51 years after civil war, ex-presidential candidate calls for reconciliation commission

Former Presidential candidate of Young Progressives Party, YPP, in the 2019 general elections Professor Kingsley Moghalu has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to make findings and recommendations on Nigeria’s civil war.

Moghalu, who spoke at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, expressed the optimism that the commission would address the current insurrections across the country and also promote national reconciliation; bring about mutual forgiveness and nation-building.

The former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said: “I am today asking President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a first step to stabilize Nigeria and begin the process of national healing and reconciliation.

“President Muhammadu Buhari should as a matter of urgency establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission comprised of seven independent members of high reputation and relevant expertise, one from each geopolitical zone, and one international member assigned from the United Nations or from South Africa, both entities of which have extensive experience in TRC matters, with a six-month mandate to examine specifically the events of January 1966 to January 1970, invite witnesses, survivors and critical players still alive to make statements, and make findings and recommendations that will promote national reconciliation by turning historical memory into a positive force for mutual forgiveness and nation-building.

“A Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s primary assignment should be to reconcile Nigerians across sectarian divides that have been sustained by the more unfortunate aspects of our history, in particular the military coup of January 1966 and its casualties, the counter-coup of July 1966 and the pogrom of an estimated 100,000 Nigerians of a specific ethnic origin, and the consequent civil war in which an estimated two million people lost their lives’’.

He also recommended May 30 of every year as the national holiday to remember the millions of souls that perished during the Nigerian civil war.

Moghalu, who is also the convener of Moghalu4Nigeria, also called on Buhari to dialogue with the secession agitators with a view to addressing grievances.

He said: “President Buhari should invite all secessionist agitation movements to a national dialogue in order to give them a hearing with a view to addressing credible, verifiable grievances.

“The root cause of these separatist agitations is injustice. An unwillingness to recognize this fact leads to avoidance or convenient distortions of history in order to maintain injustice and the transient advantage this state of affairs confers on certain vested interests.

“Without prejudice to the need to maintain security, law and order, militarization of the civilian space as the exclusive response to essentially political agitations is a failing strategy. It will only build up more grievances”.