By: Stephen M.
I remember sometime in the 90’s when my cousin came back from the UK and ‘dashed’ me £15 pounds. On the 5 pound note was Florence Nigthingale, the British woman creditated with inventing modern day Nursing profession. On the 10 pound note was Isaac Newton, renouned British physicist. All over the world, different nations honour their heroes and celebrated citizens by giving them a place of priviledge on their local currency. Those heroes are usually people of impeccable character who have contributed positively to the country and even the wider world. People worth emulating.
It is therefore shocking that a country like Nigeria can give a coup plotter, failed Soldier, genocidal killer, mass-murderer and despot such Murtala Ramat Mohammed a place of honour on the N20 note. It is a national disgrace and embarrassment that a man like Murtala Mohammed can be celebrated in our soceity this way after all the crimes he committed in his life time. Murtala’s crimes are too numerous but I will mention just 3.
1) He led the counter coup of July 1966 where he superviced the systematic slaughter of over 300 fellow Soldiers, mostly of Eastern extraction which included General Ironsi. Murtalas coup then took on ethnic and religious connotations and ultimately resulted in over 50,000 people, men, women and children being killed.
2) At the start of the war, Murtala Mohammed marched into Asaba. The few Asaba indigenes who still believed in ‘one Nigeria’ came out to welcome the Federal troops at cable point area of the city. Almost 1000 of them were gunned down on the spot by Murtala’s men.
3) Retreating Biafran troops had blown up the Niger Bridge leading into Onitsha. Murtala was warned by Army headquarters that Biafran Soldiers had taken up defensive positions on the other side of the River. He was told to go up north where it was safe to cross the River. Murtala, believing in his false sense of bravado as a military tactician, disregarded direct orders and tried to cross the River into Onitsha 3 times. All met with huge catastrophe amongst his troops. Thousands of Nigerian soldiers were used as target practice by the Biafran Soldiers while others drowned in the River. Murtala then went up North and crossed the River then tried again to invade Onitsha. He led a contingent of 100 trucks full of troops, ammunition and supplies but was but was stopped at Abagana and completely destroyed. Murtala barely made it out of that battle with his life. After this episode, Murtala was recalled from the war front and sent on indefinite leave to London after leading thousands of men to their deaths due to his bad leadership.
Murtala was one of the worst Officers ever produced by the Nigerian Army. He was a homicidal maniac, accomplished coup plotter, genocidal killer, military dictator and a narcissist of incredible dimensions. Why is this evil man on the N20 note?
Stephen writes from Lagos