Obafemi Awolowo’s letter from prison to Major General Aguiyi Ironsi


28th March, 1966

The Supreme Commander and Head of the Federal Military Government, Lagos.

Thro: The Director of Prisons,

Prisons Headquarters Office,

Private Mail Bag 12522,




1. I am writing this petition for FREE PARDON under Section 101 (1) (a) of the Constitution of the Federation Act 1963, on behalf of myself and some of my colleagues whose names are set out in the Annexe hereto.

2. Before I go further, I would like to stress that the reasons which I advance in support of this petition, in my own behalf, basically hold good for my said colleagues. For they share the same political beliefs with me, and have intense and unquenchable loyalty for the ideals espoused by the Party which I have the honour to lead.

3. There are many grounds which could be submitted for your consideration in support of this petition. But I venture to think that SEVEN of them are enough and it is to these that I confine myself.

  • (1) In the course of my evidence during my trial, I stated that my Party favoured and was actively working for alliance with the N.C.N.C. as a means, among other things, of solving what I described as ‘the problem of Nigeria’, and strengthening the unity of the Federation. In October 1963 (that is about a month after my conviction and while my appeal to the Supreme Court was still pending), a Peace Committee headed by the Chief Justice of the Federation, Sir Adetokunbo Ademola, made overtures to me through my friend Alhaji W. A. Elias to the effect that if I abandoned my intention to enter into alliance with the N.C.N.C. which, according to the Committee, was an Ibo Organisation, and agreed to dissolve the Action Group and, in co-operation with Chief Akintola (now deceased), form an all-embracing Yoruba political party which I would lead and which would go into alliance with the N.P.C., I would be released from prison before the end of that year. I turned down these terms because I was of the considered opinion that their acceptance would further widen and exacerbate inter-tribal differences, and gravely undermine the unity of the Federation.


As recently as 20th December, 1965, identical peace terms (the only variant being that the alliance with the N.C.N.C. which was now a reality should be broken) were made to me here, in Calabar Prison, by a delegation representing another Peace Committee headed by the self-same Chief Justice of the Federation and purporting to have the blessing of the Prime Minister, with the unequivocal promise that if I accepted the terms my release would follow almost immediately. I rejected the terms for the reasons which I have outlined above.

  • (2) One of the monsters which menaced the public life of this country up to 14th January, this year is OPPORTUNISM with its attendant evils of jobbery, venality, corruption, and unabashed self-interest. From all accounts, you are inflexibly resolved to destroy this monster. That was precisely what my colleagues and I had tried to do before we were rendered hors de combat since 29th May, 1962.

On two different occasions I was offered, first the post of Deputy Prime Minister (before May 1962), and second that of Deputy Governor-General (in August 1962), if I would agree to fold up the Opposition and join in a National Government. I declined the two offers because they were designed exclusively to gratify my self-interest, with no thought of fostering any political moral principle which could benefit the people of Nigeria. The learned Judge who presided over the Treasonable Felony Trial, commented unfavourably on my non-acceptance of one of these posts and held that my action lent weight to the case of the Prosecution against me. I must say, however, that in all conscience, I felt and still feel that a truly public-spirited person should accept public office not for what he can get for himself — such as the profit and glamour of office — but for the opportunity which it offers him of serving his people to the best of his ability, by promoting their welfare and happiness. To me, the two aforementioned posts were sinecures, and were intended to immobilise my talents and stultify the role of watch-dog which the people of Nigeria looked upon me to play on their behalf, at that juncture in our political evolution.

  • (3) This leads me to the third ground. From newspaper reports, it would appear that you and your colleagues — like all well-meaning Nigerians — are anxious that on the termination of the present military rule, Nigeria should become a flourishing democracy. Now, democracy is a political doctrine which is very intimately dear to my heart. It was to the end that it might be accepted as a way of life in all parts of the Federation that I campaigned most vigorously and relentlessly in the Northern Provinces of Nigeria, from 1957 to 1962, to the implacable annoyance of some of my political adversaries. It was to the end that this doctrine might survive the severe onslaught of opportunist and mercenary politics that I refused to succumb to the temptation of the National Government. Many views — some of them well-considered and respectable — have been expressed about the value or disvalue of opposition as a feature of public life in a newly emergent African State. Speaking for my party, I submit that the Opposition which I led did, to all intents and purposes, justify its existence and was acclaimed by the masses of our people as essential and indispensable to rapid- national growth. This was so, because it was unexceptionably constructive. The abrogation of the Anglo-Nigeria Defence Pact was one of the feathers in its cap. Some of the policies which the Government of the day later adopted — such as the creation of a Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the introduction of drastic measures to correct our balance of payments deficit — were among those persistently and constructively urged by the Opposition inside and outside Parliament.

The point I wish to emphasise here is that it was not out of spite or hatred for any one that I chose to remain in Opposition instead of joining the much-talked-of National Government. I did so in order to serve our people to the best of my ability in the position in which their votes had placed my Party, and to ensure that the young plant of democracy grows into a sturdy flourishing tree in Nigeria.

  • (4) Since the declaration of emergency in the Western Region on 29th May, 1962, political tension has existed in Western Nigeria. My conviction on 11th September, 1963, together with the surrounding bizarre circumstances, has led not only to the heightening of that tension in Western Nigeria but also to its profuse and irrepressible percolation to the other parts of the Federation. The result is that it can be said, without much fear of contradiction, that today the majority of our people are passionately concerned about and fervently solicitous for the release of myself and my colleagues.

The work of reconstruction on which you and your colleagues have embarked demands that all the citizens of Nigeria in their respective callings should give of their maximum best. A state of psychological tension, however much it may be brought under control or repressed, does not and cannot conduce to maximum efficiency. In spite of themselves, people labouring under emotions which this kind of tension automatically generates are bound to make avoidable mistakes which in their turn have adverse effects on national progress.

It is, therefore, in the national interest that this tension should be relaxed, if possible, without further delay.

  • (5) A petition of this kind is, by its very nature, bound to be replete with self-adulation. I hope and trust that, in the circumstances, this is excusable. It is in this hope and trust that I assert that my colleagues and I have the qualifications and capacity to render invaluable services to our people and fatherland. Every day that we spend in prison, therefore, must be regarded as TWENTY-FOUR UNFORGIVING HOURS OF TRULY VALUABLE SERVICES LOST TO OUR YOUNG COUNTRY. Even my most inveterate enemies have given the following testimony about me: ‘AWOLOWO HAS STILL A GREAT DEAL TO GIVE TO THIS COUNTRY.’

No country however advanced and civilised can afford to waste any of its talents, be they ever so small. Nigeria is too young to bury some of her talents as she was compelled to do under the old regime.

It is within your power to restore my colleagues and me to a position where our fatherland can again rejoice at the contributions which we are capable of making to its progress, welfare and happiness.

  • (6) Nigeria is now SIXTY-SIX MONTHS old as an independent State. The final phase in the struggle for Nigeria’s independence was initiated by my Party in the historic Self-Government motion moved by Chief Anthony Enahoro and supported by me on 31st March, 1953. IT SHOULD BE REGARDED AS MORE THAN IRONICAL, AND AS PALPABLY TRAGIC, THAT TWO OF THE ARCHITECTS OF THAT INDEPENDENCE AND, INDEED, THE PACE-SETTERS AND ACCELERATORS OF ITS FINAL PHASE SHOULD BE UNFREE IN A FREE NIGERIA.

In precise terms, I have spent FORTY-SIX out of the SIXTY-SIX MONTHS of independence in one form of confinement or another. I happened to know that the leaders of the old civilian regime, in spite of themselves, did not feel quite easy in their conscience about the plight into which they had manoeuvred me in the scheme of things; and I dare to express the hope and belief that you, personally view my present confinement with concern and disapproval.

  • (7) It is usual — almost invariably the case — on the accession of a revolutionary regime, for political prisoners and, indeed, other prisoners of some note, to be released as a mark of disapproval of some of the doings of the old regime, or in token of the new dawn of freedom which comes in the wake of the new regime.

It would be invidious to quote unspecific instances. But in the case of my colleagues and myself, by courageously and adamantly opposing the evils which your regime now denounces in the former civilian administration, I think we are perfectly justified if we expect you to regard us as being in tune with your yearnings and aspirations for Nigeria, and therefore entitled to our personal freedoms under your dispensation.

4. In view of the foregoing reasons which clearly demonstrate

(i) that I have always and, under trying circumstances, steadfastly and unyieldingly

(a) stood for the UNITY OF NIGERIA,

(b) been opposed to POLITICAL OPPORTUNISM with its attendant evils,

(c) fostered the growth of DEMOCRACY in Nigeria;

(ii) that my incarceration

(a) has led to the heightening of political tension among Nigerians, which tension can only be relaxed by my release,

(b) has deprived our fatherland of invaluable services such as we have rendered before, and can still render now and in future, in greater measure; and

(iii) that the evils which my colleagues and I condemned and valiantly refused to compromise with in the old civilian government are what you now quite rightly denounce, and are taking active steps to remove in order to pave the way for national and beneficial reconstruction,

I most sincerely appeal to you to be good enough to exercise, in favour of myself and my colleagues, the prerogative of mercy vested in you by Section 10 (I) (i) (a) of the Constitution of the Federation Act 1963, by granting me as well as each of my colleagues A FREE PARDON. If you do, your action will be most warmly, heartily, and popularly applauded at home and abroad, and you will go down to history as soldier, statesmen, and humanitarian.

Yours truly,




1. Chief Obafemi Awolowo

2. Chief Anthony Enahoro

3. Mr. Lateef K. Jakande

4. Mr. Dapo Omisade

5. Mr. S.A. Onitiri

6. Mr. Gabby Sasore

7. Mr. Sunday Ebietoma

8. Mr. U.I. Nwaobiala


1. Mr. S.A. Otubanjo

2. Mr. S.J. Umoren

3. Mr. S. Oyesile


1. Mr. S.G. Ikoku

2. Mr. Ayo Adebanjo

3. Mr. James Aluko

#ReOpenLautech: Nigerians Deserve A Top Notch Educational System – Isaac Amoo

Nigerian student deserves more and the educational system needs better handling than what we are presently seeing in LAUTECH. Is this the promised change or do we wait for another? These are the question plaguing our minds as we look at the unfolding scenarios in LAUTECH.


If this has to do with change mantra, I don’t know. But the height and depth of irresponsibility displayed by the two Governors (Osun and Oyo states) stink to the high heaven. They came in the garb of Awolowo but are bereft of Awo’s idea and the ideal of Education nor do they portray Awo’s integrity.


We have been sold a mouthed commitment to educational overhaul before the election but alas it becomes a forgone one immediately the politicians are sworn in. To every politician in Nigeria especially of the western extraction, reforming and transforming education top the list of their agenda only to see how it becomes a non-issue as they ascend the seat of power. Men whose actions are diametrically opposed to their words. Men with questionable integrity.


Today, we have been trapped in the convoluted web of men whose value for the future is infinitesimal. And whose pleasure is gallivanting and globetrotting without any discernible idea on education.


Our politicians lack the will and vision to accurately position the state beyond subsistence, even at the subsistence level they are a colossal failure as thirty out of the thirty-six cannot pay common salary.


The past months the school had been on lockdown, the concerned Governors have not moved a hoot. That speak of high-level responsibility. Every government should have a face value at least for the populace especially the future.


A country lost in the world of delusion- wanting to be great but contended with staying at a mediocre equilibrium without a proportional effort to achieve the greatness. A sorry state for the giant of Africa whose delight is in stupefying retrogression. The Governors especially should put their houses in order as regard education because if we continue in these one step forward and several backwards, we won’t amount to anything soon.


We have become the scum of the world because we lack this one virtue- Vision! Our leadership is not driven by men and women with crystal clear vision. We lack the power of focus and intensity that behoves quality leadership. And where there is no vision, there won’t be the passion for pursuing the necessary course. Misplaced priority is equally inevitable.


It is high time we woke up from the slumber. The fabrics of our educational sector are losing out in the seams. We are tottering towards educational extinction if we don’t rise up from our greed induced stupor.


So, I ask if Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and Senator Abiola Ajimobi have concerns for the school gate that has been shut for more than two months now? Could this be the other side of the change promised?


Could this be another style of leadership whose priority is not first about the education? Could this be that they don’t know the school activities have been handicapped for this number of months? Or can we conclude that they are living in another world different from ours?


Maybe they don’t know this is taking place under their watch?


If their pride is that the school is jointly owned by two States whose Governors are ‘change’ mantra fanatics, I think they have to borrow themselves some currencies of common sense.


What progress has this change brought to the school? Non-payment of both the teaching and non-teaching staff is the trademark that stands them out. Two men whose party’s song of change has only resulted to an exponential backwardness in a fast order. Your house is burning, but it does not move you an inch speak volume of the premium you place on the family.


The two Governors and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the chancellor of the school should bring dynamism and progressiveness to the school but see where we are today? I do believe the good APC national leader in the person of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will use his heavyweight to weigh in in the current impasse in the school.


Please, wake up and do something urgent to the sordid and helpless state of the institution that has been on a terminal break for more than two months. Redefine your vision along the path of education and save the future of this nation.


Writer: Isaac Sogo Amoo – @isaacsogo on Twitter

Former VP Atiku Abubakar Supports The Book Launch On HID Awolowo With N10m cash

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and a host of other prominent Nigerians attended the book launch on Chief (Mrs) HID Awolowo. According to Vanguard, Atiku Abubakar who was the Chief Presenter of the biography of HID Awolowo, In the Radiance of the Sage: The Life and Times of HID Awolowo supported the book with the sum of N10 million cash. More photos below…

Yoruba Leadership: Don’t Distort History, Osoba Tells Obasanjo

Former governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, has condemned former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s position in his book, My Watch: Political and Public affairs, that there had never been any Yoruba leader, saying “He (Obasanjo) wants to distort the history of the Yoruba.”

Olusegun Osoba

Obasanjo made the assertion in chapter 31 of the  book, where he explained issues centered on Nigeria and Yoruba, arguing that there was no individual as Yoruba leader before and now.

Osoba, in an interview in Lagos, lamented that the declaration by the former President, who was present at the event when late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was ‘unanimously’ elected as the ‘Yoruba Leader,’ on August 12th, 1966, is worrisome.

According to him, “I disagree with the former President, on whatever claims he made that Awolowo was hand-picked by some of his supporters. In fact, the day he was elected as Yoruba leader was two weeks after  Awolowo was released from prison by the military.

“As the garrison commander in Ibadan at the time, Obasanjo was an active member of General Adeyinka Adebayo’s erstwhile cabinet. I do not think that Obasanjo would have forgotten so soon the sequence of events that threw up Awolowo as Yoruba leader.

“I was present at the forum where Late Chief Awolowo was unanimously elected the Yoruba leader. And the election involved all stakeholders, including political, cultural and intellectuals in Yoruba land. Some who did not belong to Awolowo’s political camp also endorsed him,” Osoba added.

Osoba however said that Yorubas cannot have a single leader under current political dispensation. “What we can have at the moment is ‘cultural’ leader not an overall leader. By our level of education, exposure and independent mindedness we like to express our views.”

“Even in family meetings, the Olori Ebi (head of the family), is challenged on issues affecting the family. So, each time the interest of Yoruba is threatened, we all gather under the leadership of an individual to solve the problem,” he added.

You’ll Never be Like Awolowo no Matter How Hard You Try, Bode George Tells Tinubu

Chief Bode George, a leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State,  has said that a former Governor of Lagos, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, will never be like the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, no matter how hard he tries to.

Tinubu is a national leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and is said to be largely responsible for the successful merger of the party due to his influence across the South-West. However, George, while addressing newsmen during a meeting with beneficiaries of a scheme by the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi, said Awolowo, during his time, ensured free education across the Western region when he was the premier.

Read More: today.ng