Gowon, Soyinka, Utomi, others caution against warmongering



Temitope Ogunbanke




ormer Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, professor of political economy, Pat Utomi and other eminent Nigerians, have cautioned against any action that can lead Nigeria to another civil war.


Speaking yesterday during the Never Again Conference organised by the Nzuko Umunna and Ndigbo Lagos in conjunction with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to mark 50 years of the end of the Nigerian civil war, speakers, in their messages, canvassed unity of the country and urged people to shun violence.


Gowon, who addressed the conference through a recorded message played during the event, urged Nigerians to ensure that another civil war was averted in Nigeria, adding that the commitment of the citizens to the country must be total and patriotic.


His words: “We must do all in our power as responsible leaders and citizens of this great country and nation to create enabling platforms for dialogue and proffer ideas on how we can live together in peace and harmony for the good of all Nigerians and the black race as a whole, thus ensuring political, economic, security and development of the country. I urge all Nigerians to ensure that we avert another civil war in Nigeria.”


In his address, Soyinka said the nation’s political situation is dangerously similar to what led to the Nigeria civil war, warning that the nation cannot afford to lose another 2.5 million people to another civil war.

He pointed out that the nation’s political situation is unpalatable, saying humanity tends to forget history, hence they risk repeating it.


Soyinka also hailed the regional security outfit of the South-West states code-named ‘Operation Amotekun’, saying that the decision of the governors from the region satisfied the yearnings of the people.

Describing last Thursday inauguration of ‘Amotekun’ as a desirable New Year gift, Soyinka said he had earlier given up on the political leadership of the region until the launch of the security outfit.


His words: “To thank a number of public-spirited, humanity-considering governors in this nation, who finally responded to the demand and yearnings of the citizens and produced one organisation called Amotekun. It is one of the most unexpected because I had given up on them; it is unexpected, but at the same time, a desirable New Year present.”


Soyinka also called for the release of the detained activist and journalist, Mr. Agba Jalingo, noting that the continued incarceration of the journalist was unjustifiable.


According to Utomi, “The collapse of culture, which has reduced human purpose to primitive accumulation of power and money, often through criminal privatization of the commonwealth, has hurt Nigeria badly. Public life must be about service and advanced of the common good.


“The loss of a sense for the principle of subsidiarity that government and authority be decentralised so it is at levels closet to the people where they can feel it and be able to hold it accountable. A distant government in some far off place like Abuja, Alausa or Enugu, creates a moral distance in the civic culture, which Peter Ekeh captures well in his essay on the two public. It has made corruption endemic.


“Government needs to be cheaper, simpler, more ethical and more sensitive to extent circumstances.”



Chairman of the occasion, Prof Anya. O. Anya, called on Nigerians to eschew violence as a nation and work collaboratively to make the country great.


Anya, who is the pioneer Chairman of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), said: “Nigeria situation is not unique. Other countries have gone through same. We as a country must learn from other countries that have survived from the horror of war.



“Germany fought a war and lost; same as Japan. But 30 years after, Germany became one of the best economies in the world, same to Japan, until the advent of China. Losing does not make you a failure.


“We as a country must eschew violence, as it will not provide the answer to our current situation.


“There is a saying, which goes like this: “Those who live by the sword die by the sword. This is a new year and a new opportunity for Nigeria to make this right once again.”


In his address, the co-chairman, Prof. Banji Akintoye, said that the mood in Nigeria today is similar to the mood in the country months before the 1967 civil war.


Akintoye, a renowned historian and Second Republic member of the Senate, said to avert the impending danger, Nigeria must, without further delay, restructure with the objective of giving the country a true and generally acceptable federal structure under which the present sections of Nigeria will be able to develop their resources for the conquest of poverty in their domains.


“We are already in crisis. If we, in 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 brutalisation without trying to get rid of it. And it is insanity to keep doing a thing the same way over and over and yet expect a different outcome.”


Also speaking at the event, the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, also cautioned political leaders to tread softly in order not to destroy the country.

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