Our civil war mistakes – Obasanjo

Our civil war mistakes – Obasanjo

Monday, August 7, 2017 9:07 am

Obasanjo, centre, speaking at the church service

*Kicks against age limitation for Presidency

By Kazeem Ugbodaga

Former Nigeria’s president, Olusegun Obasanjo on Sunday said having fought wars and the civil war, he would never want to witness another war in Nigeria again.

Obasanjo spoke at the Ash-bishop Vining Memorial in Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria where he went to give a testimonial about his life at the Evangelical Programme of the church.

According to the former president, the civil war was one the nation should never have fought.

In his words: “It is a war we should never have fought and I have said that I have fought wars too many and I hope I will not witness another war in Nigeria again.”

Obasanjo narrated series of events leading to the civil war, saying there was confusion in the land, and that “from coup and counter-coup, we rolled on to civil war. The initial push petered off, by the time I went to the war front, the first things I learnt were the error committed by my predecessor and the next thing is how should we push up the order that I gave?

‘I followed the book strictly, by the time I have written it, a copy was in the hand of Biafra organisation for freedom, when we moved, we were seriously hammered. The final push, in 1969, my order was not typed, it was in my pocket to ensure that nobody had a copy, that ended it. Nobody on the other side got to know what we were doing,” he explained.

Obasanjo said when General Yakubu Gowon took over power, he promised to hand over in 1976, but noted that he later said that date was unrealistic, which was what informed the coup that toppled his government.

“Gowon said he would hand over power in 1976 and he now said it was unrealistic, that was what brought about the coup that unseated Gowon. And we came in, we thought we were doing what we should do, we were naïve, Murtala was killed like a chicken, I should have been killed but by the grace of God, I survived, I was forced to take over,” he said.

On age limitation for the presidency, Obasanjo said it was wrong for age to be considered before anyone could aspire to such exalted office.

“If we put minimum age, why are we not putting maximum age? There should be no age limit, Gowon became head of state at 36 and I became head of state at 39.

“If you go into the Bible, there are people who became king at age 21, there is even one that is eight years when he became king. Let the people decide whether one is matured enough or not, too old or not old; because if you put minimum age, you have to put maximum age,” he said.

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