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Northern illiterates fought Biafra war – Usman Faruk. First military governor of the defunct North Western State, Assistant Commissioner of Police Usman Faruk (rtd) recently spoke to the media in Kaduna on issues of national interest, particularly as it affected the civil war, his collections which bothered on the war, the military government under General Yakubu Gowon and why he wants to dispose-off the collections. Our northern regional head, Gabriel Udeh captured the mood for Nigerian Pilot weekend

So much may have been written or said about the Nigerian civil war, especially by military officers who fought the battle but, precisely, there could be a difference or areas not so well captured as espoused by one of the superior officers who prosecuted the war. For the first military governor of the defunct North Western State or region, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Usman Faruk (rtd), he has so much information recorded solely by himself about the war. For instance, he told the media recently that there was more to the defeat the Biafra soldiers suffered from the federal troops. That secret till date he is keeping to his chest. “I won’t disclose what northern Nigeria soldiers discovered and used to conquer Biafra during the civil war.”

Faruk also spoke on far reaching issues among which are reasons why he wants to dispose-off historical documents, books, magazines and newspaper collections he made since 1960.

On the Nigerian civil war, he disclosed that the entire northern states had only 13 percent of literate persons at the verge of the war while its counterparts in the Eastern and Western region had 75 and 85 percent educated people respectively during the war era.

According to him, there were directives given to him as governor then for manpower to prosecute the war. He said “during the war we were directed to provide manpower, meaning people that would fight the war from the regions we oversee as governors. I went into research and in my state, in fact, in the entire northern states, I discovered that only 13 percent are literate, meaning only 13 percent went to school. And how can you go to modern warfare which requires map reading, computer and other sophisticated weapons with illiterate people and whereas in the Eastern and Western states they already had 75 and 85 percent?”

He noted that despite the high level of illiteracy then in northern Nigeria, in addition to the high level of illiterate northern soldiers deployed to the war front, it still excelled with somewhat like a warfare secret which he would not disclose for now.

“But we discovered something. I’m not going to mention it to you people; it is that thing we used to conquer Biafra, and we can conquer anybody who attempts to fight war with us,” he said.

The former police officer also said that he was the only governor who recorded the war processes minutes by minutes, seconds by seconds, from the beginning to the end, and kept all the records because of his background training as a police officer.

According to him, during the war every governor’s office was equipped with information gadgets, manned by two military officers to monitor the progress of the war from the three Brigade commanders headed by late General Shua, Muritala and Adekunle, who was later replaced with Gen. Obasanjo.

ACP Faruk said he moved down to the communications room, stayed with the two officers and ensured that he kept his own copy of every information received – such as “the number of our soldiers killed, weapons seized among others.”

The former governor, however, explained further that the main purpose of his interaction with the media was to explain his historic collections which he would like to dispose off, for the purpose of informing Nigerians both at home and in Diaspora who were interested in acquiring the historic books or collections about Nigeria and the civil war.

“I have been collecting documents as police officer, as governor by nature, a collection of documents of very important information in as far back as 1960. I was the first Tibra secretary before I was appointed governor. I feel time has come for me to sell the collections to all Nigerians.

“The collections of the books are up to 6000, to sell to prospective buyers. Time has come for me to tell Nigerians that I have the collection that I intend to put in the market for interested buys, up to 6000. I am the only person so far who recorded the civil war on daily basis, newspapers from 1960 to date on daily basis.They are kept in Arewa House.”

He spoke on far reaching national issues such as that former president of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, was his commissioner for eight years.
“Alhaji Shehu Shagari was my commissioner for eight years and from 1960, no government in Nigeria I did not participate in.
“Third reason for wanting to sell the books is I want to spread the knowledge that God gave to me and to share experience of what I’ve seen over the past 60 years, despite my little background education and vivid knowledge.”

He noted that by way of selling, probably it might spark off reading. “I don’t want those coming behind us to be ignorant. I call myself ignorant too despite by vivid education.”

According to him, the collections also include details of raw reports on (1967-1975) military rule, including that of decisions affecting the 12 states and General Gowon’s Supreme Military Council among others.
The former governor complained that it was only his pension benefits as a retired police officer and harmonised pension he was living on, there were no other sources of finance for him and his family.

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