A Former Governor of Anambra State , Mr Peter Obi ; the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese , Matthew Kukah and the Northern Elders Forum said on Thursday that Nigeria was repeating its mistakes that led to the civil war which lasted from July 6 , 1967 to January 15, 1970.
Speaking at a webinar, they cautioned that unless something urgent was done, the aftermath of the ongoing injustice , poor governance and leadership failure in the country would be worse than what was experienced during the civil war.
The civil war was fought between the government of Nigeria, headed by the then Head of State , General Yakubu Gowon ( retd .), and the secessionist state of Biafra , led by the late Lt . Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu, from July 6, 1967 to January 15, 1970 , during which over one million persons reportedly lost their lives.
The online conference with the theme, ‘ The 2 nd Never Again Conference : 51 years after the Nigerian – Biafran civil war,’ was hosted by Nzuko Umunna , an Igbo Think Tank, in partnership with Ovation International and Njenje Media , while a prominent economist , Prof Pat Utomi , was the chairman , planning committee.
In his brief remarks , Obi said,
“We are still travelling on the same road to the same destination . The road has got more bumpy , worse than it was than when they ( Nigerians ) travelled that road before. If you compare what is happening today and what happened then, what brought Nigeria to that destination in the past has actually got worse today.
“All of those things that made them to participate in what happened are still very much today and getting worse, starting from incompetent leadership with total lack of capacity and character.
You have a situation where corruption is worse today than it was then. Unemployment is far worse today when you have millions of young people in their productive age not knowing where the next meal would come from and the government is not thinking.”
Obi said the elite had to come together and see how to pull the country out of the current mess or the situation would consume everyone , as he likened the current leadership challenge in the country to using Molue ( rickety big yellow buses in Lagos now phased out) drivers in Formula 1, a motor racing world championship.
“We cannot continue with the way we are today; across the entire country, from local government to the highest level, we have incompetent leadership and they don’t have the capacity to solve the country’ s problem . You don’t go to a Formula 1 competition with a Molue driver.
“These vehicles of the Nigerian state are being driven by Molue drivers across the country and that is why you have too many accidents . We need to have the proper people who are competent and can do the job. If you don’t have it , you have a problem. ”
Kukah, who was the keynote speaker , explained that Nigeria had yet to learn any lesson from the civil war, adding that the frustration and feeling of injustice by a section of the country after the war were still rife till today despite Gowon’s ‘No victor, no vanquished’ statement.
He stated ,
“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.