Nigeria Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon has disclosed that his government released late Chief Obafemi Awolowo from prisons to let peace reign in the country, stating that he was happy that God used him to do that.
Gowon disclosed this on Thursday during an interview with newsmen in Ikenne shortly after he led Obafemi Awolowo Foundation team on a condolence visit to the Awolowos over the death of Mrs Hannah Awolowo,stress- ing that she was the one who persuaded her husband to be part of his(Gowon) administration
His words ‘It was my fortune and I thank God that it was me that had the opportunity to release papa from prison from Calabar to Lagos and certainly to be able to help us have peace in the West at that time and then we came, mama was very happy and very grateful for what has happened and I can assure that is what earned me the respect of mama right throughout her life. But yes, what we did was alright’,
The former Head of State further stated that, he had to contact Mama Awolowo to get her husband participation in government after the release, and was able to persuade him to serve in the government.
‘But yes, what we did was alright, there was also a need to get papa involved and that would probably seal what we wanted to achieve, especially in the West, which was at the time pretty dicey. You’d remember Operation Wetie and then the coup and what not. So we had to seek mama’s support to see if we can get papa to come and join the government to help and of course, our hope was that when that happened we would be able to finish as quickly as possible so that we can return to democracy’.
‘Yes, we really pleaded with mama; she was the one who encouraged papa to accept that invitation and so, for that, we ever remain grateful to her for what she did. You know what happened after then; we had government not totally military but with some political juggernauts as the saying goes and we were able to start in making a move towards returning to normalcy”.
‘ Let me tell you this; it was not easy. When I became Head of State, I hoped that three months, six months the most, we would be done. But when you have problems in a nation, it is not easy to do them overnight. So, you’ve always got to give time and you’ve got to be patient for leaders to be able to get things in order’.
– Ladi Kayode, Abeokuta