19 January 2013

Nigeria: Let's Put Biafra War Behind Us - Obasanjo

Abeokuta — Former President, and major player in the Nigeria civil war, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday urged Nigerians to put the memories of the country's civil war behind them in the interest of peace and unity of the country.

Obasanjo who narrated how he escaped a grenade attack close to his groin, during the 16-month civil war remarked that the whole episode was unnecessary.

Speaking at the elaborate programme to honour him by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South west in Abeokuta, Obasanjo said both the dead and the living made sacrifices for the country to remain united.

Obasanjo while reacting to Captain Ben Gbulie (rtd) submission of his views on the war, said he has asked the organizers to invite Gbulie, noting that "you could be taken as an example of what tried to divide Nigeria and what tried to unite Nigeria, because you were one of the participants in the first coup.

"And as you rightly said, you were also on the other side fighting for what you believed to save the Ibos from extermination, but I have always said that that whole episode was unnecessary. You should also remember one thing, action and reaction in physics, they say they are equal and opposite, but in human interaction, no reactions are always greater than actions. And you know that and I know that," he said.

Obasanjo however stressed that "the time has come when all of us in this country should put the civil war behind us. Ibelieve enough is enough on the Nigerian civil war; because in youraddress you said up till today...I had a cousin who died last year atthe age of about ninety three, I think. Until she died she believedthat her son was still alive in the Eastern part of Nigeria where hewent to fight. But I know that he could not have been alive. I know that he had died. There are many like that.

To him, "that was the sacrifice that we all made on both sides. If itwas possible for me to remove my trousers now for you to see, I wouldshow you where I have shrapnel or grenade. It was very close, veryclose...and you know what that means. I'm happy that you came because Iwanted people to hear. It was necessary. How years has the war beenover now? January 1970, 43 years.

"If after 43 years we are still mourning and groaning about the civil war, I wonder. The Second World War ended in 1945 and the combatants were the best of friends less than ten years after, I just believe that we should put the civil war behind us."

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