Top 11 Things You Didn’t Know About Wartime President Yakubu Gowon


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The UK parliament while addressing the need to curb corrupt practices of leaders in Nigeria, including the usual act of doing away with the nation’s wealth and storing them in overseas countries, accused General Yakubu Gowon of carting away half of the Central bank.

This sparked mixed reactions among several Nigerians leaving a few speechless.

Here are 11 things you probably did not know about the wartime president, General Yakubu Gowon.

  • The Pfizer Case

In 2007, after the Pfizer pharmaceutical company received a double law suit from the Kano state Government and the Federal government for its despicable acts with the Trovan vaccines (11 Children died from the clinical trials), Pfizer engaged the services of prominent Nigerians at the time, Yakubu Gowon inclusive, to lobby the Government into accepting it’s terms of negotiation.

Gowon developed so much enthusiasm and was hell bent on getting a favorable settlement for Pfizer that he made horrendous statements during the negotiation. According to 234Next Article reports, “Gowon was quoted as telling negotiators that the worth of the life of a child born and bred in Kano cannot be compared to that of a child born and bred in the United States” which was in response to entreaties that Pfizer should pay a same rate compensation as would’ve been paid if the trial had taken place in the U.S.

  • His Son

Yakubu Gowon’s son, Musa, who was a product of a love affair between the General and a former Public relations specialist, late Edith Ike Okongwu was arrested on November 18th, 1992 at the age of 23 in the United States where he bagged a 40 year sentence to prison for his involvement in a conspiracy to smuggle heroin.

  • The Counter-coup

In view of provocation by the Eastern media, northern soldiers mutinied and started a counter-coup on the 29th of July 1966 which led to the installation of then Lieutenant-Colonel Yakubu Gowon as the Supreme Commander of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

  • Dictatorship

General Yakubu Gowon, during the Biafran war in 1967 arrested Professor Wole Soyinka and put him in solitary confinement for two years and four months over suspicion of Soyinka’s alleged involvement in the sale of military aircraft to the east and a fear that the professor was putting out too much information following his meeting with the military governor of the Eastern Region, Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu.

READ ALSO: We demand restructuring of Nigeria – S’South govs, other leaders tell FG

  • Eastern region

On the 27th of May, 1967, Yakubu Gowon in a bid to gain eastern succession and weaken its support base made a decree that led to the division of the Eastern Region into three parts: South Eastern StateRivers State, and East Central State causing the Igbos living in the East Central State to lose hold of petroleum located in the remaining two parts.

  • Invasion

After Colonel Ojukwu had subdued a few Nigerian federal troops, General Yakubu Gowon launched an offensive into Biafra south using the black scorpion to form the 3rd Infantry Division later known as the 3rd Marine Commando.

  • Exile and Pardon

In 1976, Yakubu Gowon was exiled to Great Britain and stripped of his rank following an alleged participation in the assassination of his successor, Murtala Mohammed. He was however pardoned by Shehu Shagari in 1981 and his rank restored in 1987 by Ibrahim Babangida.

  • Obafemi Awolowo

On the 4th of August in 1966, Obafemi Awolowo was released from prison by Yakubu Gowon and made Federal Commissioner for Finance in 1967. Conspiracy theories had it that Gowon’s act was a bid to make Awolowo head of the new government.

  • Aburi Accord

General Yakubu Gowon reneged on the Aburi Accord signed in Aburi, Ghana by delegates of both the Federal Government and the Eastern region, led by the region’s leader Colonel Ojukwu in 1967 which was aimed at preventing a break out of war and Ojukwu’s agreement to a confederation.

  • Starvation

During the Biafran war, used as a weapon against the Eastern region by Yakubu Gowon was starvation. He allegedly stopped the in flow of food and medicine to the Igbos as a tool to make them surrender leading to the death of thousands.

  • Marriage

General Yakubu Gowon wedded on the 19th of April, 1969 amidst the Civil war and faced serious reprimands from Benjamin Adekunle, a commander of the Lagos Garrison also known as the “black scorpion”.

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