Yoruba’s Operation Wetie, PMB and Ndigbo

December 6th, 2018

By PROF. BONIFACE EGBOKA

Operation Wetie resulted from the struggle for power between Chief Awolowo and Chief Akintola in Yoruba land of then Western Ni­geria that precipitated massive losses of lives and destruction of property was a Historic reality. Some young and discerning Ni­gerian students in the sixties then, observed the turbulent political shenanigans and Gerrymander­ing and the dog-eat-dog dramatic scenarios that enveloped the country. It was most unfortunate that some people from Southeast, Southsouth and Southwestern­ers through a coup d’état in Janu­ary 1966 hijacked the Operation Wetie problems which emanated from the political imbroglio gen­erated by the Yoruba and Hausa-Fulani while struggling to control power in Western Region.

One was a student at St. Peter’s Sec­ondary School, Achina and later in High School at Government Secondary School, Afikpo from where one read, heard and saw some unimaginable evils that oc­curred during that period; how, many Southeasterners and South­southerners grievously-suffered, lost lives and property from self-destructive problems caused by other persons elsewhere. These Operation Wetie problems and their aftermath eventually result­ed in an Armageddon of massive destructions of lives and property and marginalization of people of then Eastern Nigeria which still go on today. Possibly if this Op­eration Wetie hijack had never occurred, these problems could not have arisen or would have been sorted out in one way or the other. The January 1966 Yoruba coup and July 1966 Fulani-Hausa revenge-counter-coup, the igno­ble Nigeria-Biafra war and con­sequent massive losses in lives and property might not have oc­curred. As succinctly-recorded by Wikipedia, “Akintola attempted to take over from Chief Awolowo by trying to remove him as leader of the Yoruba party. In May 1962 with the Yoruba Western House of Assembly ready to abdicate Ak­intola after the party had passed a vote of no confidence on the premier in one of the party meet­ings, no sooner had this been con­cluded than crisis erupted in the house. The Action Group party soon broke into two factions one in support of Akintola and the other for Sage Awolowo leading to the infamous ‘Ogun Wetie’ in…dear Yoruba land which brought about daily mass murder and arson, these crimes were rou­tinely carried out on Yoruba land between 1963 until 1966. The northerners who were in power and had wanted to take control of Yoruba land, politically declared a state of emergency on…enclave and eventually restored Akintola to power (even though he had lost the legal battle with the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, then, Nigeria’s highest tribunal). By 1963, the plot between Akin­tola, Tafawa Balewa and Ahmadu Bello was perfected and Chief Obafemi Awolowo was arrested for a phantom coup plotting. His trial commenced in earnest and he was alongside some accomplic­es convicted for treason and jailed for 10 years. In 1965, Akintola went into a full partnership with the northerners when he formed a new political party; Nigerian Na­tional Democratic Party (NNDP) believed to be representing the Yoruba people, and went into al­liance with Northern People’s Congress (NPC) of Sir Ahmadu Bello. The elections were rigged in his favour since Sage Awolowo was already behind bars and was imposed on the Yoruba people as their premier. The great Yor­uba people revolted…resorted to Ogun Wetie which continued un­til 1966”. Then came the January 1966 Yoruba coup which some politically-jaundiced writers have falsely-labelled as an Igbo coup because some Igbo Army officers were involved whereby north­ern and western Army officers and political leaders were killed; then followed the July 29, 1966 counter-revenge-coup by Hausa-Fulani officers whereby most Igbo and Niger Delta Army officers were cowardly/brutally-mur­dered. Recently in 2015 a political alliance of the Yoruba and Hausa-Fulani put Ndigbo in the cold till now. Yet still today, Ndigbo of the Southeast are trying to repeat the pogrom-sordid History.

People on both sides of the di­vide are playing most dirty politics in nature and geometric dimensions. They issue count­less fake news, grievously and endlessly-insult themselves, call­ing each other unnamable names, scandalously-destroy the unwary with deceitful lies. The PDP, APC, APGA etc. are guilty of this mis­adventure and impiety. One un­derstands why majority of Ndigbo are sad/angry and why they have taken platform that may be injuri­ous to their body politics, trying to hit some political opponents quite viciously. This style of politick­ing is unacceptable in sane polity. The BUHARI/OSINBAJO versus ATIKU/OBI imbroglio vis-a-vis the Presidential ticket and their contest shall be a formidable one! If the ATIKU/OBI ticket wins, the Igbo would again be counted among once more; but this must not make one throw caution to the wind. Even though there are other formidable Igbo fronts for the race such as those of Dr. King­sley Muoghalu and Mrs. Orby Ezekwesili but the ATIKU/OBI ticket gives an intriguingly-seri­ous message on possible survival of the Igbo as an ethnic group and a people. Hence, Ndigbo must be careful/cautious over what they should say, write or do. Nigeria is today ravaged by youth unem­ployment, poverty and hunger, disunity, insurgency, insecurity etc. There are serious divisions and problems that require sanity and maturity to solve them. Let them not blame the Igbo for these woes. The Yoruba, Hausa-Fulani, northern and southern minorities are no more as united with their majority neighbors as they used to be. If someone or any group is not careful, they would pass the buck and hang a dead cat on a per­son’s neck and beat the person or group to death. There have been write-ups and video recordings widely-in circulation that look like fictitious stories in poor taste. The strength of action (and pur­pose?) with which these stories have been circulated are amazing. One is distressed that some of our people have participated actively in circulating these stories. PMB is reported to have gone and then got cloned by one Jibril from Su­dan and imposed on Nigeria to rule us. How possible can this be? One knows that the British hates the Igbo but one believes that there is a limit beyond which Britain can hide such evil if it ever occurred. Will the United States, United Nations, EU, AU, Russia, China etc. feel so unconcerned and go on doing business with Nigeria and her leaders if such Jibril story is true? One strongly-doubts the story. PMB might have undergone some major medical treatments but not, may be, to the extent implied. One wonders how world politicians, security agen­cies and journalists would keep mum over such a situation if it is true? The Presidential contest is set between two Fulani giants (although some claim that Al­haji Atiku may not be a Fulani). Ndigbo must use their high sense and maturity, less of their mouths and pens, in support of either. We must not make any of them a political or type of an enemy. Some leaders/members of IPOB have been bombarding Nigerians insisting that Ndigbo and Niger Deltans must not be involved in the 2019 elections. Again, this posturing is amazing/anti-Igbo! How can our people not to have a firm voice to go out and vote? Why should we disenfranchise ourselves? They are calling for a Referendum for Biafra; but is it not the same people who can also vote in such a Referendum when it might come to pass? Why must we cut our nose to spite our face? Or we want to make it most easy for our detractors to win against us outright; those who are op­posed to real Restructuring of the country and Devolution of Pow­ers to component Units or Re­gional Autonomy or even emer­gence of the dreamed Biafra. One was a combatant Army officer who fought in the grim Biafra-Nigeria war and who saw most of it all both at war fronts and rear. Ndigbo must be united, diplo­matic and less voluble and try to make more friends across political boundaries. We must no more cry more than the bereaved or jump into funeral homes and carry other people’s unholy carcasses on our heads. The Igbo is known for very good use of their heads and hands; let us revive such their uses once more.

By Boniface C E Egboka, UNIZIK, Awka, Anambra State; E-mail: boniegboka@gmail.com

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