Former Military governor of old Rivers State during the military administrations of the late General Murtala Muhammed and General Olusegun Obasanjo, Major General Zamani Lekwot (rtd), has asked the people of Southeast geo-political zone to quit agitating for separation from Nigeria.
He also advised them to stop crying over marginalization but to join a political party of their choice and negotiate for the presidency of the country because power is not served on a platter of gold.
“Let me explain myself. Those who are agitating are young people who were not around when the mistake of the civil war occurred,” he told Sun.
“They did not see the horrors of the war. In 1970, when the civil war ended, General Effiong, the administrator of then Biafra made a statement.
“When later the late Ojukwu came back from Ivory Coast and joined the ruling National Party of Nigeria, NPN, he also made a statement.
“And these statements are instructive in the healing of the wounds especially the perceived wrongs. These statements had the capacity in holistically sealing off whatever wrongs that were done before, during and after the war and put the nation at peace.
“Now, the dialogue that I am talking about is among other things, the series of conferences that were held, culminating in that of 2014.
“The 2014 National Conference incorporated all the recommendations of all the previous conferences and put forward something that can be used as a roadmap.
“It is shocking that some people for whatever reasons don’t want to have anything to do with it. The more shocking thing is that they have not come out with an alternative.
“The fact that they have allowed the country to continue to wallow under tension is not believable. Here is a situation, where insecurity, unemployment, distrust, among Nigerians are on the increase and yet you don’t want to use what is available.
“We have made progress really, but mistakes have been made here and there which are setting the country backwards. What is required is to cross the ‘T’s’ and dot the ‘I’s’.
“No nation is perfect, including the developed world. In life, there is always one problem or the other and this is what life is all about – continuous struggle.
“People who are talking of separation they don’t know the consequences. They don’t even know what they are talking about. They should listen to their elders who saw Nigeria before independence, after independence, up till today.
“Now, we have so many ethnic groups in Nigeria. Each ethnic group cannot run its own affairs as country. It is not possible. What it entails is compromise, give and take.
“People who are talking about marginalization, we are running a democracy; they should join a political party of their choice and then negotiate, lobby to fly the flag of the party and then during election they can even star in the election in order to sell what they want.
“This is a democracy and you cannot sit by and be crying of marginalization. Winning in a democracy is not done a-la carte. It is not donated or done by force or military fiat.
“This is the aspect most people are not getting. In a democracy, you have a level playing ground for people to exercise their political fundamental rights.
“So, you don’t need to talk about marginalization in a democracy when you can put your best materials forward, lobby and get what you want. I don’t see the need to be repeating what needs to be done.
“Somebody made a statement that no country has ever survived two civil wars. That is a fact. If we don’t learn from history, then we are condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past. We must get it right this time.”