“Today marks the 44th anniversary of the assassination of Nigeria’s 4th Head of State the late General Murtala Muhammed.
Murtala as he fondly called was killed in an abortive coup on Friday, Feb 13th, 1976 (Friday the 13th is cursed as they say).
The coup was led by Lt. Col Bukar Sukar Dimka who in his warped coup speech told that Nigerians’ we are all together’.
Murtala was killed at age 38. The Lagos airport is named after Murtala Muhammed. Murtala was decisive and sacked 10,000 civil servants for corruption and retired many others.
He was famed for arriving unannounced in disguise. He was bold and fearless and dashing and anti-Western.
Today in Abuja, there will be as always a Murtala Muhammed Memorial Lecture.
Murtala Muhammed fought apartheid to a standstill during the short stint he spent in office which was less than 200 days.
He gave the bravest and boldest speech any African leader has given on Jan 11th, 1976 titled ‘Africa Has Come of Age’ at the Organisation African Unity Conference (OAU).
Murtala’s predecessor General Yakubu Gowon has ruled Nigeria the longest without any breaks. Long Live the spirit of Murtala Muhammed Long Live. Born on November 8, 1938. Died Feb 13th, 1976” – TUNJI OMOTOLA, foremost Nigerian lawyer, activist and media practitioners writes the piece above from SA.
Late Murtala was the youngest Nigerian Head of State to have died in office.
JULY 29, 1975
Gen. Yakubu Gowon was deposed as chief of state of this most populous African country today in a bloodless coup carried out while he was abroad.
The end of his nine years of rule was announced by the Lagos radio as the 40‐year‐old general was attending a meeting of leaders of the 46 member countries of the Organization of African Unity in Kampale, Uganda.
The announcement was made by a man regarded as one of his closest friends, Col. Namvan Garba, commander of the Elite, Guards Brigade, which had usually protected the chief of state in his Lagos headquarters.
Colonel Garba said that he and his fellow officers had decided to remove General Gowon as chief of state and commander in chief of Nigeria’s armed forces “after what has been happening in our country in the past few months.” He did not elaborate. (This is a piece from The Times archive – nytimes.com).
Thoughtful, brave and pan-African leaders of Murtala’s status and stature are now very scarce in Nigeria.
The endemic corruption in the nation shamelessly advanced by those in government has eaten deep into the socio-cultural frabric of the nation – that a 21-yr-old boy now occultically’ kills fellow human being for money rituals – popularly called Yahooplus.
On the continent, South Africa offers a fellow of Murtala’s boldness, pan-Africanism and doggesness – Julius Malema.
Malema will be 39 on March 3, 2020. He has accomplished a lot for himself, his country and the continent.
Not even Nigeria has a voice as strong and creative as that of Malema who is under 40.
Perhaps, Nigeria needs The Malema Magic.