The first coup in Nigeria isn’t any news to the Nigerian citizen. Planned by a group of military officers, it was a radical coup carried out with the only goal of controlling corruption in the country. The coup was initially planned by officers that were completely dissatisfied with political proceedings. Regrettably, betrayal set in at the H-hour, and the revolutionary coup was hijacked by their senior colleagues, thus rendering the original coup ineffective.
The first republic was characterized by corruption, nepotism, tribalism, greed, etc. The air was quite chaotic. Something which defies all fundamentals, needed to be done to stop the nation from imploding. The nation needed serious cleansing. Hence, at that moment, a radical revolution seems the only plausible solution.
They both understood each other in their college days in the University. In accordance with Uche, back in their college days, Ifeajuna abandoned their group in the H-hour during a planned protest. Unfortunately, this same mindset of Ifeajuna will gradually become evident, at a critical turning point in Nigeria’s history.
At this juncture, this guide will attach the greatest importance to the introduction of the 3 principal coup planners. Lieutenant Emmanuel Ifeajuna was a graduate of science in the University of Ibadan (UI), and also the winner of a Gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in Canada, 1954. On the other hand, Lieutenant Adewale Ademoyega was also a Sandhurst-trained officer, and was finally enlisted to the military in 1961.
On getting to know of each other’s mutual presence, the trio gradually started to plan a revolutionary coup which will purge Nigeria of societal ills. The trio decided to recruit other officers such as; Donatus Okafor, Lieutenant Adekunle Fajuyi, Major Anuforo, Captain Olusegun Obasanjo, Christian Madiebo and a rank of additional officers. On the other hand, Ifeajuna, Ademoyega, Okafor, along with many others, were stationed to take over the South. Their aim in the coup was to detain all political leaders, but if any should resist arrest, they should be taken at will. Regrettably, Obasanjo was inaccessible for the coup because of military course in India.
The trio had already aim to form a new government, if the coup became successful. They’d also plan to eliminate the Regional system, and split the nation into fourteen States. In actuality, they’d already spoken with faithful officers who would become Military Governors. Also, they’d plan to adopt a socialist form of government, and a collective possession of products and services. The education sector wasn’t left out also. According to them,”the educational system in Nigeria was an impossible enterprise that made everyone a consumer of foreign goods and a zombie of present-day technology”. It’s truly quite shameful that a University Professor of Mechanical Engineering couldn’t service his own vehicle. These and more, made up the kind of social proceedings that the coup plotters had planned for. Unfortunately, this plan didn’t see the light of day.
While Major Nzeogwu recorded a enormous success in taking over the north due to adequate preparation like;” Exercise Damissa”, there were still complications from the south. General Ironsi had escaped from him and started to summon other troops to mount a defence. At This Time, Majors Ifeajuna and Okafor fled, leaving just Majors Ademoyega and Anufolo from the South. It was at this stage the character of Ifeajuna, hinted at by his schoolmate Uche Chukwumerije, became evident. Finally both Ademoyega and Anuforo went back to Nzeogwu from the north, and the South dropped entirely under the control of General Ironsi. Here, the coup slowly started to fail.
The coup was redeemable under major Nzeogwu who was planning an assault on Ironsi from the south. In actuality, he’d made a public broadcast to the Nation;”… Our enemies are the political profiteers, the swindlers, the guys in high and low places which seek bribe and need ten percent; those who attempt to keep the Nation divided permanently, so that they can stay in office as ministers or VIPs at least…” But that strategy was shattered when Christian Madiebo, a close friend of Nzeogwu, advised him to abandon the plan and surrender to Ironsi from the South. Little did he know that his close friend, Madiebo, was easy the mouthpiece of General Ironsi, and had been in contact with him. Seconds later, Nzeogwu was detained. It was at this stage that the revolutionary coup, bent on the Nigerian society, breathe it last breath.
On a last note, it’s crystal clear that while Nzeogwu maintained the pride of this revolution until the very last end, another coup planners grew cold feet in the H-Hour of the coup. The other officers were simply cowards who didn’t foresee the need for a military revolution at a ill-stricken society. Exactly like Dr. Fidel Castro’s revolution in Cuba, the trio’s radical coup could have cleansed the Nation completely. However, the forces of betrayal prevailed, thus rendering the revolution failed. Major Nzeogwu was right to have said,”we were five in number and originally we understood quite well what we were to do… he (Ifeajuna) along with others, let us “. Therefore, the radical coup of 15th January 1966, failed for one reason; betrayal.