Achebe’s Book: Was Gowon’s apologies to Ndi Igbo public stunt?-by Uche Ezechukwu

Dr. Yakubu Gowon was quoted as saying that he has no regrets about his roles and those of Chief Awolowo during the civil war. I sincerely hope he was not misquoted because between 2006 and 2008, Gowon went to Asaba, Awka, Enugu and Abakaliki, under the auspices of his ‘Nigeria Prays’ initiative. At each of those places, Gowon brought tears to many eyes when he publicly apologized for how he had ‘massacred Igbos during the war’ and how he had starved them to submission. At each of those places, he asked for forgiveness and was forgiven. Those were public fora and I was present at the Awka editon in 2006.

If Gowon now says he had no regrets, what was the import of the apologies and was his prayer program a mere hollow ritual to draw relevance to himself?
It is also unbecoming to say that Achebe was ignorant of the issues that happened during the war. While Gowon at the age of 32 in 1966 ran Nigeria, Achebe had become world renown and had written his four epic novels: Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease, Arrow of God, Man of the People. He had written Things Fall Apart in 1958 at the age of 28 after graduating with Honours from University of Ibadan. At age 37 when the war broke out and as one of the cornerstones of the Biafra Propaganda Directorate, Achebe was neither abroad nor non-informed as Gen Gowon reportedly suggested. His recent statement, if true, detracts from his posture as a statesman, that many people, including me, see him.

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