Yakubu Gowon, one of the prominent former Nigeria's Head of State is a man whom little is known about his political administration by many Nigerians. In this article, I explain how Yakubu Gowon rose to become Nigeria's Head of State, even though he didn't deserve it at that time, as he was just a junior officer.
Gowon became Head Of State in the year 1966. Few months before he became Head of State, General Babafemi Ogundipe, who is now late, was the second-in-command and the Chief of Staff to General Aguiyi Johnson Ironsi, who was the Head of State at that time.
At that time, which was few months after the first coup which killed Tafawa Balewa and a host of other Northerners, there were rumours of a counter coup being planned. Aguiyi Ironsi, who was the Head of State had to travel to Ibadan, the Yoruba headquarters, in order to make peace with the rank and file in the armed forces, to avert a second coup.
Aguiyi never succeeded in this trip as he was killed there in Ibadan. This automatically meant that Babafemi Ogundipe, who was the second in command was to take over as the Head of State. Ogundipe wasn't just the second in command, he was the most senior military officer at that time, and the only Brigadier who was still alive after the second coup.
He however refused to assume the position of Head of State, mainly because he feared for his life. He feared that what befell Aguiyi Ironsi might befall him as well, especially as he had no army troop. This made Yakubu Gowon, aka, Jack, a junior officer who had just returned from a course abroad, assume power as Head of State. Before he assumed power, he was just a Lieutenant Colone
Yakubu Gowon wouldn't have risen to become the Head of State if Late Babafemi Ogundipe had assumed power immediately after the death of Ironsi. Asides General Ogundipe, there were other more senior officers above Gowon, like; Commodore Joseph Wey and Colonel Robert Adebayo, who also didn't assume power.