By Wilfred Eya
Fifty One years after the Nigerian civil war, echoes of Biafra will on Thursday, January 14, 2021 once again resonate at the Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos.
Holding virtually for the first time due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the highbrow event with the theme: “2nd Never Again Conference: 51Years after the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War”, will attract a global audience that will interrogate the ugly experience and its aftermath.
In an address, the chairman, Planning Committee of the conference, Prof Pat Utomi
recalled that Nigeria fought a bitter and internecine 30-month civil war that left in its wake a sharply divided nation with mutual suspicion, hatred and resentment across racial and regional lines.
He regretted that an estimated one million victims were killed immediately before and during the war.
The don explained that the conference will x-ray the issues that led to the Civil War and the need for patriots to work together to achieve national cohesion, especially in light of several centrifugal tendencies within the polity.
Utomi clarified that the forum will plot a roadmap for national development by dissecting the challenge of nation-building 51 years after the civil war as well as the much canvassed issues of restructuring, marginalization, equity, fairness and justice in the country.
Part of his statement reads: “The conference is also aimed to underscore the lessons of the civil war and more especially to promote nation building, forgiveness, healing, reintegration, stability, and national cohesion. We also want to use the occasion to call for national reflection and encourage bridge building among Nigeria’s racial groups.
“We believe that the time has come for a robust interrogation of the causes of the Nigerian-Biafran War in order to identify the fault lines that have retarded national cohesion and growth.
“The “Never Again Conference” is the brainchild of Nzuko Umunna, a pan-Igbo socio-cultural organization with members spread across all corners of the world. This year, Nzuko Umunna is collaborating with Njenje Media to deliver the conference. The conference is a sequel to the highly successful ‘Handshake Across the Niger’ conference which celebrated the many shared but often ignored values and interests between Nigeria’s racial groups as epitomised by their age-long peaceful coexistence and robust relationships.”
Prof Utomi noted that the inaugural edition of the “Never Again Conference” held last January at The MUSON Centre, Lagos. Among the keynote speakers, he said was Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka.
He informed that this year’s event will be no less distinguished, as it boasts of a stellar cast of Speakers also.
Utomi said while the keynote address will be delivered by His Lordship, Most Rev. Matthew Kukah, Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo will be the Special Guest of Honour.
The conference, he said, will be chaired by Afenifere Leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo and Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu.
Among the eminent panelists also to grace the occasion includes the only surviving minister from the First Republic, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, Mr. Peter Obi; Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed, Senator Shehu Sani, Lady Onyeka Onwenu, Amb. Godknows Igali, Alhaji Ahmed Joda, Prof Ladi Hamalai, and Mrs. Charity Shekari.