At a function to mark 50 years after the failed secession of South East, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, said the “greatest responsibility of Nigerian leaders today is to give a pathway to unity in diversity”.
Osinbajo emphasised the need for Nigerian leaders to give the younger generation the vision on a pathway to unity in diversity.
He made the statement on Thursday in Abuja at the colloquium on “Biafra: 50 years after’’ organized by the Yar’ Adua Foundation.
He told a cross section of political leaders which included former President Olusegun Obasanjo; Dr. John Nwodo, leader of Ohaneze, the Pan-Igbo socio-cultural organization; and Alhaji Ahmed Joda amongst other dignitaries that graced the occasion.
He said, “Introspection is probably what separates us from beasts. That ability to learn from history is perhaps the greatest defense from the avoidable pain of learning from experience, when history is a much gentler and kinder teacher. Indeed, the saying experience is the best teacher, is incomplete, the full statement of that Welsh adage is that experience is the best teacher for a fool. History is a kinder and gentler teacher.
“I recall distinctly how in 1967, passing in front of my home on Ikorodu road almost every hour were trucks carrying passengers and furniture in an endless stream heading east. Many Ibos who left various parts of Nigeria, left friends, families and businesses, schools and jobs. Like my friend and aunty some never returned! But many died. The reasons for this tragic separation of brothers and sisters were deep and profound. So much has been said and written already about the “why’s and wherefores’’ and that analyses will probably never end.”
“This is why I would rather not spend this few minutes on whether there was or was not sufficient justification for secession and the war that followed. The issue is whether the terrible suffering, massive loss of lives, of hopes and fortunes of so many can ever be justified.”
Osinbajo noted further that, “As we reflect on this event today, we must ask ourselves the same question that many who have fought or been victims in civil wars, wars between brothers and sisters ask in moments of reflection….“what if we had spent all the resources, time and sacrifice we put into the war, into trying to forge unity? What if we had decided not to seek to avenge a wrong done to us? What if we had chosen to overcome evil with good?’’
“The truth is that the spilling of blood in dispute is hardly ever worth the losses. Of the fallouts of bitter wars is the anger that can so easily be rekindled by those who for good or ill want to resuscitate the fire. Today some are suggesting that we must go back to the ethnic nationalities from which Nigeria was formed.
“They say that secession is the answer to the charges of marginalization. They argue that separation from the Nigerian State will ultimately result in successful smaller States. They argue eloquently, I might add that Nigeria is a colonial contraption that cannot endure.
“This is also the sum and substance of the agitation for Biafra. The campaign is often bitter and vitriolic, and has sometimes degenerated to fatal violence. Brothers and sisters permit me to differ and to suggest that we’re greater together than apart.”
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