Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Elder statesman, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu who fought during the civil war explained why the wound left by the war will continue to fester despite promises by the Federal Government to ameliorate the sufferings of the people after the war.
He recalled that the policy of 3Rs-Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation by the government were not fully implemented and that led to many people in the old Eastern region, Middle belt and parts of Bendel, greatly impoverished. He also traced it to the bad infrastructure obtainable in the South East today.
He said “Fifty years after the Biafra war ended, the wounds are still there. Psychologically it has not been healed, physically it has not been healed and even emotionally.
“There are some people today still suffering the injuries of the civil war; in fact, when the war ended, it ended on a very wonderful note, leaders of Nigeria at that time all said we are one Nigeria, no victor, no vanquished. But subsequent activities by the Federal Government did not show that there was honesty in the claim especially on the 3Rs,” Iwuanyanwu said.
Explaining further, he said, the “amount of money released by the Federal Government then was not enough to carry out a massive reconstruction of those affected by the war, because the war theatre was in the South East and part of Middle Belt and Bendel.
“Also they made one obnoxious law on currency that time, that everybody who had money in Nigeria who was a Biafran got 20 Pounds; even though you had one million, you will get just 20 Pounds, so in effect, everybody in Biafra was impoverished, everybody today you see in Biafra started life afresh with 20 Pounds, nobody had more than 20 Pounds, Biafra money was useless.
“Also, in some parts of the country, their properties were not released; some of them were seen as abandoned properties, even up till today there are people who didn’t get back their properties. Those who talked about ending the war were good but the implementation was poor.”
The elder statesman posited that there should have been a marshal plan to rehabilitate the South East, Rivers and parts of present Delta State just as there is today, the North East Development Commission in the North where the Boko Haram insurgency had prevailed.
“There was reintegration but there are elements they did not accomplish, why should people’s properties be seized; if somebody’s property is seized anywhere and the Federal Government did not do anything to ensure the release, it means that it has failed; giving people 20 pounds does not show reconciliation or rehabilitation,” Iwuanyanwu insisted.
On the way forward, he said that there must be a commission set up by the federal government to unearth the actual cause of the war.
He expressed regret that today many still blame an Igbo man for the coup that claimed the life of the Premier of Northern Nigeria, Ahmadu Bello, but the truth must be told that if it was not done, the younger generation will not know the truth, while marginalisation and discrimination of the Igbo will persist.