Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, has described Prof. Chinua Achebe’s Nigerian Civil War memoir in his latest book, There was a Country, as “a propaganda”.
Achebe in the book, accused the Federal Government under Gowon and the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who was then the Minister of Finance, of using hunger as a weapon of war against the Republic of Biafra.
But Gowon, who spoke to our correspondent on the telephone on Tuesday, said though many books had been written about the civil war, none had been as controversial as that of Achebe.
He said the book was “written to whip up unnecessary sentiments”.
He said when he releases his biography many will know what happened during the war.
Gowon said, “Many books have been written about the civil war and unfortunately none had been as controversial as that of Achebe, which accused me and Chief Awolowo of genocide against the Igbo. Nothing can be further from the truth, because every decision we took was for the interest of a united Nigeria.
“It (Achebe’s book) is nothing more than a propaganda and many people have failed to see it that way, and that is why most of the reactions have been varied and vitriolic.
“I am not aware of any Igboman that had an account with the then Barclays Bank that was seized, because at the end of the war many of them got their money back. And it was because of our resolve to ensure that there was no victor no vanquished. We wanted to put the experience of the civil war behind us. We put in place a lot of measure to ensure that everybody was reintegrated into a united Nigeria.
“So it is very unfortunate for Achebe to accuse me and Awolowo of starving the Igbo to death.”
The Chairman of Nigeria Prays added the majority of of the principal actors at the end of the war did not appear as if they were starved.
He said he stood by every decision he took during the civil war and ready to defend his actions anywhere.
The former Chief of Army Staff denied that he prevented foreign aid from reaching the Igbo during the war.
Gowon added, “Most of those who accused us of genocide were looking well fed at the end of the war. During the war we opened road and air corridors to allow food, medicine and other aids to the people. Nobody can do such a thing to his people because I was optimistic that the war would end one day and we shall come together under a united country.
“So that was why we were very careful about every decision we took during the civil war
The 78-year-old said by the time he publishes his own account of the war, most of those insinuations would be laid to rest.
“I have been sufficiently challenged and the whole truth will be revealed one day,” he said.