A leader of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has faulted extracts from Prof. Chinua Achebe’s latest memoirs on the Nigerian Civil War accusing the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo as the initiator of the pogrom against the Igbo.
The memoirs coming 42 years after the war, Adebanjo said, reinforced “Achebe’s pathological hatred for Awolowo and the Yoruba race.”
According to him, the renowned novelist need to be cured of his Awophobia.
Reacting to Achebe’s memoirs entitled “There was a country,” the Afenifere leader in a statement on Tuesday said it was Awolowo who rather tried to prevent the war.
He said, “At the risk of his life, and against the advice of his cabinet colleagues, Chief Awolowo made contact with Ojukwu and met him in Enugu to dissuade him from going to war. In his one-on-one meeting with Ojukwu, Chief Awolowo tried to persuade Ojukwu to come to a roundtable conference with the Federal Government to iron out his differences with the government.
“Fair minded persons cannot accuse Awolowo of being part of the intellectual arm of a cabinet that intentionally initiated the pogrom of the Igbo, when in fact the record shows he took positive steps to persuade Ojukwu to avoid the conflict.”
Adebanjo said when the late politician visited Enugu prison during the war, he was surprised to see malnourished people even when adequate quantity of food were sent through international agencies to the civilians in the areas.
Following this, he said the Federal Government stopped the delivery of food meant for the civilian population hijacked by Biafran soldier.
He added, “This is what Achebe mischievously called the deliberate starvation of the Igbo. I would like Prof. Achebe, if he can; to make reference to any publication where Awolowo made the statement that starvation was a legitimate tool of war.
“One would have thought the charge of genocide should have been better directed at the leaders of Biafra who had first hand knowledge of the starvation in the area they controlled, and yet did not as they could, to bring an end to the war sooner before two million people, mainly members of future generations had died of starvation as Prof Achebe claimed.”
On change of currency, Adebanjo said since Biafran soldiers looted Nigerian currency from Central Bank locations in Biafra occupied areas and were using them to buy arms, Awolowo, as the Federal Commissioner for Finance, had to stop that.