This day, fifty years ago, we Nigerians saw the end of a bitter and sanguinary Civil War in which two sides of our Country had been pitched against each other for fully thirty months. A war which had directly and indirectly taken the lives of millions of our citizens and had left the lives of more millions shattered.
I assess that we are assembled to mark this day for two important reasons. First, we are assembled in gratitude to God that our Civil War came to an end when it did. And that it did not continue beyond that day to go on inflicting more deaths and more wounds upon our citizens and peoples of Nigeria, and upon our Country as a corporate entity.
Secondly and more importantly, we elders, leaders. rulers and citizens of Nigeria are assembled here today before the World, and before the Ruler of all Peoples and Nations, to assert that We the People of this Country of Nigeria will Never Again manage the affairs of our Country in such a way as to lead to war among us.
It is hugely providential that We are registering this resolve today before the World and before the Creator and Ruler of the World. I say providential because, as an elderly citizen of this Country and as a citizen who was already a young University Teacher in the time of our Civil War, I have good reasons to fear today that the character of the affairs of our Country these days and the prevailing mood among us Nigerians, are chillingly similar to the character of the affairs of our Country in the months leading to our Civil War.
The Government of our Country is being managed in ways that make it look like an exclusive preserve of a particular minority. There seems to be an agenda being pursued to establish this minority in all positions of command in the Executive, Administrative, Judicial and Security Services of our Country. The voices of the majority register protests continually and are Continually disrespected and ignored. The state of law is patently being subsumed to the needs of that agenda with seriously damaging effects on human rights. These situations are inevitably fostering among the Peoples of the Middle Belt and South of our Country. The feeling that they are being reduced to the status of conquered Peoples in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, some persons belonging to the would-be minority conquerors are loudly threatening to overrun and seize the ancestral homelands of the said Peoples of the Nigerian Middle Belt and South. And they are actually pushing for that conquest with their acts of destruction of farms and villages, acts of wanton killings of People, acts of kidnapping, acts of intimidation, and the act of bringing of masses of their ethnic kinsmen from Countries beyond Nigeria to seize and possess land by force and intimidation in Nigeria. The outcome of all these, as we assemble here today, is that our Country is divided into two hostile parts…
Meanwhile also, as a manifest corollary to these fearsome developments, three dreaded fundamentalist terrorist movement, ISIS after being vanquished in the Middle East, has established its new strong base in a part of Nigeria and from there has proclaimed West Africa as its new province by way of ISWAP. The probability has become high therefore that lSlS might make a junction with the minority pushing for the conquest of the majority in Nigeria, that Nigeria might thus be ravaged by ISIS, that Nigeria might soon be the base from which lSlS will push to conquer West Africa and all of Africa, with the purpose of turning Africa into a mighty base of fundamentalist terror against the rest of the civilized World.
But in the spirit of today. In the spirit of Never Again plunging our Country into Civil War, we can, and we must terminate all this descent towards horrific war. We can and we must speedily move our Country into the state of law. The state of mutual respect among our hundreds of Nations and the state of order and peace in our Country.
The steps needed to accomplish this new order of existence for our Country are obvious. First, the Nigerian ethnic nation that has been threatening other Nigerian ethnic nations , that has been engaging in invasion, destruction, disruption and barbarous rampages in the homelands of other Nigerian ethnic nations and that has been mobilizing external forces to assist the conquest, subjugation and ethnic cleansing of other Nigerian ethnic nations, must now immediately, stop and renounce this agenda to the satisfaction of all of Nigeria, and to the satisfaction of the civilized World.
Secondly, after that, we Nigerians must restructure our Country, with the objective of giving our Country a true and generally acceptable Federal Structure under which the different sections of our Country will be able to develop their resources for the conquest of poverty in their domains, for the elevation of the quality of life of their citizens, and for their contributions to the overall prosperity of our Nigeria.
To make Restructuring produce a full and abiding good for our Country, we must now, for the first time, correct a serious mistake which we have been making from the beginning. especially from the beginning of Independent Nigeria. That mistake is that we have been ignoring the fundamental fact that underlies our Country. The fundamental fact is that Nigeria is a Country of many different Nations, of Nations that are in some respects radically different in their cultures, their Political traditions, their perceptions of acceptable reality; their expectations, and their desires and goals. By ignoring this fundamental, we have almost continuously let our Country wobble and teeter on the brink of violent implosion. And we have continually inflicted serious pains upon ourselves. We fought and ended a Civil War but we have never really moved measurably away from the brinks of Civil War.
We have now seen enough to be convinced that we must not continue to ignore the fundamental. The fundamental will not go away; it is we who must harmonize the Structure and Management of our Country with the fundamental. Refusing to recognize and harmonize with the fundamental would certainly continue our Country’s slide towards dissolution, and might soon complete that process. Consciously recognizing and harmonizing with the fundamental would almost certainly give our Country a long and stable lease of life. But that means that if we do agree and choose to continue to live together as One Country, then we all (all sections of our Country) must together work out agreement upon and thoroughly respect the agreed conditions and demands of our living together as One Country.
We must now, absolutely, and without further delay address our fundamental and let our Country, our Nations, and our People have peace. We are already in a crisis. If we, in our sober deference to reality, find that we can no longer hold together as one entity, then let us together peacefully find a rational solution and let us Never Again plunge into any kind of War among us. It is subhuman to continue to suffer pain and brutalization without trying to get rid of it. And it is insanity to keep doing a thing the same way over and over and expect a different outcome.
I am confident that we, Nigerians, can make a success of doing the desperately needful now. And I wish our many Peoples the best.