For the purpose of refreshing our memory, it’s important we begin this discussion by taking a look at what Nigeria’s Civil War was all about.
The Nigerian Civil War, which began on 6th July 1967 and ended on 15th January 1970, is also referred to the Nigerian-Biafran War.
It was a civil war fought between the government of Nigeria and the Republic of Biafra, a secessionist state which had declared its independence from Nigeria in 1967. Nigerian side was led by General Yakubu Gowon, while Biafra was led by late Lt. Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu.
The United Kingdom and the Soviet Union were the main supporters of the Nigerian government, while France, Israel and some other countries supported Biafra.
The United States’ official position was one of neutrality, considering Nigeria as ‘a responsibility of Britain’, but some interpret the refusal by USA to recognize Biafra, as one favouring the Nigerian government.
Speaking against the background of personal involvement in the war as a senior military officer and one of the front line commanders on the Nigerian side, President Buhari had in the strongest terms ever, warned politicians “never to allow the self-centeredness that led to the loss of about a million lives during the 1966- 1970 Civil War, repeat itself in the country.”
President Buhari gave this warning while granting audience to former state Chairmen of his defunct Congress for Progressive Change, CPC which went into coalition to form the now ruling All Progressives Congress, APC in 2014.
Noting that the defunct party was founded on the bedrock of patriotism and loyalty to the unity of Nigeria, the President used the opportunity to urge political leaders to remain focused and uphold the ultimate objective of promoting interest of the country at all times.
Noting that the passion and zeal for improving the livelihood of Nigerians which culminated in creation of the CPC, had not dwindled, Buhari called for more steadfastness, adding: “We are Nigerians; God willing, we remain Nigerians, and Nigeria shall remain one… “Our main objective is the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We are human beings. We have our weaknesses, but I can assure you that the patriotism in us is hard-earned.”
“We have gone through all the troubles from 15th of January 1966 to date. You know what I mean by this; we have killed a million of ourselves in order to keep this country together. I don’t think there can be any practical experience more than that. We are Nigerians, God willing, we remain Nigerians and Nigeria will remain one,” President Buhari added.
It is therefore not in doubt that as one of the commanders of the civil war on the Nigerian side, PMB is a living example of a first hand executer of the cost and consequences of the Nigeria-Biafra civil war.
Urging members of the defunct party and other party leaders in the country to always be mindful of the larger picture by working towards preserving the unity, peace and integrity of the nation, PMB stressed that the doggedness “with which we pursued our vision and goals that culminated into the success we recorded remain like bright stars in the history of our dear nation.”
In furtherance of his desire to consolidate attempts to further unify the country, PMB stated: “We shall remain resolute to continue to deliver on the promises we made to Nigerians, and to ensure that we attain greater milestones in terms of economic growth, infrastructural development, provision of security, and the war against corruption, among other responsibilities of government.”
Indeed President Muhammadu Buhari had times without number underscored the importance of unity and peace of the country no matter our differences and challenges. Peace and unity of the country at all costs must not be compromised especially in view of the fact that they are the bedrock and building blocks of progress, growth and development.
There is no gainsaying the fact that our politicians must resist the temptation of their self centredness to reincarnate another civil war in the country.
Should that happen today, Nigeria will face its worst times in its history.
Nigerians must therefore as a matter of fact try and avoid actions that are capable of generating tensions which may further degenerate into a full blown war.
EMEKA ANYAOKU STREET ABUJA email@example.com