General Yakubu “Jack” Dan-Yumma Gowon was born on the 19th of October 1934 in Lur, a small village in the present Kanke Local Government Area of Plateau State. General Yakubu Gowon was the former head of state (Head of the Federal Military Government) of Nigeria from 1966 to 1975.
He took power after a military coup d’état and was later overthrown in another. During his rule, the Nigerian government successfully prevented Biafran secession during the 1967–70 Nigerian Civil War.
|Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, UK
|Staff College, Camberley, UK
|Joint Staff College, Latimer
|University of Warwick (1983)
|Ph.D. In Political Science
25 September 1944
Plateau State, Nigeria
Head of State
In January 1966, Gowon became Nigeria’s youngest military chief of staff at the age of 31, because a military coup d’état by a group of junior officers under Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu led to the overthrow of Nigeria’s civilian government. In the course of this coup, a lot of northern and western leaders were killed, including Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria’s Prime Minister; Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of the Northern Region; and Samuel Akintola, Premier of the Western Region, Lt Col Arthur Unegbe and so many more.
Role in the Biafran War
In anticipation of eastern secession, Gowon moved quickly to weaken the support base of the region by decreeing the creation of twelve new states to replace the four regions. Six of these states contained minority groups that had demanded state creation since the 1950s. Gowon rightly calculated that the eastern minorities would not actively support the Igbos, given the prospect of having their own states if the secession effort were defeated. Many of the federal troops who fought in the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran War, to bring the Eastern Region back to the federation, were members of minority groups.
The war lasted thirty months and ended in January 1970. In accepting Biafra’ unconditional cease-fire, Gowon declared that there would be no victor and no vanquished. In this spirit, the years afterward were declared to be a period of rehabilitation, reconstruction, and reconciliation. The oil-price boom, which began as a result of the high price of crude oil (the country’s major revenue earner) in the world market in 1973, increased the federal government’s ability to undertake these tasks.