Posted by Chima Nwafo | 10 January 2020 | 1,069 times
Former heads of state, retired Generals Yakubu Gowon and Olusegun Obasanjo, as well as former Chief of General Staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (rtd.), are billed to feature as Special Guests of Honour at the “Never Again” Conference to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War.
The organisers – Nzuko Umunna and Igbo Foundation, Lagos – disclosed this yesterday, Thursday, January 9, 2020, during a press conference in Lagos. They said that retired Gen. Theophilus Danjuma is also expected, though he was yet to communicate his participation to the organisers as of the time of the media briefing.
Chairman of the Organising Committee, Prof Pat Utomi; Chairman of Council, Igbo Foundation, Lagos, Dr Raymond Obieri; Elder Uma Eleazu; Gen Umahi (retd) and Prof Anya O. Anya fielded questions from journalists after a brief address by Obieri.
Obieri outlined the programme of the event which he said will begin with a Jumat Service at the Lagos Central Mosque on Friday, June 10, followed by a Church service at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos, on Sunday, to be climaxed with the Conference at the Agip Recital Hall, MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos on Monday January 13.
On why Never Again, Obieri pointed out that the state of security and social political atmosphere in the country today is close to what obtained in 1966 that culminated in the 30-month Nigeria-Biafra war. And that it is important to rally compatriots together for a discussion on how to avoid falling into the same error, but to move the nation forward. He said it was more a continuation of the “Handshake Across the Niger” held in 2018. AS part of the purpose, he cited the formation of the United Nations Organisation in 1945 with aim of ensuring that there will never be a third world war; and that Never Again is to serve same purpose of galvanizing Nigerians to make sure that what happened in 1966 will not happen again.
Noting that it was not about Ndigbo, he said it is designed to be a national event with the Obi of Onitsha, Oba of Lagos, Sultan of Sokoto, Emir of Kano, Ooni of Ife, among others, as royal fathers of the day, in the event which Elder Uma Eleazu said that the theme Never Again is a message of hope for Nigeria and Nigerians that we can live together as a people, despite our grievances or differences.
Prof Utomi recalled that the date January 13 was based on the cessation of hostilities in January 1970, and eventual official surrender by Lt. Col Philip Effiong to Gen Obasanjo.
Regretting the state of affairs in Nigeria today, Prof Anya O Anya said that lessons could be learned from wars, he pointed out that 50 years after World War II, Germany and Japan that bore the brunt of the war had put the hostilities behind them and built two of the strongest economies in the world. He also cited the case of Vietnam, a third world country, which has made so much economic progress despite the devastating war the nation fought. He averred that same cannot be said of Nigeria, 50 years after the civil war.
Gen Umahi noted that Nigerians, especially young ones, were denied the privilege of studying the history of the country of which the civil war was a significant part, as History was “smuggled out” of our school syllabus. He added that the people should appeal to the government to also “smuggle in” History into the school syllabus because of its importance as a subject.
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