Sunday, September 1, 2019 4:33 pm
Elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, has accused the successive military administrations in Nigeria of scuttling the nation’s economic indepedence.
This is even as he said that most of Nigeria’s pre independent leaders were not prepared for independence when the British government granted it.
Yakassai stated this weekend in Benin, Edo State, at the 90th birthday celebration of the Esogba of Benin Kingdom, Chief David Edebiri.
Recall that Nigeria’s post colonial (first Republic) government, headed by the then Prime Minister, Alhaji (Sir) Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, was sacked in 1966 by Major-General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi-led junta.
Ironsi was soon overthrown and murdered in a coup in July of the same year.
Aguiyi-Ironsi was succeeded by General Yakubu Gowon, who established a Supreme Military Council, held power until July 1975, when he was overthrown in a bloodless coup.
Brigadier (later General) Murtala Mohammed, succeeded Gowon. Months later, in February 1976, Mohammed was assassinated by Col. Buka Suka Dimka and others in a violent coup attempt, but the plotters failed to kill Olusẹgun Obasanjo, who then succeeded Mohammed as head of state.
The Supreme Military Council was formally dissolved when Obasanjo handed power to the elected Shehu Shagari, ending the military regime and establishing a Nigerian Second Republic.
Yakassai noted that although Nigeria has achieved political independence, but it is yet to attain economic indepedence, which he said Chief Edebiri proposed immediately after the attainment of independence.
“We fought for Nigeria to be independent. Unexpectedly, Britain agreed in 1957 to give us independence in 1960, but most of our leaders were not prepared [for independence], because we didn’t expect that they will grant it.
“So, we sat down and said after independence, what next? Edibiri then said after political independece, we should fight for economic indepedence. But, unfortunately, we have not achieved that,” Yakassai said.
He therefore stressed the need for Nigerians to fight for, and sustain the unity of the country in order to achieve economic independence, so that the nation could be as economically rich as any other country in the world.
“We will continue to fight for the unity of the country because without unity we are nothing. United States [of America] is great in the world today because of its population and large territory which only Nigeria has in Africa. So, we have to fight for unity, otherwise, we will not achieve what we are looking for.
“Nigeria is the biggest market in African, with a population of 200 million people. We should make sure that the market serves the interest of our people, and that is the struggle ahead of us.
“We started it after the independence, but could not hold far because the military scuttled it. So we will continue the fight till this is achieved,” he said.
Yakassai described Chief Edebiri as a man who believes in the unity of the country and few Nigerians alive today that fought for the independence of the country.
On his part, Chief Edebiri, who commended Nigerians for gracing his birthday celebration, assured that he would continue to fight on the side of truth and unity of the country.