In January 1970, fifty years ago, the unfortunate Nigerian civil war came to an end. Every January 15 since then has been set aside to mark the Armed Forces Remembrance Day in honour of Nigerians on both sides of the conflict who made the supreme sacrifice for Nigerian unity.
Usually marked as a solemn occasion, it features memorial services in churches and mosques sometimes with lectures and seminars which centre on Nigeria and those features of the country with the tendency to promote its unity and those with grave potentials to mar it.
No doubt, fifty years is a landmark. Some analysts have observed with aid of statistics, that only nine percent of the country’s current population were witnesses to the civil war. Meaning that more than 90 percent of the population were either not born when the war started in 1967 and when it ended in January 1970 or were too young to know what was happening to the country.
Most of what they know today about the war comes from written and oral history. That is why history matters, no matter how fair or how inaccurate it is. As in previous years, the programme for this year’s event includes sermons in the mosques and in the churches as well as prayers interspersed with discussion of burning topical issues. As Nigeria remembers the dead, its leaders have also been reminded of the plight of those who lost their limbs and many others with other forms of disabilities who have continued to live only begging and waiting on official promises that have yet to be fulfilled fifty years after.