Former minister of Health, Prof. Alphonsus B. C. Nwosu has faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement that former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon ordered the Nigerian Army to be soft on Biafrans during the 1967-1970 civil war.
Prof. Nwosu said the president should spare Ndigbo his memory of the war and that he did not understand the basis of the president’s claims that the war was not brutal when over three million Igbo children were starved to death. The former political adviser to former president Olusegun Obasanjo stressed that a war that every family lost a valuable provider and the Asaba massacre could not be said to be less brutal.
He remind the president that a Red Cross plane, which was to supply food to starving Igbo children, was shot down at Uli, in present Anambra State, by Nigerian soldiers, and that the late co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, renounced Christianity because of the killings, among other atrocious things perpetrated against the South East during the war.
“A war where bombs exploded in markets, every family lost valued providers, Asaba massacre took place and a Colombian rights activist had to burn himself in protest against atrocious things taking place against Ndigbo cannot be said to be one where Nigerian soldiers were lenient on Biafrans. “It was a war which every Igbo, with proper Igbo DNA would not want to remember,” Nwosu said and expressed surprise that the president did not consider the sensitivity of the matter and the telling effect his claim would have on the people of the South East.
He said: “Ndigbo have moved on, in spite of the war. In due time, the accurate accounts of the war, as recorded by participant,s shall be released.” Nwosu tasked the president to focus on building a “just, fair and restructured Nigeria that works for all Nigerians and not for some Nigerians only,” rather than delving into issues which touch on Igbo sensibility.
Meanwhile, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has faulted the president’s comments on the civil war. IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, said that most Biafrans were massacred by the Nigerian soldiers without mercy. “We state categorically and without equivocation that Buhari’s claims are as false and as strange as they come, especially in the face of quantum evidence to the contrary, chronicled by independent observes of the wartime atrocities committed by Nigerian forces against innocent Biafran civilians, including women and children”.
“We doubt if it is the same Buhari that addressed Eastern Youth Corpers in 2016, in his country home in Daura, Katsina State, on the horrors, pains, misery and suffering of the war, that made this latest ‘soft’ on Biafrans statement. It couldn’t have come from the same person.”
“The perpetrators, who seized power in 1966, on the blood of their fellow officers of eastern extraction, continued their bloodletting that directly led to the war… In July 1968, the British mission in Nigeria estimated that 200 to 300 Biafrans were dying every day. However, these estimates were based on numbers reported by the Nigerian government, as the British did not have access to the Biafran enclaves.
“Two months later, during the height of the crisis, the International Committee of the Red Cross (which traversed Biafra during the war) estimated 8,000 and 10,000 deaths per day. “It obtained these figures based on random samples of death rates in villages, refugee camps and hospitals across Biafra, and cautioned that the estimates were likely to be conservative.
“Professor of Nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health, Jean Mayer, similarly argued that estimates of 10,000 deaths a day appeared to be accurate. We reckon that Buhari would rather wish all these away but it won’t work. It is a fact of history”. “The Asaba Massacre is but another fact of history that clearly debunks Buhari’s narratives…
“It was reliably estimated that more than 700 men and boys were killed, some as young as 12 years old, in addition to many more killed in the preceding days. Bodies of some victims were retrieved by family members and buried at home. But, most were buried in mass graves; without appropriate ceremony. Many extended families lost dozens of men and boys. Federal troops occupied Asaba for many months,” Powerful narrated.
Similarly, Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has also faulted president Buhari over his comment that Nigerian soldiers had mercy on Biafrans during the civil war.
MASSOB Leader, Mr. Uchenna Madu, said the president’s statement cannot “pacify the people of Biafra… The beauty and secret of the success that propelled us was the principals of non-violence, consistencies and self resolution.”