MCol. Adebayo: I think Emeka has narrated what happened on the 29th July and thereafter. We have all agreed and I am sure you still agree that what we are looking for now is a solution for the future. I do not want us to go into the past anymore, we want a solution for the future. I will suggest with the permission of the other members here that we ask Emeka to give us his solution. Thereafter there might be some others too who would have their own solutions, then we can make a compromise from the solutions we get.
MLt.-Col. Hassan: Gentlemen, General Ankrah told us not to go back into the past, if we are to go back into the past we will sit here for two months talking. Let us forget the past and I agree with Robert [first name of Col. Adebayo] that we ask the East to tell us their solution. If their solution is quite acceptable then we adopt it, amend or whatever we think is good for the country for peace. We are not going to say ourselves what efforts we have put in individually; let us find peace for Nigeria. This is the major issue, unless this is done whatever we are going to discuss is not going to work out well.
MLt.-Col. Ejoor: I believe that before we start suggesting solutions we must examine certain principles vis a vis the Governors. To me, we should not go too far into history but there is one valid point which must be considered and that is the coup we have had so far. The January 15 one was a failure and the Army came in to correct it, the one of the 29th I personally believe was a mutiny to start with but it has now turned out to be a coup. If it is a coup we have to ask ourselves ‘is it a successful coup or is it a partial one ?’ I believe it is a partial one, it is not a fully successful one. This is the main point which has brought us here, trying to negotiate as opposed to receiving orders from the Commander. I think we must bear this in mind in reaching a decision or a Resolution affecting the re-organisation of the Army. To-day, the Army is faced with four main problems.
Firstly, the problem of leadership; Secondly, the crisis of confidence amongst Officers and amongst the soldiers; Thirdly, the chain of command is badly disrupted; and Fourthly, we cannot now have any Nigerian from anywhere serving in the same unit as an effective unit of the Army.
These are bare facts and whatever solution we evolve must go to solve these main problems. I leave these basic principles and what solutions offered should be considered alongside these problems.
MLt.-Col. Hassan: David spoke on re-organisation but the current topic is on Bolaji’s point which Emeka narrated. I think this is the major point.
MLt.-Col. Ejoor: When you consider leadership you have to tell us what happened to the former leader.
MCommodore Wey: Gentlemen, I think I have been properly placed in this issue from the 15th of January up till now. Unfortunately, I do not put them down because I think I can carry quite a bit in my head. The whole issue is unfortunate, it has happened and it has happened. The truth now is that we want to repair, we do not intend to point accusing fingers at anybody.
When the trouble of the 29th July started I was present, you came and joined us, therefore, I can tell any other person better. I was there when you phoned Brigadier Ogundipe and I knew what you said. At one stage, it was even said that I carried him in my ship and took him out to sea.
I must say one thing that it is impossible for any man to expect to command any unit which he has not got control over. Bolaji would bear witness, he was there, he started it. He was the one who went out first and came back to say that a Private refused to take orders from him; it all happened in the Police Headquarters.
The Inspector-General complained, I went into it and I said if they cannot take orders from an Army Officer like themselves they will not take from a Naval Officer. I retired and called Brigadier Ogundipe. He went out and if an ordinary Sergeant can tell a Brigadier ‘I do not take orders from you, until my Captain comes,’ I think this was the limit and this is the truth about it. Therefore, it would have been very unfair to Ogundipe or any other person for that matter to take command and there is no point accepting to command a unit over which you have no control.
It was after that negotiations started, I do not know what conversation went on between Ogundipe and Jack. On the long run I was consulted and what I have just said now was exactly my advice. Bob was with me, I went out and we did not finish until two o’clock in the morning. Jack then came into the issue, how he got there I have got the story; he himself has never told me. I have been doing private investigations myself. I knew how he got into Ikeja and how it came about.
I want to repeat that if we did not have the opportunity of having Jack to accept, God knows we would have been all finished. If you remember, you dragged me out, things changed. I do not think people can appreciate the difficulty we were in, therefore, if anybody accepted to lead them candidly I doff my hat for him, I accept it purely from the point of respect. If 55 million people can be saved let us forget everything about position and for God’s sake because of our 55 million people let us forget our personal pride. Whether it was a coup or a mutiny let us forget it. If this man comes out and everybody accepts him, please let us accept him.
One thing I would like to repeat, I am a sailor and I want to remain a sailor. I do not see why you soldiers should not remain soldiers. We were not trained to be politicians, let us run the Government, draw up a Constitution, hand-over to the politicians and we get back into our uniforms.
Whatever people may say, I think I will take this advantage to tell you here that when all of you were appointed Governors I was one of those who sat and appointed you Governors but right does not come into this at all; please let us forget personal feelings. I know my rank but if it is the wish of the 55 million people, please let us put our hearts into our pockets and forget our personal pride.
Personally, I am 100 per cent in support that we should mention the whereabouts of Ironsi, even I have advised on this. When that has been done, he is a Head of State and he should be given the proper honour; thereafter, who-so-ever is in the Chair now let us help him to run the country peacefully, no more bloodshed, we have shed enough. We cannot create why should we destroy. If we can help to save please let us do so but we must say the whereabouts of Ironsi. He is a Head of State and we should give him his due respect as a Head of State. It is a temporary issue, four, five years, maybe I would have retired by then.