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Yakubu Gowon Biography
Yakubu Dan-Yumma “Jack” Gowon GCFR (born 19 October 1934) was a Nigerian army general and military leader who served as the head of state of Nigeria.
During his tenure, he presided over a controversial Nigerian Civil War. At the war’s conclusion, Gowon delivered a famous speech promoting healing and reconciliation between the opposing sides, famously saying “No victor, no vanquished”.
Yakubu Gowon is an Anglican Christian from a minority Ngas family in Northern Nigeria and a strong believer in Nigerian nationalism and unity. The Nigerian Civil War is considered one of the deadliest in modern history, and some have accused Gowon of crimes against humanity and genocide.
However, Gowon maintains that he committed no wrongdoing during the war and that his leadership saved the country. His rise to power followed the July 1966 counter-coup, which cemented military rule in Nigeria.
Gowon served as head of state of Nigeria for almost nine years, making him the longest-ruling leader until his overthrow in the coup d’état of 1975 by Brigadier Murtala Mohammed.
Yakubu Gowon Wikipedia Profile
|Real Name:||Yakubu Dan-Yumma Gowon|
|Commonly known as||Jack|
|Yakubu Gowon Age:|
|State of Origin:||Plateau State|
|Position held:||Head of State of Nigeria|
|Yakubu Gowon Wife:||Miss Victoria Zakari|
|Military Service:||Nigeria Army|
|Battle/War||Nigerian Civil War|
Gowon is a Ngas (Angas) from Lur, a small village located in the present Kanke Local Government Area of Plateau State, Nigeria. His parents, Nde Yohanna and Matwok Kurnyang left for Wusasa in Zaria as Church Missionary Society (CMS) missionaries in the early days of Gowon’s life.
His father took pride in marrying on April 26, 1923, the same day as the wedding of Prince Albert and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (later King George VI and Queen [Mother] Elizabeth).
Gowon was the fifth of eleven children and grew up in Zaria, where he had his early life and education. At school, he proved to be an outstanding athlete: he was the school’s football goalkeeper, pole vaulter, and long-distance runner. He broke the school mile record in his first year and was also the boxing captain.
Gowon married Miss Victoria Zakari, a trained nurse in 1969 at a ceremony officiated by Seth Irunsewe Kale at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Lagos.
Gowon enlisted in the Nigerian Army in 1954 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant on his 21st birthday, which was on 19 October 1955. He received his training from the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the UK from 1955 to 1956.
He also received training from Staff College in Camberley, UK in 1962, and Joint Staff College in Latimer in 1965. During his time as part of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in the Congo, he saw combat action twice, in 1960-61 and 1963. He was promoted to battalion commander rank in 1966 while still holding the rank of lieutenant colonel.
In January 1966, at the age of 31, he became the youngest military chief of staff in Nigeria. This happened as a result of a military coup d’état by a group of junior officers led by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, which caused the overthrow of Nigeria’s civilian government.
Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, who was the head of state following the January 1966 coup, failed to meet Northern demands for the prosecution of the coup plotters, which further inflamed Northern anger. Additionally, there was significant support for the coup plotters from both the Eastern Region and the mostly left-wing “Lagos-Ibadan”.
Check here for more information regarding 1966 Coup: 1966 Nigerian coup d’état
Then came Aguyi Ironsi’s Decree Number 34, which proposed the abolition of the federal system of government in favour of a unitary state, a position which had long been championed by some Southerners-especially by a major section of the Igbo-dominated National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC).
This was perhaps wrongly interpreted by Northerners as a Southern (particularly Igbo) attempt at a takeover of all levers of power in the country.
For further information check here: 1966 Nigerian counter-coup
Head of State
In 1966, Yakubu Gowon was appointed as the Head of State for Nigeria. Prior to that, he had been a career soldier with no involvement in politics. However, the events of the year led him to take on a leadership role. His unique background as a Northerner, who was not of Hausa or Fulani ancestry and did not follow the Islamic faith, made him a safe choice to lead a nation that was struggling with ethnic tensions.
When he first became the Head of State, Gowon held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. However, other senior military officers such as Commodore Joseph Wey, Brigadier Babafemi Ogundipe, and Colonel Robert Adebayo were also part of the government and had higher military seniority than Gowon. To strengthen his position, Gowon promoted himself to Major-General just before the start of the civil war in 1967 and to full General at the end of the war in 1970.
These scandals provoked serious discontent within the army. On 29 July 1975, while Gowon was attending an OAU summit in Kampala, a group of officers led by Colonel Joe Nanven Garba announced his overthrow.
The coup plotters appointed Brigadier Murtala Muhammed as head of the new government, and Brigadier Olusegun Obasanjo as his deputy.
Is Yakubu Gowon dead? No, the former military leader is not dead.
On 9th October 2023, there was a circulated rumour on all social media regarding Gowon death, but his Personal Media Aide, Adeyeye E. Ajayi said in a terse statement that the former military leader is not dead.
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