Gowon made the claim while giving insight into what happened at the Aburi Conference, in Ghana, convened to resolve Nigeria’s political logjam.
He said the Federal Government went to Aburi unprepared, following a disagreement which broke out between the Supreme Military Council (SMC) and the Eastern region, led by Ojukwu.
Speaking on AIT’s programme “People, Politics and Power,” on Tuesday, Gowon said the decision to go to Aburi was borne out of the desire to win back the trust and confidence of Nigerians.
He maintained that secession was never part of the resolutions they agreed on.
Gowon said, “We agreed to put our heads together, to regain the trust and confidence of Nigerians. We went to Aburi, to agree to deal with the situation of our country, by ourselves.
“We did not go with any prepared position on the federal side, but, Ojukwu came with a paper he prepared. His prepared position was on a pink paper. Usually, pink paper at the Staff College is directing staff solution to the problem.”
Gowon said most of the positions presented by Ojukwu at the conference were accepted and upon their return to Nigeria, he was determined to keep the country united by assuaging the South East but Ojukwu felt otherwise.
He said Ojukwu’s refusal may have been as a result of killings of Igbos in the North, a situation that made him (Ojukwu) insist on Nigeria’s breakup.
Gowon disclosed that part of the agreement reached in Aburi was that upon return to Nigeria, he would be the first to make any statement concerning the resolutions before any governor makes any statement.
He said, “But, by the time I returned, I was ill; I had fever. I could not make any statement. But, Ojukwu went to the radio, to make a statement and said the things we never agreed on.
“David Ejoor was the one who called me one early morning to ask if I had heard what Ojukwu said, and I said no. He then reeled out all that Ojukwu had said and I asked David, in all honesty, if that was what we agreed. He said no.
“To keep the country together was not a task that I could do alone. I needed the cooperation and understanding of every Nigerian. And, in order to ensure we kept the country together, I reckoned that we needed to have discussions among ourselves. We had a civil servant who was exceptionally experienced and good.
“We went there (Aburi) to restore the trust of our country. If we were working together, anyone with conscience will assuage the feelings (of the South-easterners). But, Ojukwu thought otherwise. He had in mind all along, based on what happened to his people in the North, that secession was the only way out. But, we were thinking of the whole country, because all parts of the country were involved. The military was not involved in the killings of South-easterners in the North.”