Gowon's broadcast to the nation - May 27, 1967.
Gowon's Broadcast to the Nation, dividing Nigeria into Twelve States
Dear Country men:
As you are all aware Nigeria has been immersed in an extremely grave
crisis for almost eighteen months. We have now reached a most
critical phase where what is at stake is the very survival of Nigeria
as one political and economic unit. We must rise to the challenge
and what we do in the next few days will be decisive.
The whole world is witness to the continued defiance of Federal
Authority by the Government of Eastern Region, the distruption of the
Railway, the Coal Corporation, the normal operations of the Nigerian
Ports Authority, the interference with the flight schedules of the
Nigeria Airways and other illegal acts by the Eastern Region
Government culminating in the edicts promulgated last month by that
Government purporting to seize all Federal Statutory Corporations and
Federal revenues collected in the East.
The consequence of these illegal sets has been the increasing
deterioration of the Nigerian economy. It has also produced
uncertainty and insecurity generally and pushed the country with
increasing tempo towards total disintegration and possible civil war
and bloodshed on massive scale.
It has also led to increasing loss of foreign confidence in the
ability of Nigerians to resolve the present problems. This has been
reflected in the stoppage of the inflow of much badly needed
additional foreign investment, it has put a brake on economic
development so essential to the well-being of the common man and the
ordinary citizen whose only desire is for peace and stability to
carry on his daily work.
In the face of all these, I have shown great restraint, hoping that
through peaceful negotiations a solution acceptable to all sections
of the country can be found. Unfortunately, the hopes of myself and
my other colleagues on the Supreme Military council have been
disappointed by the ever increasing campaign of hate by the Governor
of the Eastern Region. Lt. Col Ojukwu has continuously increased his
demands as soon as some are met in order to perpetuate the crisis and
lead the Eastern Region out of Nigeria. We know very well the tragic
consequences of such a misguided step. Not only will the regions
themselves disintegrate further, but before then, pushed by foreign
powers and mercenaries who will interfere, this dear country will be
turned into a bloody stage for chaotic and wasteful civil war.
When the tragic events of 15th January, 1966 occurred, the country
acquiesced in the installation of a Military Regime only because it
desired that order and discipline should be restored in he conduct of
the affairs of this country, that swift reforms will be introduced to
produce just and honest Government, to usher in stability and ensure
fair treatment of all citizens in every part of the country. The
citizens of this country have not given the Military Regime any
mandate to divide up the country into sovereign states and to plunge
them into bloody disaster.
As I have warned before, my duty is clear--faced with this final
choice between action to save Nigeria and acquiescence in secession
and disintegration. I am therefore proclaiming a State of Emergency
throughout Nigeria with immediate effect. I have assumed full powers
as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and Head of the Federal
Military Government for the short period necessary to carry through
the measures which are now urgently required.
In this period of emergency, no political statements in the Press,
on the Radio and Television and all publicity media or any other
political activity, will be tolerated. The Military and Police are
empowered to deal summarily with any offenders. Newspaper editors
are particularly urged to co-operate with the authorities to ensure
the success of these measures.
I have referred earlier to some illegal acts of the Eastern Region
Government. You all know that about one third of the entire falling
stock of the Nigerian Railways, including 115 oil-tankers, have been
detained and that the services on the Eastern District of the
Nigerian railways have been completely disrupted for many months.
You are also aware of the fact that they have disrupted the direct
movement of oil products from the refinery near Port Harcooout to the
Northern Region. They have hindered the transit of goods to
neighbouring countries and have even seized goods belonging to
foreign countries. These acts have flagrantly violated normal
international practice and disturbed friendly relations with our
neighbours. That refinery is owned jointly by the Federal Government
and Regional governments. Illegally, since last year, the
Authorities at Enugu have interfered with the flight routes of the
Nigeria Airways. Only recently they committed the barbaric crime of
hi-jacking a plane bound for Lagos from Benin. They have placed a
ban o the residence of non-Easterners in the Eastern Region--an
action which is against the Constitution and the fundamental
provisions of our laws. They have continuously on the Press and
radio incited the people of eastern Region to hatred of other
Nigerian peoples and they have indulged in the crudest abuse of
members of the Supreme Military Council, especially myself.
Despite all these, I have spared no effort to conciliate the East in
recognition of their understandable grievances and fears since the
tragic incidents of 1966. To this end I agreed with my other
colleagues on the Supreme Military Council to the promulgation of the
Decree No. 8 which completely decentralized the government of this
country and even went further than the Republican Constitution as it
existed before 15th January, 1966. But what has been the response of
the Eastern Region Government? Complete rejection of Decree No. 8
and insistence on its separate existence as a sovereign unit.
Only recently, a group of distinguished citizens formed themselves
into the National Conciliation Committee. They submitted
recommendations aimed at reducing tension. These included the
reciprocal abrogation of economic measures taken by the Federal
Military government and the seizure of Federal Statutory Corporations
and Federal revenue by the Eastern Government. These reciprocal
actions were to be taken within one week, that is by 25th May, 1967.
It is on record that I accepted the recommendations and issued
instructions effective from Tuesday, May 23. Indeed I now understand
that certain vehicles of the Posts and Telegraphs Department which
went to the East in resumption of services have been illegally
detained in the Region. The response of the east has been completely
negative and they have continued their propaganda and stage-managed
demonstrations for "independence."
Fellow citizens, I recognize however that the problem of Nigeria
extends beyond the present misguided actions of the Eastern Region
Government. My duty is to all citizens. I propose to treat all
sections of the country with equality. The main obstacle to future
stability in this country is the present structural imbalance in the
Even Decree No. 8 or Confederation or Loose Association will never
survive if any one section of the country is in a position to hold
the others to ransom.
This is why the item in the Political and Administrative Programme
adopted by the Supreme Military Council last month is the creation of
states as a basis for stability. This must be done first so as to
remove the fear of domination. Representatives drawn from the new
states will be more able to work out the future constitution for this
country which can contain provisions to protect the powers of the
states to the fullest extent desired by the Nigerian people. As soon
as these states are established, a new Revenue Allocation Commission
consisting of international experts will be appointed to recommend an
equitable formula for revenue allocation taking into account the
desires of the states.
I propose to act faithfully within the Political and Administrative
Programme adopted by the Supreme Military Council and published last
month. The world will recognize in these proposals our desire for
justice and fair play for all sections of this country and to
accommodate all genuine aspirations of the diverse people of this
I have ordered the reimposition of the economic measures designed to
safeguard federal interests until such a time as the Eastern Military
Government abrogates its illegal edicts on revenue collection and the
administration of the Federal Statutory Corporations based in the
The country has a long history of well articulated demands for
states. The fears of minorities were explained in great detail and
set out in the report of the Willink Commission appointed by the
British in 1958. More recently there has been extensive discussion
in Regional Consultative Committees and Leaders-of-Thought
Conferences. Resolutions have been adopted demanding the creation of
states in the North and in Lagos. Petitions from minority areas in
the East which have been subjected to violent intimidation by the
Eastern Military Government have been widely publicized. While the
present circumstances regrettably do not allow for consultations
through plebiscites, I am satisfied that the creation of new states
as the only possible basis for stability and equality is the
overwhelming desire of vast majority of Nigerians. To ensure justice,
these states are being created simultaneously.
To this end, therefore, I am promulgating a Decree which will divide
the Federal republic into Twelve States. The twelve states will be
six in the present Northern Region, three in the present Eastern
Region, the Mid-West will remain as it is, the Colony Province of the
Western Region and Lagos will form a new Lagos State and the Western
Region will otherwise remain as it is.
I must emphasize at once that the Decree will provide for a States
Delimitation Commission which will ensure that any divisions or towns
not satisfied with the states in which they are initially grouped
will obtain redress. But in this moment of serious National
Emergency the co-operation of all concerned is absolutely essential
in order to avoid any unpleasant consequences.
I wish also to emphasize that an Administrative Council will be
established at the capitals of the existing regions, which will be
available to the new states to ensure the smoothest possible
administrative transition in he establishment of the new states. The
twelve new states, subject to marginal boundary adjustments, will
therefore be as follows:
North-Western State comprising Sokoto and Niger Provinces.
North-Central State comprising Katsina and Zaria.
Kano State comprising the present Kano Province.
North-Eastern State comprising Bornu, Adamawa, Sarduana and Bauchi
Benue/Plateau State comprising Benue and Plateau Provinces.
Lagos State comprising the Colony Province and the Federal Territory
Western State comprising the present Western Region but excluding
the Colony Province.
Mid-Western State comprising the present Mid-Western State.
East-Central State comprising the present Eastern Region excluding
Calabar, Ogoja and Rivers Provinces.
South-Eastern State comprising Calabar and Ogoja Provinces.
Rivers State comprising Ahoada, Brass, Degema, Ogoni and Port
The states will be free to adopt any particular names they choose in
the future. The immediate administrative arrangements of the new
states have been planned and the names of the Military Governors
appointed to the new states will be gazetted shortly. The allocation
of federally collected revenue to the new states on an interim basis
for the first few months has also been planned. The successor states
in each former region will share the revenue until a more permanent
formula is recommended by the new Revenue Allocation Commission.
Suitable arrangements have been made to minimize any disruption in
the normal functioning of services in the areas of the new states.
It is my fervent hope that the existing regional Authorities will co-
operate fully to ensure the smoothest possible establishment of the
new states. It is also my hope that the nee to use force to support
any new state will not arise. I am, however, ready to protect any
citizens of this country who are subject to intimidation or violence
in the course of establishment of these new states.
My dear countrymen, the struggle ahead is for the well-being of the
present and future generations of Nigerians. If it were possible for
us to avoid chaos and civil war merely by drifting apart as some
people claim that easy choice may have been taken. But we know that
to take such a course will quickly lead to the disintegration of the
existing regions in condition of chaos and to disastrous foreign
interference. We now have to adopt the courageous course of facing
the fundamental problem that has plagued this country since the early
50s. There should be no recrimination. We must all resolve to work
together. It is my hope that those who disagreed in the past with
the Federal Military Government through genuine misunderstanding and
mistrust will now be convinced of our purpose and be willing to come
back and let us plan and work together for the realization of the
Political and Administrative programme of the Supreme Military
Council, and for the early restoration of full civilian rule in
circumstances which would enhance just and honest and patriotic
government. I appeal to the general public to continue to give their
co-operation to the Federal Military Government; to go about their
normal business peacefully; to maintain harmony with all communities
wherever they live; to respect all the directives of the Government
including directives restricting the movements of people while the
emergency remains. Such directives are for their own protection and
in their own interest.
Let us therefore, march manfully together to alter the course of
this nation once again for all and to place it on the path of
progress, unity and equality. Let us so act that future generations
of Nigerians will praise us for our resolution and courage in this
critical stage of our country's history. Long live the Federal
Republic of Nigeria.
compiled by Nowa Omoigui, MD