According to Abia State Governor Alex Otti on Monday, the Nigerian civil war may have been averted if reason had been given the chance to win.

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 male and female Nigerian Armed Forces members in defending the country’s territory, people, and property.

He lamented 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 courageous battles against terrorism and kidnapping, as well as for consistently combating political and religious extremism and upholding national unity.

“The events leading to the civil war and the war itself were very tragic and could have been avoided if reason had been allowed to prevail at certain critical points.

“The shedding of the blood of millions of people, especially innocent, non-combatant women, children and the elderly, would remain a long-standing stain on our history and there should be no attempt to downplay that; even then, history would also record the quick attempts at reconciliation and reintegration initiated by the military itself as an eternal redeeming gesture,” he said.

Otti lamented that some Nigerians, particularly the elite, had yet to draw lessons from the civil war’s events and had declined to participate 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 trivialise and undervalue the enormous sacrifices made by generations of Nigerians over the years that have kept the nation united since before independence.

Because 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 on 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.

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