By; PAMELA EBOH, Awka
Anambra State Government has condoled the duo of Gbulie family in Nimo, Njikoka Local Government Area and the Ogunsanya family of Ikorodu in Lagos State over the deaths of their two prominent members last week.
In a statement by the state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C. Don Adinuba, the government commiserated with the Gbulie family for the loss of Ben Gbulie, 82, a soldier and author who rose into national prominence for his role in the January 1966 coup which ended Nigeria’s First Republic.
The commissioner said that government also condoled with the Ogunsanya family over the death of Princess Adenrele Adeniran-Ogunsanya, 74, a former Secretary to the Lagos State Government whose father, Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya, was for decades the closest political associate and personal friend of Nigeria’s first President, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, a worthy son of Anambra State who led Nigeria to independence in 1960.
The statement read in the part, “Ben Gbulie and his group obviously meant well for Nigeria when they plotted and executed the coup, but they were out of touch with the Nigerian reality which, in a way, is understandable because they were young men in their 20s driven by sheer patriotic exuberance.
“It is unfortunate that the coup was bloody, and so gave rise to all manner of interpretations and consequences which altered the country’s history for the worse”.
According to Adinuba, Gbulie took up arms to fight for his people when a war was imposed on them, leading to the end of hostilities in January, 1970, and to his long incarceration in different prisons in Nigeria.
He said that even when he contested for a seat in the Anambra State House of Assembly in 1979 for a seat under the umbrella of the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) platform, he was disqualified for what was just referred to as “security reasons” without explanation.
Adinuba said that though it was obvious the disqualification had to do with his military record, Gbulie was not a bitter man.
While saying that several efforts made by the former Nigerian army engineer to get young Igbo people to eschew violence and embrace peace and dialogue in the resolution of national issues, the commissioner said, “Having lost a war, the retired gallant army officer used to argue, it would be suicidal to embark on a campaign that would make the same people lose another war within a short period without fully exploring all options.
“The high intelligence which Gbulie displayed at Government College Umuahia, in today’s Abia State, and during his training in different military institutions in Nigeria, the United Kingdom and United States in the 1960s.
“It is a mark of his brilliance that his books like Nigeria’s Five Majors, which was published in the early 1980s, remain among the most quoted and cited works on the country’s recent history”, Adinuba observed.”
In a letter to the Ogunsanya family, Adinuba commended the late Princess Aderenle Adeniran-Ogunsanya for being “principle-centred like her legendary father, Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who was at different times Commissioner for Education in Lagos State, a Minister of the Federal Republic in the First Republic of 1960 to 1966 and the NPP National Chairman in the Second Republic of 1979 to 1983.
‘Even when she was threatened with removal from office if she continued to support the reelection of her principal, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, in 2011, she stuck to her guns.
“Her stand is reminiscent of her father’s principled refusal to yield to strong pressures from ethnic politicians to abandon The Great Zik of Africa”.
“Chief Ogunsanya was abandoned in death by a lot of his kinsmen for insisting on remaining fiercely loyal to Nigeria’s greatest nationalist ever.
“Consequently, the Igbo practically took over his funeral, and Princess Aderenle Adeniran-Ogunsanaya was on hand to play the role of a wonderful hostess.
“It is heartwarming that despite certain steps to downplay Chief Ogunsanya’s role in national development, the people and government of Lagos State have memorialized him, as demonstrated by the naming of a major street in Surulere and a college of education in Ojo for him.
“History will always be kind to nationalists like Dr Azikiwe, Chief Ogunsanya and Princess Aderenle Adeniran –Ogunsanya”.