by Edmund Obilo-
The president of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari in his 2017 Independence Day broadcast to Nigerians said the clamour for restructuring gave some groups he described as “highly irresponsible” the opportunity to call for the dismemberment of the Nigerian state. He promised to keep the country United.
President Buhari said he was disappointed in some community leaders who witnessed the Nigerian civil war and still failed to warn their “hot-headed” youths of what the nation passed through.
The president’s continuous mention of the war in his speeches reminds one that Nigeria’s failure to resolve the national question led to the civil war that erupted in 1967. That the civil war occurred was a response to the negative effect of divisive actions. The resolution of the crises of the war was supposed to have been the motivation for a new country devoid of the traditional centrifugal forces that almost decimated it. But that was not to be.
Adigun Agbaje a professor of Political Science is of the view that war destroys, but it also renews and constructs. Assessing the aftermath of the Nigerian Civil War, he concludes that “in terms of the war state-nexus, the aftermath of the civil war is a litany in contradictions, a set of paradoxes. The war changed everything but nothing. It marked a turning point to nowhere”.
Purposeful countries come out of civil conflicts with a consensus for a better future. The American civil war was one of the catalysts that propelled it to greatness. President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address of Nov 19, 1863 was an attempt to bring Americans together after a war of division. Lincoln used the speech to emphasize the American creed. He did not only emphasize it, he and other politicians ensured that justice, integrity, and rule of law, which are features of democracy governed the actions of Americans.
What about Nigeria? Her failure to take advantage of the end of the civil war for a new Nigeria is tied to her insistence on the social formation of the past.
It was a lost opportunity