    who is a member of Biafra is still alive, he should be invited to answer
    questions on the circumstances surrounding the death of Col Victor Banjo.

    11. I propose
    that this call to Chinua Achebe should involve a trial for the death of Col Victor Banjo who
    is a Nigerian of Yoruba extraction.

    12. Chinua
    Achebe can be found. He is alive and he lives in the US. He teaches presumably
    African Literature in Boston University, US. I am concerned because I am a Nigerian and I am Yoruba. The
    blood of Col Victor Banjo and other Yoruba sons and daughters who died in the hands of Biafra is on the head
    of Biafra operatives dead or alive. Chinua Achebe ( we do not know if he has
    renounced his Nigerian nationality and citizenship, but we are investigating)
    was and is still a Biafra operative . Therefore the blood of Col Victor Banjo
    is on the head of Chinua Achebe. And he has to be tried for murder of Col
    Victor Banjo. Boston University
    authority where Chinua Achebe works should be properly notified under the law
    for this is an open issue that concerns the law and human lives. I know Col
    Victor Banjo and I know that his
    children are still alive. Part of this legal process is that Chinua Achebe
    should be asked to produce the corpse of Col Victor Banjo for proper burial. Chinua Achebe a previous and present
    operative of Biafra should be tried for the death of Col Victor Banjo a
    Nigerian who is also Yoruba.