In January 1967 the military leaders met in Aburi, Ghana. By this time the eastern region under Ojukwu was threatening secession. Many of Ojukwua��s eastern colleagues were now arguing that the massacres the previous September showed that the country could not be reunited amicably. In a last minute effort at Aburi to hold Nigeria together, an accord was agreed that provided for a loose confederation of regions. Gowon issued a decree implementing the Aburi agreement and even the northern region now favoured the formation of a multistate federation. The federal civil service, however, vigorously opposed the Aburi agreement and sought to scupper it…….
Commonwealth Minister George Thomas wrote in August 1967 that: a�?The sole immediate British interest in Nigeria is that the Nigerian economy should be brought back to a condition in which our substantial trade and investment in the country can be further developed, and particularly so we can regain access to important oil installationsa��.
Thomas further outlined the primary reason why Britain was so keen to preserve Nigerian unity, noting that a�?our only direct interest in the maintenance of the federation is that Nigeria has been developed as an economic unit and any disruption of this would have adverse effects on trade and developmenta��. If Nigeria were to break up, he added: a�?We cannot expect that economic cooperation between the component parts of what was Nigeria, particularly between the East and the West, will necessarily enable development and trade to proceed at the same level as they would have done in a unified Nigeria; nor can we now count on the Shell/BP oil concession being regained on the same terms as in the past if the East and the mid-West assume full control of their own economiesa��.
The new High Commissioner in Lagos, Sir David Hunt, wrote in a memo to London on 12 June that the a�?only waya�� of preserving unity [sic] of Nigeria is to remove Ojukwu by forcea��. He said that Ojukwu was committed to remaining the ruler of an independent state and that British interests lay in firmly supporting the FMG.
Before going to war, Gowon began what was to become a two and half year long shopping list of arms that the FMG wanted from Britain. On 1 July he asked Britain for jet fighter/bomber aircraft, six fast boats and 24 anti-aircraft guns. a�?We want to help the Federal Government in any way we cana��, British officials noted. However, Britain rejected supplying the aircraft, fearing that they would publicly demonstrate direct British intervention in the war and, at this stage, also rejected supplying the boats. London did, however, agree to supply the anti-aircraft guns and to provide training courses to use them.
the governmenta��s news department was instructed to stress the a�?defensive nature of these weaponsa�� when pressed but generally to avoid publicity on their export from Britain. High Commissioner Hunt said that a�?it would be better to use civil aircrafta�� to deliver these guns and secured agreement from the Nigerians that a�?there would be no publicitya�� in supplying them.
Faced with Gowona��s complaints about Britain not supplying more arms, Wilson also agreed in mid-July to supply the FMG with the fast patrol boats. This was done in the knowledge that they would help the FMG maintain the blockade against Biafra.