Posted by News Express | 15 January 2020 | 331 times
Renowned Political Economist and Chairman, Planning Committee of the Never Again Conference organised by Nzuko Umunna and Igbo Foundation, Lagos, Prof Pat Utomi, has said that despite near-death experience his family had in the North in 1966 and the cold-blood massacre of civilians he witnessed and narrowly escaped at Asaba in 1967, he never felt bitter against anybody.
Utomi who delivered the third keynote speech at the Nigeria-Biafra war commemorative event, organised in collaboration with some civil society organisations, regretted that in a way, Nigeria is still at war, especially in the social media.
He noted that there are different kinds of war besides the conventional type, adding that the most disturbing aspect is that sometimes, government officials deliberately attack some public figures with fake news on assumption that one’s sympathy lies with the opposition.
He however paid enormous tribute to the human spirit as reflected in the charitable and commendable roles some Nigerians played both to save lives of people or salvage fellow Nigerians from suffering between 1966 and 1970.
Born in Kano, Utomi recalled how a family friend, Wushishi, who later served as Federal Commissioner for Information saved his family in Gwarzo in 1966 during the pogrom.
Celebrating the human spirit, he gave kudos to Yoruba men he met in the Surulere area after the war, who collected house rents on behalf of their Igbo friends while the war lasted and gave them their monies back in 1970 when they returned to Lagos empty-handed.
On his part, the first Secretary-General of Campaign for Democracy and current Director-General, Northern Elders Forum, Prof Yima Sen, regretted that his Tiv ethnic nationality provided 60 per cent of Nigerian soldiers during the civil war and, as a result, that every family lost at least one person to fight for a cause they never understood.
Sen, a University of Abuja Professor who was one of the three Panel of Speakers, agreed with the concept of the Conference and expressed worry over the political atmosphere in the country today which he described as “disturbing and disheartening”, while expressing support for every move to ensure that the nation should not continue on a path of violence and hateful relationship.
He agreed with Utomi that if the civil war were to be fought today, there would be no Nigeria given the rise of ethnic consciousness and desire for self-determination, among youths but driven by politicians.
Prof Utomi who condemned economic genocide among African leaders, berated Nigerians’ insistence on sharing of national cake rather working hard at production, citing that dependence on rent-taking rather than productive economy made Spain to become a poor nation.
He also said that Nigeria’s party system as currently obtained is flawed and that ours is a democracy of mediocrity and excessive cronyism which has no regard for merit.
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