How Mama HID made Awolowo work for Gowon

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Former President Gen. Yakubu Gowon has expressed his gratitude to the late Mrs H.I.D. Awolowo for helping him persuade the late Awolowo to work for his administration when the general released the sage from the Calabar prison.
He stated this when he led a group of other statesmen on the board of the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation to console the Awolowo family yesterday at Ikenne, Ogun.
“We had to seek Mama’s support to see if we could get Papa to come and join the government to help. Our hope was that when that happened we would be able to finish the war as quickly as possible so that we could return to democracy,” Gowon said.
The western region then was in a turmoil following a series of political upheavals, a coup de ‘tat, and others.
“I thank God that it was me that had the opportunity to release Papa from prison in Calabar to Lagos and to be able to help us have peace in the West at that time,” he added.
According to him, the late matriarch was very grateful for the release, “and I can assure that was what earned me the respect of Mama throughout her life”.
Awolowo served the Gowon administration as finance commissioner and vice president of the National Executive Council.
Admitting it’s really grueling to lead Nigerians, Gowon said he had hoped to spend six months at the most until it became apparent he couldn’t get it over with in that short period.
“It’s not easy. When you have problems in a nation, it is not easy to solve them overnight. So, you’ve always got to give time and you’ve got to be patient with leaders to be able to put things in order,” said Gowon, who eventually spent nine years (1966 to 1975) fixing Nigeria.
He, therefore, urged Nigerians to be patient with the current administration. “Whenever any government comes in, give them time to be able to really put things right. Nigeria is not an easy place to govern,” said the chairman of the Awolowo Foundation. “I can assure there are as many problems as there are Nigerians in the world and everybody wants to do things in his own way and probably for his own interest.”
Mrs Bola Oyediran, the eldest of Awolowo’s children, appreciated Gowon and his team, and urged Nigerians to pray for the unity of the vast Awolowo dynasty.
On the team were Bola Ajibola, a former judge of the World Court; Professor Emeritus Oladipo Akinkugbe; Afenifere leaders Ayo Adebanjo’and Sir Olanihun Ajayi; and others.

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