By Charles Kumolu, Lagos
Lt Gen Alani Akinrinade (retd), a former Chief of Defence Staff, minister and elder statesman in an exclusive interview with Vanguard Newspaper in commemoration of his 80th birthday, has revealed how he and Brig Gen Alabi Isama drafted a document that was used as a means to end the civil war.
The Sandhurst graduate explained how the war could have been shorter had the soldiers in charge resorted to dialogue instead of force. The 3-star General said ”it was a situation that could have been handled through political manoeuvering. ”When the military got involved they started using force instead of talking to the civilians. The soldiers were in charge when things very bad and they made the wrong decisions”. Decisions that he says caused the elongation of the war.
He said “the tactics we finally used in ending the war was a document that Alabi Isama and I prepared . we spent nights preparing it, because the last time we were with Adekunle (Brig-Gen Benjamin Adekunle), he showed us that he was distrustful of us. He was not happy with some of the things he thought we were doing.”
He also revealed how Gen Adekunle posted both himself and Gen Alabi Isama out of the headquarters, because of a perceived lack of belief from the duo towards Gen Adekunle’s methods.
Gen Akinrinade described how the work both himself and Gen Alabi Isama had done was used to put an end to the civil war. In his words, ” we told ourselves that ending the war wasn’t difficult. We presented the plan to Adekunle. Whether he studied it or not, we were not sure. All he wrote on the plan was “this is tactics lesson one, when am i expecting the next tuition?”
”It was the plan that we brushed up and we didn’t tell Obasanjo that we were going to execute.” We went ahead to execute it because we were tired of being in the front.” it was a war that should have lasted for one year but it lasted for 30 months.”
Akinrinade also revealed that war should be the last thing on the minds of people, in his words, ”recently i read articles where some people said they want Yoruba nation, while Indigenous People of Biafra said it wants Biafra. Why can’t we sit down and discuss the contentious issues? Telling me that they want to fight a war is unbelievable. I dont know of any country that survived two civil wars. Did they see the carnage brought by he last one? Are they saying that things wont be worse than the last one if we fight another one?”