HOW THE COOKIES CRUMBLED
It was conceived to stabilize the tottering platform of Nigeria, whose foundation had been viciously assailed with seething, frothing and bloody assaults. The nation sat on a precipice as a fraternal duel was set to rage Ghana, ever the looping, friendly neighbour lent a helping base. The two conflagrating sides - The Eastern region led by then Lt. Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, and the palpable federal side with Gen. Yakubu Gowon at the helm, were at each other's throat. The billows from the contest had already consumed a staggering one million souls, through massive pogroms targeted at Igbos in the Northern region. The Government at the centre, was fiercely resisted by Ojukwu, who withheld recognition until the coast of a true federation was cleared. Two countries, seemingly operated.
Ojukwu, took to the Aburi conference, a well fortified and bitter team, a well rehearsed, articulated and brilliant position, overwhelmed and swayed all the participants to a stunning total percentage. On the converse side, Gowon adopted a Cavalier approach, sedated in the belief that it was a jamboree. He licked his fingers. On return to Lagos, after the momentous agreement, the glee on his face changed to a frown, when Senior members of his government especially the Permanent Secretaries subjected it to a careful analysis, saw that he was holding the wrong end of the stick, and accordingly advised him to dump the 'satanic' document.
What was the propelling force in the overall denunciation of the document? Was it prompted by evil desires and the compelling straits of jealousy, or simply the machinations of the devil?
In the words of one of the dramatis personae at the time, Chief P.C. Asiodu, 'Gowon left for Aburi without informing his Secretary to the Government, other principal aides and the Permanent Secretaries. It was an unequal representation. While the other side was fully prepared, he was not.'
On the often trumped up charge of vetoing of the accord by the 'almighty', permanent secretaries, he revealed that 'we only analysed it and advised.'
The direct response to the Accord, Decree 8, promulgated by Gowon was also curiously despised and rejected by Ojukwu, without serious and indepth study and analysis, as he insisted 'On Aburi we stand.' The decree left a yawning space for the founding of four nations out of Nigeria at the time.
It set the tone for total disintegration. But it was perhaps blighted by providence and obfuscated by the Aburi accord. To salvage the messy situation, a battery of 'super' permanent secretaries, who were the prime force in governance then, lumbered in, and the result is what we have today - a viciously fractured nation, standing on Unitarism. The smoke from the accord is till smouldering - forty five years after, with at least 8 bloody conflicts in the North, a tottering democracy, a military perpetually on siege, flaundering infrastructural base, monumental underdevelopment, ever dwindling nationalism, and total detachment from national ethos and goals.
Now at the brink, the men who saw it, will begin to speak in Daily Sun from today.