How Cattle Rearers Stopped North From Seceding In 1966 – Asiodu

Part of the interview with elderstatesman, Chief Philip Asiodu from Vanguard:

When the second 1966 coup happened, we had no government for two days. When the army pushed him forward (as head of state) we had a meeting with him at the Police Headquarters which was the best place. We told him that since he had been chosen, he needed to meet the press. We gave him the questions that will be asked and when he met the world press there was no question that was asked that he didn’t know about. That was the bond between us. We were serving the country and not individuals.

How true is it that the initial aim of the second coup was for the North to secede and that Gowon had a change of mind later?

Gowon was not among the coup plotters. But the people who planned the coup wanted to correct the marriage of 1914. They wanted to blow up the Cater Bridge and then secede. But civil servants like the late Abdulazeez Attah and Daggash sat down to question that secession plan.

He said it would be disastrous for Nigeria to break up then because there was no authority in the country. Meanwhile, some northern civil servants were consulting then. One of them told me that some cattle rearers who heard of the plans to break up met some top northern civil servants and cautioned them against war against brothers.

They wanted an assurance that after the breakup, they will still be able to take their cattle to Enugu and sell. During those two days when there was no government, people did not know because the permanent secretaries and other civil servants kept working.

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