In Nigeria’s political history, the fate of two military officers – one dead, one still living – was decided by a specific date. The first officer was 41 years, 10 months when he became the Head of State. Six months later, he was removed in a bloodbath. His predecessor was 31 years, nine months when he succeeded the former as Commander-in-Chief (known then as Supreme Commander). Nine years later, he was removed in a bloodless coup. That is the story of the late Major-General Johnson Thomas Umunakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi, Nigeria’s first military ruler, and his successor, General Yakubu Gowon. In 1966, Aguiyi-Ironsi was killed. In 1975, Gowon was removed from office. But the events happened on the same date – July 29. Today, Nigerians will, once again, reflect on the drama that occurred decades ago, which led to fundamental changes in the country’s history, writes GABRIEL AKINADEWO.
In many countries, there is nothing significant or spectacular about the date. July 29. But in Nigeria, the most populous black nation, this is not so. In the West African country, October 1 is also significant. In 1960, that was the day Nigeria got her independence from Britain. But the importance and relevance of July 29 to her political history, negatively or positively, remain unarguably obvious