General Yakubu Gowon, former Nigeria head of state, yesterday faulted prponents for a separate state of Biafra, saying such agitation does not take into cognizance the effect of the civil war on children.
Speaking at the public presentation of a book: ZIK: Testimonies To A Great African, edited by Henry Onukwuba to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s in Lagos, General Gowon, who was at the helm of affairs during the war said the agitators have not learned from history.
General Gowon, who was chairman of the event, recalled with nostalgia his encounter with children of the Old Eastern region, shortly after the war and his avowed commitment to ensure they do not suffer effect of war again.
Meanwhile, contrary to the views held by speakers at the Zik event, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign state of Biafra (MASSOB) yesterday maintained that members of the group are ready to die for Biafra.
In a statement signed by the leader of MASSOB Comrade Uche Madu made available to newsmen in Abakaliki, MASSOB made it clear that no amount of intimidation, harassments, arrests, killings and detentions will stop them from actualizing the Sovereign state of Biafra.
Continuing, Gowon said shortly after the war, he visited some children in eastern states and was so surprised at how they turned out to welcome them so warmly.
“Sincerely, they were impressive and addressed us as their parents and leaders. They prayed that we should not allow any Nigerian children to suffer what they went through during that civil war.
From that encounter, General Gowon said he decided that Nigerian leaders should ensure that they provide for the children; give them good upbringing in order to make them loyal to their country.
“The words from the children touched me so dearly, with tears in my eyes, thinking of the sufferings those children experienced. They did not say children from the East alone, but no Nigerian child should suffer what they suffered, I then said it would become engrained in my mind. Then I told myself that if I have anything to do with Nigeria you could be rest assured that I will make sure that no Nigerian child suffers such agonies and pains of war again.
Also, First Republic Minister of Aviation, Dr. Mbazulike Amaechi said that Dr. Nnamdi’s bitter experience in the Eastern region of the country did not stop him from preaching the gospel of one Nigeria.
According to Amaechi, it is sad that, 20 years after Zik’s death, the Federal Government of Nigeria governments of the former Eastern Region and Anambra State government have collectively and individually failed to complete the work at his grave.
The renowned politician called for erection of Zik’s epitaph scripted as a poem at State House Lagos in November 12, 1964 at his grave as a mark of honour for the departed leader.