General Yakubu Gowon is a Nigerian military and political leader. He took power after the military coup d'état in 1966 and was overthrown in 1975. He was the 3rd Head of State of Nigeria, having been preceded by Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi and succeeded by General Murtala Mohammed.
General Gowon served as Nigeria's Head of State from 1966 to 1975, when he was overthrown.
Yakubu Gowon profile summary
- Full name: Yakubu Jack Gowon
- Date of birth: 19th October 1934
- Place of birth: Pankshin, Nigeria
- Yakubu Gowon age: 86 years
- Nationality: Nigerian
- Ethnicity: Black
- Marital status: Married
- Spouse: Victoria Zakari Gowon
- Profession: Politician, political scientist
General Yakubu Gowon was born on 19th October 1934 in Pankshin, Nigeria. Yakubu Gowon family lived in a small village near the present-day Kanke Local Government Area of Plateau State.
He was born to Nde Yohanna and Matwok Kurnyang. His parents moved to Wusasa, Zaria as Church Missionary Society (CMS) missionaries when Yakubu was still a young boy.
He is the fifth kid among eleven. Together with his siblings, he was brought up in Zaria, where he had his early life and education.
Yakubu Gowon was actively involved in athletics while in school. He was the school's football goalkeeper, boxing captain, pole vaulter and long-distance runner. During his first year, he broke the school mile record.
Where did Yakubu Gowon education in the military begin? He began his studies in the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, United Kingdom between 1955 and 1956. Later on, he joined the following institutes:
- 1962 - Staff College Camberley, United Kingdom
- 1965 - Joint Staff College, Latimer
- PhD in Political Science - University of Warwick
Yakubu Gowon began his career as a military leader after training in various armed forces institutes. In 1960, 1961 and 1963, he took part in the Congo-Zaire action for peace as part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force.
By 1966, he had risen to battalion commander while still serving as a lieutenant colonel. In January 1966, Yakubu became the youngest Nigerian military chief at the age of 31.
Rise to power
Yakubu Gowon returned to Nigeria a few days before the coup sacked Nigeria's former Head of State, Aguiyi Ironsi from office. Yakubu had come from the United Kingdom, where he had gone for a career course.
Before ascending to power, he was only strictly involved in his career as a soldier with no political involvement. However, the turbulent events that took place that year suddenly thrust him into office. He was selected mainly because he was neither Fulani, Hausa nor from the Muslim religion.
Gen Yakubu Gowon was in office from 1966 to 1975. The long years in power made him lose focus, thus becoming complacent. This led to an easy overthrow by the business-minded General Murtala Mohammed.
He was overthrown on 29th July 1975, after which he was forced to go to an exile in the United Kingdom together with his family.
Wife and children
General Yakubu married Miss Victoria Zakari on 19th April 1969 at a ceremony officiated by Seth Irunsewe Kale at the Cathedral Church of Christ in Lagos. Victoria is a trained nurse.
The duo has been blessed with two children. Yakubu Gowon son goes by the name Ibrahim Bala while his daughter is called as Saratu Kankemwa Tani Gowon. Is Yakubu Gowon dead? No, he is alive and kicking.
Achievements of Yakubu Gowon
In November 2004, he won the World Peace Prize Top Honour Award from the World Peace Prize Awarding Council. He was rewarded because of several reasons, such as:
- Ensuring that the nation is stable
- Raising the economic growth
General Yakubu Gowon is remembered as the third Head of State in Nigeria.
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