How the Igbos stoned Obafemi Awolowo in Aba – Chief Ayo Adebanjo
Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the leader of the pan-Yoruba sociopolitical group Afenifere, has revealed startling details about how Easterners attacked the late Obafemi Awolowo, fondly known as “Awo,” while they were running for office during the First Republic at Aba, the hub of Abia’s commercial activity.
Ayo Adebanjo described how the Igbos were mislead about the late Nigerian patriot in his interview with Vanguard’s Saturday Interview.
He claims that during his lifetime, Awolowo once remarked, “No, you must work with the Igbo because you cannot overcome these Fulani people alone.”
The Yoruba elder statesman firmly responded when asked if he still believes in a united Nigeria, “Well, if people like you can pressure Buhari and those who are opposed to going back to federalism, maybe.
“If we don’t go back to federalism, Nigeria is doomed. I have said it before. Restructure or break up Nigeria because nobody is staying under the slavery of the Fulani. That is clear. I have not hidden it. Chief Edwin Clark has said it. I am saying it. Many other well-meaning Nigerians are saying the same thing.
“Why is IPOB there? You are in a Nigeria where the North can have the presidency, the South-West can have the presidency, likewise the South-South, but the South-East cannot. Yet, we are one Nigeria and you want peace. You are deceiving yourself.
“That is the basis of my support for the South-East. When Chief Nnia Nwodo and others came, I told them all that the Easterners did to me and Awolowo, which is why some Yoruba say they don’t want Igbo? But Obafemi Awolowo told me, “No, you must work with the Igbo because you cannot defeat these Fulani people alone.”
“Awolowo just stated that the Igbo are misled because of Azikiwe. They use them against us, they say. Nevertheless, resist allowing yourself to be used against them because they are blind.
“In Aba, they stoned Chief Awolowo. You should be aware of a lot of things, so allow me to explain. Put it down because you might not have heard about it. We traveled there to conduct a campaign. You weren’t even born back then, the Vanguard reporter. Chief Awolowo was stoned. A stone struck him in the head. We were unaware that the Awo cap had prevented the crash. I’m hoping you’re paying attention because you frequently hear that these folks (Yoruba) dislike the Igbo.
“Your leaders always talk like that,” the Vanguard reporter said. Awolowo asked us, “Do you know these folks stoned me?” after the rally, and we said, “Ah!” We were terrified, but he insisted that we cooperate with them. You need help to battle the Fulani.
“The Biafra War experienced the same thing. He was misquoted by your folks. They asserted that Awolowo indicated the Yoruba would follow the Igbo if they left. The Igbo then left, and Awolowo abandoned them.
“Gowon opposed starting that war. He commanded the Igbo to leave. Well, if you want the Igbo to leave, Awolowo responded, then if by any act of deed or omission, you permit the East to secede, the West will also separate.
“During the war, Awolowo traveled to Ojukwu in the East despite the Federal Government’s request that he not do so. He replied, “No, I’ll go.” They only learned about the tape of their conversation with Ojukwu after the war.
“Awolowo told Ojukwu to return and let’s decide to part ways. You don’t let me bear this weight by myself. You want to leave as we carry this burden of these individuals together? No! You need to return.
“What I’m saying is to set it aside so that someone else can critique it. Ojukwu claimed to have concurred. Mid-Western Region was invaded by Ojukwu prior to Chief Awolowo’s return to Lagos.”