THIS DAY IN NIGERIA’S HISTORY 24/05/1966


 

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ON THE 24 MAY 1966, IN SPITE OF THE UNANIMOUS DECISIONS OF THE OF THE FOUR MILITARY GOVERNORS AGAINST THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A UNITARY FORM OF GOVERNMENT, MAJOR GEN. AGUYI IRONSI TOOK A CONTRARY POSITION. HE ABOLISHED THE REGIONS. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A UNITARY GOVERNMENT WAS A TERRIBLE MISTAKE.
FOR AS FAR BACK AS 1943 DR NNMADI AZIKWE SAW THE DANGER IN SUCH A FORM OF GOVERNMENT FOR NIGERIA AND OPTED FOR A FEDERATION. CHIEF OBAFEMI AWOLOWO REALISING THE PECULIARITIES OF THE DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE COUNTRY, ALSO STRONGLY REJECTED THE IDEAS OF A UNITARY GOVERNMENT AS FAR BACK AS 1947. THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONFERENCES OF THE LATE 1940S AND 1950S WHICH REGIONALIZED THE COUNTRY ALSO HAD TO DO WITH THE FEAR OF CONSEQUENCES OF A UNITARY FORM OF GOVERNMENT IN NIGERIA.
THE TIMING OF THE DECISION WAS A BAD ONE. JUST BEFORE GEN. AGUYI IRONSI ANNOUNCED THE ESTABLISHMENT OF UNITARY GOVERNMENT. COL. ODUMEGWU OJUKWU PROMOTED SOME CIVIL SERVANTS TO PERMANENT SECRETARY GRADE AND TOLD THEM TO GET READY TO SERVE ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY. THE PROMOTION IN ARMY ALSO FAVORED MAINLY THE IGBO OFFICERS. ADDED TO THESE WAS THE HIGHLY PROVOCATIVE ATTITUDE OF THE IGBO LIVING IN THE NORTH. THEY WERE REPORTED TO HAVE GIVEN THE IMPRESSION THAT THEY WERE NOW IN CONTROL. THE NORTHERNER EXPRESSED THEIR RESPONSE IN SERIOUS RIOTING IN MANY PARTS OF THE NORTH IN MAY 1966. THE IGBO WERE THE TARGET OF THE TARGET OF THE RIOTERS. MANY IGBO LOST THEIR LIVES. THE UNEASY SITUATION WHICH PREVAILED AFTER THE RIOTS GENERATED LOTS OF RUMORS ABOUT PLANNED COUPS IN MAY AND JUNE 1966, BY DIFFERENT FACTIONS IN THE ARMY. THE RUMORS INTENSIFIED IN JULY. ON 29 JULY 1966, A SECOND COUP TOOK PLACE. IT WAS CLEARLY A COUP BY NORTHERN OFFICERS AND IT WAS DIRECTED TOWARDS THE IGBO MILITARY OFFICERS AND MEN IN THE ARMY. MANY OF THEM WERE KILLED.    

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