Remembering A Great General (Murtala Muhammed)

By Ogunjimi James Taiwo

“What do the dangers or sacrifices of a man or a people matter when what is at stake is the destiny of humanity.” – Che Geuvera

Yesterday marked 36 years since one of the greatest leader Nigeria ever had was killed. I’ve read different tributes and different criticisms as regards Late General Murtala Muhammed.

Personally, i believe that the way he stood up to the western forces makes him a hero to remember. He may not have been a flawless man, but if there is anything Africa needs, it’s freedom from western colonisation. His speech at the OAU summit made him one of the most respected leaders. Below is the speech:

“Africa has come of age. It is no longer under the orbit of any extra continental power. It should no longer take orders from any country, however powerful. The fortunes of Africa are in our hands to make or to mar. For too long have we been kicked around: for too long have we been treated like adolescents who cannot discern their interests and act accordingly. For too long has it been presumed that the African needs outside ‘experts’ to tell him who are his friends and who are his enemies. The time has come when we should make it clear that we can decide for ourselves; that we know our own interests and how to protect those interests; that we are capable of resolving African problems without presumptuous lessons in ideological dangers which, more often than not, have no relevance for us, nor for the problem at hand.”

We should never forget that this speech practically signed his death warrant. After the speech, many believed he was a walking corpse. We shouldn’t forget what he stood and died for.

Murtala was a man who didn’t believe in formalties. He adopted a low profile policy, so for the 200 days he was Head of State he lived in the same house he had occupied as Director of Army Signal Corps and drove to work at the Dodan Barracks every morning from his house. No convoy. No sirens. No outriders. Few days after his assumption of office, Murtala shunned the sirens and convoy and rode alone with his driver, from Lagos to Kano, a journey of more than one thousand kilometres, in his personal car.

He was a man who wasn’t just interested in the wealth of our nation, he stood for our liberation from western forces. In an interview with The Punch of May 4th 1982, the late Chief MKO Abiola, a very close friend of Murtala, said that Murtala had only Seven Naira Twenty Two Kobo (N7.22) in his bank account when he died.” He wasn’t like the parasitic leaders we have today, who live off our money like lichens.

Murtala never detained a single person in the 6 months that he led the Nigerian nation. When former Lagos University Law Lecturer Dr. Obarogie Ohonbamu wrote in his magazine, African Spark that Murtala had corruptly enriched himself before becoming Head of State, and accused him of owning fleets of trailers and rows of houses, Murtala did not descend on him with his heavy boot as most military dictators, he quietly went to Igbosere magistrate court and sued Ohonbamu for libel. At the last hearing, the case was adjourned till 17th March, 1976, but Murtala was assassinated on 13th February.

As we remember him, we should remember what he stood for. We shouldn’t just remember him, we should fight for what he fought for. He fought for our freedom from those who believed they could dictate to us, those who thought themselves superior to us and those who are taking advantage of us. The onus lies on us to either break free of western dictatorship or remain slaves forever.

Murtala set our feet on the path to continental freedom, are we going to follow through on that path? Or would we rather remain slaves forever? You see. . .the choice is ours.

James Ogunjimi

  1. chike Reply

    he command the gonocide of asaba sept 7 1967 were prednant woman where raped and killed includes children.

    • harun Reply

      oo you chike, black hater of truth and reality… your hatred for the best personality (murtala) Nigeria ever witnessed will not turn his reputation down..

  2. prince Iyke Reply

    People who dnt hav any good thing to say abt somebody shud pls remain silent. I think it is beter.

  3. Iliya Muhammad Maidoki Reply

    may God forgive him.Really Nigerians we missed a good leader

  4. murtalah mohammed.a leader z gone,may his soul rest in d bossom hand of d lord Reply

    a hero nd a leader z gone wic courses a lost to unto our leader to folow d foot of amiable leader


    Every man has his short comings, but for Murtala they are less and we pray for his likes to Nigeria in the near future.

  6. Blacker Reply

    Nonsense, please do your research on Murtala and stop publishing nonsense. He was a savage brutal war criminal, who mudered and ordered the deaths of thousand of women and children in Asaba and Onitsha in the late 1960s. He managed to promote himself to the rank of four star general by age 37. The last real rank he attained on merit was the rank of captain. With his Uncle being the defence minister at the time, he was made temporary Major, then temporary Lt Col, and then promoted to a full Lt col, without even having been a substantive Major. Promotion to Colonel followed shortly afterwards, all these within 3 years. Commissioned in 1960, by 1970, he had been promoted to Colonel and made a divisional commander. A Clueless officer with no experience or natural intellect, made a divisional commander, and given license to cut open the bellies of pregnant women, rip the baies out and stab the babies to death. A coup plotter, who led the July 1966 coup, that resulted in the deaths of thousands of his fellow officers and soldiers; and the subsequent deaths of thousands of Ibo civilians living in Northen Nigeria. As a ‘brigadier’ in 1975, the first thing he did after pushing aside his fellow war criminal (Gowon) in a coup, was to promote himself to the rank of full General, skipping the ranks of Major General and Lt General. This despite the fact that he was never even a substantive Major. He was an arrongant killer, destroyed the civil service, and deserved what happened to him. Only in Nigeria will a greedy and callous war criminal be held in such high regards. His cronies in the army named our Lagos airport after him, and put his image on the 20 naira note. He had no respect for constituted authority, his superiors in the army, some of whom are still alive today can bear witness to his arrogance. He had no issue with ordering the callous murder of his superior officer, Gen Ironsi, who was in charge of the army, and had promoted him to the rank of Lt col, all in a bid to keep him happy. In any other country, this man would have been tried for war crimes and executed.

    • Anonymous Reply

      if you have personal problems with murtala dont involv GOWAN FOR HE WAS NOT A CRIMINAL

  7. Anonymous Reply

    tell him my brother the ibos never change

  8. Anonymous Reply

    U ppl r all ignorant of d fact dat murtala fight 4 nigeria n 4 africa 2 unit as one.gr8 leader da can neva b 4gotn in d heart of nigeria n africa atlarge

  9. Anonymous Reply

    Allah yaji kan musulmi

  10. Anonymous Reply

    An african great legend. May his soul rest in perfect peace.

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