In Achebe's book containing his civil war memoir, accused the Federal Government under Gowon and the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, then Minister of Finance, of using hunger as a weapon of war against the Igbo.
However, speaking in Abuja on Thursday, Gowon wondered if the renowned novelist would make money from his intellectual property, saying it had been pirated.
The former Chief of Army Staff spoke in Abuja at the presentation of the Reform of the Copyright System in Nigeria organised by the Nigerian Copyright Commission.
the 78-year-old said he saw hawkers selling copies of the book in Abuja recently.
Gowon said, “When I was coming to the hotel yesterday (Wednesday) I saw people selling copies of Achebe’s book, you know the one I am talking about.
“I don’t know if the chap knew I was the one inside the car – he wanted to get my attention.
“I said to myself, ‘so this book has already been pirated and is being sold in the streets?’
“I don’t know if Achebe will be getting any penny from that book.”
The remark drew laughter from the gathering.
He had earlier described Achebe’s civil war memoir as the most controversial publication on the war.
Gowon, who was the chairman of the event, stressed that no one should be allowed to steal another person’s work, or unduly exploit another person’s sweat.
He said, “The underlying philosophy of copyright protection, as I have come to understand, is the need to adhere to the fundamental rule of natural justice that every person be guaranteed the fruit of his or her labours. The corollary to this axiom is that no one should be allowed to steal another’s work or unduly exploit the sweat of another’s hard labour.”
The former Head of State recounted how his administration masterminded a review of the old copyright law the country inherited from the British colonial masters after independence.
Director General of the NCC, Mr. Afam Ezekude, in said the commission decided to reform Nigeria’s copyright system in order to address identified flaws which have inhibited the contribution of the creative industry to national economic growth.