Major Johnson: Gentlemen, if I can start talking on this one, please do not think I am taking undue advantage. Quite honestly I think we all know what brought this country to where we are to-day and while talking yesterday Emeka [first name of Lt.-Col. Ojukwu] touched on a point of how, due to the situation, the politicians got what they have been waiting for to come in. While I very much welcome this Item 4 and while I know that definitely we are not going to be in Government forever, I will like to say that, please for the next six months let us leave everything that will bring the politicians back into the limelight out of the question. Let us go on all these things we have been discussing since yesterday because this is on the basis at which we can get our country back on its feet. Once we can get the papers on these things out and we see them working then we can call the Ad Hoc Constitutional Committee to come and discuss but for now they are just going to confuse the issues more if you bring them out to come and talk anything again. I will say let the Military Government continue for now and after working for six months and we see how far we can go before we start thinking of calling these people back.
Commodore Wey: I 100% support what you have said. Candidly if there had ever been a time in my life when I thought somebody had hurt me sufficiently for me to wish to kill him it was when one of these fellows opened his mouth too wide. I think we should let them stay where they are for the moment. It was simply because we could not get together and handle our affairs. Now that we have established the basis under which we can work please let us leave them where they are and let us try and see how far we can work.
Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: On this statement, Gentlemen, a lot depends on what the Ad Hoc Constitutional Committee is. I agree indeed that regarding other Regions it was indeed a platform for politicians, in the East it was not. I did not send politicians to it but be it as it may, if we say we are going to continue then we must obviously get quite satisfied the terms of running this thing properly. We have got to be able to meet and I said it outside and I repeat it here, I, as the Military Governor of the East cannot meet anywhere in Nigeria where there are Northern troops.
b. The events of 29 July and the issue of Supreme Commander: the Colonels speak
Major Johnson: Sir, before we go on if I may say something. I am happy we have got to this point again. I had wanted to take this Conference back all along because as my people say ‘If you still have lice in your head, there will still be blood on your fingers :’ May I ask one question, gentlemen, is there a Central Government in Nigeria to-day?
Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: That question is such a simple one and anyone who has been listening to what I have been saying all the time would know that I do not see a Central Government in Nigeria to-day.
Major Johnson: Thank you, Gentlemen. I think this is the crux of the whole thing and I think if I can take you back this can be a personality clash or something.
I am saying here to-day that this is the backbone of our problem. As far as the Governor of the East is concerned there is no central government in Nigeria. You say, Supreme Commander, but as far as he is concerned there is no Supreme Commander. I think this is where we must start from, gentlemen. Why is he not accepting that there is a Supreme Commander and we accept there is a Supreme Commander.
This brings me to this Conference that was held in August. As was rightly said, this Committee was a Steering Committee. We are all Military personnel here and we know one thing. We have all been pointing accusing fingers at politicians that they used to take military decisions without military men.
The main problem now is that as far as the East is concerned, there is no Central Government. Why? This is what we must find out. I mentioned something about personality clash. I remember that there was a long letter written by the Governor of the East sometime ago referring to the hierarchy in the Army, the policy on seniority and things like that. He said among other things in the letter that if even Lt.-Col. Yakubu Gowon is Supreme Commander is he not right to ask whether it is for a period or something. For all the East knows the former Supreme Commander is only missing and until such a time that they know his whereabouts they do not know any other Supreme Commander. These are the points that have been brought out by the East.
Gentlemen, we said this morning that we have come with open minds and we must hit the nail at the head. The East should tell us now what are their views, what are the conditions they want to demand before they can say that there is a Central Government in Nigeria. For all we know now, nobody has seceded, the East is still part of Nigeria, the West, the North and we know Nigeria as a Federation.