A PHILOSOPHICAL EVALUATION OF GOWON’S ‘NO VICTOR, NO VANQUISHED’ MANTRA
General Yakubu Gowon, Nigeria’s military head-of-state during the Nigeria- Biafra war (July 6, 1967- January 15, 1970), made a national broadcast on January 14, 1970, the eve of the official surrender of Biafra to the troops of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The kernel of the speech is that there is ‘no victor, no vanquished’ in the war. He called for the full reintegration of Igbos into Nigerian life. Yet, more than half a century later, Nigeria is more divided than even during the war. The ex-Biafrans still feel highly marginalised within the Nigerian project to the point that there are agitations for self- determination. The crisis of confidence is to the point that there is serious concern that the country will soon collapse. The paper employs an expository, analytical, comparative and reconstructive methodology in an effort to find out what the slogan achieved. Philosophical exposition and analysis are employed to explore and interrogate the import of the mantra. Its comparative and reconstructive outlooks derive from an evaluation of the mantra and what it is supposed to achieve for social reconstruction in Nigeria. The paper finds that there is fundamental ontological distortion in pairing ‘victor’ and ‘vanquished’ as equivalent concepts. This is a key factor preventing the slogan from living up to its mandate as a unifying force for Nigeria. The study, then, is interested in the correct interpretation of the slogan that reflects the order of things and how this understanding is critical to finding solution to the present crises in Nigeria.
Keywords: Philosophy, Nigeria-Biafra war, Gowon, ‘No victor, no vanquished’