Remembering Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi and Adekunle Fajuyi.


I had last week given a historical background of the January 15 coup which led to the emergence of General Aguiyi Ironsi and the implementation of Decree 34 which sought to transform Nigeria from being a Federal system into a Unitary system. I also downplayed the connection of Ironsi to the January 15th coup as well as the tales by moonlight that Decree 34 was actually a ploy to dominate Nigeria by the Igbo people.

Readers must also remember that Ironsi did not govern alone, if he was his intention to dominate or use the Unitary system to ensure that the Igbo people dominated Nigeria, then it must obviously mean that the likes of Generals Yakubu Gowon and Hassan Kastina who were members of the policy making body of the Ironsi led military government by virtues of their positions as Chief of Army Staff and as Governor of the Northern Region respectively were also complicit in the said plot to dominate Nigeria by Ironsi, since the debates on the form and operations of the said Decree 34 were taken and passed by the said Federal Military Government for which the aforementioned were members.

To me, Ironsi had the purest of intentions, perhaps he was naive and idealistic but to accuse him of wanting to enthrone Igbo dominance is the silliest thing any mind can attempt to fathom. For crying out loud he had beaten the coupists of January 15, stopping them from totally achieving their aims as well as filled his cabinet with more Northerners than even Balewa had in his cabinet! Pray readers, is this the psychological make up of the man who wanted to promote Igbo domination of Nigeria?

Our nation’s biggest problem is the lack of national unity, while our nation’s case of disunity is largely a sui generis one and can be traced to the fact that unlike nations which had single leaders as founding fathers, take for example India’s Nehru, Pakistan’s Al Jinnah and China’s Chiang Kai Shek or Mao Zedong depending on when either dominated China or later Formosa (Taiwan).

Nigeria went to independence with three major leaders, each stoking ethnic chauvinism like the calvary to the charge at independence. Ironsi on assumption of power, felt that ethnicity and tribalism was greatly immuring the newly independent nation from true development and sought to try out this new doctrine, he was killed for it and accused of all sorts but then kindly note that with the Orwellian doublespeak in which his killers lashed out on the Unitary policy of Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi as reasons for the mad slaughter of July 29 1966.

As well as the pogroms that followed the revenge coup, one would have expected Gen. Yakubu Gowon and his fellow beneficiaries to have reverted with immediate effect to true Federalism, this my friends was not the case, in killing Ironsi and Fajuyi they agreed with Ironsi in principle, that Nigeria needed a strong and unified leadership, sadly, each successor that followed misplaced every opportunity for providing such a leadership, that 54 years on , the concept of national unity is more elusive than ever, handing the advantage to phony separatist leaders who clamour daily for the dismemberment of this great nation.

Yet, those who murdered Ironsi and Fajuyi in cold blood have continued to blame the poor man for the quasi federal system we run while those who had a chance to revert the system but continued with a more perverse system are walking about as heroes and organizing national prayer sessions like Wole Soyinka’s Brother Jero, they mock Nigerians but cannot mock God!

Ironsi even in the grave will someday become a model for the nation; an example of a soldiers soldier, his exploits as soldier and statesman will always precede him, even when the likes of Theophilus Danjuma spin their cock and bull tales of how both Ironsi and Fajuyi were killed, doing great disservice to the duo, it is still obvious that in death the duo will always tower high above the likes of Danjuma, who is today crying of ethnic cleansing.

For Fajuyi, I want to dedicate the rest of this discourse. Truth is that he didn’t need to die with Ironsi; the damned Supreme Commander was Igbo and not a pounder yam loving Ekiti or Yoruba man. He could have allowed Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi go alone with his abductors and adopt a “Danjuma “ tori but no, that would not happen under his watch, he stuck his neck for the embattled Supreme Commander in line with the dictates of military chivalry and a “patriot” code that ought to govern Nigeria; beaten and flogged mercilessly, he fell with his Supreme Commander, a testament to such uncommon bravery never seen again.

Was it not in this country that a Commander in Chief was gunned down while his subordinates hid beneath a staircase or when a handful of officers forced a Commander in Chief to annul a free and fair election?

Fajuyi’s exemplary sacrifice stands as a totem pole to all lovers of Nigerian unity with a resonating thrust that we are first humans before we became Igbo, Hausa, Fulani or Yoruba.

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