This article was written by Hon Adekoya Dare Alaba. Happy Reading
The word “COWARD” is used derisively by the Igbos to denigrate and disparage the Yorubas.
Many of us simply ignored their boastive and garrulous attack because of the accommodative nature of the Yorubas and in order not to offend the tribal or ethnic sensibilities of our Igbo friends.
But, what option do we have when our friends and their tribal kinsmen continuously and contemptuously describe our race in the most humiliating manner.
The continuous silence by the Yorubas have given the Igbos the erroneous impression that their descriptions of the Yorubas as “Cowards” is true. This post therefore is intended to respond to the annoying description of the Yorubas as “Cowards” by the Igbos.
Let me take it for granted that we all have a good appreciation of the meaning of the word “Coward” as opposed to bravery or courageous conduct or behaviours.
In a recent post, Pastor Reno Omokri, former aide to former President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, argued extensively with cogent examples to buttress the facts that the Yorubas are not cowards. He concluded by admonishing the Igbos to stop referring to the Yorubas as cowards.
The inevitable question that may be asked is: “who is the coward between the Igbos and the Yorubas”?.
To answer the question, it is imperative to make excursion into history by examining bravery and cowardly behaviours between the Igbos and Yorubas based on historical facts rather than conjecture.
Perhaps, we should also extend the discussion beyond the Igbos and the Yorubas to examine the courageous behaviours of some other tribes in Southern Nigeria.
The great Nana Olomu of Itsekiri (1852-1916) courageously fought the British imperialists from his fortified town of Ebrohimi on the Benin River with great vigour. His forces held the British at bay for many months. Nana Olomu of Itsekiri was an Itsekiri man and not Igbo.
The courageous King Jaja of Opobo (1821-1891) defied the marauding invading forces of the imperialists. He bravely fought the British for many months. King Jaja was an Ijo man and not Igbo.
King Kosoko (1797-1872) of Lagos stood up against the British and courageously fought them. He was a Yoruba man and not Igbo.
The wars between the British invaders and Madam Tinubu (1805-1887) of Lagos are still remembered. Madam Tinubu was the first Nigerian female heroine of the anti-colonial revolution. Madam Tinubu was a Yoruba woman and not Igbo.
The British Colonial plunderers had prolonged conflicts with the Egbas to the north-west of Lagos. The Egbas successfully fought the British. The Egbas are Yorubas and not Igbos.
The great Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi (1857-1914) of Benin courageously fought the British invading army with uncommon gut. Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi was partly Bini and partly Yoruba.
The British occupied Lagos in 1861, but they could not penetrate the Ijebu heartland because the Ijebus fought gallantly to stop them.
In a recent lecture delivered by Professor Godini G. Darah of Delta State University, Abraka, Delta State on the 11th day of February, 2017 at the 2016 Independent Newspaper Man of the Year Award Ceremony, held at Oriental Hotel, Lagos, the Professor of Oral Literature gave illuminating account of how the Ijebus singularly fought the British imperialist for three (3) years. The Ijebus are Yorubas and not Igbos.
The Agbekoya revolt (1968-1969) in Western Nigeria demonstrated beyond doubt the courageous ability of the Yorubas.
Agbekoya revolt led by their leaders Adegoke Akekuejo, Tafa Adeoye, Folarin Idowu, Mudasiru Adeniran and Tafa Popoola successfully fought the security forces.
The farmers marched to Mapo Hall demanding for reduced taxes, which led to violent crises, many government officials were killed.
They attacked courthouses and government buildings, setting free prisoners until the release of Chief Obafemi Awolowo from prison that helped to quell the riots and negotiated directly with their leaders.
Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi (1926-1966) hosted Major General Aguyi Ironsi in Ibadan in July, 1966. The Northern Soldiers invaded Government House in Ibadan. Col. Adekunle Fajuyi took a position that Aguyi Ironsi an Igbo man and his guest cannot be killed in his house.
He stood his ground and chose to die with his Commander in Chief. I am yet to see any Igbo man with such gut yet the Igbos did not appreciate Col. Adekunle Fajuyi.
On the 13th of February 1976, Col. Dimka attempted to over throw the Federal Military Government of Gen. Murtala Mohammed. His aide de camp, Lt. Col. Akintunde Akinsehinwa, a Yoruba man did not run away. He fought and courageously died with Gen. Murtala Mohammed.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo had the opportunity to escape arrest by the Federal Government during one of the darkest days of Nigerian history. He exhibited uncommon courage and did not evade arrest like Chief Anthony Enahoro. Chief Obafemi Awolowo was a Yoruba leader and not Igbo.
Unfortunately, I have to mention the Nigerian Civil War.
Unarguably, the Yorubas were the heroes of the civil war.
Major Banjo, a Yoruba man was the Commanding Officer of the Biafran army. Major Banjo led the Biafran army and fought vigorously conquering Towns, Cities, States and territories with extra ordinary skills.
Major Banjo was a jewel. A brilliant and audacious commander of the highest repute. He led the Biafra army up to Ore in the present Ondo State before he was recalled back to the East by Col. Ojukwu.
Unknown to Major Banjo, Col. Ojukwu has already plotted to kill him based on unfounded lies cooked up against Major Banjo by ethnic and tribal Igbos actuated by envy and ethnic bias.
Col Ojukwu behaved, as it is common with most Igbos in a rash manner and put Major Banjo to death without proper investigation.
The death of Major Banjo ended the success of the Biafran army.
It is a matter of historical fact that the Biafran army did not progress beyond where Major Banjo stopped. Perhaps the story of the civil war would have been different if Col. Ojukwu had not killed Major Banjo.
Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle (1936-2014), the Black Scorpion, Commander of the 3rd Marine Commando, a Yoruba man was unarguably one of the most courageous men the world has ever known.
Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle was an incredibly courageous, greatly feared at home and abroad. Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle, was well respected for his courage and exploits. He was a Yoruba man and not Igbo.
Whether we like it or not, abuse him if you chose, abuse will not change or alter history, General Olusegun Obasanjo, a Yoruba man, took over the Command of the 3rd Marine Commando from Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle.
A man of uncommon courage. General Olusegun Obasanjo fought gallantly and made the Biafrans to surrender. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo is a Yoruba man and Nigerian war hero. It is difficult to find a man with Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo’s courage.
The Federal Government of Nigeria offered to release Chief Moshood Abiola under various bail conditions. Chief Moshood Abiola refused to accept any conditional bail. Rather, Chief Moshood Abiola chose to die in detention. What a courageous man! He was a Yoruba man and not Igbo.
Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe was aware of the first military coup in January, 1966. He left Nigeria before the coup under the pretence that he was going abroad on vacation and or medical trip and he abandoned his people during the war. Lack of courage. Chief Obafemi Awolowo would not have done such a thing.
Recently, the leader of the indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) was admitted to bail with all manners of conditions while his two other compatriots were denied bail.
Surprisingly, Kanu accepted conditional bail while his compatriots are still languishing in detention. What a coward!
Nelson Mandela of South Africa refused conditional bail. Except a coward, a courageous freedom fighter or a secessionist will not accept conditional bail. Nnamdi Kanu is not a Yoruba man.
The German Emperor and dictator, Adolf Hitler who provoked World War II (1939-1945) was told that the Red Army was marching on his Praetorian. He did not escape.
He bravely committed suicide. His wife Eva Braun committed suicide with him by taking cyanic acid. But Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu ran away in the face of defeat and refused to die. What a cowardly behaviour!
Biblical King Saul not Saul who later became Apostle Paul was hit by archers in the face of battle and he said to his armour bearer “…draw your sword and thrust me through with it lest these uncircumcised men come and thrust me through and abuse me but his armour bearer would not for he was greatly afraid.
Therefore Saul took a sword and fell on it.” (1 Samuel Chapter 31 verses 3-4). In the face of battle, King Saul committed suicide, which was a better choice for him than arrest and humiliation by the philistines. Interestingly, King Saul armour bearer equally took his own life. What a courage! But what did Col. Ojukwu did when he was faced with similar circumstance? He ran away. What a coward!
It may not be appropriate to cite audacious criminal courage because the yorubas treat criminal conducts with disdain. But permit me to mention just one instance.
The most courageous armed robber in the history of Nigeria was Dr. Ishola Oyenusi, a Yorubaman. The celebrated robber, did not plead for any forgiveness and he courageously faced his trial and firing squad unlike the present day none Yoruba robbers and kidnappers who upon arrest begin to shed crocodile tears and begging for forgiveness like the prominent kidnapper; Chukwudi Onuamadike alias Evans, an Igbo man. What a coward!
I have searched through the web of Nigerian History to identify any heroic mark by the Igbos. Unfortunately, I cannot find any except the fictional Obi Okonkwo of Prof. Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” who killed a Whiteman and later hanged himself.
Do you mention Aba women riot? The magnitude of the riot was insignificant for mention on a courageous map.
The only historical record was the tribal coup of January 1966 led by middle rank Igbo military Officers who killed political leaders, Government Officials and Soldiers from all over Nigeria except their own fellow Igbo men and in Igbo land.
My own Ondo brother Brigadier Samuel Ademuwagun, the Commanding Officer of the 1st Brigade Nigerian Army, Kaduna and his wife Latifah were gruesomely murdered in the presence of their children by Major Timothy Onwuatugwu and five others.
Similarly, Nzeogwu and his criminal gangsters assassinated Col. Ralph Shodeinde, Deputy Commandant of Nigerian Defence Academy. His wife was shot in her hand and leg. They killed several Hausa and Yoruba officers.
Certainly, a coup that was staged to kill fellow human being and political leaders, Government Officials and Soldiers other than their own tribesmen was an act of cowardice.
In any case, killing of human being is not a courageous act. infact it is an act of cowardice.
I imagine, if it were the Yorubas that stage a coup to kill all other people except the Yorubas, the Igbos would apply all manners of derogatory and foul languages to describe the Yorubas far beyond tribal, ethnic and cowards which they presently express to describe the Yorubas inspite of the exploits of the Yorubas coupled with accommodation that the Yorubas gave the Igbos.
The Igbos should know that the coup of January 1966 staged by Igbo Military Officers who killed Political Leaders, Government Officials and Soldiers throughout Nigeria except in Igbo Land provoked the retaliatory coup staged by Northern Military Officer that brought General Yakubu Gowon to power in July 1966.
We must not play down on the issue. The tribal and ethnic characters of the Igbo Military Officers expose the Igbos as tribal and ethnic chauvinists who wantonly kill other people except their own fellow Igbos.
Instructively, Brigadier Samuel Ademuwagun was the most senior military officer next to Gen. Aguyi Ironsi. The Igbo coupists killed him and left their own brother Gen. Aguyi Ironsi.
Interestingly, I was told that one of the grievances of the Igbos against the Yorubas was the Carpet crossing in the Western Region House of Assembly that brought Chief Obafemi Awolowo to power as the Premier of the Western Region which prevented Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe from becoming the Premier of the Western Region.
Let me say unequivocally that the action of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Yoruba leaders was perfectly right and equitable which conform to the tenet of democracy and self-aspiration.
Nigeria at the material time was divided into three regions and the three regions have three apples to share among themselves.
Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello an Hausa Fulani and a Northerner took one of the apples for himself and the people of the north and thus became the Premier of the Northern Region.
The Second apple was taken by an Easterner.
Regrettably, another Easterner in the person of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe wanted to take the third apple that was meant for the Western Region regardless of the fact that his brother and compatriot had taken the second apple.
The question that confronted Chief Obafemi Awolowo and the Yoruba Leaders was “Why must one person take two out of three apples that was meant for three people?” Certainly, it is unjust, immoral, inequitable, oppressive, insensitive and ungodly.
In effect, an Easterner cannot be a Premier in the Eastern Region and another Easterner as Premier in the Western Region. Such arrangement would have stripped the Yorubas naked with nothing.
Certainly, if Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was allowed to rule as Premier of the Western Region, the Yorubas would have become slaves to the Igbos.
Some Igbos have argued that Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe should have been allowed to become the Premier of Western Region on the principle of democracy since his party won majority seat in the Western Region House of Assembly.
My response to such argument is that the attempt by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe to present himself as the Premier of the Western Region was ill advised and secondly, what prevented Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe from sponsoring a Yorubaman for the position?.
Let me also say that the definition of democracy varies from country to country and from place to place depending on several factors and peculiarities.
Let me be specific, no one will deny the fact that the ever cerebral and articulate students of Obafemi Awolowo University have a very strong democratic Students’ Union.
Election was organised but the winner was prevented from taking oven by some Students led by Mr. Seni Ajayi.
I became furious and I went to the Students’ Union Building to meet Mr. Seni Ajayi, a very distinguished students’ Union leader.
My argument was similar to the same argument the Igbos are making about Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
I told Seni Ajayi that Mr. Agoi who had won the Students’ Union Election should be allowed to assume office on the principle of Democracy.
Seni Ajayi calmly disarmed me with a new definition of democracy. He made it clear to me that “Democracy is the Votes of the People that Matters.”
Far beyond the fact that the people voted for Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and his party NCNC, the votes of the people that matters were the votes of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Yoruba leaders who infact were the Guardians of the conscience of the Yorubas and who knew what was the best for the Yorubas.
It was a matter of fact that Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe went back to the Eastern Region and took over as the Premier of the Eastern Region.
Let me say with abundant pride and profound relish that the carpet crossing in the Western Region that brought Chief Obafemi Awolowo to power was the greatest thing to have happened to the Yorubas.
Western Region under Chief Obafemi Awolowo was a pacesetter. The Civil Service which was the engine room of the government was second to none in the Commonwealth.
The Western Region Government under Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the first in everything that we can be proud of; free education, first high rising building in Nigeria, first Olympic size stadium, first television station, road infrastructural development that lead to the rural areas in Yoruba towns and villages to facilitate evacuation of farm produce which ultimately lead to wealth and growth, just to mention a few.
The benefits derived from the carpet crossing which brought Chief Obafemi Awolowo to power successfully laid the foundation for the development of Western Region which have become the envy of other Nigerians and the Yoruba race has been able to sustain the growth even though the progress was almost stunted by the military.
The question therefore is “what did Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe do in the Eastern Region?”. I know of the University of Nigeria Nsukka.
But the Yorubas also have their own University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). Each of the three Premiers, Alhaji Sir. Ahmadu Bello, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo had the opportunity to develop their regions but Chief Obafemi Awolowo was a phenomena.
Instructively, if Dr. Azikiwe had been the Premier of the Western Region, he would not have performed better than what he did in the Eastern Region.
Indeed, generation of Yorubas are very proud of their Chief Obafemi Awolowo and other Yoruba political leaders that developed their region.
It is important to know that some of the things that the Igbos are saying about the carpet crossing in the Western Region House of Assembly are not true.
It is not true that Yoruba NCNC Parliamentarians abandoned Dr. Azikiwe on the floor of Western Region House of Assembly and crossed over to Chief Obafemi Awolowo side as often painted.
The correct position was that five (5) members out of the six (6) elected Parliamentarians from the Ibadan People Party (IPP) led by Chief Adisa Akinloye teamed up with Chief Obafemi Awolowo Action Group while the sixth Parliamentarian Adegoke Adelabu crossed carpet to Dr. Azikiwe NCNC.
All the Yoruba Parliamentarians in NCNC stood with their leader Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and not a single one of them crossed to Chief Obafemi Awolowo side.
In a plain language, those who crossed carpet were not parliamentarians from NCNC. In any case what happened in the Western Region House of Assemble is allowed under Parliamentary System of Government.
It is completely wrong for any Nigerian to accuse the Yorubas of tribalism.
In 2011, the Yorubas in the House of Representatives refused to vote for their fellow Yoruba candidate Mrs Adeola Mulikat.
The Yorubas teamed up with Northerners and Easterners to vote for Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal who thus became the Speaker of the House of Representatives. That is the Yorubas for you.
In the recent time, a Yoruba woman, Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh exhibited unequal courage. She prevented Ebola from entering or spreading in Nigeria by paying with her own life.
I am yet to see any Igbo woman with such gut and courage.
Unfortunately, the incredible and tremendous courage of Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh which limited the spread of Ebola in Nigeria was not rewarded by the Government of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
I can reasonably infer that the Igbos who were majority in that government deliberately refused to honour the outstanding Yoruba woman because she was a Yoruba woman.
Dr. Goodluck Jonathan ruled Nigeria for six years. The Yorubas voted for him massively in 2011 but what did the Yorubas get. He abandoned the Yorubas.
About 85% of all-important headships of government agencies and parastatals were occupied by the Igbos. There was no single Yoruba man from number 1 to 14 in the hierarchy of power. Yet, the Yorubas did not quarrel with any person. They waited patiently until the 2015 General election where they peacefully use their votes to their advantage.
Ironically, as soon as Dr. Goodluck Jonathan left, the shout of fake marginalisation started again.
Let me say without any fear of being contradicted that contrary to the shout of marginalisation, which the Igbos often used, the most powerful and economically viable position under the General Buhari Government are occupied by the Igbos.
The Governor of Central Bank, the most powerful Bank in Nigeria is in the hand of an Igbo man.
The Minister of State for petroleum Dr, Ibe Kachukwu though from Delta State is an Igboman. The Director of Budget of the Federation Mr. Ben Akabueze.
Apart from the Minister of Finance, the economic control of Nigeria is in the hands of the Igbos. The deputy Senate President is an Igboman yet they cry of marginalisation. “There is God o o”
The Igbos should know that the Yorubas are only slow to anger, which is dictated by the Yorubas sense of justice to examine or evaluate issues critically before taking decision rather than rash behaviours.
The accommodative nature of the Yorubas is mistaken for cowardice. When it comes to matter of courage and heroic behaviours, the Igbos should come and learn from the Yorubas who have demonstrated beyond doubt that they are the most courageous people in Nigeria.
The Yorubas are very loving and respectful people, all they want from the Igbos is mutual respect and not abuse.
As an addendum, let me say that the Igbos have started again.
Let them have their Biafra Republic. But, why would they arrogantly drew the map of Biafra to include other ethnic nationalities who do not believe in their Biafra project. Forceful incorporation of other ethnic nationalities into the Biafra agenda is the beginning of failure. It also amount to the repeat of the past mistake.
In the final analysis, I still love and cherish all my Igbo friends without any animosity against any of my friends.
It is only necessary to put things into proper perspectives. God bless you.
Published by: . Hon Adekoya Dare Alaba
“He who roll out the Drums of War…
Must be prepared to Dance with Pythons…”
………..Not go into hiding, like Zik n Emeka.
-DAK, 2017Sept- On Kanu/Biafra