Former Nigerian military ruler General Yakubu Gowon was given a warm welcome when he returned to Nigeria after eight years of exile in Britain on December 5.
GV EXTERIOR Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, ZOOM OUT TO crowd waiting.
SV INTERIOR General Yakubu Gowon with aides in arrival lounge.
SCU General Gowon speaking at press conference. (English SOT)
GV General Gowon leaving in car amid cheering crowds.
TRANSCRIPT: GOWON: (SEQ 3) "This will be a very short visit. As you no doubt know, I'm still engaged in my academic work in England and I have to be back as early as possible to present my thesis. This is the first opportunity I have had to publicly express my sincere thanks to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Shehu Shagari, for making it possible for me to return home. On behalf of my family and myself I would like to thank the committee of friends but for whose generosity it may have been difficult for us to be here at this time, and I'm very grateful to all of you for the reception you've just given me. So may I to you express my thanks and gratitude to the people of Nigeria for the welcome you've given me starting from here. Thank you all very much indeed."
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Background: Former Nigerian military ruler General Yakubu Gowon was given a warm welcome when he returned to Nigeria after eight years of exile in Britain on December 5. Gowon ruled Nigeria for nine years marked by the 30-month civil war in which the then eastern region tried to break away as Biafra. He contained the rebellion and engineered a reconciliation after the war ended in 1970. In later years he was accused of giving too much power to his military governors in the states and of going back on his promise to return power to civilian government in 1976. Gowon was overthrown in a bloodless coup in 1976 but officially pardoned for two years by President Shehu Shagari. His return to Nigeria has aroused intense speculation over his political intentions. Nigeria is to hold elections in 1987 and jockeying for political power is already underway. Gowon's popularity is running high, but the general told reporters on his arrival at Lagos airport he had no intention of going into politics but would be returning to Britain to continue his studies.