By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
As Nigeria commemorates 50 years of the end of the nation’s tragic civil war on Wednesday, January 15, President Muhammadu Buhari has cautioned citizens, ethnic, religious and political leaders against preaching inflammatory rhetoric meant only to divide the nation.
The President said that the war served as a potent warning on the dangers of aggressive regionalism, ethnic baiting and political corruption.
President Buhari, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said, “Their tragedy shall be neither forgotten nor repeated.”
Buhari said: “In it, we must forge common memory that can serve as a bridge to a future free from the ravages of sectarianism.
“We remember the past to draw its lessons; on how we move forward together and live in peace.
“Unfortunately, there are some who fail to recognise them and instead repeat its mistakes, preaching inflammatory rhetoric meant only to divide.
“We call on all leaders and parties to moderate their language. There were no victors in this war. Yet in rejecting division and embracing unity, we ensure those lives lost were not in vain.”
Recall that the Nigerian Civil War (also known as the Biafran War was a civil war in Nigeria fought between the government of Nigeria and the secessionist state of Biafra from 6 July 1967 to 15 January 1970.
Biafra represented nationalist aspirations of the Biafran people, whose leadership felt they could no longer coexist with the Northern-dominated federal government. The conflict resulted from political, economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions which preceded Britain’s formal decolonization of Nigeria from 1960 to 1963. Immediate causes of the war in 1966 included ethnoreligious riots in Northern Nigeria, a military coup, a country-coup and persecution of Igbo living in Northern Nigeria. Control over the lucrative oil production in the Nover Delta played a vital strategic role.