‘Brigadier Mohammed and his team must entertain no illusions as to their transitional role in the affairs of our great country’

From a press statement issued by Chief Obafemi Awolowo on 18th August 1975.

CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK

THERE were nine of them; but a tenth – ‘The future of Lagos as Federal Capital’ – has been added by our present Military rulers.

They are: i) the reorganisation of the Armed Forces; ii) the implementation of the National Development Plan and the repair of the damage and neglect of the War; iii) the eradication of corruption in our national life;  iv) the settlement of the question of the creation of more states;  xxii) the preparation and adoption of a new Constitution; vi) the introduction of a new Revenue Allocation Formula; vii) conducting a national population census; viii) the organisation of genuinely national political parties; ix) the organisation of elections and installation of popularly elected governments in the States and in the centre; xxiv)       Federal capital.

For the benefit of all concerned, I would like to comment on these ten items of programme.

Before doing so, however, there is one point which I would like to clear. The question may be asked, quite naturally and justifiably, why I had not publicly dealt with the first nine topics since 1970 when they were handed down to us. The answer is simple and brief.

About seven days before the broadcast of 1st October, 1970, I was casually told by the then Head of State of the Military’s time- table for return to civilian rule. A special meeting of the civilian members of the Federal Executive Council was to be convened. At the meeting, these members would be informed – only informed of a Nine-Point Programme. They would not be called upon to comment on the programme because they were interested parties: they had vested interest in return to civilian rule. The nine-point programme was then outlined to me for my information. The special council meeting was never held; and, as far as I know, the only other civilian member of the council who knew anything about the Nine. Point Programme, before it was broadcast to the nation and the world, was Dr. Okoi Arikpo. He was casually informed at the airport, on the eve of the broadcast. ‘Giving advice,’ says Lord Avebury, ‘is a thankless job.

Thankless, that is, even when asked. But when you are told to your face that your advice on a particular matter is not required, because you have vested interest in that matter, you would be inviting insult to yourself and doing damage to your self-respect to offer one then or at any time thereafter.

But time has changed and the leadership of the Federal Military government with it. It is, therefore, only fair that I should now, at this stage, make my candid views known on the above Ten-Point Programme, in the hope that what I have to say may shed some light on the ‘strait, narrow, hard pathway’ on which our young Rulers, under the leadership of Brigadier Mohammed, have, of their free calculated choice, elected to tread.
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The strength of an army is not in its number but in its discipline
Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s opinion on the Reorganisation of the Nigerian Armed Forces as contained in his press statement of 18th August 1975.

THE effectiveness of an Army, as an offensive and defensive force, does not necessarily consist in the number of troops nor even essentially in superior weapons: it consists basically in its discipline, morale, and efficiency. If number were the decisive factor, Wellington would not have won the battle of Waterloo. Again, if number and superiority of weapons were the decisive factors, the State of Israel would never have come into being in 1948.

Nigeria now has the largest Army in Africa, South of the Sahara; and we spent 40 per cent of our total recurrent expenditure for 1975/ 76 on 270,000 men and women in army uniform. One question which must be asked, and asked persistently until a satisfactory answer is given is this: Against whom are we maintaining these large forces? It cannot be against our African neighbours: they have no aggressive designs against us, and they are not likely [0 have any against us in the future. It cannot be against any of the big powers or super-powers, against whom for sheer excellence in discipline, morale and efficiency coupled with infinite superiority in sophisticated weapons, we cannot have even the ghost of a chance in any military confrontation. As for the suppression of internal disorder, the ratio of ONE soldier to TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY Nigerians is much too much.

CONTINUES NEXT WEEK

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