The former president Olusegun Obasanjo, has finally spoken his mind on the January 15, 1966, military coup in Nigeria.
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Speaking yesterday, January 15, in Lagos state at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the First Republic politician and minister of finance, Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, Obasanjo described the January 15, 1966 coup as a monumental error.
The Nation reports that Obasanjo said the 1966 coup that was orchestrated by the late Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu brought the military into politics.
“Exactly 50 years ago darkness enveloped Nigeria. Many who were around then were confused; many of us were taken by surprise.
“That we are able to gather here today to remember and in a way acknowledge the life of our early leader who, whatever may be his deficiency, is a testament to the fact that he gave us the best,” Obasanjo said.
Speaking also, Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule, a colleague to Okotie-Eboh, said the former minister of finance was a true Nigerian.
“Festus was a friend of the people; he was a friend of the East, friend of the West and friend of the North.
“He had fantastic public relations. That was why he was loved by all; you could never guess the political party he belonged to,” he said.
According to him, whenever Okotie-Eboh walked into parliament, his nickname, Omimiejor would take over the air.
“He was full of humour, even when members of the opposition were attacking him. But, it was not the kind of attack you have today,” he said.
Speaking also, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, a First Republic politician, said Okotie-Eboh was one of the financial pillars of the defunct NCNC. He said even after his Itsekiri kinsmen left the party for the Action Group (AG), Okotie-Eboh remained in the NCNC.
He described Okotie-Eboh as a man of vision who managed the finance and the economy of the country far beyond the expectations of everyone.
The ceremony, which was chaired by Obasanjo, also witnessed the public presentation of the book, “Chief Okotie-Eboh, in Time and Space” and it attracted many dignitaries, including the former vice president Alex Ekwcueme, Chief Akintola Williams, Ahmed Joda, Philip Asiodu, Great Ogboru, Dr. Wale Babalakin, royal fathers from all parts of the country including the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi and a host of others.
The minister of power, works and housing, Babatunde Fashola, in a tribute to Okotie-Eboh called for the establishment of a foundation in his name, to teach young Nigerians the country’s history.
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The 1966 coup also claimed the lives of Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa; Northern Region Premier Ahmadu Bello and Western Region SLA Akintola, among others.
Obasanjo, speaking during a public discussion of the Biafra issue in Abuja organized by Nextier Advisory on January 15, Friday, urged Nigerians to give up the agitation for Biafran independence.