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.
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.
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.