Who Was The First Military Head of State in Nigeria?
Nigeria’s first military head of state was Major-General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi. He rose to the position of military head of state following the coup d’etat of 1966 led by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu which overthrew President Nnamdi Azikiwe and his government. Inside this article is the answer to the question; Who was the first military head of state in Nigeria? His biography and brief history how he rose to that position of power.
Biography of Major-General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi.
Major-General Aguiyi-Ironsi hails from Umuahia, Abia state. He was born Johnson Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi on the 3rd day of March 1924 to Ezeugo Aguiyi (Father). At the age of eight (8), he moved in with his elder sister who was married to a Sierra Leonean diplomat (Theophilius Johnson) in Umuahia.
He took his brother-in-law las t name (Johnson) to be his first name. He did his primary education in Umuahia and secondary education in Kano.
He started his military career at the age of 18 when he joined the Nigerian Army against the wish of his sister in 1942. He joined at the rank of a private with the seventh battalion. He got promoted in 1946 to the rank of company sergeant major. He was promoted to second lieutenant of Royal West African Frontier Force in 1949.
He was promoted to captain in 1953 and then to Major in 1955. In 1960, Aguiyi-Ironsi was made commandant of the fifth battalion in Kano, Nigeria, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. By promotion, he became Major General in 1965.
Also in 1965, Major General CB Welby-Everard handed over his position as the general officer Commanding, GOC of the entire Nigerian Army to Major General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi (making him the first Nigeria indigenous to head the entire Nigerian Army).
Who Was The First Military Head of State in Nigeria? With Brief History Surrounding It.
Aguiyi-Ironsi became the first military head of state in Nigeria following the failed coup d’etat of 1966 led by Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu which overthrew the central and regional governments of Nigeria, killed the prime minister (Tafawa Balewa), most politicians from the Northern and Western provinces and tried to take control of the government.
Aguiyi-Ironsi was also among those target to be assasinated, but escape death and immediately took control of Lagos state. He then forced the remaining members of Tafawa Balewa’s government to resign and surrender power to the Senate President, Nwafor Orizu. He captured and imprisoned Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu.
Major-General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi then forced Nwafor Orizu to make television broadcast surrendering power to him. Making him Nigeria’s first military head of state and ending/falling the First Nigerian Republic.
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