Marginalisation not enough reason to go to war – Retired general chides IPOB, MASSOB

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A member, Board of Trustees of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Joseph Okoloagu (rtd), says he witnessed the Nigerian Civil War and would not wish the same experience on his worst enemy.

He stated this in an interview with Sunday Sun while advising secessionist groups – IPOB and MASSOB – to avoid pushing the South-East into another war because of their claims of marginalisation of the zone.

Okoloagu said it was wrong for the younger generation to assume that elders are afraid of war.

The retired general said that a war at this time was uncalled for because the conditions that necessitated the 1967 war do not exist now.

He condemned the recent attacks on police formations and correctional facilities in the South-East, warning that such attacks could provoke the Federal Government into forceful action.

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Okoloagu said, “As an individual, I am worried because of the development in the Southeast. Having fought the civil war, and if I look back at my experiences in Biafra, I do not think I want to wish my worst enemy the experiences I had.

“In that context too, I would not want my own children, grandchildren, and even the future generation to experience what we experienced. It is not as if one is afraid of war; but I do not think that we, as a people, need to make a second mistake.

“Fight or war is not a tea party. It is not a question of somebody getting upset and start the fight somewhere as some group of people are trying to start a fight. Ask yourself: What is the ultimate goal?

“Yes, IPOB started from Biafra even MASSOB is Biafra. But what bothers me is that most of these guys flying kite for Biafra do not even know why we had Biafra in the first place.

“I say this because I fought the war. I lived in the war and I am alive to tell the story. It is not that when you are pushed to the wall you can’t fight. I am not saying so.

“But what is it that has pushed everybody to the wall? The situation that forced us to take action in 1967 does not exist now.

“You do not go to war for marginalisation. Call marginalisation an omnibus term if you like; everybody can claim it even those who are favoured.

“Look at the industrious people like Igbo whose mainstay of life and economy is hard work. The youths are now taking action that will affect the main reason of our existence as a people. We are very industrious. Anybody hurt can go to war, but that is just the truth.

“The Igbo man is known for his industry. An industry does not mean building here and there. You can be doing anything. You just believe that you are doing anything and generating enough funds to feed our families. It is in our blood and character to feed our families. So, when I say I am worried, I am genuinely worried since I do not know the mission.

“We had altercations in Onitsha where military officers were killed. Are we imitating people or do we have a reason to do what we are doing? Because the Boko Haram has now become a festering sore of Nigeria as a whole. It started like this.

“Why I talk with bitterness and anger is because I see this thing as an elder and I have been a youth. I would have said they should give us arms to go and fight. I have never pretended not to have fought in Biafra. I am wiser now. Then we had cause, but we did not have the logistics even though the plan was there. What is the plan now?

“If other people do not speak, I will speak because if I die today above 70, then I did not die a bad death. And if I look at what is happening now I do not think there is anybody within the range of 45-50 and above who is going out wanting to destroy the country.

“We do not do things because certain leadership has failed. We have always known ourselves as people who think and plan. That we made a mistake in the 60s does not mean it should happen in the millennium.

“We made a mistake in the sense that we were not prepared when we did. But are you prepared to confront anybody now?

“Are you attacking the police stations because you want to confront the federal might that if they come you have the resources to contain them? When the aircraft start flying do you have your arms to counter it?”

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