The Cabinet Take Over 3

These previous near-misses strengthened Mbadiwe and the NCNC ministers’ resolve to ensure that on the day of the coup, the post never eluded his grasp. However, the NCNC ministers pushing his candidacy were so careless to the optics of their cause and the combustive boxes they were ticking: Azikiwe, the head of government, Igbo. Tick. Mbadiwe, the proposed interim PM, Igbo. Tick. Nwafor Orizu, the existing senate president, Igbo. Tick. Nzeribe, the deputy speaker of the parliament, Igbo. Tick. Then the coup plotters who were mostly Igbo complained of corruption overdose in government only to end up killing some non-Igbos in government while leaving corrupt Igbos unkilled. Tick.
This was one of the seductive narratives of Igbo domination that the dispossessed Northern politicians and the coalition of the offended succeeded in impressing on consciousness of the distracted nation in the following three months.
The result? An organised mass slaughter, the like of which Nigerians only read in foreign news and in the final pages of the New Testament. Meanwhile, the meeting at the conference room at the Police Headquarters was rancorous.
Teslim Elias, the Attorney General with no party affiliation was called upon to interpret the law in such a circumstance. He knew Abubakar was not coming back so he said: the absence of Abubakar did not mean the end of his government. It was the NPC and NNDP alliance that won the election and they were the ones President Azikiwe called upon (albeit forced) to form the government. Abubakar always believed that Nigeria was not ripe for oppositional politics and that Nigerian democracy should be an ethnic commonwealth that gave each constituent tribe a fair place under its umbrella even if they had lost at the polls.
***The Way Forward Is To Fill A Vacant Seat***

Mbadiwe, Okotie-Eboh, Wachuku, Adeniran Ogunsanya and 10 other NCNC ministers were invited to join the cabinet as a form of government of national unity.
Elias concluded that NPC-NNDP held the mandate not the NCNC and so the most senior NPC politician should fill the post of the Prime Minister. The NCNC ministers disagreed arguing that it should be the most senior minister in the cabinet, not merely in the party, and with Mbadiwe as the acting PM, the government was still that of the missing Abubakar.
Then the rancour resumed. Ironsi sat there watching and listening not like a sphinx in Egypt guarding the pyramids but like a terrible judgement that would soon find its word. Meanwhile earlier that morning, around 8:30 am, at the Parliament buildings at Onikan, the legislators converged in the open air. Out of 312 parliamentarians, only 33 were present. Few knew a coup was on going. One of them was R.N. Okafor. He was only appointed the Minister of State for Trade the previous day by Abubakar after months of lobbying by Mbadiwe the senior minister.
Okafor was the chairman of ceremonies planning whose efforts culminated in a 3-day extravaganza to commission Mbadiwe’s Palace of the People at Arondizuogu in Orlu three weeks earlier. He was also with Mbadiwe on 3-4th January at the secret meeting the NCNC parliamentary leadership had with Dauda Adegbenro, their UPGA partner and AG’s acting Leader at Dr Okpara’s residence in Enugu. In the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy speaker, Benjamin Nzeribe observed there was no quorum – only 33 mostly NCNC of 312 members of the House were present – Okafor then moved for the adjournment of the House “in view of the incidents of the last few hours”.
The parliament was adjourned and would remain adjourned for the next 13years. The whole pre-determined proceedings took less than 15 minutes. They then moved to Mbadiwe’s residence in Ikoyi where they were told that there was going to be an emergency Cabinet meeting at the Force Headquarters. Chief Richard Akinjide of blessed memory,who was also a minister in Balewa's cabinet who also attended this same meeting at Force HQ completed the rest of this story from here. Accoding to him, on their arrival for the meeting the GOC Major General Aguiyi - Ironsi came out of a closed door meeting with the Senate President Nwafor Orizu to address the cabinet members invited to the meeting. What did Ironsi have to say? That he as the Supreme Commander and the G.O.C of the Nigeria Army, he has taken over power.
And like Azikiwe himself will say "only a fool will argue with a gun" they were left with no choice than to surrender power to the Supreme Commander Ironsi. The winners grab it all unification decree that followed thereafter which stripped the regions of their powers, that is now wanted back again through the backdoor of restructuring, the motives and intention behind that unification decree, we would rather leave as a subject of future symposium, lest we ruffle feathers today.