BreakingNews 13/11/16: British intelligence reports on how Ironsi took over

[ Masterweb Reports ] - The students had seen how the Nehru-led delegation comport themselves to argue and demand Independence for India but the Nigeria delegation led by Azikiwe were an utter embarrassment. When the delegation arrived back home after 2 months, Daily Times editorial of 15 August 1947 berated them; Adeyemo Alakija and H.O. Davies of the rival Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM) used their columns in Daily Service to demand they accounted for the £13,500 Dipcharima: He ought to be sworn in as Prime Minister crowd-sourced from all over but Orizu dilly dallied until Ironsi took over the country to fund the trip. Azikiwe, who was the head of the delegation then shocked reason by stating that the barrage of criticisms were directed only at him because he was Igbo when, according to him, the Yoruba on the delegation, that is, Mrs. Fumilayo Ransome-Kuti, Prince Adeleke Adedoyin, Dr. A. B. Olorunnimbe were to blame for the “mismanagement” of money and failure of the trip. Then commenced an extended heated press war between Azikiwe’s column Political Reminiscences in West African Pilot and H.O. Davies’ Political Panorama in Daily Service with Igbos in Lagos rushing to buy machetes in self-defence, thinking a tribal war was imminent. The colonial governor Arthur Richards and his General Secretary, Hugh Foot - whom ironically the delegation had gone to London to protest against - had to invite both Azikiwe and Davies to the Government House to call them to order. 

But Dipcharima being 29 years old and being the youngest on the delegation had grown disillusioned; he resigned from the NCNC and politics altogether and went to become a manager at John Holt in Bida. In 1954, he was invited back by Abubakar and was elected as a NPC Federal House member representing Bornu province after defeating Ibrahim Imam. Since then he never lost an election. He was appointed as the parliamentary secretary for the minister of Transport in 1956. He was later made a minister without portfolio the following year and so by 1966 he became the most senior NPC politician in the Council of Ministers in the absence of Abubakar and Inua Wada. 

Dipcharima was already chairing situation meetings, he was already coordinating with the Police and the Army to arrest the situation and find the abducted. The first official radio and television announcement of the coup and the press release to local and foreign media was signed by him. Then FBC, the British High commissioner gave a condition that for British security assistance to happen, a written request had to be made by someone in a constitutionally-approved position of authority. What did the Ministers do next? With the roaring pace of development in the fifties, Nigeria was called the Giant of Africa. In the early sixties, the country was called Sleeping Giant. What happened next laid the foundation for Nigeria to be called a Buried Giant. 
 
When FBC arrived at the High Commission at Kajola House, 62-64 Camp-bell Street, his First Secretary, Mr Pc. Mcintyre who only took down minutes at Cabinet meeting then voiced his opinion. He advised his boss to be careful about the Ministers’ request for security assistance. He said from what they knew so far, the coup seemed to be an insurrection against the North. Britain sending troops would be used to reinforce the false narrative out there that Britain was “backing up the North.” FBC saw merit in the analysis. By noon the following day, he went to see Dipcharima at his Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi residence to withdraw his promise of cooperation. They also jointly agreed that should they be asked by the press, they would deny such a security request was ever made. 
 
The privacy of the tete-a-tete with FBC gave Dipcharima the confidence to speak his mind. He told FBC that the GOC’s loyalty remains a major question mark. He said his behaviour in various respects had been very odd and that his guess was that he had been associated with the mutineers at some stage. He said the GOC told him at the end of the meeting the previous day that he was prepared to participate in some form of civilian-military regime to give the appearance that the army is helping to clean up the administration. FBC only listened. He was careful not to voice his thinking or give hints of intelligence assessment the High Commission military adviser, Col Hunt was conducting. 
 
Meanwhile as FBC the Council of Ministers meeting the previous day, the Ministers started a disagreement over who should be taken to Senate President to sworn in as the Acting Prime Minister to fulfil British condition. Dipcharima was already acting being the most NPC politician in the Cabinet. But the NCNC ministers challenged this basis saying Dr Ozumba Mbadi”, the Minister of Trade and the NCNC parliamentary leader should be sworn in instead because he was the most senior minister in the Cabinet. 
 
This was true. Mbadiwe joined the Council of Ministers after Azikiwe resigned from being leader of Opposition in Western House and went to take over the leadership of the Eastern House in 1953. New elections were held and Mbadiwe lei for the central legislature in Lagos. The party that won the federal elections in each of the three regions was supposed to nominate three ministers to the federal council of ministers for the next five years As the country’s independence was being negotiated, the office of Prime Minister was created in September 1957 and the Governor General Sir James Robertson asked the twelve cabinet ministers to nominate one person out of themselves to be the experimental Prime Minister. Abubakar nominated himself and never backed down. Mbadiwe explained that he was supposed to be the PM afterall NPC had only 4 ministers and the NCNC had 8 ministers - 4 each from Eastern and Western regions. 
 
Awolowo had insisted that as from 1 April 1953 capitation tax would increase to of shillings and 6 pence in the whole of Western Region except in Lagos where due to their lower economic status, the new rate will be of shillings and 3 pence. It was to fund the radically new and uplifting but widely unpopular free education, free healthcare and other public development schemes that would be rolled in the Western Region in January 1955. 
 
NCNC the party in opposition in the West, seized the public dissatisfaction and deployed Nnamdi Azikiwe, Kola Bale Ozumba Mbadiwe, Dennis Osadebe and Adegoke Adelabu to campaign that Education was a scam; free healthcare was a trick to punish people with] taxes; that the AG was interested in causing pain to the people unlike NCNC. Resoundingly, the AG lost Federal elections and the four AG’s Federal ministers, Bode Thomas (Transport) Arthur Prest (Communication) and Samuel Akintola (Labour) and Oba Ade Aderemi (no portfolio), who were hi national heroes for resigning their p on 31st March 1953 to debate Anthony Enahoro’s Self-Government-Now were cleared from their posts to IT way for the four extra NCNC Federal Misters. If it boiled down to a vote am the council members, Mbadiwe we have become Nigeria’s first PM as a re of Awolowo’s loss of Cabinet influence. However, by willing to forego this influence, defy public opinion, flout pressures from his own ministers, invite elect defeat for the sake of free and compulsory education for all children living the West, Awolowo willed himself into a god. His programmes later placed West beyond the reach of other regions and he in turn became the best politic ever in the history of Nigeria. 
 
The additional four NCNC minister did not deter Abubakar from standing ground as the right nominee for the PM. According to Mbadiwe, he did not press the case because he did not want to give the British an excuse to delay or derail Nigeria’s unstoppable march towards Independence and so the post slipped aw from his clutch like a breeze between his fingers. 
 
When the post of Deputy Prime Minister was mooted, it was offered to Awolowo who prompt rejected it. Again that opportunity slipped Mbadiwe like a dream on wings. These previous near-misses strengthened Mbadiwe and the NCNC ministers’ resolve to ensure that on the day of the coup, the post never eluded his grasp. However, the NCN ministers pushing his candidacy were so careless to the optic of their cause and the combustive boxes they were ticking: Azikiwe, the head of government, Igbo; Mbadiwe, the proposed interim PM, Igbo; Nwafor, the existing senate president, Igbo; Nzeribe, the deputy speaker of the parliament, Igbo. Then the coup plotters who were mostly Igbo complained of corruption overdose in government only to end up killing some non-Igbos in government while leaving corrupt Igbos alive. Tick. This was one of the seductive narratives of Igbo domination that the dispossessed Northern politicians and the coalition of the offended succeeded in impressing on consciousness of the distracted nation in the following three months. The result? An organised mass slaughter, the like of which Nigerians only read in foreign news and in the final pages of the New Testament. 
 
Meanwhile, the meeting at the conference room at the Police Headquarters was rancorous. Teslim Elias, the Attorney General with no party affiliation was called upon to interpret the law in such a circumstance. He knew Abubakar was not coming back so he said: the absence of Abubakar did not mean the end of his government. It was the NPC and NNDP alliance that won the election and they were the ones President Azikiwe called upon (albeit forced
 
html add here