By Dirisu Yakubu & Alice Ekpang
The 30 months old civil war between Nigeria and Biafra cost the former a whopping £130 million, an academic, Adetunji Ogunyemi has revealed.
Ogunyemi who disclosed this while facilitating a session at the ongoing media training workshop in Abuja organised by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, a German Non Governmental Organization, decried what he called the poor record keeping disposition of government officials of successive administrations.
Delivering a lecture on “Historical Development of the Press in Nigeria,” Dr. Ogunyemi of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife said the federal government has no record of the cost implications of the war, adding that it was the private library of the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo at Ikenne that furnished him with the information.
“The Nigerian civil war went on for thirty months and did not end until January 15, 1970. Now Nigeria was grossly underspent during this period. What I mean is that the Nigeria annual budget was barely 50 or 55 million but during the war, we were spending a million pounds a week.
“So that means we spent alot of money more than the Nigeria annual budget was permited within those two and half years.
“The Nigerian government spent a lot of money during the civil war but the records cannot be found in respect of the capital budget that the country went into, the purchase of weapons and ammunitions, logistics and other things.
“The evidence however is available at the library of Chief Obafemi Owolowo at Ikene, Ogun state. Don’t forget he was the Minister of Finance during the war and was the one that anchored Nigerian finances and for the 30 months, we neither borrowed nor owed,” he stated.
And despite the humongous spending, the don noted that the Nigerian economy fared better even before the war.
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“Infact, the Nigerian recurrent expenditure was fufilled to the brim. And when we emerged from the war in 1970, the Nigerian economy became better that it was before the war.
“This was because we exported more, and we were able to add more money and the Nigerian economy became a starter economy in the category of South Korea and Singapore in the 70’s,” he told Vanguard exclusively shortly after the presentation of his paper.
On why government could afford to be negligent of records as important as the cost of the civil war, Dr. Ogunyemi added: “It is because we do not care about records in Nigeria. We are not very good at keeping records of events, successes and challenges of our nation.
“You would be surprise that if you ask the federal ministry to give us a copy of the budget of the 1960s, you will not get it but this is available in the British achieves. It is a national indictment that we are not good keepers of records and it is high time we started doing better.”
The Nigerian/Biafran civil war which took place from 1967 to 1970 reportedly claimed 3 million lives, including women and children.