A former Minister of Health who is also a member of the Ime-obi (inner caucus) of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. ABC Nwosu, on Friday, criticised the statement made by a former military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, that the leader of the defunct Biafra, the late Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, underestimated him by thinking that he (Gowon) would never go to war.
Gowon, said this at the Diamond Jubilee Lecture of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria in Lagos on Thursday.
According to Gowon, Ojukwu, who was the then Premier of the Eastern Region, had thought his (Gowon’s) ‘born-again’ Christian lifestyle would allow the region to secede from Nigeria without consequences.
“During the crisis, my colleague and brother, Emeka Ojukwu, said, ‘We know Gen. Gowon, he is a Christian and he would not like to fight. Do you know the first thing he put in his suitcase? His Bible; and that will make him not to engage in a fight’. I think, unfortunately, he was proved wrong,” Gowon had said.
Reacting to Gowon’s statement, Nwosu said the former military head of state’s comments as “ungentlemanly”, and anti-Igbo.
Nwosu stated that Gowon underrated Ojukwu’s ability to resist the federal troops for a long period of time.
He maintained that Gowon’s comments did not correspond with the accounts of other major actors in the events that precipitated the Civil War:
“I wish to express my growing concern over attempts to demonise Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, who died more than three years ago.
“These posthumous comments on Ojukwu are at best ungentlemanly and anti-Igbo. Ndigbo don’t speak of the dead flippantly.
“The latest comment by General Yakubu Gowon, which was published on May 15, 2015 – this statement that Ojukwu never imagined that he would go to war because he was a born-again Christian is appalling and naive.
“Did the General not also underestimate Ojukwu and Biafra? The book by General Alabi-Isama tells a different story.”
“Ndigbo worldwide share this my concern because earlier, General Gowon has given his opinion on the Aburi Accord, which differs completely with the opinion of Ndigbo and Ojukwu on the same Aburi Accord.
“There are always two sides to a story and fairness demands that the two sides should always be weighed side by side,” he said.
Nwosu advised Gowon and others, who played key roles during the period, to let the sleeping dog lie by avoiding comments on the Civil War.
He pointed out that Igbos still had bad memories from the period, which he described as an era of massacres.