I Was Fair To The Igbos –Awolowo

Obafemi Awolowo

During the war I saw to it that the revenue which was due to the Iboland – at that time…East Central State – I kept it, and I saved the money for them. And when the [state] was liberated I handed over the money to them – millions. If I’d decided to do so, I could have kept the money away from them. And then when they took over I saw to it that subvention was given to them at the rate of £990,000 every month. I didn’t go to the executive council to ask for support, or for approval because I knew if I went to the executive council at that time, the subvention would not be approved because there were more enemies in the executive council for the Ibos than friends. And since I wasn’t going to take a percentage from what I was going to give them, and I knew I was doing what was right, I wanted the state to survive, I kept on giving the subvention – £990,000, almost a million, every month – and I did that for other states of course – South Eastern State, North Central State, Kwara and so on.

But I did that for the Ibos, and when the war was over, I saw to it that the African Continental Bank, ACB, got three and a half million pounds to start with. This was distributed immediately and I gave another sum of money. The attitude of the experts, officials at the time of the ACB was that ACB should be closed down, and I held the view you couldn’t close the ACB down because that is the bank that gives finance to the Ibo traders, and if you close it down they’ll find it difficult to revive or to survive. So it was given. I did the same thing for the Cooperative Bank of Eastern Nigeria, to rehabilitate all these places, and I saw to it as commissioner for finance that no obstacle was placed in the way of the ministry of economic planning in planning for rehabilitation of the war affected areas.


That’s what I did, and the case of the money they said was not given back to them, you know during the war all the pounds were looted, they printed Biafran currency notes, which they circulated. At the close of the war some people wanted their Biafran notes to be exchanged for them. Of course I couldn’t do that; if I did that the whole country would be bankrupt. We didn’t know about Biafran notes and we didn’t know on what basis they printed them, so we refused the Biafran note, but I laid down the principle that all those who had savings in the banks on the eve of the declaration of Biafra, will get their money back if they could satisfy us that they had the savings there, or the money there. Unfortunately, all the banks’ books had been burnt, and many of the people who had savings there didn’t have their savings books or their last statement of account, so a panel had to be set up.

I didn’t take part in setting up the panel. It was done by the Central Bank and the pertinent officials of the Ministry of Finance, to look into the matter, and they went carefully into the matter. They took some months to do so, and then make some recommendations which I approved. Go to the archives, all I did was approve, I didn’t write anything more than that, I don’t even remember the name of any of them who took part. So I did everything in this world to assist our Ibo brothers and sisters during and after the war.

And anyone who goes back to look at my broadcast in August 1967, which dealt with post-war reconstruction, would see what I said there.

– Excerpts from an interview Awo granted during a town hall meeting in Abeokuta, Ogun State, in 1983

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  • I expect the present generation of Nigerians to learn from the mistakes of d past in order to have a better Nigeria that is rooted in love and respect for one another.

    The dance in d market square by Prof. Achebe, Chief Adebanjo and other ppl from their generation is just a pointer to us on how and why their generation failed.

    We are in the age that a black man contested and won by a large margin the President of the most powerful country in d world where until 1965, black Americans did not even have a right to vote …

    But quite sadly, quite a number of Commentators here who are supposed to be part of this age are still wallowing in the anachronistic mentality of their fore fathers…Well, Good luck to them..!!! My sincere wish and prayer is that we will not repeat the mistakes that led to d 1967~1970 civil war in 2015.

    Because if such happens (God forbid) the likes of (my mentor) Prof. Achebe and other elites will fuel d ‘war’ in their safe abodes in the US and other countries while the poor masses will needlessly kill one another. This is what happened during d civil war…This is what happened in Rwanda!!! D poor masses fight wars,elites tell the stories of such wars and even earn accolades for wars they and their families never fought!!!

    May we not experience war in Nigeria again (Amen).

    # Nevertheless, I recognise the need to ensure that history is correctly stated (because a book by Prof. Achebe is likely going to be seen as authoritative by future generations ).

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  • Sentiments beclouds a man's ability to reason. Most of the commentators don't even know what is called Memoir. Facts cannot be disputed and truth cannot be buried no matter how you try to do so. Those who committed crimes against humanity during World War 11 have been prosecuted. So also in other countries like Rwanda, Kenya, and even Cote ' d Ivoire. I don't understand the reason for attacking Prof Achebe. The book on his memoirs is not less than 300 pages. He ex-rayed every experience of his life including criticizing his Igbo race where need be.

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  • I really feel sorry for my fellow ibo brothers........there r lot of issues that they really need to work on....90 percent of the christen killed by boko haram are ibos .....I think Achebe and the elders of the ibo should focus on how to protect their people and stop this irrelevant accusations .

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  • If the Yorubas really understood the Great Awolowo, by now must have sung the song of Secession, Omo Iya Awolowo, saw the great differences between the NORTH and SOUTH and asked and pleaded to his brother Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe that they should go ahead take up their own independent of SOUTHERN Ngeria. But the wicked housa infested Zik of africa refused , so why must we blame Frater Awolowo, eve though God used him to punish the Igbos during the war, is never a sin. If only the Igbos realized their nature, and speak non selfishly , and always believe that no economic pursuits will jeopardize the natural interest of the IGBOS.

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  • paul for reffering to d legend as a fool, u will not prosper all d days of ur life. u life will be wuruwuru like an average ibo person

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  • The nutty professor waited until Ojukwu was dead, then he wrote. Sneaky.

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  • I didn't blame you Paul for how many years now you people are just wakening up from your slumber.....my advice is that igbo's should unite so that you can claim what belong to you. Take care

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  • The so called prof had to wait for over 30years to spill the beans out of the bag, and after the dead of Igbos warlord. If it were to be Igboman in power as of that time £20 policy will go under the carpet and he will definitely encourage the war to continue. @ sahara u r right the prof is fucking broke n he needs to create confusion in Nigeria for him to write and sell again.........achebe please an old man should be wise enof not to put nigeria apart. Let the sleeping dogs lay flat to sleep

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  • Talk about wisdom. Awolowo was able to reply what a Prof will not be bold enough to mention until after 30 years of his death.
    The reason for this hatred from Achebe is simply to sell the book period. He left Nigeria over 30 years ago. The guy is simply broke.
    The hatred that Achebe planted today has started germinating and onlt God can predict the outcome. At the age of 82 you expect a man to look for peace and not hatred. Trust Igbo man, he looks for meny anyhow and everywhere. Ojukwu because of ego started a war he cannot win and prolonged the war by killing his own people. Naw wah for Igbo man and ego!!!!!

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