Bishop Kukah: Nigeria has not pulled through from the hurt of the civil war

Bishop of Sokoto Catholic diocese, Matthew Kukah, says that Nigeria has not yet pulled through from the hurt of the civil war 51 years after it ended. He made this statement on Thursday as a speaker at the 'Never Again Conference: 51 years after the Nigerian-Biafran civil war'. The bishop affirmed that the country did not make use of resolutions that would have helped to heal from that hurt.

Nzuko Umunna, a pan-Igbo socio-cultural organization is the organizer of the Never Again Conference. The first edition was held in 2020 in Lagos.

Kukah stated that the Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission, popularly known as the Oputa panel, established by the Obasanjo administration, came up with the resolution.

He added that the military government started out the plan for the citizens to commence a process of reconstructing the nation. However, things did not go out as planned. 

"I have met a lot of people who fought the war who are full of regrets. There is a lot of resentment, anxiety and frustration that we have not learnt any lessons," he said.

"Fifty-one years after the war, we are still hearing the kind of agitations that ordinarily, with commitment, dedication, focus and the right leadership, we should have put a lot of the anxieties behind us. Unfortunately, they are still with us."

Bishop Kukah further affirmed that the Oputa panel which he was part of as the "best school I would ever hope to attend."

"Oputa panel managed to generate quite a lot of data and information that academicians and policymakers would have used to ensure we erect the signpost saying, Never Again, because it gave us an opportunity, a mirror to look at ourselves after hearing from all sides but we didnt have the discipline to follow through," he said.

"We have not been able to forgive ourselves as a people. The wounds of the civil war have not been able to heal. Coups and counter-coups that followed were more or less miniature civil wars by themselves because they threw up the same contradictions, anxieties and feeling of divisiveness across the country."

Chairman of the conference planning committee, Pat Utomi, also gave his remarks at the event. He said the initiative began as an advocacy in trying to bring a better understanding of the civil war and its aftermath to the Nigerian people.

According to him, the event is aimed at being a source of energy in ensuring a new nation.

"We know that if people learn enough from errors of yesterday, they can, in fact, make more progress than they are currently making," he said.

"One of the biggest challenges of nation-building is the kind of trust deficits that exist which make policy implementation very challenging.

"A better understanding of the civil war will make it become a ladder that people can climb to higher levels of growth."

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