Close button
The Guardian
Email YouTube Facebook Instagram Twitter WhatsApp
x

Nigeria: Imprisoned in the past – Part 2

Related

Nigerian army soldiers stand at a base in Baga on August 2, 2019. Photo: AFP<br />


We want the Igbo nation to remain in Nigeria.
He affirmed his support for Nnamdi Kanu, but stands for the unity of Nigeria if we urgently restructure the country and return to true federalism, believing that this will stop agitations in the country because restructuring and our return to federalism, which is essentially a constitutional matter will settle all the contentious issues that provokes agitation. In his words;“all the trouble we are having now are a product of our skewed constitution, once we have a constitution that is agreeable and acceptable to all there will be peace, and there will be no ground for Nnamdi Kanu or anybody to want to break away from Nigeria. We want the Igbo nation to remain in Nigeria. The attitude towards the presidency is selfish, so there should be serious changes in our constitution before any elections. We must have the courage to tell our northern brothers who pretend that everything is all right because they are in-charge that everything is not all right. They tend to behave as if they have to agree to disagreements before we can reach resolutions or move forward. Who gave them that power? He queried. It is the inequality in the constitution, which they made themselves. So that constitution must be changed or we return to our pre-independent constitution”.

Chief Mbaezurike Amaechi, one of the founding fathers of the country, a minister of the first republic and an elder statesman travelled the historical route, starting from our first constitution from the British government, made by the British parliament that created the federation of Nigeria with our Head of state as a representative of the queen of England. However, In 1961 Nigeria constituted a body to draw up a constitution for Nigerians. This constitution came into effect in 1962 making Nigeria a federal republic through a plebiscite.

x

According to Chief Mbaezurike, in 1979 the military government appointed the Chief Rotimi committee to draft a constitution for Nigeria, and without a parliament, the Supreme Military Council made their choices and decided on the document as our constitution. Again in 1999 General Abdusalami Abubarkar’s government followed the same process, produced a document endorsed by the military regime, and called it our constitution. Chief Mbaezurike made it emphatically clear that the document is not our constitution, because we were not part of the process that generated or approved it as the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Therefore, a plebiscite, a referendum must happen for Nigerians to make a constitution for themselves, agree on how the country should exist and how they should be governed. He admitted that the eastern region was conquered during the civil war and since then has been badly disadvantaged in ` the scheme of things in the country. He reaffirmed faith in one Nigeria but stressed the fact that we have to start anew or we go our different ways.

Alhaji Tanko Yakassai reading from a prepared speech, narrated the story of the civil war and the deliberate surgical cleansing of northern elites by a group of military officers from eastern Nigeria and recalled their names, describing the entire episode as a sad reminder of the reason why we are where we are today as a country, and why possibly we may never be able to move forward.

Alhaji Yakassai reported that to mark the end of the civil war, we cannot help but remember the history of the civil war and the colossal lose that attended it – implying that the civil war is not over yet. According to him the civil war was preceded by an attempted military coup led by Majors Kaduna Nzeogwu, Adewale Ademoyega, Don Okafor, Ifeajuna, Chris Aforo, Humfrey Chukwuka, Capt. Emmanuel Nwaoboshi and others who are mainly Igbos, one Yoruba officer and another from the north. He stated that the coup plotters abducted Chief Okotie Eboh, attacked Chief Akintola, several northern elites, many northerners, and others from different parts of the country were killed except the easterners.

Narrating further, he recalled the Aguiyi Ironsi’s coup and the appointment of Igbos into sensitive positions, nothing that the July 1966 counter coup was bloodier leading to the killing of 42 Igbo military officers and many easterners in the north. He stated that there was a constitutional conference in which a motion was passed by delegates at the conference on the indivisibility of Nigeria as enshrined in our constitution, leading to the bad blood alleged to have existed between Col.Ojukwu and Gen. Gowon who was the military head of state then, which consequently led to the secession attempt by the Eastern region and ultimately the civil war. He mentioned that domestic and foreign interventions to resolve the conflict failed, therefore compelling Gen.Gowon to embark on a police action to sustain the unity of the country, which resulted in the three-year war.

However, at the end of the war, the Federal Government introduced a reconciliation, rehabilitation and reintegration programme to unify the country again. He agreed that the programme did not achieve the expected success. However some success was recorded. He excused the failure of some aspects of the programme on human factors, i.e. the government of the time. Concluding, he affirmed that we have succeeded in healing the wounds of the civil war, and Nigerians are now living with one another in peace and harmony. According to him, protagonists of the wartime are now living together as best friends in different regions of the country. But I dare say that as it stands today in Nigeria, tribes and ethnic groups in the country may not be enemies, but they are certainly not friends. Again, who were and where are the protagonists of the civil war that are living together as friends today?

x

Meanwhile, savouring this type of testimonies after decades of a civil war that ended on a note of no victor no vanquish, unless something very compelling is done to obliterate such sentiments and views from our national discourses, except as a reference point to our great history, and as a lesson and testament for a great and beautiful unifying force for the future, if we agree to continue as a united country, Nigeria may never experience healing, peace and development. The attitude towards the presidency is selfish, so there should be serious changes in our constitution before any elections. We must have the courage to tell our northern brothers who pretend that everything is all right because they are in-charge that everything is not all right. They tend to behave as if they have to agree to disagreements before we can reach resolutions or move forward. Who gave them that power? He queried. It is the inequality in the constitution, which they made themselves. So that constitution must be changed or we return to our pre-independent constitution”.

Chief Mbaezurike Amaechi, one of the founding fathers of the country, a minister of the first republic and an elder statesman travelled the historical route, starting from our first constitution from the British government, made by the British parliament that created the federation of Nigeria with our Head of state as a representative of the queen of England. However, In 1961 Nigeria constituted a body to draw up a constitution for Nigerians. This constitution came into effect in 1962 making Nigeria a federal republic through a plebiscite.

According to Chief Mbaezurike, in 1979 the military government appointed the Chief Rotimi committee to draft a constitution for Nigeria, and without a parliament, the Supreme Military Council made their choices and decided on the document as our constitution. Again in 1999 General Abdusalami Abubarkar’s government followed the same process, produced a document endorsed by the military regime, and called it our constitution. Chief Mbaezurike made it emphatically clear that the document is not our constitution, because we were not part of the process that generated or approved it as the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Therefore, a plebiscite, a referendum must happen for Nigerians to make a constitution for themselves, agree on how the country should exist and how they should be governed. He admitted that the eastern region was conquered during the civil war and since then has been badly disadvantaged in the scheme of things in the country. He reaffirmed faith in one Nigeria but stressed the fact that we have to start anew or we go our different ways.

x

Alhaji Tanko Yakassai reading from a prepared speech, narrated the story of the civil war and the deliberate surgical cleansing of northern elites by a group of military officers from eastern Nigeria and recalled their names, describing the entire episode as a sad reminder of the reason why we are where we are today as a country, and why possibly we may never be able to move forward.

Alhaji Yakassai reported that to mark the end of the civil war, we cannot help but remember the history of the civil war and the colossal lose that attended it – implying that the civil war is not over yet. According to him the civil war was preceded by an attempted military coup led by Majors Kaduna Nzeogwu, Adewale Ademoyega, Don Okafor, Ifeajuna, Chris Aforo, Humfrey Chukwuka, Capt. Emmanuel Nwaoboshi and others who are mainly Igbos, one Yoruba officer and another from the north. He stated that the coup plotters abducted Chief Okotie Eboh, attacked Chief Akintola, several northern elites, many northerners, and others from different parts of the country were killed except the easterners.

Narrating further, he recalled the Aguiyi Ironsi’s coup and the appointment of Igbos into sensitive positions, nothing that the July 1966 counter coup was bloodier leading to the killing of 42 Igbo military officers and many easterners in the north. He stated that there was a constitutional conference in which a motion was passed by delegates at the conference on the indivisibility of Nigeria as enshrined in our constitution, leading to the bad blood alleged to have existed between Col.Ojukwu and Gen. Gowon who was the military head of state then, which consequently led to the secession attempt by the Eastern region and ultimately the civil war. He mentioned that domestic and foreign interventions to resolve the conflict failed, therefore compelling Gen.Gowon to embark on a police action to sustain the unity of the country, which resulted in the three-year war.

x

However, at the end of the war, the Federal Government introduced a reconciliation, rehabilitation and reintegration programme to unify the country again. He agreed that the programme did not achieve the expected success. However some success was recorded. He excused the failure of some aspects of the programme on human factors, i.e. the government of the time. Concluding, he affirmed that we have succeeded in healing the wounds of the civil war, and Nigerians are now living with one another in peace and harmony. According to him, protagonists of the wartime are now living together as best friends in different regions of the country. But I dare say that as it stands today in Nigeria, tribes and ethnic groups in the country may not be enemies, but they are certainly not friends. Again, who were and where are the protagonists of the civil war that are living together as friends today?

Meanwhile, savouring this type of testimonies after decades of a civil war that ended on a note of no victor no vanquish, unless something very compelling is done to obliterate such sentiments and views from our national discourses, except as a reference point to our great history, and as a lesson and testament for a great and beautiful unifying force for the future, if we agree to continue as a united country, Nigeria may never experience healing, peace and development.

However, he acknowledged several contentious political issues confronting the country, and listed some of them as: 1. Review of the 1999 constitution and restructuring of the country. 2. Insecurity due to militant invasions and terrorist activities in different parts of the country. 3. Current secessionist movement for the State of Biafra under the umbrella of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) and 4. Mistrust among different ethnic groups, which is a major threat to our unity. He advised that the way forward is to initiate a strategic development and integration plan in order to achieve peace and unity in Nigeria.

Elder Uma Eleazu took the stage, and in his presentation tried to remind Alhaji Yakassai of salient points of history he forgot to mention or deliberately left out of his presentation. He recalled the circumstances that led to the first coup in Nigeria omitted by Alhaji Yakassai. He avowed that if we are sincere and serious, ‘Never Again’ should be a statement of truth not wishful thinking. Therefore, he advised it is important that we check and avoid the circumstances that led to the coup, referring to corruption, the census experience, and the western region – Chief Awolowo’s imprisonment that made Chief Akintola become Premier of the western region. He confirmed that those were some of the problems that led to the coup with the objective of refocusing Nigeria for greatness, as evident in the speech of the revolutionaries who often are wrongly assumed to be of Igbo extraction only. He reminded the conference that the coup did not succeed because they were also stopped by an Igbo man.

x

Overall, he expressed faith in the Nigeria project but pointed out that Nigeria will not succeed by orchestrating lies on serious national matters. This is important to ensure we avoid a reoccurrence of the type of situation that led to the second coup that eliminated over 200 officers in one night, assuming we are not already in a direr situation. He emphasised the urgent need for all to embrace the concept that‘all men are created equal’ decrying the current spirit and trend where some think they own the country or are born to rule and determine the circumstances of others. He concluded that with such attitude, we cannot brood ‘never again and may never achieve never again’.

In his submission, to achieve the purpose of this conference, we must all dialogue and agree that; all men are created equal, agree on what binds us together, set moral order to achieve one peaceful Nigeria,agree on the definition of a Nigerian citizen, the rights of a Nigerian citizen and adopt a constitution that is truly for a federal republic.

Senator Shehu Sani lamented the state of affairs in Nigeria 51 years after the civil war. The senator observed that Nigeria is imbroglio in civil battles, because lives are still being lost daily due to ethno-religious conflicts, terrorism, kidnapping, unconstitutional and irresponsible actions, tilted appointments, retiring people to ensure those from a particular ethnic divide get top positions and remain in-charge, abuse of power, massacre, wars and other issues of national concern. He queried the sincerity of our unity as a country, and drew his answer from reviews of comments by Nigerians from different parts of the country lampooning each other with aggressive language on social media based on tribal and ethnic sentiments as a serious reflection of the fact that we are not united.

x


Receive News Alerts on Whatsapp: +2348136370421

No comments yet