Murtala Mohammed Backed Coup Against Gowon For Appointing Igbo Man NNPC GM — Ijaw Leader Edwin Clark

In his interesting book, former Federal Commissioner and Ijaw Leader Edwin Clark states that one of the reasons for the coup against Gowon was his appointment of an Igbo man as GM of NNPC.

“One of the immediate causes for overthrowing Gen. Gowon’s government was the appointment of Engr. Odoh, a Kalabari man from Rivers State as the General Manager of Nigerian National Oil Corporation (NNOC), now Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC). The government set up machinery to appoint a Nigerian to take over the management of the establishment. The Minister of Mines and Power was Alh. Shettima Ali Monguno, a polished and well-educated northerner from Maiduguri. His candidate for the position was Engr. Abba Gana. Chief Philip Asiodu was the Permanent Secretary of that Ministry. I discovered at the meeting that both of them had separate candidates.

While the Minister suggested Engr. Abba Gana who hailed from Maiduguri, Engr. Odoh was sponsored by Chief Philip Asiodu. Another name being mentioned was Engr. Gbadebo from Western Nigeria. Some of us in a memo suggested the retention of an expatriate General Manager and that a Nigerian should be appointed to understudy him. The Head of State however insisted that a Nigerian should be appointed. We now had three contestants for the position.

“In discussing these names, a section of the members led by Brigadier Murtala Muhammed, Federal Commissioner for Communications strongly objected Odoh’s nomination because he was an Igbo man and a security risk.

“A member of the Council then asked why Odoh was regarded as a security risk to which Murtala Muhammed responded that he was an Igbo man who identified himself as Biafran during the civil war and was responsible for the destruction of the refinery in Port Harcourt. Some of us felt that statement was irresponsible and unpatriotic, considering the fact that Gen. Yakubu Gowon had made an effort to bring the country together after the civil war. It was now five years post-civil war.

“In my contribution, I wanted to know from His Excellency, the Head of State, how it was not dangerous and discriminatory for an Igbo man to be called a security risk, five years after the war. There would have been no need to fight a war where we lost so many lives and property to bring Nigeria together. I noticed that Gen. Gowon was upset from his countenance. He thereafter announced Engr. Odoh as the new General Manager of NNOC, which was accepted by a majority of Council members. Brig. Gen. Muhammed immediately took his case and swagger stick and walked out without saying another word.”

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By OzoIgboNdu1 of Igbo Defender

Digital marketer and Marketing analyst


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