Wednesday 16 November 2022

Yakubu Gowon: From Military Dictator to Politics Student

Yakubu Gowon speaking to a gathering of the student union at Warwick University on October 16th 1975, three months after his overthrow in a bloodless coup. Photo credit: The Warwick Boar.


From The Warwick Boar -

Under the glare of television cameras, General Gowon, ex-head of state of Nigeria stole the limelight at the first union meeting of term last Wednesday.

After calling the meeting to "Order!" 40-year-old Yakubu Gowon took the platform and delivered a short speech of thanks:

"I would like to say a big thank-you for summoning me into your midst. I have come here not to create a lot of trouble to you. 

"I want to be an ordinary student."

Uproar arose when a motion "condemning" the ex-general's arrival at the university was quashed.

In an emotional speech Deputy President Pete Walter declared: "I don't think this is the right time or place to attack General Gowon." It was agreed that the motion "be not put".

In the confusion that followed, a motion "embargoing" the press was passed enthusiastically after one no-confidencing the Deputy Chairman, Rob Campbell was narrowly defeated.

The original motion, brought by IS members Donny Gluckstein and N. Clarke, read: "This Union condemns the invitation of General Gowon to this university.

"Though sympathising with the fate of the un-employed, we fail to see why we should be burdened with out-of-work British puppets such as him." It went on to contrast the ex-general's condition with that of many overseas students whose fees have recently more than doubled.

Gowon, who has attended his first lectures as a first-year Politics student, is at the moment living in Leamington."

© Adeyinka Makinde (2022).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

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