NewsReel-2 August 25, 2013 - Remi Fani Kayode, Akintola, Awo And The Western Region Crisis That Truncated The First Republic

 [ Masterweb Reports: Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu reports ] – This would be perhaps my final response to Femi  Fani  Kayode in regards to the lies, hypocrisy,  sadism  and  blatant tribalism he disgorged  in regards  to the Lagos deportation  saga and the unrelated  issues of  the January 1966 coup, the pogroms  and the  Biafran conflict  he brought into the mix  in advancement of his relevance seeking  gambit  through bigotry. It is true that as many warned me he does not deserve a response; Femi Fani Kayode is after all well known for being loose cannon. Uncouth, uncivilised and disrespectful to the extreme, he made a career out of abuse and slurs when as  President  Obasanjo’s  special assistant on media matters he poured  venom on  distinguished  and highly respected elder statesmen who  opposed his master. Professor Wole Soyinka was amongst the famous victims who were at the receiving end of all types of unprintable words directed at them by Femi Fani Kayode.

 

If there is anyone who still doubted the fact of Femi Fani Kayode’s mental imbalance, his most recent article should rest such doubts. A man who could go to the absurd extent of listing and most likely lying about women he has allegedly dated on public forums is definitely disturbed.  Yet  in spite of the obvious facts of Fani  Kayode’s irrationality,  I feel a responsibility to deal most importantly with some of the issues he raised about  the January 1966 coup, the pogroms  and Biafra for record purposes.

 

 It has been  common place for the likes of Femi Fani Kayode and his bigoted co travellers to call the January 1966 coup an Igbo coup, this is in spite of the fact that Major  Ademoyega  a Yoruba, was among the hard core leadership of the coup while most of the foot soldiers were Northerners.  While they characterise the events of 1966 as an Igbo coup, what they always conveniently omit is the causes of the coup. It is common knowledge that military coups are always occasioned by a crisis. The military never intervenes except there are circumstances that warrant it. No doubt, Femi Fani Kayode and fellow captains of the “tribalism industry” have good incentives to always omit the causes of the January 1966 coup preferring instead to dwell only on the coup itself. The reason  is simple;  It was  in their own  Western region  then known as the “wild wild west”  that  election rigging, thuggery, violence, arson, mass murders and other  forms of corruption and acts of lawlessness that occasioned the January 1966 coup  took place as pioneering acts in Nigeria.

 

Soon after Nigeria got independence the Western region was in turmoil. Premier Ladoke Akintola and Chief Obafemi  Awolowo became embroiled in a protracted crisis. By 1962 the crisis led to sustained violence and acts of lawlessness with law makers engaged in vicious physical combats in the Western regional parliament. Amongst serious injuries and other damages, the mace of office was broken.  The federal government intervened to curb the lawlessness and violence by imposing a state of emergency and appointing Dr Moses Majekodunmi as interim premier of the Western region on the 29th of June 1962. This became the first imposition of a state of emergency in Nigeria’s history due to heightened levels of lawlessness. Following an alliance between Akintola and Ahmadu Bello, Ladoke Akintola was returned to power on the 31st of December 1962 in spite of protests by Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe who requested fresh elections rather than reinstating Ladoke Akintola. 

 

By 1963, the plot between Akintola, Tafawa Balewa and Ahmadu Bello was perfected and Chief Obafemi Awolowo was arrested for coup plotting/ treason.  His trial commenced in earnest and he was alongside some accomplices convicted for treason and jailed for 10 years. This again was the first alleged coup plotting and conviction in Nigerian history. Intent on totally decimating Chief Awolowo, Ladoke Akintola together with vice premier Remi Fani Kayode went into a political alliance with Prime minister Tafawa Balewa and new political party known as the Nigerian National Alliance (NNA) was formed.  By this time Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe had realised the folly of entering a coalition with Tafawa Balewa’s government   and teamed up with incarcerated Chief Awolowo’s Action group to form the all progressive grand alliance (UPGA).

 

In 1964, federal elections became due. As usual ethnic chauvinism, intimidation and violence was part of the frenzied campaigning. Remi Kayode and Akintola’s campaign was as usual almost entirely based on tribalism. When the elections were finally held, it was massively rigged in the Western region. Indeed deputy premier Remi Fani Kayode had famously boasted that “there is nothing they can do, whether they vote us or not, we will win.” This statement turned out to be true as massive rigging was orchestrated in the elections.  Once again this became the first pioneering act of election rigging by indigenous actors in Nigeria’s history. The announcement of the rigged election results quickly sparked off unprecedented acts of thuggery, violence, arson, mass murders and general acts of lawlessness in the Western region.

 

Following the crisis, Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe requested the military GOC to intervene and reorganise the elections in the Western region to avoid catastrophe, but the military high command refused and Dr Azikiwe was briefly held in house arrest for making such a request.  Without any resolution and with Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa and Ahmadu Bello as fellow conspirators with Akintola and Remi Fani Kayode in the massive election heist, nothing was done to curtail the violence which gradually intensified. Daily mass murders and arson became routine in the Western region (wetie). This violence and lawlessness in the Western region was to continue from 1964 until 1966 when the military lost patience and finally struck.

 

The Western region was thus a region in crisis from the onset of post-colonial rule. By the time of the military coup, Chief Obafemi Awolowo himself was incarcerated for treason and the region was practically on an uncontrollable violence and trajectory of self destruction for almost two years from 1964 to 1966. At the same time that the Western region was aflame the Eastern region was calm and democratic. Unlike the Western region there were no cases of election rigging, thuggery or other such acts of lawlessness in the East. In the North there was sporadic violence in the TIV division which was put down by the military.

 

Of all the regions, the western region was torn the most by crisis and acts of lawlessness which eventually occasioned the coup. If the leadership of the Western region had played by the rules and avoided the infighting, the election rigging, the thuggery, the  planning of a coup in 1963, the  arson, the mass murders and other  such corrupt acts and vices  many of which were being  introduced for the first time  in Nigeria  and which incidentally continues to haunt the nation to date, there would have been no coup and Nigeria would no doubt have immensely benefitted from  a  functional democracy  devoid of election rigging, thuggery and violence as it obtains  in many progressive nations around the world.

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