Opinion: New Year Gift From Obasanjo Marks Beginning Of End To Nigeria Civil War

by Amos Kalu
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1st January 2023, was an amazing day for most of us in Nigeria. On that day, we happily and joyfully came into the new year 2023. This is one year that means so many things to so many people.

In the political circle, the establishment is divided into two. Those that want the status quo to remain. Such elements are shouting “continuity 2023” while a section of the establishment is shouting “change 2023”. The question that none of them wants to answer is:
Continuity? What are we to continue? Are we to continue the epileptic power supply, the unprecedented looting of our common patrimony, the unheard-of oil theft, the highly devalued Naira, the daily kidnappings, bloodshed, land grabbing by the jihadists, the high unemployment rate, the poverty, the poor infrastructure, the 8 months strike by University lecturers, brain drain, disunity, nepotism, clueless government, what exactly are we supposed to continue? These questions are begging for answers from Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of APC who told Nigerians that if elected, he”ll continue with the legacies of the Buhari administration.

At the other end are the members of the same establishment who reminds us that the need for “change” is here. Again, we ask them: ” what kind of change are you talking about?

In 2015, you came into government shouting” change, change”. Eight years after, nothing has changed except that everything became worse than we have ever had it. So, is the change this time meant to be the burial of the people? Your first change killed us and who knows what secret you have this time.

While we were eating our new year rice, a rare light of hope came in on the 1st day of the year 2023 from President Olusegun Obasanjo in his letter to the Nigerian Youths. He endorsed the candidacy of Mr. Peter Obi, the Labour Party candidate. That letter marked the beginning of the end of the civil war which started from 1967 to 2023.

This war is the longest in human history. It started a year after my birth and has continued throughout my teenage and most of my adult years. This war took the life of my father, my grandfather, my grand Mum, my uncle, and my loved ones.

All my children are wartime children as long as they introduce themselves as Igbos from South East Nigeria.

I remember studying for my first degree in the North with ambivalence. The trauma, the cutting of marks from me (because I’m from an educationally advantaged SE) to add up to a Northern student, the humiliation and dehumanization, and the calling of names all had their toll on me and all students from the SE. To fit in, some changed their names!

I remember my post doctoral classmate, Pastor Paul at University of Abuja, who will always lament that he wished I was from the North.

I remember meeting a neighbor that worked with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) for 18 years with a mock certificate while those of us with a 3rd degree had no job.
When I asked her how she got a job in a sensitive and honorable office like the CAC, she smiled and told me ” you’re from the East so you’ll not understand. They begged me to take the job”.

I remember a neighbor in Jos whose daughter ran away from home after” failing” her matriculation exam 3 times. Each time, this girl from Anambra state(an Igbo state presumed by the Nigerian state to be educationally advantaged ) scored a mark considered high by jamb but still failed to gain admission. Her mates who scored 150 in their Jamb (matriculation exam) got admitted because they came from the North but her 200 scores were disqualified 3 times. The little girl had no option but to run away from home. Her parents, friends, and all of us went out in search of her.

I remember driving to NEPA headquarters along Aguiyi Ironsi road, opposite Transcorp Hilton and adjacent to NCC, to meet a top executive of the power company. That visit was during President Obasanjo’s regime. During my interaction with the man from the middle belt, I remember asking him why Nigeria with her famed high deposit of coal cannot generate power from the “black stone”. I cited examples of countries like Israel with high technology yet they generate power from coal. The man looked at my face and gave me an answer that broke my heart. He said: coal is mainly from the South East and Kogi area. Using coal to generate power would mean developing the source of your raw material and that’s against government policy.

That is why there’s no functional port around the South East. The government would rather build one in the Sahara desert than allow a functional port in Calabar, Akwa Ibom, Port Harcourt, Warri, Bomadi, and Oguta or be serious about dredging the river Niger. Policies like these and more have kept the war going for decades but it seems the end of the civil war is near.

You can imagine why there has been jubilation today following the announcement that President Obasanjo, the emeritus president of Nigeria, the longest-ruling head of state, the man that received the surrender letter of the then Biafran deputy head of state General Effiong and the most courageous leader in Africa.

He agreed that all sides made mistakes during the war and announced that the end has come when we must put all enmity behind us and move forward.

I cried today as I monitored the news on SUN FM broadcasting from Aba and Igbere. All the callers were jubilant. Some promised to give President Obasanjo a good wine. Others promised some unprintable things. The atmosphere in this part of the world was eclectic.

This has proved the nay-sayers wrong. Igbos are peace-loving. We are hard-working, forward-looking, and resilient, found anywhere there’s life including Mars! If there’s life there be sure to meet an Igbo man or woman. We never say “die” to goal-getters. We want the good of everybody, especially our host communities. There’s no history that we are land grabbers or violent killers. If we kill you, who’ll buy our wares? If we don’t have you, our business would stop so we care and pamper you because you’re the reason why we exist.

We are simply asking for an end to this long war. We need fairness, justice, equity, fairground/fair play, competence, and integrity. Is that asking for too much?

For the first time since this war started in 1967, a creditable and capable man of Igbo extraction came up as a candidate of a pan Nigerian party. He is good and capable (if he wasn’t, the lion of Nigerian politics, President Obasanjo would have told us). This announcement cum endorsement is a new year gift like no other. It signals that :

A NEW NIGERIA IS POSSIBLE.

The next endorsement came from another fearless, outspoken, and courageous Leader, Chief Edwin Clerk, the leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF). In his endorsement, the 85-year-old leader enumerated Peter Obi’s credentials and concluded that he is the best among the contestants. Recall that the leader of the Pan Yoruba socio-cultural organization, Afinafere, Pa Adebanjo, was the first to endorse Mr. Peter Obi.

It’s been a harvest of endorsements for Mr. Peter Obi in the new year. These noblemen have done their work as fathers of the nation. They are nationalists but may I ask you a question?

Have you endorsed Mr. Peter Obi for a new Nigeria? If you have done so please talk to others around you to do the same. Pick your PVC if you’ve not done this. Send messages to your contacts asking them to vote for Mr. Peter Obi in next month”s election.

You can forward my paper to your contacts just as I did to you. Get ready to :

Vote for Mr. Peter Obi for the healing of Nigeria. I want to leave this earth one day knowing that the war that started a year after my birth ended in my lifetime. Remember the Labour party logo is the one with the picture of Papa, Mama, and pikin

From Richyard Awa Kalu Ume JP, PhD

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