Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the leader of the pan-Yoruba sociopolitical group, Afenifere, revealed startling details about how Easterners (IGBOS) attacked the late Obafemi Awolowo, affectionately known as “Awo”, while they were campaigning for office during the First Republic at Aba, the hub of Abia’s commercial activity.
In a past interview with Vanguard’s ‘Saturday Interview’, Adebanjo described how the Igbos were given false information about the late Nigerian patriot.
He claims that during his lifetime, Awolowo once said, “No, you must work with the Igbo because you cannot defeat these Fulani people alone.”
When questioned if he still believed in an unified Nigeria, the Yoruba elder statesman responded emphatically: “Well, if people like you can pressure Buhari and those who are opposed to going back to federalism, maybe.
“If we don’t go back to federalism, Nigeria is doomed. I have said it before. Restructure or break up Nigeria because nobody is staying under the slavery of the Fulani. That is clear. I have not hidden it. Chief Edwin Clark has said it. I am saying it. Many other well-meaning Nigerians are saying the same thing.
“Why is IPOB there? You are in a Nigeria where the North can have the presidency, the South-West can have the presidency, likewise the South-South, but the South-East cannot. Yet, we are one Nigeria and you want peace. You are deceiving yourself.
“That is the basis of my support for the South-East. When Chief Nnia Nwodo and others came, I told them all that the Easterners did to me and Awolowo, which is why some Yoruba say they don’t want Igbo? But Awolowo told me, “No, you must work with the Igbo because you cannot defeat these Fulani people alone.”
“Awolowo said only that the Igbo are misguided down from Azikiwe. “They use them against us. But don’t allow yourselves to be used against them because they don’t see”.
“They stoned Chief Awolowo in Aba. Let me tell you because you ought to know many things. Maybe you may not have heard about it, so put it down. We went to campaign there in the First Republic. You (referring to Vanguard reporter) were not born then. They stoned Chief Awolowo. The stone hit his head. It was the Awo cap that saved the impact, we didn’t know. I hope you are listening because you often hear that these people (Yoruba) don’t like the Igbo.
“Your (referring to Vanguard reporter) leaders are always talking like that. When we got home after the rally, Awolowo said, do you know these people stoned me, we said ah! We were afraid but he said, you have to work with them. You cannot defeat the Fulani alone.
“The same thing happened during the Biafra war. Your people misquoted him. They claimed that Awolowo said if the Igbo go, then the Yoruba will go. And then the Igbo left and Awolowo deserted them.
“Gowon didn’t want that war to be fought. He said let them (Igbo) go. Awolowo said, well if you want the Igbo to go, that was what led to the statement, if by any act of commission or omission, you allow the East to secede, the West will secede.
“Awolowo went to Ojukwu in the East during the war against the wish of the Federal Government that said no don’t go to the East. He said no, I will go. It was after the war that they saw the tape of what he discussed with Ojukwu.
“Awolowo told Ojukwu, come back, let us agree to separate. You don’t leave this burden alone on me. We are carrying this burden of these people together and you want to go? No! You have to come back.
“What I am telling you, put it down and let somebody come and criticise it. Ojukwu said he had agreed. Before Chief Awolowo came back to Lagos, Ojukwu attacked Mid-Western Region.”
Several decades after the Biafran civil war, issues bothering on Igbo presidency and malign of the Igbo ethnic group still lingers on within Nigeria’s political space.
Source: The Quest Times