- Paul Unongo says that Awolowo felt slighted by Nnamdi Azikiwe when the eastern statesman won a victory in the western house
- He stated that Azikiwe was eventually abandoned by the Yorubas in favor of Awolowo on the basis of tribe
- He stated that efforts were made by him and others to correct the tribalistic notion in the country
The late Chief Obafemi Awolowo has been blamed by elder statesman and nationalist Dr. Paul Unongo for the problems in Nigeria’s political terrain.
In an interview with Vanguard, Unongo stated that the country’s problems began when Awolowo started what he tagged as tribal politics.
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According to Unongo, Nigeria’s problem began many years ago after the victory of the late Nnamdi Azikiwe in the Western House as a member of the House.
Azikiwe’s party was to form the government.
Unongo stated that after he was defeated in the election by Azikiwe, Awolowo reverted to tribal politics.
The elder statesman stated: “Awolowo felt, as the strongman of the Yoruba, Azikiwe should not have won the election in his place, and he could not countenance an Igbo man coming to be the premier or the first minister or prime minister of a predominantly Yoruba place.
“Night came, and when day broke, Zik discovered his majority had collapsed.
“The Yoruba abandoned him and went to a strange person they did not know ideologically, that is Awolowo, on the basis of tribe.
“So, Zik was forced to rethink as an intelligent person, to relocate.
“He went back to his own part of the country to become the first Premier of Eastern Region.
“Some of us sprang up too, in going with Awolowo’s federalism, that the notion that there are only three tribes or sections in the country was so fundamentally defective that we called on the metropolitan power, Britain, to correct this before they would leave.
“So, we in the Middle Belt of Nigeria came together and decided that we would call ourselves ‘people in the middle’ and that we were not Hausa, we were not Fulani.
“At that time, we told Britain, Nigeria had over 250 tribes but that we could not dissect Nigeria into 250 nations.”
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com previously reported that a former Nigerian head of state Yakubu Gowon said that Nigeria was saved from breaking up by the late Obafemi Awolowo.
Gowon said the late leader saved Nigeria from the civil war that lasted between 1967 and 1970.
Speaking during the 2017 Obafemi Awolowo Memorial Lecture and posthumous birthday organised by the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation in Lagos, Gowon said Awolowo teamed up with notable Nigerians to keep the country together.
Watch this NAIJ.com TV video asking Nigerians to name a politician who is not corrupt