This book has for once laid to rest the many inconsistencies and to a large degree partial and disjointed accounts presented over the years by so called "eye witness" accounts of the various events over the period from 1966 to 1976.
Devoid of any hints of propagandist material, Mr Siollun has given us an incisive and impartial account of the events of those years with copious cross references to authoritative and classified material which the author relied on through out the book. An added advantage is the fact that the "characters" current location and professional circumstances are dutifully and meticulously presented to the reader well into the present day. For instance, we were able to note that the erstwhile post failed 1976 coup Murtala successor General Obasanjo came back as a Civillian President much later on.
Mr Siollun has the unique advantage of being born in Nigeria but not natively belonging to any of the main tribes in Nigeria hence could not be seen or accused of being "Hausa centric", "igbo centric" or "Yoruba centric" in what has been an objective and well researched book.
The book itself is invariably a culmination of several decades of painstaking researched articles and materials written and published by the author over the years - already available in the public domain. What this book has done is to cleverly weave these together and provide the avid reader/follower of Nigerian History with a comprehensive harness of updated material hitherto unseen until now.
I was born around mid 1967 in the UK but returned with my parents to Nigeria late the same year when the Civil War was already in "full swing". We lived at GRA Ikeja (a few hundred meters to the Military Cantonment in Ikeja). Indeed at a point in time Babangida was our next door neighbour for several years when he was a junior "unknown" officer! I recall my parents (Who were federal civil servants based in Lagos) much later on recounting the dreadful events of that period. Though I did recall vividly the abortive Dimka coup of barely a decade later and the Udoji award and the attendant inflation that occured shortly afterwards. Indeed I recalled going to the Museum at Onikan in Lagos with my parents to view the bullet ridden Mercedes in which General Murtala met his untimely death. I was barely 13 years old then but ever since that visit, I made up my mind to hunt down as much information as possible with regards to the chequered history of our beloved nation.
Having thoroughly enjoyed the author's "first installment" of the 1966 to 1976 period, I cannot wait for the next installment covering the period December 1983 to October 1999. Indeed as fate would have it, My late Dad was the Territorial Manager at the Post and Telecoms(later renamed to NITEL) Ikeja Telephone Exchange which was walking distance from the Ikeja Military barracks. I do recall a very interesting encounter during the 1983 coup when soldiers came knocking on our door in the wee hours of the morning. As was customary in those days, the soldiers would generally take over the radio station and deactivate the local exchange at ikeja which my Dad headed at the time. On getting to the exchange on the fateful night, they ordered the technicians to switch off the power to deactive all local and international line in/out of the Exchange but the techician panicked and was not able to do so especially whilst under pressure from gun totting and fierce looking soldiers from the Ikeja cantonment. The technician was thereafter escorted under armed guard to our residence which was around half a mile down the road. My dad was politely roused from bed at around 2AM and taken to the exchange under armed guard whereupon he dutifully deactivated the relevant equipment; was told to go back home and "we were all sworn to secrecy". Of course we could not sleep a wink and welcomed the new year with martial music on the airwave.
Indeed unbeknown to us at the time, we were unwitting accessories to the commencement of almost two decades of military rule starting with the Buhari/Idiagbon regime and ending with the brutal dictatorial military regimes of Babangida/Abacha. With a number of real and phantom coups also thrown in somewhere in between for "good measures".
Once again Max, we doff out hats to you and really do appreciate your kind efforts at taking the time to provide Nigerians with a well written and incisive account of those years. A benchmark has been set and we fervently hope your next account will be equally as exhilarating.