The attention of the Abia PDP has been drawn to a news item in circulation on social media indicating that Nigeria’s former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon would on Sunday April 23, 2023 lead a prayer session in one Master’s Vessel Church Umuahia, Abia State under the auspices of his pet project, Nigeria Prays, to herald a new Abia. Whatever ‘a new Abia’ means.
The press release signed by the Abia State Coordinator of Nigeria Prays, Apostle Chuks Alozie named General Yakubu Gowon and the Abia governor-elect Dr. Alex Otti as special guests of honour, Vice Chancellor of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Prof. Madu Ofo Iwe as guest speaker and Governor Okezie Ikpeazu as chief host.
While the PDP does not object to praying for Abia State and Nigeria at large at any given time, we are worried about the choice of General Yakubu Gowon as a special guest of honour and the Team Lead as well as the timing of the prayer session. The name, Yakubu Gowon is unsettling to many people in the South East given the ignoble roles he played during the Biafran Civil War for which he is yet to render any public apology.
Moreover, the choice of General Gowon as the guest of honour at an event in the home town of slain General Aguiyi Ironsi who was killed by coupists among whom was General Gowon and the subsequent pogrom and fratricidal 30-month Biafran Civil War that led to the massacre of millions of South Easterners in an orchestrated orgy of violence smacks of indifference and insensitivity to the sensibilities of the people of South East. To many, it sounds like the eventual triumph over the conquest of the South East and perpetuation of dominance over the Igbo nation.
The PDP wonders if there are no other men of God who could be called upon to lead the prayer session except the very Yakubu Gowon who oversaw the genocidal killing of the people of the South East and the continuous implementation of the State-policy for her subjugation and marginalisation in all facets of Nigeria’s national life. It beats our imagination and quite irreconcilably that a State like Abia that has produced a Catholic Bishop and other high ranking members of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN that are well versed in the word and sacrament would settle for a man whose hands are tainted with the blood of defenseless Igbos to pray for the State. This is an aberration that finds no place of comfort in the face of every imaginable scrutiny.
Up till today, General Yakubu Gowon remains unrepentant and is yet to publicly admit his mistakes in the Civil War, including reneging on the international treaty at Aburi, Ghana where the most plausible solutions to the intractable questions of Nigeria’s unity were soundly proffered by himself, General Emeka Ojukwu and members of international community.
The only way the prayer session would make meaning to the millions of South Easterners, dead and alive, is for General Gowon to use the opportunity of the prayer session and convert it to a moment of truth and apologise to the people for his role in the atrocious war that led to the untimely death of millions of our very resourceful people.
And to those who have become overzealous with the prospects of a Labour Party government in Abia State and are looking for very many ways, howbeit meaningless, to identify with the Labour Party, let us warn that this prayer session is one of the many fruitless efforts that has derailed and has no significance in the lives of Abians. This prayer session under Gowon’s watch will only bring back memories of old wounds and rather than healing, would only make the wounds afresh except there is a public atonement for the sins.
We call on the organisers of the prayer session to prevail upon General Yakubu Gowon to admit his errors before, during and after the Biafran Civil War and apologise to the people of the South East while he is still alive and write his name in gold because no time is late to do the right thing. He should borrow a leaf from former German Chancellor, Angela Merkel who after more than 70 years apologised for the Holocaust and opened the doors of Germany to millions of migrants from Africa and the Middle East to change the narrative about Germany’s inhumanity as portrayed by the fascist Nazis.
To the members of the PDP and the good people of Abia State, we urge everyone to remain calm, peaceful and have an abiding faith in the ability of Abians to make Abia a better place for all of us.
PDP- Power to the People!
Hon. Elder Abraham Amah
Abia PDP Vice Chairman/Acting State Publicity Secretary