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You are here:Home>>Strategic Research & Analysis>> Igbo and Yoruba Leaders React to Achebe's There was a country
Monday, 08 October 2012 13:49

Igbo and Yoruba Leaders React to Achebe's There was a country

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 Igbo  and Yoruba Leaders React to Achebe's  There was a country Photo credit: Naija stories


"Controversy surrounding the new book written by Prof. Chinua Achebe deepened yesterday with South West and South East leaders drawing sharp divisions over the aptness of claims in the book that Chief Obafemi Awolowo implemented genocidal policies against Ibos during the Biafran war."     -OKEY NDIRIBE, GBENGA ARIYIBI AND CHARLES KUMOLU



"Achebe living in the past "

"Chinua Achebe is a frustrated person. He feels that attacking noble people like Awolowo is right. Awolowo has a reputable place in Nigeria's history. The trio of Awolowo, Sardauna and Zik were leaders who did well for this country, hence their quality legacies should not be smeared in anyway. Achebe is living in the past."

"Ibos no longer care about such lamentation, what the Ibos are interested in is how they can be more relevant in the mainstream of Nigerian politics. So, Achebe's attack on Awolowo is not in the best interest of the political aspirations of the Ibos in today's Nigeria. What he has done is to distort history."

- Dr. Fashehun



"Achebe, not happy that a Yorubaman emerged Nobel prize winner. "

"With due respect to the erudite professor it appears Achebe has not been able to come out from a deep frustration of the fact that a Yorubaman emerged as the first winner of the highest literary award, Nobel Prize in literature.

"It was on record that Awolowo checkmated Ojukwu from invading Yorubaland in his expansionist ambition when he was matching his troops to Lagos. He met his waterloo at the battle of Ore."

-- Afuye



"Achebe has only said the truth . "

"What Chinua Achebe has written in his new book concerning the role the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo played during the civil war is the truth. However, the truth is always bitter. In fact, Achebe was even diplomatic. If I am to write on the same subject I would say more than Achebe did.

"Those who are attacking Achebe over what he wrote are expressing their own views; I am neither condemning them nor am I praising them."

- Gen. Madiebo



"What Achebe wrote in his new book is a fact. Those who witnessed what happened during the civil war can attest to the historical fact that Achebe recorded in his book. As the Minister of Finance and Vice-Chairman of the Federal Executive Council under the military regime headed by Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd.), Awolowo implemented those policies during the Nigeria civil war and immediately after.

-Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, former National Chairman of the People's Democratic Party, PDP



What Achebe wrote was a fact.  "Despite the fact that I had a lot of respect for him as one of the nation's foremost nationalists who fought for Nigeria's independence, we cannot forget that those policies were injurious to the Igbos. Those policies were a violation of the fundamental human rights of our people."

"My response to those who have attacked Achebe for stating the truth is that any country that cannot look at its history and learn lessons from it cannot survive. "The people of every nation have to learn from their history in order to avoid mistakes of the past. It is because Nigerians have refused to learn from history that we find ourselves where we are today in this country."

- Chief (Dr.)  Nwodo



“I have not read the book. I don’t want to speculate. During the civil war, I was studying in the United States of America. However, I have absolute confidence in Prof Chinua Achebe. He is an acclaimed international scholar and figure; whatever he says about the civil war should be taken seriously.”

"Go to court if you don't like what Achebe wrote.  "

"Nobody can question or doubt the credentials and scholarship of Chinua Achebe, especially when it comes to his special area of political literature. He has been adjudged as number one in the world. It seems to me that what Achebe did amounted to an exercise of his constitutional right of freedom of expression which cannot be abridged but can only be subjected to libel or defamation of character, which is actionable in court."

" Anybody who doesn't like what Achebe has written could go to court and file an action against Achebe for libel". Mbadinuju further expressed hope that the on-going debate would not hamper the new spirit of cooperation prevailing in the south.

"The three southern geo-political zones of South-East, South-West and South-South have just resolved to come into a new political alignment for the future. And it is now that the devil is creeping in to dislodge the political programme of the South. The implication is that our friends and brothers in the South-West may now begin to develop cold feet and go into opposition again just because of one book by Chinua Achebe. Since I wouldn't want anything that would jeopardize this new spirit of cooperation in the South, I pray to God that all groups or persons who feel aggrieved by Achebe's new book should have a change of heart to avert this brewing misunderstanding in order to enable Nigeria move forward. This is necessary in order to prevent another rift that may snowball into a fresh round of crisis of confidence."

-Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju,   former Governor of Anambra State.



"Although, we shouldn't speak ill of the dead, this does not mean that historical facts cease from being facts or must not be mentioned. Facts are facts but their emotional or subjective interpretation may depend on the perspective of the user. I hope the Igbo and Yoruba are not anxious to go back into their situation of parallel lines and parallel slaves in Nigerian politics. Awolowo didn't join the war against Nigeria, but he didn't start the war against the Eastern region. He eventually joined Gowon."

- Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife,  former Governor of Anambra State

:"Although, I was a teenager during and after the civil war, I was old enough to father a child. Those Federal Government policies against Biafrans which were ascribed to Chief Awolowo at that time came to be as uncharitable and wicked. However, 42 years after the war, my attitude now is to consign all that to history."

"I recommend the book to every patriotic Nigerian and not just students of history. Achebe must not be crucified for saying the truth."

- Dr. Sam Nkire, National Chairman Progressive Peoples Alliance, PPA


“The new write-up is another rehash of the perverted intellectual laziness which he had exhibited in the past in matters relating to Awo when Achebe described Awo as a Yoruba irredentist. What he expected was that Awo should fold his arms to allow the Igbo race led by Zik to preside over the affairs of the Yoruba nation. The fact that the Yoruba people in their wisdom, having found out that the NCNC through Zik and Okpara had established a government of their choice and then wanted to follow up with the appropriation of the Yorubaland as their catchment area. It is a demonstration of the contempt of Achebe and his ilk for the Yoruba nation."

-    Mr. Ayo Opadokun,  A political activist and convener of the Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms (CODER)



"Chinua Achebe find it convenient to pick Awolowo as a scapegoat of all that happened to them during the war.” He asked, “did awo start the war? He was just the Federal Commissioner for Finance with responsibility for coming up with appropriate fiscal and monetary policies. He was not at the battle field and could not therefore be fairly charged with genocide..” The former Chief Whip of the House of Representatives also challenged anyone to come up with any publication where Awo said starvation should be regarded as a legitimate weapon of war. “Neither in any of the books written by him nor on him was any such thing said. It is the work of those who hated his guts. It is not factual. It must be remembered that even when he was not in the cabinet, he tried to prevent the war, but as soon as it broke out, it was between Nigeria and Biafra. He had to come up with policies that would end the war quickly. Those who are peddling this line have forgotten that Awo was in prison when the crisis started.”

- Chairman of the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), Wale Oshun



“I do not agree with Prof Achebe on the statement. It is not true that Awo’s civil war role smacked of even an iota of selfish political aggrandisement. I was his biographer and I can state authoritatively that, though he did not penetrate the North, he had a firm belief in the unity of Nigeria and that was why he wanted to govern the country as an indivisible entity. All the governors and other close associates of his would attest to the fact that he was a believer in the oneness of Nigeria which was why he wanted to govern the entire country for the overall benefit of her entire citizenry."

- Prof Moses Makinde,  Awolowo’s official biographer, who heads Awolowo Centre for Philosophy, Ideology and Good Governance, Osogbo, is the author of ‘Awo



“One is still trying to come to terms with the sense of disappointment about the person who wrote what is now a brewing controversy in the country. “While a formal statement responding to the offensive comments of the writer is being prepared by the family all I can say for now is that I feel so disappointed”.

- Dr Awolowo-Dosunmu speaking to Sunday Vanguard




Last modified on Monday, 08 October 2012 13:59

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