Eroding History Of Loyalty And Integrity Made By Lt. Col. Adekunle Fajuyi Towards Maj. Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi By Francis Nwapa Watch
Permit me to start with a quote from One of the moving speeches Francis Adekunle Fajuyi delivered at Aquinas College, Akure on 25 April 1966.
"When our country calls upon us for sacrifice, we shall be worthy to follow those who, in all the ages and countries, have lived and even died for God and freedom."
Lt. Col. Francis Adekunle Fajuyi was appointed First Governor of Western Region on 18 January 1966.
There were certain events that made it clear that Fajuyi found himself in the crossfire between angry northern officers (who saw the January 1966 coup, led by Majors Kaduna Nzeogwu and Emmanuel Ifeajuna as an Igbo putsch against the North) and Ironsi, an Easterner, who became the beneficiary as the occupant of the topmost office.
In that coup, prominent politicians were killed: Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa; Premier of the North, Ahmadu Bello and Premier of Western Region, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola.
On 29 July 1966, Fajuyi displayed his gallantry and altruism when the Head of State, General Aguiyi Ironsi, visited Ibadan to address a conference of traditional rulers. At 4 am, soldiers, who were all from the North led by Theophilus Danjuma and Joe Garba, drove into Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, their mission was to kidnap and kill the Head of State Aguiyi Ironsi in a reprisal coup.
The Loyalty and Integrity displayed by Fajuyi, a Yoruba man, towards his boss and guest, Aguiyi Ironsi, an Igbo man was the true reflection of humanity. He queried the invaders, how could he stand at an akimbo while his guest (not to even talk of his supreme commander) was to be killed under his roof? He refused. It would have given rise to Yoruba, Igbo suspicion and everlasting hatred, woven into a conspiracy theory.
Fajuyi jumped on the open Land Rover conveying the victim, Ironsi, even as the soldiers barked orders at him to stay away from the drama. He forced himself into the vehicle as the murderers drove away with him and his guest, their real target.
The soldiers drove to Lalupon on the outskirts of Ibadan. A wine tapper watched the hideous drama unfold in the bush under his palm tree. As the desperate soldiers would make to shoot Ironsi, Fajuyi would rush between them and the victim, his hands spread in a you-cannot-kill-my-guest or boss fashion. He repeated the intervention many times so much so that the killers were frustrated and angrily pumped hot bullets into the two hostages. And Fajuyi died a hero, a true friend, a great officer and a patriot.
This history is important at a time like this when the 2023 Presidential election has mainly reflected ethnic bias across the regions. In the second and third republics, political parties with pro-peoples program used to be the criteria for voting candidates but all this is gradually eroding away due to the deliberate attempt by the political class to replace history that binds us together as a people with religion and ethnic division.
Nigerians must not allow ourselves to be turned against each other for the selfish interest of a few people but rather fill our minds with the quote of Lt. Col. Francis Adekunle Fajuyi: "When our country calls upon us for sacrifice, we shall be worthy to follow those who, in all the ages and countries, have lived and even died for God and freedom."
Francis Nwapa Watch