By Kazeem Ugbodaga
A former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili has said that her younger sibling suffered from kwashiorkor during the civil and prayed that no other war should be allowed to occur again in the country.
She was full of tears when she recount her gory experience during the 1967-1970 Civil War where attempt by the Igbo to for a Biafran Republic was defeated.
Speaking at the 2017 edition of the Applause Achievers Awards Night, Symposium and Unity Concert, at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, she said she and her family went through harrowing situations during the war and that her father made sure that none of her family members nursed any form of bitterness when the war was over.
Acording to her, “I was born in Lagos, my family was based in Lagos, my father travelled to the East before the war suddenly started, I was just four years old, my mother took me, with my younger sister, (Nkiru), on her back and being pregnant with my younger brother, her first son and then we began the journey to the east.
“My younger sister had kwashiorkor in the process, I grew up overnight, I got a mark on my thigh through the fire I made while trying to take care of my younger sister, my father had to start a school so that we didn’t lose touch with knowledge, it was painful, but at the end of the war in 1970, my father made sure that we never had any bitterness in our souls. We quickly returned to Lagos and started off life again and all through my life, I have never seen myself as being less than any Nigerian.”
Ezekwesili stated that there must be forgiveness across all the divides in the country to put an end to all the bickering once and for all and expressed dismay over the unpatriotic attitude of some citizens to the collective ideals of the nation.
Asking the audience to join her in kneeling to pray for the nation, Ezekwesili said “it’s like we decided that we are a people that God put together but we are determined not to achieve the purpose why God put us together; whereas the only thing that God sees when he looks at us is our humanity before he see every other thing that we call ourselves, so as I join these children in kneeling, let us ask God to listen to our heart cries today on behalf of our land.”
Speaking on “Good Governance as a fulcrum for national unity;” the former Minister identified character, competence and capacity as major ingredients that Nigerians must seek for in leadership, enjoining Nigerians to cherish and do all to protect democratic ideals.
“We must cherish our democracy, no matter what happens, we must stand with it because God has given this to us, Winston Churchill says democracy is the worst form of government until you have tried all the others,” she said.
Convener of the meeting, Pastor David Atoloye said that the essence of the symposium was to examine the strengths of the nation and to fashion out ways to overcome the weaknesses.
“The essence of this symposium is to examine those threads that have held us together as a nation over the years, identify those others that threaten our unity and devise ways of overcoming them so that we can remain one strong, indivisible, progressive nation that each ethnic group is proud to call its own,” he said.
Atoloye, who is also the President of Salvation Crusaders Media, addded that “the National Unity Concert is meant to demonstrate the power of music as a universal language and its ability to hold together, people of different nationalities.”
A member of the media team, Mr Olumide Odesanya, in an interview hinted that ‘Applause Achievers Awards’ was aimed at rewarding outstanding individuals in various fields of endeavours, regardless of tribe, colour or other affinities.
In the same vein, other stakeholders such as Pastor Rafiu Kuteyi and Pastor Andrea Ogide said that the event was the third in its series, saying that the annual get-together would always be premised on the unity of Nigeria