Another Brief Call to Knowing who we are – Bernard Odogwu’s Prophecy

july 29 1966 coup

Bernard Odogwu, A former Nigeria Diplomat in the first republic, who later became the Chief of Biafran intelligence gave a prophecy that would eventually come to past just immediately after the 5 Majors – who some historians believe to be the cause or at least to be the ones who escalated the problems of ethnicity we still face today – struck on January 15 1966.

Odogwu made an entry into his personal note book on the 23rd of January 1966. Nothing could have been more prescient.

“With all the returns in, we now seem to have a complete picture of the coup, the plotters, and the casualties.Reading through the newspapers, one gets the impression that this national catastrophe which is termed a “revolution” is being blown greatly out of proportion.It does appear to me though, that we have all gone wild with jubilation in welcoming the so-called ‘dawn of a new era’ without pausing to consider the possible chain reactions that may soon follow……….I shudder at the possible aftermath of thisthis folly committed by our boys in khaki.; and what has kept coming to my mind since the afternoon is the passage in Shakespeare’s MACBETH – ‘And they say blood will have blood’.

First I ask myself this question; ‘What will be the position as soon as the present mass euphoria in welcoming the ‘revolution’ in the country fades away?’ There is already some rumour here within diplomatic circles that January 15 was a grand Igbo design to liquidate all opposition in order to make way for Igbo domination of the whole country.What then is the Igbo man’s defence to this allegation in light of the sectional and selective method adopted by the coup plotters?
Although, sitting here alone as I write this, I am tempted to say that there was no such Igbo grand design, yet the inescapable fact is that the Igbos are already as a group being condemned by the rest for the activities of a handful of ambitious Igbo army officers; for here I am, with the rest of my Igbo colleagues, some thousands of miles away from home, yet being put on the defensive for such actions that we were neither consulted about, nor approved of.Our Northern colleagues and friends now look on us Igbos here as strangers and potential enemies. They are now more isolated than ever before. Their pride is hurt; and who would blame them?

Secondly, I ask myself the questions posed to me this afternoon by my colleague; What would I do if I were placed in the position of the Northerner?What do I do?How do I react to the situation?Do I just deplore and condemn those atrocities or do I plan a revenge?I do not blame the Northern chaps for feeling so sore since the events of the last few days. They definitely have my sympathy, for it must have been shocking to say the least, for one to wake up one fine morning to find nearly all one’s revered leaders gone overnight.But they were not only Northern leaders as such, and I am as much aggrieved at their loss as any other Nigerian, Northern or otherwise.I am particularly shocked at the news that Major Ifeajuna personally shot and killed his mentor, Brigadier Maimalari. My God!That must have been Caesar and Brutus come alive, with the Brigadier definitely saying ‘Et tu Emma’ before collapsing………”
“…….As for the new man at the helm of affairs, Major General Aguiyi-Ironsi, he too like the majority of the Majors is an Igbo, and that has not helped matters either. …..”
“…….Granted that he is such a good soldier as he is reputed to be, the question is: ‘Are all good soldiers necessarily good statesmen? Again how well prepared is he for the task he has just inherited?’ I do hope that he is also as wise as he is reputed to be bold, because if you ask me, I THINK THE GENERAL IS SITTING ON A TIME BOMB, WITH THE FUSE ALMOST BURNT OUT.We shall wait and see what happens next, but from my observations, I know the present state of affairs will not last long. A NORTHERN COUNTER-ACTION IS DEFINITELY AROUND THE CORNER, AND GOD SAVE US WHEN IT EXPLODES.

Indeed on the 29th of July 1966 a Northern Counter coup took place. It was the blood bath of the century – as far as Nigerian history is concerned. Operation ‘Aure’ was the darkest time in Nigerian History. Now history comes to bite us in the ass again, because many people ignore events of the past. Aguyi Ironsi was unfortunately not a very good statesman, as Odogwu predicted. If only we at the helm of affairs took note of the rules of the ‘past’ Mohammed Yusuf and his bandits would have been neutralized – Shekau and his bloodthirsty zombies would have never had the chance to rise from whatever dust they came from.

I cannot reiterate this more, a steadfast knowledge of history in any endeavour, be it politics, science, religion, technology and what not , is the only way we can use wisdom based on this knowledge to find true paths to the future, because then when contingencies arise we are never caught unaware.

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