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Achebe/Awo war: A plea for sanity –3

By Dele Sobowale

With so many other issues begging for attention, I still strongly believe that putting an end to this needlessly divisive controversy is in our collective interest. Still, below are the responses to last week’s second attempt.

“0803-779-0589…granted the views of those for and against Achebe’s book what is expected from those injured by the truths as revealed by the Book is to simply say we are sorry. To my mind this will surely heal the wounds…Those of us in Biafra are convinced that it was a war of genocide…

“0805-395-8322…Yes you played a very good role in your mediatory article. Not Dr Yakubu Gowon who should burt his head in shame. He is a pretender of peace but will never see it till he dies… Nigeria should pray never to have such amateur President again. John Agu, M Lagos.

“0805-511-8007 I respect you sir.

“0805-771-3057 I hope you’ve seen the new angle to the “TRUTH” from Odia. I cant wait for the subsequent piece. You can’t forget Fela’s piece ”Wen trouble sleep…” Let who have ears hear.

0818-825-0810 Sir pls do not beg them, they started the whole problem in Jan I966, if they want to go to another senseless war the Yorubas are not afraid

“0806-381-2705 I am an Igbo man. Thanks for not being provoked to attack any of the actors in the melodrama..Chidoxie K Okoro

“0803-779-0589 Those who are defending late Pa Awo’s war time policies; the likes of Odia Ofeimun, Femi Fani-Kayode and others, Thanks

“0813-048-9394 I had some rspt 4 u but am wiser 2day. U publish d trash 4rm the edo coward and u support hm by hidin his numba den you went on 2 publish other anti igbo  smnts. Haba. Truth is constant”.


My answer to the first one is, “who is to say sorry?” The decisions made during the war on both sides were not subjected to referendum. Neither Igbo nor non-Igbo were asked what is to be done. Awo is dead and Gowon rejects the accusations.

Yes I have been reading Odia’s revelations, for knowledge, not as a weapon to use against Igbo people or to justify Awo; I have gone past that. I just want us to have peace and not start another conflict just because a book was written. My views about the book will go down to the grave with me.

I thank those who think we should not allow this Book to divide us even more. Yesufu and I are on the same page; the two sides will never give up. Perhaps those who feel the same way will join me in appealing to our young, and surprisingly old, warriors to allow peace to reign.

I have published part of the text sent to me by the owner of 0813-048-9394, for the second week in a row, together with the personal insults to me and the Edo man who, by the way, works in Enugu and so asked for his number not to be published. When an Edo man wrote about the personal trauma he suffered when Biafra soldiers entered his town and family home and an Igbo youth asking for “TRUTH” calls his lamentations “trash”, perhaps he can understand why there is still a great ethnic divide in Nigeria. I don’t suppose the poor Edo man will love Igbos more after this but I also plead with him. Forget 0813-048-9394; think instead of the millions of decent Igbo and co-Nigerians. They are the ones that matter. Some people in every ethnic group dig the graves of their fellowmen; with spoken words or with written messages.

Finally, when Dm Emeka Ojukwu died, a request was made of me by a group to allow them to publish in their programme for the burial service a piece I wrote years ago titled “Heroes of the Twentieth Century in Nigeria”. Ojukwu was one of those I selected. The young man, who is so full of anger and bad manners, would be better advised to read that piece. I am sorry for him and his parents. Thank God, few Igbo youth with whom I have been associated are like this.

Let us move on to other matters.


“Thinking men know that work is the salvation of the race, morally, physically, socially [and economically]. Work does more than get us our living; it gets us our life. Henry Ford I,

“Work spares us from three evils: boredom, vice and need”. Voltaire, .

After reading sections 28 to 31 of the 2013 budget titled Job Creation, but which should have been more appropriately titled No Job Creation, it is clear that this nation’s political leaders, at Federal, States and Local government levels are either deliberately or inadvertently embarking on something close to filicide. Don’t go looking for your dictionary; Unijankara faculty members have done that for you. Filicide means killing young people irrespective of age, gender, state of origin or ethnic group. And, Nigerian governments are doing it remorselessly in the most invisible way possible – they are sentencing them to lifetimes of unemployment.

If a foreign country had dropped a smart bomb, which selectively kills 20-30 million of our young ones, we would cry holocaust (I avoided genocide because that has become a highly charged word in Nigeria today) and we would be right even if the bomb takes up to thirty years to finish them off. What then is the difference between that and the loss of a whole generation of kids to life-long joblessness? Are we not creating so many million individuals who are, and will be, victims of “boredom, vice and need”? Each time I read about some young people caught carrying drugs at our airports, or those accused of kidnapping, or armed robbery, the first thought in my mind is, “what role did the society and our governments have to play in this”? Well, let me point out one cardinal role – pervasive corruption in all governments – irrespective of party in power and at what level, federal, state, and local government.

Incidentally, the public servants themselves know this very well. When participants, at the first retreat organized by Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for Federal government top executives, were asked to list the most important problem militating against our development, over 60% of them wrote corruption. President Jonathan, who clearly failed to grasp the opportunity to make a statement, regarded the result as a personal insult. He announced that he disagreed. Instead, he released a trope of words which failed to address the issue.

A different kind of President would have told the Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Directors of Agencies present that since they have all agreed that corruption is the main problem he will start correcting the situation by firing anyone from whose Ministry or agency the first bad odour of scandal emanates – regardless of who that is. If he had done that, he would probably be working with his third Minister of Petroleum by now. That Ministry alone allows more funds to be stolen than would have been needed to invest in half a million mini-enterprises. In the second edition of PDP: CORRUPTION INCORPORATED, Nigerians will read about the over N8 trillion the nation had lost through organized, and officially condoned, grand larceny, in the Ministry of Petroleum in the last three years alone…


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