According to Abia State Governor Alex Otti, if reason had been given the chance to win out, the Nigerian civil war may have been averted on Monday.
Otti, who spoke in an address during the 2024 Armed Forces Remembrance Day in Umuahia, noted that the loss of millions of lives during the war will be a long-standing stain on the country’ s history.
The governor expressed gratitude for the sacrifices made by both male and female members of the Nigerian Armed Forces in defending the country’s territory, people, and property.
He bemoaned the current state of domestic instability and the nation’s mounting sense of unease, noting that internal unrest throughout Nigeria has overtaxed the security apparatus.
The governor of Abia, however, praised the troops and officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces for their valiant battles against terrorism and kidnapping, as well as for consistently combating political and religious extremism and upholding national unity.
“The tragic events that preceded the Civil War and the war itself could have been averted if reason had been given the upper hand at some pivotal moments.”
“There should be no attempt to downplay the shedding of millions of lives, especially innocent, non-combatant women, children, and the elderly; even then, history would also record the swift attempts at reconciliation and reintegration initiated by the military itself as an eternal redeeming gesture,” the speaker declared.
Otti lamented that some Nigerians, particularly the elite, had not yet drawn lessons from the civil war’s events and had declined to take part in productive discourse and nation-building.
He issued a warning to Nigerians not to fuel hatred and division by using divisive language, creating clan divisions, and encouraging young people to attack others. He claimed that these actions trivialize and undervalue the enormous sacrifices made by generations of Nigerians over the years that have kept the nation united since before independence.
In light of the fact that he believed serving and retired members of the armed forces had not been receiving high-quality benefits commensurate with their sacrifices, he called for improved welfare for retired soldiers and their families, arguing that doing so would further boost the morale of officers still in active duty to carry out their duties effectively.
He recounted how his government cooperated with the various security formations in the state to destroy multiple operational bases of kidnappers and other criminals and assured that all security formations in Abia would continue to receive proper support from his administration.
He also named a few former service members who should receive particular attention.
“It is in the light of this that we recognise some of our heroes who laid down their lives recently for the State. They are Captain E.S. Akpan, (N16811), 542 SIGNALS, Corporal Rasheed Yusuf, (13NA/69/1891), 144 BATTALION; Lance Corporal Yau Yunusa, (17NA/76/2800), 143 BATTALION. May their gentle souls rest in peace,” Otti said.