Post-Civil War Reconciliation and the Challenge of National Unity in Contemporary Nigeria

David Uchenna Enweremadu

Abstract


 

Between 6 July, 1967 and 15 January, 1970 Nigeria was engulfed in a bitter civil war which took the lives of at least one million people. The war was ignited when the former Eastern Region declared itself an independent and sovereign state under the name of Biafra and unsuccessfully attempted to secede from the rest of the federation, following a widespread massacre of people of Eastern Nigerian origin in the Northern part of the country. Once the war ended, the Nigerian government announced a number of reconcihatory measures which aimed at overcoming the ethno-regional animosities which gave rise to the war and strengthen national unity. Decades after, new separatist groups have emerged in the same region, include a group calling itself Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MOSSOB). This article examines the relationship between Nigeria's post-civil war reconciliation policies and the re-emergence of separatist groups in Eastern Nigeria. It argues that Nigeria's attempt at post-war reconciliation has not been totally effective, mainly due the poor implementation, the adoption of contradictory policy measures which were conceived to be punitive by the Easterners, especially the Igbos, continued lack of security of Igbo lives and properties which were among the issues that gave rise to the Biaf ran war, and perceived marginalisation of the Igbo in the area of distribution of national power and economic resources. The author recommends immediate restructuring of the country and institutionalisation of an equitable power sharing formula to address the concern of the Easterners.


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