Nigeria’s checkered history is replete with points in time that make many people wonder in retrospect if things will be different for the nation had that one thing didn’t happen.
Whether it is the landmark decision that amalgamated the southern and northern region in 1914, the bloody coup that led to the killings of the Igbo people living in Northern Nigeria in 1966, or the Aburi accord entered into between the leader of the then-defecting Biafra region Lt-col Ojukwu and Nigeria’s head of state Gen. Yakubu Gowon.
The Aburi accord is trending on Twitter, and a majority of Nigeria’s Twitter users are young Nigerians, many of whom weren’t even born at the time of the accord and the civil war that followed it.
Extensive works have been written on the lead up to the war, the war itself and the aftermath of the war. But at a quick glance, here is all you need to know about the Aburi Accord.
The meeting became necessary after both the Federal Government of Nigeria – the Supreme Military Council, and the Eastern delegates, led by the Eastern Region’s leader Colonel Ojukwu tried to find a resolution that prevents a full blown war for the crisis in Nigeria.
The parties reached an accord on three key points:
- Re-organisation of the Armed forces
- Constitutional arrangement
- Issue of displaced persons within the country.
Even before the tensions that necessitated the meeting in Aburi, the eastern region had been feeling unfairly treated by the federal government. The Armed Forces’ recruitment scheme had given the North an unfair advantage which was highlighted by the coup and counter coup. Lt. Col Ojukwu believed a re-organisation of the armed forces was necessary to balance the scale for all the regions of the country.
Ojukwu also requested that all decrees since the first coup should be scrapped, and the Nigerian people should come together and decide how they would interact with each other moving. The agreement, had it been implemented would have seen increased autonomy for the three regions that made up the country. Opening the door for better self-determination.
On the question of displaced persons both parties agreed to set up a committee to look into the problems of rehabilitation and recovery of property.
Looking back, it is hard to not entertain a yearnful, ‘had it been.’
The war that followed cost the eastern region heavily, with estimated death somewhere between 1-3 million. A majority of which were citizens caught up in a war for the soul of a young nation.
Nigeria should have learnt a lesson or two from the war years and the Aburi accord itself. But if there is a lesson to be learnt, we neither tried to learn it nor it appears desire to look it in the face. It is common knowledge however that ignoring a problem doesn’t make the problem disappear, it only masks it for it to continue to haunt until it is addressed. As it is, the reality of Nigeria is proof of that.
Till date, no region in the country is fully secure. Perhaps it is time we revisit the Aburi accord, or at least copy its style and see how we can salvage what’s left of the country to build a new Nigeria for posterity.