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How Operation Wetie led to the 1966 Nigerian Coup D’état

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The Operation Wetie of the First Republic Western Region in 1965 was one of the excuses Majors Emmanuel Ifeajuna and Kaduna Nzeogwu with their cohorts gave when they struck on the morning of January 15, 1966, to end Nigeria’s First Republic.

There were widespread looting, riots, and murder as many political opponents were also burnt alive. The West which had been the bride of the nation in terms of development was now a political Warzone where thugs and urchins engaged in wanton killings and destruction of properties. The event came to be known as Operation Wetie. And the Western Region was nicknamed the Wild, Wild West….

We have explained that in the Video below:

Operation Wetie: Akintola-Awolowo rivalry and Nigeria’s first military coup of January 15, 1966

If you don’t want to watch the video, then continue reading:

Adegoke Adelabu and the 1959 Federal Elections

The 1959 Federal Elections had put Chief Obafemi Awolowo (1909-1966) of the Action Group Party (AG) as the Leader of the Opposition in the Federal Parliament while his Deputy, Chief Samuel Akintola (1910-1966), became the Premier and the Leader of the Government of Western Region.

Pragmatic leaders had chosen Akintola to succeed Awolowo when the latter resigned the premiership of the Western Region to contest the 1959 Federal elections. They reasoned that he (Akintola) was a logical choice not only because of his previous association with the Party but more so because of his hometown in Yorubaland.

The Action Group Party had never won the Ibadan constituency and other constituencies around Ibadan. There had always been intra-ethnic rivalries between Oyo and Ibadan on one hand and the Ijebu people on the other hand. Chief Akintola was from Ogbomosho which is in the Old Oyo Kingdom. Chief Awolowo on the other hand, was an Ijebu-Yoruba. The different intra-Yoruba rivalries did not encourage harmonious unity within the Party.

Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu, a Yoruba from Ibadan and a member of the rival National Convention of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC), had always successfully exploited the Action Group’s intraparty rivalries to his party’s advantage.

With Awolowo going to the Federal Parliament and Adelabu dead due to a motor accident and hence, out of the political scene, the AG could win all th