Fifty years ago today, on July 29th 1966, a man by the name of Lieutenant Colonel Francis Adekunle Fajuyi gave his life in defence of our country and the then Head of State, General Johnson Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi.
His killers were a group of northern army officers who participated in the so-called northern “revenge coup” of July 29th 1966.
No less than 300 Igbo army officers were slaughtered that night together with a handful of Yoruba soldiers, including Fajuyi.
Lieutenant Colonel Fajuyi was a Yoruba man who opted to die in defence of an Igbo Head of State. This was not only honorable and courageous but it was also unique and unprecedented.
He was a selfless hero and a man that we shall honor and immortalise in the new Nigeria that is to come.
Those that murdered him, General Aguiyi-Ironsi and the famous 300 in cold blood that night are still running the affairs of our country till today. They determine who is who and who gets what. They decide who our president will be and how long he will remain in power.
As a matter of fact their hateful hegemony and evil intentions are even more pronounced and frightful today than they were in 1966 and their grip on the levers of power in our country is even stronger.
Today, they are fully in charge and some of those that actually shot Fajuyi are fully behind them.
Yet, despite their intention to dominate, silence, break, and destroy the rest of us one thing remains clear: the Fajuyi spirit of courage, unity, selflessness, and sacrifice has been imbued by millions in the southern and Middle Belt regions of our country.
These are men and women that are prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with the oppressed of our nation, whether they be Niger Deltans, Igbos, Yorubas, Middle Belters, or anything else.
These are men and women that are prepared to resist the perfidious religious and ethnic agenda of the “born to rule” in our midst and that recognise the fact that they regard the rest of us as nothing but slaves.
When it comes to southern rights and interests, we, the Yoruba particularly, must learn a lesson from our own son Fajuyi and emulate his example.
Like him, if necessary, we must be ready to sacrifice our lives and liberty in defence of any or all of our southern and Middle Belt brethren that are facing persecution, genocide, and injustice at the hands of our collective slave masters.
It is also time for us to appreciate the fact that if we truly want to be free we must extend our hand of friendship across the River Niger to the Igbo and we must see their bitter travails as being ours as well.
We must also feel the pain when an Igbo or Niger Deltan youth is slaughtered by President Buhari’s army in the name of “crushing all opposition and dissent” and “keeping Nigeria one”.
We must acknowledge the fact that Nigeria cannot remain one as long as there is ethnic and religious bigotry, oppression and injustice.
We must appreciate the fact that there can never be southern, or indeed Middle Belt, emancipation without southern unity.
Fajuyi understood that point 50 years ago. Consequently, he opted to resist the evil in the and and die for it. He was indeed a true martyr.
He paid the supreme price for his fellow southerner and he stood against northern adventurism, oppression, domination, and hegemony.
50 years later it is time for the rest of us to do the same. It is time for us to acknowledge and honor his sacrifice and come together as one. It is time for us to stand up, look at our collective oppressors in the eye and say “no more”.
No longer should we bow our heads in submission, servility and shame. It is time for us to rise up, invoke the power of the Living God and be men.
May the gallant and beautiful soul of Lieutenant Colonel Fajuyi continue to rest in eternal peace and may those that murdered him 50 years ago be brought to justice.
Femi-Fani Kayode is a lawyer, a Nigerian politician, an evangelical christian, an essayist, a poet and he was the Special Assistant (Public Affairs) to President Olusegun Obasanjo from July 2003 until June 2006. He was the minister of culture and tourism of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from June 22nd to Nov 7th 2006 and as the minister of Aviation from Nov 7th 2006 to May 29th 2007. He tweets from @realFFK.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.