My name is Sanya Onabamiro.
I am a PhD holder.
I visited Obafemi Awolowo on a certain Sunday afternoon in the early 1960s, and he told me that he wanted to have a private discussion with me in the evening of the same day.
When I got to his house about 4 pm, I saw Anthony Enahoro also waiting to see Awolowo and he also said that Awolowo told him that he wanted to see him personally. Not long after, we were led to Awolowo’s private conference room.
Awolowo told us that he invited the two of us because he trusted us the most among his political lieutenants. He thereafter told us that he was working on *a plan to overthrow Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa through a “revolution”
According to Awolowo,
1. He had imported some submachine guns into Nigeria through Ghana.
2. He was training some boys in secret training camps to carry out the revolution.
3. On the day of the revolution, the trained boys will take over ECN (Electricity Corporation of Nigeria, which was the name of NEPA then), take over Ikeja Airport (now called MMA), and take over some other important buildings, and proceed to arrest and detain top government officials including Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa
4. Awolowo further assured Enahoro and me that the revolution will take place in a single night and will be over in a few hours and he, Obafemi Awolowo, will be declared the Nigerian prime minister.
Enahoro seemed to know about this Awolowo’s plan due to the manner in which he smiled knowingly at Awolowo’s explanation of the plan to take over government.
When Awolowo told me to say something about the planned revolution, I politely told Awolowo that
1. He (Awolowo) was mixing up the terms “revolution” and “coup d’etat” as if they were synonymous & interchangeable
2. Coups d’etat take only few hours to happen but a revolution can take several years before it can succeed or even still fail. I asked Awolowo if he could provide enough weapons and provisions for the boys he was training to fight government for years
3. Coups d’etat are carried by the military, not by armed civilians. Any uprising by armed civilians will be promptly crushed by the military
4. A revolution will only succeed if the whole populace is against the government. I told Awolowo that regardless of what he thought, the Nigerian populace was happy with Balewa Government.
5. Revolution is based on ideology unlike coup d’etat that are political in nature. I gave Awolowo examples of revolutionaries that were caught in South America and were about to be hanged yet they refused to confess about their other co-revolutionaries. I told Awolowo that no Nigerian will want to be hanged so that he, Awolowo, can be prime minister
When I finished speaking, Awolowo exchanged glances with Enaohoro, and thereafter asked me where I got all these information from.
I replied Awolowo that I have a book detailing the differences between a coup d’etat and a revolution.
He replied that I should immediately go home and bring him the book. I did exactly that but when I got back to Awolowo’s house to give him the book, I was told he was not around and that I should drop the book for his stewards for onward delivery to Awolowo. I did exactly that and went back to my house.
It was not long after that Awolowo was arrested for planning to overthrow Balewa Government, and I was arrested for planning the overthrow with Awolowo.
Dr Sanya Onabamiro, defending himself in front of Justice Shodeinde Showemimo against the allegation of joining Awolowo to plan the overthrow of Balewa Government in the early 1960s, as recorded in the autobiographical book titled Adventures in Power.
My March through Prison by Obafemi Awolowo.