•Azikiwe, Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello’ll turn in their graves should Nigeria break —Uche Azikiwe
From Mark Pippah and Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
President-General of the Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, has called on aggrieved members of Igbo extraction, particularly members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), to employ dialogue as a means of negotiating for Biafra, rather than violence.
He made the call yesterday while delivering a lecture titled “National reconciliation and the role of universities” at the 2nd Convocation Lecture of the Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo, (FUNAI), Ebonyi State.
This was even as the President-General, regretted that he had come under uncharitable media attack over his stance on the Biafra agitation.
Nwodo, had at a function in Lagos, said he would be a saboteur should anybody cause another civil war in the South East. But, the leadership of some of these pro-Biafra groups came hard on him, calling him unprintable names.
He explained that he made the statement in the context in which anyone or group would want to prosecute Biafra by inciting violence.
The President-General said contrary to reports, he was not against Biafra agitation, but the approach employed by the agitators for its actualisation.
Nwodo, while recalling his experience during the Nigeria civil war, told the gathering how over three million Igbo were killed by bombs, bullet wounds and starvation.
“I said in Lagos that if anybody brings up a situation that will cause another civil war in the South East, I will be a saboteur.
“I was a lieutenant in the Biafra army; I lost my best friend in combat. Mortals were shelled at us; one pierced his heart and rendered him dead within minutes. I missed air raids that would have killed me.
“I missed battles that would have killed me. Bullets went by my ears; bombs fell within my locality, cut my cousin’s feet by half and killed him before we got to the general hospital. The only supply from outside Biafra came to us only by air.
“The war cost us three and a half million people. One and a half million died in open warfare of air raids and in circumstance that did not respect the Geneva Convention. Market places were bombed, hospitals were bombed, amounting to what the late General Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu called genocide.
“One million people died of starvation because of the economic blockage and the policy of the federal government as espoused by the minister of finance then that hunger was a legitimate instrument of war.
“Another one million who had lost their parents to air raids and were sick in hospitals, in sickbays with nobody to look after them or give them drugs (because drugs could not be imported), were flown outside Biafra in C130. They were tied to one another by the remaining wrappers of their mothers. You don’t know this! That was what war brought to us.
“ I met with the young man who leads the Biafra struggle in my house with my executive for a long period. We reached an agreement: stop your hate speech; speak your Biafra, but don’t talk against restructuring; support election in Anambra.
The only way you can get Biafra is by war or diplomacy. War is not an option and I am sure we all agreed to diplomacy.
Meanwhile, wife of the first president of Nigeria, Prof. Uche Azikiwe, yesterday said the spirit of her late husband, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello and other founding fathers of Nigeria would turn in their graves if Nigeria breaks.
She said she stood firmly for one, indivisible Nigeria. Mrs. Azikiwe, however, appealed to Biafra agitators and Ndigbo to embrace the unity of the country. “Nigeria will not disintegrate. My husband, Nnamdi, Awolowo, Bello and others will turn in their graves if Nigeria disintegrates. This is because they sacrificed a lot for Nigeria to be one,” she said.