General Sam Momah, former Adjutant-General of the Nigeria Army; pioneer Director of the National War College and former Minister of Science and Technology in this interview with Paul Ukpabio spoke on calls for separation and the sounds of war in the country. Excerpts
The APC is a year in office; can you assess the party’s performance?
We should recollect that the plan of the APC was to hit the ground running, but this couldn’t happen because of the legislative coup of 9th June 2015. That coup didn’t enable laws that ought to have been made to fast track dividends of democracy to come on board. Like you know, the Senate President is on trial and that has slowed down a lot of issues which is very unfortunate. But I believe that the APC government is still trying to put itself together. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. And therefore they are still making sure that the dividends of democracy get to the masses. As you know, the TSA account is a major breakthrough and has blocked loopholes for corruption. That’s a major masterstroke by the APC government. There is also a reasonable looted amount of money that has been recovered. I am advising that it should be used to build estates in all the state capitals of the federation and Abuja and called Recovered Stolen Money (RSM), Estates so that Nigerians would always remember the funds were not only recovered but were put to good use. Also, it will discourage looting of treasury in future.
What is your take on pro-Biafra protests?
I feel sorry, sad and disappointed with them. Honestly, its a misnomer. These are young men and women probably not born before the civil war and hence don’t know what going to war means. It is unfortunate that instead of finding ways to better their lives they are idling away talking about Biafra. As you know, Biafra, from analysis of events, is dead and buried. Two main events concretised it. First, we should remember that Biafra died when Zik crossed over from Biafra via Britain to Nigeria. It was the masterstroke that ended the civil war. Secondly, Biafra got buried when the erstwhile leader of Biafra accepted the pardon of our revered President Shehu Shagari. Not only that, when Ojukwu came back, he contested for the presidency of our beloved country Nigeria. He didn’t win and in the following dispensation, he contested for a seat at the Senate but lost. By so doing, Ojukwu confirmed that Biafra is dead and buried. Definitely, what Nnamdi Kanu and his misguided followers are doing makes no sense. It is downright embarrassing. They claim to be peaceful but mean while they talk of the Restoration of Sovereign State of Biafra, which is at variance to Nigerian’s Constitution which again is worsened with inciting broadcasts abusing and insulting our national leaders and other tribes in unprintable tirades. That’s against Igbo culture. The world is now a global village in which you give and take. Indeed, it is now necessary for Ohanaeze to take control and thus join other socio-cultural groups Afenifere, Arewa etc, in ensuring that real peace prevails to enable development take root in Nigeria. The appellation, “Biafra” should be allowed to Rest-In-Peace otherwise the ghost of Biafra will continue to hunt us with the painful reminder of three million souls that perished, 2.5m orphans, 1.5m widows and then of course, the heart-ache of “abandoned” property in Port-Harcourt. These are ugly reminders of Biafra that shouldn’t be re-opened in order to enable Ohanaeze and South-East leaders concentrate in pressing home issues such as improved federal presence in the South-East, amelioration of abandoned property to ensure it is never repeated anywhere in Nigeria again, restoration of merit to enable the nation move forward, completion of Zik Mausoleum, construction of Niger Bridge, development of the coal mine and oil field in the South-East, etc.
There is so much to gain by being together than in splitting because once you start splitting, there will be no end to it until it blows down to your village. This is so because of the multifarious tribes in Nigeria. Nigeria may be down today, but she is destined to be a world power tomorrow. The potentials are there; the underlying problems are intricate but with internationally acclaimed honest leader like PMB, he is our only hope for now to lay a strong foundation for Nigeria’s greatness. The parents of those pro-Biafran youths should call them to order. They are disgracing a lot of us from the South-East. Biafra is not what we should glorify in. Biafra is the past and Nigeria is the future.
The issue of Fulani herdsmen has become a nightmare; Prof Wole Soyinka said Buhari is acting late, what is your take?
I think this issue has been on since Independence, but it is being highlighted now. The good thing is that the President has reacted positively and instructed that the herdsmen be brought to order. That instruction must be strictly carried out. There should be no more killings. Nigeria is tired of bloodbath. Those who commit atrocities such as murder must be brought to book by hanging, and not by granting them amnesty. If that is done, murderers will stop. The problem with Nigeria is that people commit offence as grievous as murder and they get away with it. And that’s why incessant killings have continued. There is also the need to go to the root cause of the problem.