By Chief Mbazulike Amechi [Dara Akunwafor].
[Continued from yesterday]
Being not trained to govern or manage men, the military blundered along and pushed the country into a 33 month senseless brutal civil war which cost the country more than 2 million lives and unquantifiable properties. They remained in government for over three decades, doing what they knew best, which is killing, destroying and looting.
Rulers of the First Republic were not “professional” politicians as we have today but nationalists and freedom fighters who fought and bargained and negotiated for the liberation of Nigeria from the colonial government of imperial Britain. At Independence the nation freely gave them mandate to govern the new nation which they founded with their sweat and blood. They were therefore in government for what they could give, unlike the military and post military era where people who spend heavily and kill in order to get into government for what they can get.
When the military struck on January 15, 1966 and brutally murdered innocent nationalists and patriots, they accused them of corruption. If their intentions where sincere and honest why did they have to run other coups to take over from their “clean and honest” comrades?
Why did they have infect the nation with as many as eight military administrations from Ironsi to Gowon, to Muhammed to Obasanjo to Buhari to Babangida to Abacha and to Abubakar? The only military ruler that did not elbow or push out a predecessor by force is Gen. Obasanjo who was forced into headship of the state by circumstances of Muhammed’s murder. In 1979 he returned governance to politicians and in 1999 the country gave him mandate to restore stability and democracy to the nation.
Each time the military criminally took over a democratically elected government in Nigeria, they accused the government of corruption. In case of the first republic, they accused the government of collecting 10% of contract values from contractors. Not a single evidence of this wild charge was produced even though the military rulers conducted chains of commissions of Inquiry.
Perhaps it may be necessary for me to explain this wild charge of 10%. In my own party it was a policy that any person who won election on the platform of the Party, or to any board or public office should sign an authority to his bank to pay 10% of his salary as a holder of that office to the Account of the NCNC on the receipt of such salary at the end of each month. That was one of the ways of funding our political parties in those days instead of what we see these days when parties are funded from the sacrosanct “Security Votes” and government treasuries the keys of which are held by governors and other government heads.
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was the Premier of the Eastern Region for five years and later Governor-General and President of Nigeria for six years. He did not build estates in Lagos or Enugu. The Sarduana of Sokoto was the Premier of the North for some nine years. No one can point to a single luxury house he built for himself. Same thing goes for great nationalists like Festus Okotie-Eboh, M.I. Okpara, Awolowo and others.
They did not own fabulous bank accounts in Britain, America, Dubai or Saudi Arabia. Compare their records with cases of the military and their surrogates and nominees who run the states now or operate at Abuja who stash away billions and billions of wealth of Nigeria in foreign banks or build exotic mansions at Abuja after a few months in office. Yet some fools and ignoramuses and sycophants would open their stinking mouths to accuse the great nationalists of the First Republic of stealing or embezzlement.
Finally, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me wind up by saying how happy I am, how grateful I am to God for sparing my life as one of the very few colleagues of Okotie-Eboh still on this planet to take part in this Golden Jubilee of the untimely death by murder of this great Nigerian. Omimi, as we fondly called him has lived and gone but his name will remain written in letters of gold in the history of his country. He was a great nationalist and freedom fighter; great philanthropist with a large heart; great self-trained and self-certificated economist and economic planner; totally detribalized Nigerian, a kind man, softhearted, loyal and ever friendly to associates. You served your country well and the country and history will never forget you.
Rest In Peace in the Bosom and Paradise of your Maker.
Chief Amechi, popularly called ‘The Boy is Good’, is the first Aviation Minister of Nigeria.