Obasanjo’s Civil War Book, Self-Glorification – Ex-Generals

Former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Alani Akinrinade (retd.), and Brig.-Gen. Godwin Alabi-Isama (retd.), on Thursday faulted former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Nigerian Civil War account.

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Obasanjo’s story in his war memoirs, My Command, Akinrinade and Alabi-Isama said, was full of “serious and historical errors” and constituted a “self-glorification.”

The former President’s account, the retired military officers added, amounted to denying others, who helped to achieve Nigeria’s victory, the credit they deserved.

The civil war took place between 1967 and 1970.

The generals, who participated in the war, spoke in Lagos at the public presentation of Alabi-Isama’s book, Tragedy of Victory: on the spot account of Nigeria-Biafra Civil War in the Atlantic Theatre.

The author, in his book, claimed that Obasanjo, who was the last Commander of the Third Marine Commando that led the military campaigns against Biafra, did not participate in the real battle even as he committed many strategic blunders.

Alabi-Isama added that Obasanjo, in My Command, claimed glory for the victory even when he was not present to receive the instrument of surrender from Biafra when the war ended in 1970.

Alabi-Isama, who narrated how he faced persecution in the army, said his book was to celebrate others whose contributions during the war Obasanjo and others failed to acknowledge.

He said, “We neglected those who fought the Civil War and we have a glorified brother, who was as at the time Col. Obasanjo. He wrote a book entitled, My Command. In that book, he wrote about himself and every other person was demonised. That is why I have the Part 3 of this book as the expose.”

Commending Alabi-Isama’s work, Akinrinade said the author had “put the record straight”, particularly with documents and photographs.

The 601-page book has 36 maps, 20 documents and 450 photographs, which Alabi-Isama reportedly took during the war.

Akinrinade added that My Command failed “to do justice to all the good people who fought that war.”

The Executive Editor of The NEWS magazine, Mr. Kunle Ajibade, who reviewed the new book, said My Command was unlike Long Walk to Freedom, in which former South African President Nelson Mandela was full of praises for those who fought the anti-apartheid struggle with him.

Ajibade said, “The total lack of this kind of generous spirit in Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo” spurred Alabi-Isama to write The Tragedy of Victory, which “offers a ferocious and damning critique of Obasanjo’s vainglorious claims of his gallantry.”

Gen. Yakubu Gowon, who was the Head of State during the war, said Obasanjo, “as the Commanding Officer assigned to command the division, “was rightfully positioned to claim victory on behalf of the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces.”

Gowon, who was unable to attend the event, stated in his foreword to the book.

According to him, Isama-Alabi’s book has made an “invaluable” contribution to understanding our nation’s history.

A former Minister of Defence, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), who chaired the book presentation, denied the allegation that he conspired with Obasanjo to force the author out of the army.

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