BY SEGUN ADEBAYO, ABUJA – Unless urgent steps are carried out, the aftermath of the ongoing injustice, poor governance and leadership failure in the country will be worse than what was experienced during the Nigerian civil war, this was the summation of speakers at a webinar on Thursday.
The speakers opined that Nigeria is repeating the mistakes that led to the civil war which lasted from July 6, 1967 to January 15, 1970.
The commentators at the webinar include the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Afenifere, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah and former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi.
In his comments, spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said that unless something dramatic was done, things would certainly get worse, stressing that the post-civil war elite had substantially killed the country far more than those who launched the country into the “disaster” that ended in 1970.
Baba-Ahmed said; “What do we need to do? I think we need to recognise the fact that as we speak in 2021, this nation has never been worse than it is, not even during the civil war. I’m sorry for those who felt civil war was the worst disaster; it wasn’t. Today is the worst disaster we are living in.”
In his presentation, Bishop Kukah, who was the keynote speaker, note that Nigeria had yet to learn any lesson from the civil war, stressing that the frustration and feeling of injustice by a section of the country after the war were still rife till today despite General Yakubu Gowon’s ‘No victor, no vanquished’ statement.
Kukah said; “I was told of a late General, who said were the civil war to occur again, he would fight on the other side. There is a lot of resentment, anxiety and frustration and the feeling is that we have not learnt any lesson.
“About 51 years after the war, we still hear the kind of agitation that ordinarily with good governance, honesty, commitment, devotion, dedication, focus and right leadership; we should have put behind us. Unfortunately, these anxieties are still with us.”
Also speaking at the webinar, leader of pan Yoruba cultural group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, noted that the problem of the country lies with the constitution, saying that the injustice in the system had been fuelled by President Muhammadu Buhari, whom he stressed ensured that northerners dominate key institutions in the country to the detriment of other regions.
Adebanjo however said; “I don’t want this country to break. I have contributed to the unity of this country before Buhari was born. Since 1950s we have been talking of a balanced constitution.
“In 1979, I spent one year in Maiduguri, campaigning for the UPN so we could have a united country. I was already a lawyer and there was peace in the western region so I didn’t have to go there, but we wanted the country to be together. So, when we talk about a united country, many of them have not contributed half of what some of us have”.
In his own remarks, former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi said that the country is still travelling on the same road to the same destination, adding that the road has become more bumpy and worse than it was before.
According to Obi; “If you compare what is happening today and what happened then, what brought Nigeria to that destination in the past has actually gotten worse today”