Nigeria is now so volatile and divided that one just needs a few hours of interaction of people from, say, the South Eastern extraction and South Western region on social media. Social media platforms have been flooded with a varieties of posts, pictures, memes, and satirical comments on different tribes in the Nigerian social media space. One could say that this is as a result of the residue of the just-concluded general elections. The violence and bile that were released during the election became to be seen as targeted at a particular tribe.
Whether Nigerians like it or not, the memories of the Nigerian Civil War cannot be totally erased from history. It can also be argued that the continued neglect of any form of commemoration of the victims of the war, especially by the Federal Government of Nigeria, still leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps this is why people from the region which was ravaged by death and starvation during the three hellish years of 1967 to 1970 are sensitive to anything that the government does.
Other countries and nationalities do not avoid the past.
It is cowardly to ignore the past as much as it is foolish to do so. The former is because the past is a mirror into the future. It shapes the destinies of generations to come. The latter is maybe more important because of the former because only a fool does not look at the past, assess his mistakes and forge ahead with renewed commitment to not committing past mistakes. The African adage says that when a child falls, he looks forward; but when an elder falls, he immediately looks back to see what has caused his fall.
Africa’s most populous country can be described as a 63-year-old child who has kept falling and has refused to look back at what is causing the fall in order to solve the root problem. Compared to the rest of the world, it is a norm for many nationalities to remember such historic events and commemorate them. Major armed conflicts that marked sacrifices that strengthened the existence of a country are widely celebrated around the world.
Major celebrations similar to the Biafran War.
For instance, Russia celebrates the surrender of the Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union and her allies during the Second World War on May 9. Germany remembers various victims of war in a National Day of Mourning (Volkstrauertag), while Israel celebrates soldiers and others that laid down their lives in various armed conflicts on the 4th of the Hebrew month of Iyar. However, Nigeria has refused to declare any day to remember the heroes that fought on the Biafran side as well as millions of starved children who were caught in the middle.
If the reason for the Federal Government not following this route in commemoration of the Nigerian Civil War is to avoid celebrating those that fought on the Biafran side, it calls to question the declaration of ‘no victor, no vanquished’ mantra announced by General Yakubu Gowon after the war. This is really concerning considering that June 12 was made the Democracy Day and a national public holiday with so much ease during the last administration.
FG has to pay credence to the scale of sacrifices.
Although the Biafran War and the June 12, 1993 elections have remarkable distinctions, they are also similar in some sense. One of them is that the collective destiny of Nigerians were shaped by both events. However, the civil war was characterized by so much carnage that cannot be said of the June 12 election. The Federal Government does not have to celebrate the resilience and tenacity of the Biafran side, but they do have to acknowledge the sacrifices made by millions of people—sacrifices that were supposed to strengthened our co-existence in this union and chart a prosperous future for us as a nation.