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Gowon, Yakubu

Gowon, Yakubu

Yakubu Gowon

Lieutenant-Colonel Yakubu Gowon became head of the Federal Military Government and Supreme Commander of the Armed forces on August, 1966. At 32 he was Africa's youngest head of state. This followed a brilliant Army career which began in 1954, a year after he left college. Before his assumption of office, Lt-Col Gowon was chief of staff, Nigerian Army and, as such a member of the first Supreme Military Council.

Born on October 19, 1934, he received his secondary education in Zaria, Nigeria where, in 1953, he obtained the senior Cambridge

school leaving certificate. The following year, he enrolled in the Nigerian Army and was sent to the Regular Officers' Special Training School at Teshie in Ghana. In 1955, he went to Britain for further military training, and was at Eaton Hall, Cheshire, until May, 1955, before entering the RMAS Anzio Company, Sandhurst, where he remained until the end of 1956.

For the first half of 1957, Lt-Col Gowon attended the young officers' course at Hythe and Warminster, England. he was posted as second-lieutenant to the 4th Battalion of the Nigerian Army at Ibadan, then Western Nigeria's capital city. In 1960 he served as platoon commander in operations at the Nigerian-Cameroon border. Later he became the first Nigerian to be appointed Adjutant of the 4th Battalion. Lt-Col Gowon also served in Congo under the United Nations Peace Keeping Force until 1961 when, he was posted to Army Headquarters as staff officer.

He attended a course at the Staff College, Camberley, Surrey, in 1962, and soon after his return to Nigeria, was again sent to Congo. In 1963 he was promoted lieutenant-colonel and appointed the Adjutant-General of the Nigerian Army. He was given command of the 2nd Battalion in January, 1966. With the transfer of power to the Armed forces by the civilian Federal Government, following the military coup of January 15, he was appointed Chief of Staff at Army Headquarters.

The son of a missionary, Lt-Col Gowon was a keen hockey player and took part in competitive athletics including soccer and boxing. His other hobbies include cinematography and bird watching.

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