Yakubu Gowon
General Yakubu "Jack" Dan-Yumma Gowon (born 19 October 1934) was the head of state
President of Nigeria
The President of Nigeria is the Head of State and head of the national executive. Officially styled President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces. The current President of Nigeria is Goodluck Jonathan.-History:On October 1, 1960, Nigeria gained...

 (Head of the Federal Military Government) of Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

 from 1966 to 1975. He took power after one military coup d'etat
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 and was overthrown in another. During his rule, the Nigerian government successfully prevented Biafran secession during the 1966–1970 Nigerian Civil War
Nigerian Civil War
The Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Nigerian-Biafran War, 6 July 1967–15 January 1970, was a political conflict caused by the attempted secession of the southeastern provinces of Nigeria as the self-proclaimed Republic of Biafra...


Early life

Gowon is an Ngas
Ngas language
Ngas is an Afro-Asiatic language spoken in Plateau State, Nigeria. Dialects are Hill Angas and Plain Angas.- Further reading :* Donald A. Burquest. 1971. A Preliminary Study of Angas Phonology. Zaria: Institute of Linguistics....

 (Angas) from Lur, a small village in the present Kanke
Kanke, Nigeria
Kanke is a Local Government Area in Plateau State, Nigeria. Its headquarters are in the town of Kwali.It has an area of 926 km² and a population of 121,424 at the 2006 census.The postal code of the area is 933....

 Local Government Area of Plateau State
Plateau State
Plateau State is the twelfth largest state of Nigeria, and is roughly located in the center of the country. It is geographically unique in Nigeria because its boundaries totally surround the Jos Plateau, having the Jos Plateau totally in its central and northern part...

. His parents, Nde Yohanna and Matwok Kurnyang, left for Wusasa
Wusasa is town just outside the major city of Zaria in Kaduna State in Northern Nigeria.- External links :*...

, Zaria
Zaria may refer to:*Zaria, a city in Kaduna State, Nigeria*Zaria , or Zoria, the Slavic goddess of beauty*Countess Zaria of Orange-Nassau, Jonkvrouwe van Amsberg, a member of the Dutch royal family...

 as Church Missionary Society (CMS) missionaries in the early days of Gowon's life. His father took pride in the fact that he married the same day as the future Queen Mother
Queen mother
Queen Mother is a title or position reserved for a widowed queen consort whose son or daughter from that marriage is the reigning monarch. The term has been used in English since at least 1577...

 Elizabeth married the future King George VI. Gowon was the fifth of eleven children. He grew up in Zaria and had his early life and education there. At school Gowon proved to be a very good athlete: he was the school football goalkeeper, pole vaulter, and long distance runner. He broke the school mile record in his first year. He was also the boxing captain.

Early career and political ascent

Yakubu Gowon joined the Nigerian army
Nigerian Army
The Nigerian Army the largest of the Nigerian Armed Forces, has about 100,000 professional personnel. The original elements of the Royal West African Frontier Force in Nigeria were formed in 1900....

 in 1954, receiving a commission as a Second Lieutenant
Second Lieutenant
Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces.- United Kingdom and Commonwealth :The rank second lieutenant was introduced throughout the British Army in 1871 to replace the rank of ensign , although it had long been used in the Royal Artillery, Royal...

 on 19 October 1955, his 21st birthday.

He also attended both the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst , commonly known simply as Sandhurst, is a British Army officer initial training centre located in Sandhurst, Berkshire, England...

, UK (1955–56), Staff College, Camberley
Staff College, Camberley
Staff College, Camberley, Surrey, was a staff college for the British Army from 1802 to 1997, with periods of closure during major wars. In 1997 it was merged into the new Joint Services Command and Staff College.-Origins:...

, UK (1962) as well as the Joint Staff College, Latimer
Joint Service Defence College
The Joint Service Defence College was a training academy for British military personnel in the period from 1983 to 1997. It has now been amalgamated into the Joint Services Command and Staff College.-History:...

, 1965. He saw action in the Congo
The Republic of Zaire was the name of the present Democratic Republic of the Congo between 27 October 1971 and 17 May 1997. The name of Zaire derives from the , itself an adaptation of the Kongo word nzere or nzadi, or "the river that swallows all rivers".-Self-proclaimed Father of the Nation:In...

 (Zaire) as part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force
United Nations Operation in the Congo
Opération des Nations unies au Congo, abbreviated ONUC, was a United Nations peacekeeping force in Congo that was established after United Nations Security Council Resolution 143 of July 14, 1960...

, both in 1960-61 and in 1963. He advanced to battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

 commander rank by 1966, at which time he was still a Lieutenant Colonel
Lieutenant colonel
Lieutenant colonel is a rank of commissioned officer in the armies and most marine forces and some air forces of the world, typically ranking above a major and below a colonel. The rank of lieutenant colonel is often shortened to simply "colonel" in conversation and in unofficial correspondence...


Up until that year Gowon remained strictly a career soldier with no involvement whatsoever in politics, until the tumultuous events of the year suddenly thrust him into a leadership
Leadership has been described as the “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task". Other in-depth definitions of leadership have also emerged.-Theories:...

 role, when his unusual background as a Northerner who was neither of Hausa
Hausa people
The Hausa are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. They are a Sahelian people chiefly located in northern Nigeria and southeastern Niger, but having significant numbers living in regions of Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Chad and Sudan...

 or Fulani
Fula people
Fula people or Fulani or Fulbe are an ethnic group spread over many countries, predominantly in West Africa, but found also in Central Africa and Sudanese North Africa...

 ancestry nor of the Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic faith made him a particularly safe choice to lead a nation whose population were seething with ethnic tension.

In January 1966, he became Nigeria's youngest military chief of staff at the age of 32, because a military coup d'état by a group of mostly Igbo junior officers under Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu
Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu
Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, was born in the Northern Region’s capital of Kaduna to Igbo immigrant parents from the Mid-Western Region-Okpanam Town, near Asaba in the present day Delta State.-Background:...

 led to the overthrow of Nigeria's civilian government. In the course of this coup, mostly northern and western leaders were killed, including Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, KBE was a Nigerian politician, and the only prime minister of an independent Nigeria. Originally a trained teacher, he became a vocal leader for Northern interest as one of the few educated Nigerians of his time...

, Nigeria's Prime Minister; Sir Ahmadu Bello
Ahmadu Bello
Sir Ahmadu Bello was a Nigerian politician, and was the first premier of the Northern Nigeria region from 1954-1966. He was one of the prominent leaders in Northern Nigeria alongside Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, both of whom were prominent in negotiations about the region's place in an independent...

, Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier
Premier is a title for the head of government in some countries and states.-Examples by country:In many nations, "premier" is used interchangeably with "prime minister"...

 of the Northern
-Geography:* Northern , various regions, states, territories, etc.* Northern Range, a range of hills in Trinidad* Northern Highland, a region of Wisconsin, United States-Education:* Northern University , various institutions...

 Region; and Samuel Akintola
Samuel Akintola
Samuel Ládòkè Akíntọ́lá or "S.L.A." was a Nigerian politician, lawyer, aristocrat and orator who was born in Ogbomosho, south west Nigeria...

, Premier
Premier is a title for the head of government in some countries and states.-Examples by country:In many nations, "premier" is used interchangeably with "prime minister"...

 of the Western Region, as well as several high ranking Northern army officers. The then Lieutenant Colonel
Lieutenant colonel
Lieutenant colonel is a rank of commissioned officer in the armies and most marine forces and some air forces of the world, typically ranking above a major and below a colonel. The rank of lieutenant colonel is often shortened to simply "colonel" in conversation and in unofficial correspondence...

 Gowon returned from his course at the Joint Staff College, Latimer UK two days before the coup - a late arrival that possibly exempted him from the coupist hit list
Hit list
Hit list or The Hit List may refer to:*Hit List , starring Jan-Michael Vincent*Hit List , a Canadian television series*The Hit List , featuring Cuba Gooding, Jr.*The Hit List...

. Success in twentieth century world affairs since 1919 (Murray 1974 and 1983) and the subsequent failure by Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi
Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi
Major General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi was a Nigerian soldier. He served as the Head of State of Nigeria from January 16, 1966 until he was overthrown and killed on July 29, 1966 by a group of northern army officers who revolted against the government.- Early life :Thomas Umunnakwe...

 (who was the head of state following the January 1966 coup-with Gowon his Chief of Staff) to meet Northern demands for the prosecution of the coup plotters further inflamed Northern anger. It should be noted that there was significant support for the coup plotters from both the Eastern Region as well as the mostly left-wing "Lagos-Ibadan" press
News media
The news media are those elements of the mass media that focus on delivering news to the general public or a target public.These include print media , broadcast news , and more recently the Internet .-Etymology:A medium is a carrier of something...


Then came Ironsi's Decree Number 34, which proposed the abolition of the federal system of government in favor of a unitary state, a position which had long been championed by the Southern parties - the NCNC and the AG
Action Group (Nigeria)
Action Group was a Nigerian political party established in Ibadan on March 21, 1951, by the Ègbe Ọmọ Odùduwà led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. The party was founded to serve as the platform for realizing his primary objective of mobilising the Yorùbá into one political umbrella...

. This was perhaps wrongly interpreted by Northerners as a Southern (Eastern, Midwestern and Western Regions) attempt at a takeover of all levers of power in the country. The North lagged badly behind the Western and Eastern regions in terms of education due to their religious related unacceptance of western education early, while the mostly-Igbo Easterners were already present in the federal civil service. On 29 July 1966, while Ironsi was staying at Government House in Ibadan
Ibadan is the capital city of Oyo State and the third largest metropolitan area in Nigeria, after Lagos and Kano, with a population of 1,338,659 according to the 2006 census. Ibadan is also the largest metropolitan geographical area...

, northern troops led by Major
Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

 Theophilus Danjuma
Theophilus Danjuma
General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma GCON FSS psc is a Nigerian Jukun soldier, politician and billionaire businessman. He was Nigerian Army Chief of Army Staff from July 1975 to October 1979. He was formerly Minister of Defence under Olusegun Obasanjo...

 and Captain Martin Adamu stormed the building, seized Ironsi and his host, Lieutenant Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi
Adekunle Fajuyi
Francis Adekunle Fajuyi, BEM was the first military governor of the former Western Region, Nigeria. Originally a clerk, the late Lt. Colonel Francis Adekunle Fajuyi of Ado Ekiti joined the Army in 1943 as a Non Commissioned Officer, and he was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1951 for helping...

, and subsequently had the two men stripped naked, flogged and beaten, and finally shot. Other northern troops, led by Lieutenant Colonel Murtala Mohammed
Murtala Mohammed
General Murtala Ramat Mohammed born was a military ruler of Nigeria from 1975 until his assassination in 1976.-Role during 1960s coups:...

, the real leader of the counter-coup and who later succeeded Yakubu Gowon as head of state, then seized the Ikeja
Ikeja is an outer-ring suburb of the city of Lagos and capital of Lagos State. It is also one of Nigeria's 774 Local Government Areas . The Murtala Mohammed International Airport is located there...

 airport in Lagos
Lagos is a port and the most populous conurbation in Nigeria. With a population of 7,937,932, it is currently the third most populous city in Africa after Cairo and Kinshasa, and currently estimated to be the second fastest growing city in Africa...

. Several Igbo and Eastern minority officers were killed during the counter-coup.

The original intention of Murtala Mohammed and his fellow coup-plotters seems to have been to engineer the secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

 of the Northern region from Nigeria as a whole, but they were subsequently dissuaded of their plans by several advisors, amongst which included a number of high ranking civil servants and judges, and importantly emissaries of the British and American governments who had interests in the Nigerian polity. The young officers then decided to name Lieutenant Colonel Gowon, who apparently had not been actively involved in events until that point, as Nigerian Head of State. On ascent to power Gowon reversed Ironsi's abrogation of the federal principle.

The buildup to the Biafran War

In the meantime, the July counter-coup had unleashed pogroms against more than 50,000 Easterners throughout the Northern Region. Hundreds of Eastern officers were murdered during the revolt, and in the North, as commanding officers either lost their control of their troops or actively egged them on to violence against Igbo civilians, it did not take long for Northerners from all walks of life to participate. Tens of thousands of Igbos were killed throughout the North. The persecution precipitated the flight of more than a million Igbo towards their ancestral homelands in eastern Nigeria. Lieutenant Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was a Nigerian military officer and politician.Ojukwu served as the military governor of the Eastern Region of Nigeria in 1966, the leader of the breakaway Republic of Biafra from 1967 to 1970 and a leading Nigerian politician from 1983 to 2011, when he died, aged...

, the military governor of the Eastern region who did not allow attempts by Northern soldiers stationed in his region to replicate the massacres of Igbo officers, argued that if Igbo lives could not be preserved by the Nigerian state, then the Igbo reserved the right to establish a state of their own in which their rights would indeed be respected.

There arose tension between the Eastern region
Eastern Region, Nigeria
The Eastern Region was one of Nigeria's federal divisions, dating back originally from the division of the colony Southern Nigeria in 1954. Its capital was Enugu. The region was official divided in 1967 into three new states, East-Central State, Rivers State and South-Eastern State...

 and the northern controlled federal government led by Gowon. On 4–5 January 1967, in line with Ojukwu's demand to meet for talks only on neutral soil, a summit attended by Gowon, Ojukwu and other members of the Supreme Military Council was held at Aburi
Aburi is a town north east of Accra, the capital city of Ghana. It is famous for the Aburi Botanical Gardens. Aburi is home to Aburi Presbyterian Technical Secondary School, which is linked to The Sixth Form College, Farnborough in Hampshire, England. Aburi has a relatively small population and is...

 in Ghana, the stated purpose of which was to resolve all outstanding conflicts and establish Nigeria as a confederation
A confederation in modern political terms is a permanent union of political units for common action in relation to other units. Usually created by treaty but often later adopting a common constitution, confederations tend to be established for dealing with critical issues such as defense, foreign...

 of regions. The outcome of this summit was the Aburi Accord
Aburi Accord
Aburi Accord was reached 1967 at a meeting attended by delegates of both the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Eastern delegates, led by the soon-to-become-Biafran leader Colonel Ojukwu. The meeting was billed to be the last chance of preventing all out war...


The Aburi Accord did not see the light of the day, as the Gowon led government had huge consideration for the possible revenues, especially oil revenues which were expected to increase given that reserves having been discovered in the area in the mid-1960s. It has been said without confirmation that both Gowon and Ojukwu had knowledge of the huge oil reserves in the Niger Delta area, which today has grown to be the mainstay of the Nigerian economy.

In a move to check the influence of Ojukwu's government in the East, Gowon announced on 5 May 1967 the division of the 3 Nigerian regions into 12 states - North-Western State, North-Eastern state, Kano State, North-Central State, Benue-Plateau State, Kwara State, Western State, Lagos State, Mid-Western State, and, from Ojukwu's Eastern Region, a Rivers State, a South-Eastern State, and an East-Central State. The non-Igbo South-Eastern and Rivers states which had the oil reserves
Oil reserves
The total estimated amount of oil in an oil reservoir, including both producible and non-producible oil, is called oil in place. However, because of reservoir characteristics and limitations in petroleum extraction technologies, only a fraction of this oil can be brought to the surface, and it is...

 and access to the sea, were carved out to isolate the Igbo areas as East-Central state.

One controversial aspect of this move was Gowon's annexing of Port Harcourt, a large city in the Niger Delta, in the South of Nigeria (the Ikwerres), sitting on some of Nigeria's largest reserves, into the new Rivers State, emasculating the migrant Igbo population of traders there. The flight of many of them back to their villages in the 'Igbo heartland' in Eastern Nigeria where they felt safer was alleged to be a contradiction for Gowon's "no victor, no vanquished" policy, when at the end of the war, the properties they left behind were claimed by the Rivers State indigenes.

Minority ethnicities of the Eastern Region were rather not sanguine about the prospect of secession, as it would mean living in what they felt would be an Igbo-dominated nation. Some non-Igbos living in the Eastern Region either refrained from offering active support to the Biafran struggle, or actively aided the federal side by enlisting in the Nigerian army and feeding it intelligence about Biafran military activities.

However, some did play active roles in the Biafran government, with N.U. Akpan serving as Secretary to the Government, Lt. Col (later Major-General) Philip Effiong
Philip Effiong
Philip Efiong was the first Vice President and the second and last President of the now defunct Republic of Biafra during the Nigerian Civil War of 1967 to 1970.-Early life:...

, serving as Biafra's Chief of Defence Staff and others like Chiefs Bassey and Graham-Douglas serving in other significant roles.

Gowon as war leader

On 30 May 1967, Ojukwu responded to Gowon's announcement by declaring the formal secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

 of the Eastern Region, which was now to be known as the Republic of Biafra
Biafra, officially the Republic of Biafra, was a secessionist state in south-eastern Nigeria that existed from 30 May 1967 to 15 January 1970, taking its name from the Bight of Biafra . The inhabitants were mostly the Igbo people who led the secession due to economic, ethnic, cultural and religious...

. This was to trigger a war that would last some 30 months, and see the deaths of more than 100,000 soldiers and over a million civilians, most of the latter of which would perish of starvation under a Nigeria-imposed blockade
A blockade is an effort to cut off food, supplies, war material or communications from a particular area by force, either in part or totally. A blockade should not be confused with an embargo or sanctions, which are legal barriers to trade, and is distinct from a siege in that a blockade is usually...

. The war saw a massive expansion of the Nigerian army in size and a steep increase in its doctrinal and technical sophistication, while the Nigerian Air Force
Nigerian Air Force
The Nigerian Air Force is the air arm of the Nigerian Armed Forces.It is one of the largest in West Africa, consisting of about 15,000 personnel and aircraft including 15 Chengdu F-7s, and 24 Dassault-Dornier Alpha Jets, armed helicopters, and military transport aircraft. However in recent years...

 was essentially born in the course of the conflict. However, significant controversy has surrounded the air operations of the Nigerian Forces, as several residents of Biafra, including Red Cross workers, foreign missionaries and journalists, accused the Nigerian Air Force of specifically targeting civilian populations, relief
Relief is a sculptural technique. The term relief is from the Latin verb levo, to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is thus to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background plane...

 centers and marketplaces. Gowon has steadfastly denied those claims, along with claims that his army committed atrocities such as rape, wholesale
Wholesaling, jobbing, or distributing is defined as the sale of goods or merchandise to retailers, to industrial, commercial, institutional, or other professional business users, or to other wholesalers and related subordinated services...

 executions of civilian populations and extensive looting
Looting —also referred to as sacking, plundering, despoiling, despoliation, and pillaging—is the indiscriminate taking of goods by force as part of a military or political victory, or during a catastrophe, such as during war, natural disaster, or rioting...

 in occupied areas; however, one of his wartime commanders, Benjamin Adekunle
Benjamin Adekunle
General Benjamin Adesanya Maja Adekunle, Nigerian Army, , was a Nigerian military leader.-Early years and background:...

 seems to give some credence to these claims in his book, while excusing them as unfortunate by-products of war.

The end of the war came about on 13 January 1970, with Colonel Olusegun Obasanjo's acceptance of the surrender of Biafran forces. The next day Obasanjo announced the situation on the former rebel radio station Radio Biafra Enugu. Gowon subsequently declared his famous "no victor, no vanquished" speech, and followed it up with an amnesty
Amnesty is a legislative or executive act by which a state restores those who may have been guilty of an offense against it to the positions of innocent people, without changing the laws defining the offense. It includes more than pardon, in as much as it obliterates all legal remembrance of the...

 for the majority of those who had participated in the Biafran uprising, as well as a program of "Reconciliation, Reconstruction
Reconstruction (architecture)
Reconstruction is a term in architectural conservation whose precise meaning varies, depending on the context in which they are used.More broadly, such as under the Burra Charter of Australia, "reconstruction" means returning a damaged building to a known earlier state by the introduction of new...

, and Rehabilitation
Political rehabilitation
Political rehabilitation is the process by which a member of a political organization or government who has fallen into disgrace, is restored to public life. It is usually applied to leaders or other prominent individuals who regain their prominence after a period in which they have no influence or...

", to repair the extensive damage done to the economy and infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

 of the Eastern Region during the years of war. Unfortunately, some of these efforts never left the drawing board. In addition to this, Gen. Gowon's administration's policy of giving 20 pounds to everyone who had a bank account in Nigeria before the war, regardless of how much money had been in their account, was criticised by foreign and local aid workers, as this led to an unprecedented scale of begging, looting and robbery in the former Biafran areas after the war.

Gowon's career after the Biafran War

The postwar years saw Nigeria enjoying a meteoric, oil-fueled, economic upturn in the course of which the scope of activity of the Nigerian federal government grew to an unprecedented degree, with increased earnings from oil revenues. Unfortunately, however, this period also saw a rapid increase in corruption, mostly bribery, of and by federal government officials; and although the head of State himself, Gen. Gowon, was never found complicit in the corrupt practices, he was often accused of turning a blind eye to the activities of his staff and cronies.

Indigenization Decree

Another decision made by Gowon at the height of the oil boom was to have what some considered negative repercussions for the Nigerian economy in later years, although its immediate effects were scarcely noticeable - his indigenization decree of 1972, which declared many sectors of the Nigerian economy off-limits to all foreign investment, while ruling out more than minority participation by foreigners in several other areas. This decree provided windfall gains to several well-connected Nigerians, but proved highly detrimental to non-oil investment
Foreign direct investment
Foreign direct investment or foreign investment refers to the net inflows of investment to acquire a lasting management interest in an enterprise operating in an economy other than that of the investor.. It is the sum of equity capital,other long-term capital, and short-term capital as shown in...

 in the Nigerian economy.

Hallmarks of General Gowon's reign

Apart from winning the civil war and keeping the country together, general Gowon's time also saw
  • Development of the Country's capital- Lagos
    Lagos is a port and the most populous conurbation in Nigeria. With a population of 7,937,932, it is currently the third most populous city in Africa after Cairo and Kinshasa, and currently estimated to be the second fastest growing city in Africa...

    , into an international city.
  • Creation of Twelve states
  • Introduction of odd and even days to manage Lagos
    Lagos is a port and the most populous conurbation in Nigeria. With a population of 7,937,932, it is currently the third most populous city in Africa after Cairo and Kinshasa, and currently estimated to be the second fastest growing city in Africa...

  • Expansion of Government bureaucracy
    A bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a governmental or organization who implement the rules, laws, and functions of their institution, and are occasionally characterized by officialism and red tape.-Weberian bureaucracy:...


On 1 October 1974, in flagrant contradiction to his earlier promises, Gowon declared that Nigeria would not be ready for civilian rule by 1976, and he announced that the handover date would be postponed indefinitely. Furthermore, because of the growth in bureaucracy, there were allegations of rise in corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

. Increased wealth in the country resulted in fake import licenses being issued. There were stories of tons of stones and sand being imported into the country, and of General Gowon himself saying to a foreign reporter that "the only problem Nigeria has is how to spend the money she has." These provoked serious discontent within the army, and on 25 July 1975, while Gowon was attending an OAU summit in Kampala
Kampala is the largest city and capital of Uganda. The city is divided into five boroughs that oversee local planning: Kampala Central Division, Kawempe Division, Makindye Division, Nakawa Division and Lubaga Division. The city is coterminous with Kampala District.-History: of Buganda, had chosen...

, a group of officers led by Colonel Joe Nanven Garba  announced his overthrow. The coup plotters appointed Brigadier Murtala Muhammad as head of the new government, and Brigadier Olusegun Obasanjo as his deputy.

Later life

Gowon subsequently went into exile in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, where he acquired a Ph.D.
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 in political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

 as a student at the University of Warwick
University of Warwick
The University of Warwick is a public research university located in Coventry, United Kingdom...

. He lived in north London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 / Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England. The county town is Hertford.The county is one of the Home Counties and lies inland, bordered by Greater London , Buckinghamshire , Bedfordshire , Cambridgeshire and...

 border, and very much became part the English community in his area, where he served a term as Churchwarden
A churchwarden is a lay official in a parish church or congregation of the Anglican Communion, usually working as a part-time volunteer. Holders of these positions are ex officio members of the parish board, usually called a vestry, parish council, parochial church council, or in the case of a...

 in the local church.

In February 1976, Gowon was implicated in the Coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 led by Lt. Col Buka Suka Dimka
Buka Suka Dimka
Buka Suka Dimka, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Nigerian army , led the February 13, 1976 abortive military coup against the government of General Murtala Ramat Mohammed...

, which resulted in the death of the now Gen Murtala Mohammed
Murtala Mohammed
General Murtala Ramat Mohammed born was a military ruler of Nigeria from 1975 until his assassination in 1976.-Role during 1960s coups:...

. According to Dimka's "confession", he met with Gowon in London, and obtained support from him for the coup. In addition, Dimka mentioned before his execution that the purpose of the Coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 was to re-install Gowon as Head of State. As a result of the coup tribunal findings, Gowon was declared wanted by the Nigerian government, stripped of his rank in absentia and had his pension cut off. Gen Gowon was finally pardoned (along with the ex-Biafran President, Emeka Ojukwu) during the Second Republic
Nigerian Second Republic
The Second Republic was the republican government of Nigeria between 1979 and 1983 governed by the second republican constitution.- Founding :...

 under President Shehu Shagari
Shehu Shagari
Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, Turakin Sakkwato served as the President of Nigeria's Second Republic , after the handover of power by General Olusegun Obasanjo's military government....


He returned to Nigeria in the 1980s, and in the 1990s he formed a non-denominational religious group, Nigeria Prays. Still based in the UK, General Gowon today serves an 'elder statesman' role in African politics, operating (for example) as an official observer at the Ghanaian presidential elections 2008.

Furthermore, Gen. Gowon is also involved in the Guinea Worm Eradication Programme as well as the HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

 Programme with Global Fund of Geneva. Gowon founded his own organization in 1992 called the Yakubu Gowon Centre. The organization is said to work on issues in Nigeria such as good governance as well as infectious disease control including HIV/AIDS, guinea worm, and malaria.

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