Biafra: Experience is the best teacher for a fool, says Osinbajo

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[Abuja]–Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo has said concerning Biafra that experience is the best teacher for a fool advising that it is better to learn from history to avoid the pain of learning from experience.

He made this advise in Abuja at the colloquim on “Biafra: 50 years after” organized by the Yar’ Adua Foundation at the Shehu Musa Yar’ adua Centre, Abuja, where he spoke to a cross section of political leaders which include former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Dr. John Nwodo, leader of Ohaneze, the Pan-Igbo socio-cultural organization and Alhaji Ahmed Joda amongst other dignitaries that graced the occasion.

In his words, “Introspection is probably what separates us from beasts. That ability to learn from history is perhaps the greatest defense from the avoidable pain of learning from experience, when history is a much gentler and kinder teacher.

“Indeed, the saying experience is the best teacher, is incomplete, the full statement of that Welsh adage is that experience is the best teacher for a fool. History is a kinder and gentler teacher,” he added.

He further stated that the question was not whether there was or was not sufficient justification for secession and the war that followed but it is that whether the terrible suffering, massive loss of lives, of hopes and fortunes of so many can ever be justified.

“As we reflect on this event today, we must ask ourselves the same question that many who have fought or been victims in civil wars, wars between brothers and sisters ask in moments of reflection….“what if we had spent all the resources, time and sacrifice we put into the war, into trying to forge unity? What if we had decided not to seek to avenge a wrong done to us? What if we had chosen to overcome evil with good?’’

“The truth is that the spilling of blood in dispute is hardly ever worth the losses. Of the fallouts of bitter wars is the anger that can so easily be rekindled by those who for good or ill want to resuscitate the fire.

“Today some are suggesting that we must go back to the ethnic nationalities from which Nigeria was formed. They say that secession is the answer to the charges of marginalization. They argue that separation from the Nigerian State will ultimately result in successful smaller States. They argue eloquently, I might add that Nigeria is a colonial contraption that cannot endure.

“This is also the sum and substance of the agitation for Biafra. The campaign is often bitter and vitriolic, and has sometimes degenerated to fatal violence. Brothers and sisters permit me to differ and to suggest that we’re greater together than apart,” he declared.

Osinbajo further made examples of countries like Germany, Italy, United States, Spain and several others as having not got it right immediately.

He argued that the citizens of these countries have also times without number made dismissive arguments about their country but then they have always remained together.

“No country is perfect; around the world we have seen and continue to see expressions of intra-national discontent. Indeed, not many Nigerians seem to know that the oft-quoted line about Nigeria being a “mere geographical expression” originally applied to Italy.

He went further, “It was the German statesman Klemens von Metternich who dismissively summed up Italy as a mere geographical expression exactly a century before Nigeria came into being as a country. From Spain to Belgium to the United Kingdom and even the United States of America, you will find many today who will venture to make similar arguments about their countries. But they have remained together.”

“Every new generation can take a different and more ennobling route than its predecessors. But the greatest responsibility today lies on the leadership of our country. Especially but not only political leadership.

“The promise of our constitution which we have sworn to uphold is that we would ensure a secure, and safe environment for our people to live, and work in peace, that we would provide just and fair institutions of justice. That we would not permit or encourage discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, beliefs or other parochial considerations. That we would build a nation where no one is oppressed and none is left behind.

“These are the standards to which we must hold our leadership. We must not permit our leaders the easy but dangerous rhetoric of blaming our social and economic conditions on our coming together. It is their duty to give us a vision a pathway to make our unity in diversity even more perfect,” he concluded.




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