Yakubu Gowon History Nigerias Third Head Of State

Yakubu Gowon History: Nigeria’s Third Head of State

Yakubu Gowon was Nigeria’s third head of state, serving from August 1, 1966, to July 29, 1975. Gowon was born on October 19, 1934, in Pankshin, Nigeria. His parents were early converts to Christianity, and Gowon was educated in Zaria, now in Kaduna state. He later became a career army officer.

Gowon’s time as head of state was marked by significant events in Nigeria’s history, including the Nigerian Civil War, which lasted from 1967 to 1970. During his tenure, Gowon implemented policies aimed at promoting national unity and economic growth.

He also oversaw the creation of twelve states in Nigeria, which was intended to address the issue of regional imbalances.

Despite his efforts, Gowon’s regime was not without controversy. There were allegations of corruption and mismanagement, and his government was criticized for its handling of the war and its aftermath.

Nevertheless, Gowon remains a significant figure in Nigeria’s history, and his contributions to the country’s development continue to be studied and debated today.


Early Life and Education

Yakubu Gowon was born on October 19, 1934, in Pankshin, Nigeria, to a Christian family. His father was an early convert to Christianity. Gowon’s family background was humble, and he grew up in a small village in Plateau state, in the middle belt of Nigeria.

Birth and Family Background

Gowon was the fifth of eleven children. His father was a teacher and a catechist, and his mother was a housewife. His parents instilled in him the values of hard work, discipline, and faith, which would shape his character and guide him throughout his life.

Military Training and Education

Gowon joined the Nigerian Army in 1954, at the age of 20. He received his commission as a second lieutenant on his 21st birthday, on October 19, 1955. He was trained in the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in the UK, from 1955 to 1956, and later attended the Staff College in Camberley, UK, in 1962. He also attended the Joint Staff College in Latimer, UK, in 1965.

Gowon’s military training and education prepared him for a career in the Nigerian Army, where he rose through the ranks to become a General and the Head of State of Nigeria from 1966 to 1975.


Military Career and Nigeria’s Leadership

Role in Nigerian Army

Yakubu Gowon was born on October 19, 1934, in Pankshin, Plateau State, Nigeria. He joined the Nigerian army in 1954 and rose through the ranks to become the Head of State in 1966. Gowon was trained in Ghana and in England at Sandhurst and twice served in the Congo region as part of Nigeria’s peacekeeping force there in the early 1960s.

Coup and Ascension to Power

Gowon became Head of State after a series of coups in Nigeria. In July 1966, he was appointed as the head of the Nigerian military government after a counter-coup against the previous military government. At the time of his appointment, Gowon was only 31 years old, making him one of the youngest heads of state in the world.

Policies and Governance

During his tenure as Head of State, Gowon implemented several policies aimed at improving the lives of Nigerians. He introduced the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program in 1973, which required all graduates of Nigerian universities to undergo a one-year national service in any part of the country. Gowon also implemented the indigenization policy, which aimed at transferring ownership and control of foreign-owned companies to Nigerians.

Civil War and Reconciliation Efforts

Gowon’s tenure was marked by the Nigerian Civil War, which lasted from 1967 to 1970. The war was fought between the Nigerian government and the secessionist state of Biafra. Gowon presided over the war and delivered the famous “no victor, no vanquished” speech at the war’s end to promote healing and reconciliation.

Overthrow and Exile

In July 1975, Gowon was overthrown in a coup while attending an Organization of African Unity (OAU) summit in Kampala, Uganda. He went into exile in the United Kingdom, where he completed his Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Warwick. Gowon later returned to Nigeria in 1981 and has since been involved in several peace and reconciliation efforts in the country.

Overall, Yakubu Gowon’s military career and leadership in Nigeria were marked by both successes and challenges. While he implemented several policies aimed at improving the lives of Nigerians, his tenure was also marked by the Nigerian Civil War, which resulted in the loss of many lives. Despite his overthrow, Gowon has remained committed to promoting peace and reconciliation in Nigeria.


Frequently Asked Questions

What were the major achievements of Yakubu Gowon’s regime in Nigeria?

Yakubu Gowon’s regime achieved several milestones during his tenure as Nigeria’s Head of State. Some of these achievements include the creation of 12 states from the existing four regions to improve administrative efficiency, the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to promote national unity, and the significant expansion of infrastructure such as roads, railways, and airports.

What role did Yakubu Gowon play in the Nigerian Civil War?

Yakubu Gowon played a crucial role in the Nigerian Civil War, which lasted from 1967 to 1970. As the Head of State, he led the Nigerian military to victory against the secessionist state of Biafra, which sought to break away from Nigeria. Gowon’s administration implemented policies such as the “3Rs” (Reconciliation, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction) to promote national unity and rebuild the war-torn regions.

How did Yakubu Gowon’s policies impact Nigeria’s economy and unity?

Gowon’s policies had mixed impacts on Nigeria’s economy and unity. While his administration made significant investments in infrastructure and agriculture, Nigeria’s economy was heavily dependent on oil exports, which led to a decline in other sectors. Additionally, Gowon’s policies aimed at promoting national unity, such as the creation of states and the NYSC, were criticized by some for not fully addressing underlying ethnic and religious tensions.

What led to the overthrow of Yakubu Gowon as Nigeria’s Head of State?

Yakubu Gowon was overthrown in a bloodless coup on July 29, 1975, while he was attending an OAU summit in Kampala, Uganda. The coup was led by Brigadier General Murtala Ramat Mohammed, who cited Gowon’s alleged inability to address corruption and the country’s economic woes as reasons for the coup.

Can you describe Yakubu Gowon’s early life and military career?

Yakubu Gowon was born on October 19, 1934, in Pankshin, Nigeria. He was the fifth of eleven children and was raised in a Christian family. Gowon attended primary and secondary schools in Nigeria and later joined the Nigerian Army in 1954. He rose through the ranks to become Nigeria’s youngest military chief of staff at the age of 31.

What are the notable contributions of Yakubu Gowon post-presidency in Nigeria?

After his presidency, Yakubu Gowon became involved in several peacekeeping and humanitarian initiatives in Nigeria and beyond. He played a crucial role in the establishment of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Leadership Forum (ALF). Additionally, Gowon has been involved in various interfaith dialogues and reconciliation efforts in Nigeria.

You May Also Like

More From Author

+ There are no comments

Add yours