Obinna Odogwu, Awka
Chairman of the Nigerian Legion, Anambra State Council, Elder Ifeanyichukwu Nwankwo, has said that part of the reasons why the ‘no victor, no vanquished’ declaration by the former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, after the Nigeria-Biafra war did not make any impact was because the military has lost discipline, control and order while he reigned. He said while Gowon dished out orders, those who felt they own the country did whatever they liked. He says much more in this interview.
What was the experience for you during the Nigeria-Biafra war?
I joined the Nigerian Army in 1963 and I was posted to so many places. On 29 July 29, after the coup, I was posted to Enugu where I was when the civil war broke out and I participated on that side. After the war, I was re-enlisted into the Nigerian Army. The experience was awful. We need not talk much about the experience. You can see me I lost my hand and many parts of me. I am no longer calling for war. I don’t want war again because it’s not an easy thing and nobody prays for crisis any longer. I know what I suffered. From bush to bush eating raw foods – raw cassava, raw corn, anything. I lost property, freedom. You cannot quantify the cost of freedom. I had sleepless nights, fear and so much more. I can talk more on that in a better atmosphere.
It’s been years after that war ended. Do you think the issues that brought about it have been addressed by the Federal Government?
It has not been addressed. We are still where we are. The marginalisation and the discriminations are still there. We cannot complain because they said ‘no victor no vanquished’ but they prove to us that there is victor and there is vanquished.
I was about coming to that because General Yakubu Gowon has been criticised for that declaration which his critics say he never implemented. What view do you hold on that?
He is a single man. He could not order. Army has lost control. Discipline was no longer what it used to be at early stage. We were there when there was discipline until 1966 coup. Discipline in army lost its own meaning. So, Gowon will say this, the other person will say the other one and they will not keep to that ‘no victor, no vanquished’. For him, he regretted everything about the war.
What is the way going forward for our people from now?
Think home oh! They should think home. Our people should think home and do whatever they can do. Self help is now what we need to survive. I am Igbo and I think Yoruba and Hausa should be taken apart. Everybody is struggling for survival and to survive on their own. The spirit that carried us forward after the war, we should go back to that spirit; let it address the issues for us.