The Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Matthew Kukah, said he has met many people who fought during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, but are now full of regrets.
The Bishop who spoke at the second edition of the “Never Again Conference: 51 years after the Nigerian-Biafran civil war” expressed regret that Nigerians and the country’s leaders did not learn any lesson from the war that lasted from 1967-1970.
He noted that there was a lot of “resentment, anxiety and frustration” from those who were alive during the war as the country had not recovered from the wounds of the civil war, 51 years after it ended.
The ‘Never Again Conference’ was organised by Nzuko Umunna, a pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation, which organised the first edition in Lagos in 2020.
Kukah noted that while the military laid the foundation for Nigerians to begin a process of rebuilding the nation, “things somehow went wrong” along the line.
“I have met a lot of people who fought the war who are full of regrets. There is a lot of resentment, anxiety and frustration that we have not learnt any lessons,” he said.
“Fifty-one years after the war, we are still hearing the kind of agitations that ordinarily, with commitment, dedication, focus and the right leadership, we should have put a lot of the anxieties behind us. Unfortunately, they are still with us.
“(Chukwudifu) Oputa panel managed to generate quite a lot of data and information that academicians and policymakers would have used to ensure we erect the signpost saying, ‘Never Again’, because it gave us an opportunity, a mirror to look at ourselves after hearing from all sides but we didn’t have the discipline to follow through.
“We have not been able to forgive ourselves as a people. The wounds of the civil war have not been able to heal. Coups and counter-coups that followed were more or less miniature civil wars by themselves because they threw up the same contradictions, anxieties and feeling of divisiveness across the country.”
One Nigeria, a lie – Kanu
In his own remarks at the virtual conference, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, argued that one Nigeria is “lies and deceit” of the ruling class.
Kanu maintained his stance on Biafra secession of Biafra, as according to him, one Nigeria is a failed project.
Kanu said the 1966 war was not an Igbo war but a revolution by conscious members of the society, adding that only the South can carry out a revolution because of the way the North is structured.
The IPOB leader said the elite used tribalism and religion to scuttle the revolution that should take place during the EndSARS protests
The IPOB leader maintained that there cannot be oneness in Nigeria when cattle-herders slaughter people all over the country, yet the Federal Government has not designated Miyetti Allah as a terror group.
“We are in a country where the Fulani massacre people on a daily basis. They were called terrorists and later insurgents and now they are called bandits. But these are Fulani herders killing people. Nobody has ever designated Miyetti Allah as a terrorist group,” Kanu said.
“We live in these lies and deceit and some people have the guts to say One Nigeria. Nigeria that came into existence only 60 years ago. How about the ethnic nationalities that existed before Britain was formed?
“Nobody has the guts to interrogate the formation called Nigeria. How then do you want the country to move forward? How do you expect healing and reconciliation? How is that possible? You and I know that that is not going to be possible
In his remarks, chairman of the conference’s planning committee, Professor Pat Utomi said the initiative started as an advocacy “in trying to bring a better understanding of the civil war and its aftermath to the Nigerian people.”
According to him, this is being pursued in a way that “it will become a source of energy for bringing a new nation.