President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday reflected on the armed conflicts Nigeria had witnessed, including coups and counter-coups, saying more than one million people died in the Biafran war for the country to remain united.
The war was fought between the federal forces and the Igbo soldiers.
The president noted that he had been part of Nigeria’s history since 1967, fighting in the civil war, serving as governor, minister, head of state, and chairman of Petroleum Trust Fund, contesting presidential elections in 2003, 2007 and 2011, before winning in 2015.
“We should thank God, and we should reflect on these things and thank God more,’’ Mr Muhammadu Buhari stated.
He said challenges faced in the past, including coups, counter-coups, and civil war, had prepared the nation for survival.
“We thank God that Nigeria is still one. We should not forget that more than a million died for the nation to survive,” Mr. Muhammadu Buhari said.
Estimates of mortality during the war range from 500,000 to 3,000,000. Another estimate said there were about 100,000 overall military casualties, while between 500,000 and two million Biafran civilians died of starvation.
Mr. Muhammadu Buhari stated this when he received the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) executive members at the State House, Abuja.
Mr. Buhari noted that the security situation had improved over the years, particularly in the North-East, where the focus had shifted to rebuilding infrastructure and re-orientation on education.
“I just came back from Adamawa and Yobe states. During the visit to both states, I listened carefully to what the people and officials had to say,” said the president. “And they all said the situation had improved since 2015, especially in Borno.”
He added, “Boko Haram was just fraudulent and a plot to destroy Nigeria. You can’t say people should not learn; the people need to grow intellectually.”
Mr Buhari told the Catholic bishops that the government would continue rebuilding infrastructure in parts of the country affected by terrorist attacks while underscoring that terrorists have no control over any space in Nigeria.
“Some people have acknowledged the difference,’’ he added.