Gowon, Biafra: lies and blindness by crocodile tears
The caption of the article appearing in ThisDayLive on May 6 2012 proclaims: “Gowon: We Did Everything to Avert Civil War” So in fact, Gowon is now claiming that he and whoever else included in “we”, actually tried “everything” to avoid a civil war? The only reason why Gowon, who now leads his self-proclaimed “Nigeria Prays” foreign money-attractant and self-publicity outfit, can publicly lie and lie so badly is that Nigeria and those who run it, acting time and again as if they have no memory, senses or sense, still provide the platform to reward murderers like Gowon.
How else could one explain the occasion where Gowon came to show us how well “he prays” and preach to us how pious he is, and how correct he was in prosecuting a war which he won but which is still going on today? According to the article, it was at “the sixth edition” of the so-called “Silverbird Man of the Year” event; and he was being honored with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” along with Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and Gen. Theophilus Danjuma. Pray, tell us: what has any of this trio achieved that is of benefit to the collective suffering and dying in Nigeria today, especially since the peoples are in a dire condition resulting from the actions and activities of these same men? Where is justification—what criteria—talk less of the morality, for handing honors out to these men who have contributed very directly and also indirectly to the human waste and bloody toll which form the terminal cancer afflicting Nigeria? It is a shame that in Nigeria events like this can still be conceived and displayed—events that senselessly honor those whose only contribution is the raising of the Human Misery Index.
Perhaps, in a technical but warped sense, Gowon and his co-war-prosecutors wanted to “avert” a war only of the “civil war” type: any other kind of war was fair game to start and wage by them. Yes, Gowon's Police Action driving the Igbo and other Biafrans into the swallowing ocean waves of the Bight of Biafra would have been perfectly okay in his and his friends' eyes. A war of extermination and extirpation which Gowon and his co-murderers were already waging against the Igbo and other Biafrans both in Gowon-led Nigeria Military and in the streets of Nigeria aided by Gowon's government was quite okay with them: it couldn't be defined as a “civil” war. Well-documented and incontrovertible Ethnic Cleansing practiced with precision by Northern Nigerians and later by the rest of Nigeria against the Igbo and other Biafrans was especially welcome by Gowon and his group: a war indeed, but not the “civil” war. Avert anything termed a “civil war”: any other type of war is okay with Gowon. Is this what Gowon meant by his statement? What a shame!
The recent death of Biafra's Odumegwu Ojukwu brought a rare moment of honesty and candor from most Nigerians (except, not surprisingly, from Gowon and Obasanjo): the solution proposed by Ojukwu, discussed and agreed to in Aburi, Ghana in early January 1967, under the moderation of Ghanaian General Ankrah, to be known historically as the “Aburi Accord”, was correct then and would have averted not just the civil war but the current predicament of Nigeria. For that matter, according to them, that solution is still applicable today, where there is nothing else other than complete chaotic and bloody schism facing Nigeria. But, in the referenced article, here is how Gowon saw Aburi:
“Referring to …the 'Aburi Accord', Gowon disclosed that a decision was reached to give Ojukwu everything he wanted, “including giving up my own power””
That was Gowon's take on that important historic event. What a cruel joke and a lie. And even if Gowon believed his version, it is on record that Gowon still reneged on what he himself at least admitted was a decision that was reached and he was party to. But, today, Gowon would want us to believe that he did everything he could to avoid a civil war.
Two months later, when it was clear that Gowon had no intentions of honoring the Aburi decisions and agreements, with the situation deteriorating and boiling over, Gowon and his Northern clique having complete power over anything and everything in Nigeria then and showing no interest in providing security for the then Easterners later to become Biafra, Ojukwu called the attention of Nigeria and the world to what was going on.
There are half-baked opinions out there which claim that in response to the above, Gowon relented and Ojukwu got everything he wanted for the then Eastern Region. However, a relevant report in New York Times (not particularly known for sympathy towards Biafra) of Friday, March 17, 1967 reads:
“Nigerian Government Decrees some Regional Autonomy
The Nigerian Federal Military Government today issued a comprehensive constitutional decree restoring considerable autonomy to the country's four Regions. However, the Military Government retained the right to declare a state of emergency in any Region and take control of its government. The Eastern Region, which has advocated the trimming down of nearly all federal powers over Regional affairs, is likely to oppose this clause because in the previous government headed by Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, a state of emergency was used as a political weapon in the Western Region to oust the opposition Action Group from power. The East fears these same emergency powers could be applied by northern led federal government as a pretext for crushing Lieut. Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Eastern governor, who has feuded bitterly with Colonel Gowon.
The amorphous and vague basis for the emergency take over was contained in the decree. The basis includes times of "public emergency," or any occasion when democratic institutions were deemed to be "threatened by subversion." (New York Times)”
(Taken from “The Untold Story of the Biafra Nigeria War” by Dr. Luke Nnaemeka Aneke, Triumph Publishing New York 2007)
Gowon and his friends had unilaterally inserted a non-negotiable poison-pill to, and adopted their own version of, the original Aburi Accord. The Aburi Accord had not assigned such a role or function to the putative central government. In any case, this would have allowed Gowon and his clique to achieve their malevolent intent against Biafrans, smothering them without resistance: perhaps, this would have qualified as Gowon's aversion of “civil war.”
Another lie by Gowon: “My heart bleeds to see …those kwashiorkor-stricken children. God knows how much effort I made to send food to those children, but it was sabotaged by propaganda that the federal troops had poisoned the food”. Wasn't it the same Gowon whose Nigerian government policy and military policy is that “Starvation is a legitimate instrument of war” during the Nigeria Biafra war? Didn't he send out emissaries, including late Enahoro (who later personally apologized for that role—the only person from the Nigerian government who did) to the countries of the world to press and sell that policy? Can it really be that Gowon is too dense to understand the connection between the total blockade of Biafra which he succeeded in, with the help of his allies, the starvation that would result from that, and the victimization of the most vulnerable—children, pregnant women, old men and old people? He does not get it—even now? Gowon is either a sick man or a sick liar.
For that matter, well documented accounts show that Gowon resisted every reasonable effort made by reputable neutral world charity-bodies to send in relief to Biafran children. It became so bad that out of conscience, humanitarian duty and morality, such relief organizations said that they would defy those real Nigerian government / military threats and opposition to their flying in relief material into Biafra. And, indeed, they defied those threats, and Gowon's Nigeria followed through and its Military shot down some planes, while forcing others to take risky evasive maneuvers which also resulted in unnecessary casualties victimizing those whose only crime in Nigeria's eyes was to prevent the starvation of Biafran children. And today, Gowon would have us believe that his “heart bleeds” for these children. What heart? Can stone bleed?
What about the situation at the end of the war when Gowon and his government refused world aid to Biafrans, although such relief that would obviously go through Nigeria and to Nigeria for distribution? Yes, after the war—after – the – war!—Gowon and his government banned relief aid donated to Biafrans from certain well-endowed countries, countries Gowon considered sympathetic to the Biafran cause. Gowon even refused aid that would be transported into Nigeria using capacity cargo planes, even from those countries which helped Nigeria wage the genocidal war. Surely, Gowon was thinking about the welfare of those starved Biafran children as he made these wicked decisions, like he wants us to believe today? Not quite finished, Gowon and his government actually delayed the transportation and distribution of the aid material into post war Biafra. It is not a secret that many interested parties have estimated that a large proportion of starvation victims of this war died in the weeks following the cessation of hostilities because of Gowon and the Nigerian government's punitive dragging of feet: Gowon succeeded in using the withholding of charity and aid donated by caring and concerned countries and world-bodies as another weapon of war—but the war had already ended! Yet, Gowon today tells us that his heart is bleeding. Shame!
Do you know that on January 15 1970, after the end of the war, Gowon and his Nigerian government actually denounced the Vatican? Oh yes; and according to the reports, the Gowon-led Nigerian government formally and specifically “denounced the Vatican's role in relief efforts” to Biafra. It is the same Gowon who now pretends to have felt the plight of starving Biafran children, the same children who benefitted most from such relief.
Gowon's lies are many, even in such a short article; his hypocrisy disturbing. His lack of sensitivity is pitiable. For example, he claims that “They [the Biafran children, post-war] sang songs of welcome and acknowledged us as their fathers and leaders. It drew tears from my eyes.” Crocodile tears, indeed. What Gowon does not say is that he only heard the songs and thought only what he wanted the songs to say. He never looked into any of the little faces or into any of their innocent eyes that must necessarily and hauntingly be searching for the answer to the question why he, Gowon, murdered their siblings, friends and family, and gave them Kwashiorkor; why he, Gowon, destroyed their homes and their lives. And when Gowon lies again by claiming that Ojukwu wanted to rule Nigeria, he also reveals his confusion and draws mocking laughter: he must be talking of Zik (Nnamdi Azikiwe) whom he, Gowon, lured away from Biafra, most likely with promises of making him ruler of Nigeria; of which we all know how that ended.
Dismiss Gowon's lies and hypocrisy, but the one area that surely continues to impact those alive today is Gowon's continuing insistence on one-Nigeria. An untenable position from day one starting sometime in 1904, and unsustainable proposition dating back then and proven every day now, one-Nigeria is “a bridge too far” which makes Gowon's 1970 victory over Biafra only a truly pyrrhic outcome in every sense of the term. Therefore, nothing can be more alarming and tragic than Gowon's disconnected present-day preachment for a solution, his recommended way out:
“is for us to love Nigeria and believe in Nigeria; good or bad, right or wrong. In the name of God, stop the excesses and imbibe the love of your country. Bring all your grievances to the table for discussion. Let us get together truly and sincerely and find a solution to our differences.”
To which we respond:
Gowon, we have seen what you have done “in the name of God”, you who also once denounced the Vatican for sending relief to dying children of Biafra. We have experienced what your Nigeria can do and is doing in the name of God. We know exactly what you did after we once brought our grievances to the table for discussion—after we arrived at a decision and had an agreement. We have witnessed what you did to those who love Nigeria more than you can ever understand. We know what you are doing to those who really believe in Nigeria more than you can fathom. A true and sincere solution is not difficult to find, provided we refuse, contrary to your morally-deficient advice, to “love Nigeria and believe in Nigeria, good or bad, right or wrong.” We know you mean this, because you killed millions to make that point, and you still show neither understanding nor remorse today, though you failed and Nigeria fails. You are once again willing to see the casualty figures climb into the millions just because you want to see your Nigeria one. There is such a thing as Evil—Nigeria is it. There is Wrong, and it is Nigeria. There is Bad, Nigeria amply demonstrates it. If you truly understood these things (and every utterance of yours raises doubts about this), you will know that they—Evil, Wrong, Bad or by any other names—are not acceptable. What does the Bible which you yourself tote, say about Evil: love it, no matter what? Believe in it at all costs? No, and no.
Resist Evil. Abandon Evil. Do not accept Evil. Do not stay in Evil. Do not negotiate with Evil. Leave Evil. Leave. The peoples must leave the Evil and curse called Nigeria. That is the solution. Or, we shall all perish in Evil.
Oguchi Nkwocha, MD
A Biafran Citizen