Elder Statesman, lawyer, and politician, Chief Guy Ikokwu, has says indecision by the Yoruba delegations denied Obafemi Awolowo a Yoruba/Igbo joint presidential ticket.
In a rich throwback of Nigerian history, the Chairman of the defunct Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) in the old Anambra State in the Second Republic revealed that: “We met Zik at Nsukka and Awo in Apapa, Lagos. Our team included statesmen like Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya.
Dr Abubakar Rimi, Chief Solomon Lar. We agreed to have a common united political front to stop the domineering Fulani jihadist tactics in Nigeria. Both Zik and Awo gave us their blessing and we organized the biggest party conference for the public in Enugu, which was attended by both leaders and their executives in the East and West.”
“Awolowo led Action Group, AG leaders like Pa Ajasin. Cicero of Esa-Oke Bola Ige, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, etc to attend and address the teaming multitude in Enugu. We all returned to Lagos and formed a Strategic Committee with Governor Jakande as chairman. Apart from our Northern eminent brothers, the Yoruba members in the committee included Senator Abraham Adesanya and Chief Ayo Adebanjo”.
He said they had brilliant Nigerians in the committee whose aim was to have a formidable alliance for Zik or Awo to vie for the Presidential Election against Alhaji Shehu Shagari who was seeking a second tenure.
2,000 portfolios and board positions were evenly shared by the committee satisfactorily among the parties in the coalition.
It was only the Presiency and the Party Chairman positions left unresolved. The Awo group who controlled five states against Zik’s three said they should have pre-eminence in what was left to be shared.
“We adjourned for a few days for consultations with our leaders. Zik said he would abide by our consensual decision as a democrat. Chief RBK Okafor and Omenife Ikokwu were mandated by Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya to find an agreeable synthesis”.
The obvious came to the fore that Awolowo would be the Presidential candidate against Shagari.
“We then proposed that if the coalition party was the Nigerian Peoples Party, the party Chairman would be Zik and the party would be supreme on policy matters to move the country forward.
Zik of Africa was to take Awo (as a Presidential candidate) round the country during elections if he emerges as the party chairman, and vice versa.
“Our chairman, Jakande, when we resumed requested a brief adjournment for their (Yoruba) response after consultations. All other members in the Strategy Committee agreed with our proposals except Awolowo’s group which was split”.
Everybody globally waited with tamed breath on what the outcome would be. From the lawns of the Governor’s Lodge at the Marina, members of the Unity Party of Nigeria Youth Wing under the dynamic leadership of Ebenezer Babatope were chanting Awo! Awo!, that in their party constitution, there is no separation between the Executive and the Party.
They claimed that coalition cannot separate those two vital offices as being proposed.
All of them met after in-house discussions and phone calls and Jakande (the chairman) then said there will be no press conferences on the matters and if there was no meeting in the next week, all the parties would field their presidential candidates (independently) and cooperate where desirable in the other elective offices. (ALL EFFORTS FOR A UNITED FRONT SANK LIKE TITANIC).
He continued his interesting narration: “So that was how the parties contested against each other and the election was rigged for Shehu Shagari. And Zik made his famous speech that history will vindicate the just and the wicked shall not go unpunished.
Today, many Nigerians believe that, that was not a speech, but a curse from a wounded heart.
It is still commonly believe today that Zik did not lift that curse on Nigeria before he died.
Zik lived to a very ripe age seeing people and exchanging pleasantries with his two new wise kid sons with whom he shared his wisdom of ages.
“Chief Awolowo did not like the state of the polity thereafter and as a sage who had written ominously on our contemporary issues, he felt very disconsolate as he was betrayed by some of his followers and the military junta who had ruined the nation.
Chief Ikoku said this concerning the Great Awo: “Awolowo was dogged and astute but did learn much of human frailties and the way and manner he was used during the civil war”
Chief Guy Ikokwu concluded proverbially thus: “Very few Nigerians really know how and why he died. He was betrayed unexpectedly by his closest confidant who is still alive now.”
Was that indecision or greed? just thinking, don’t mind me.
(article originally published by Vanguard)