Akinrinade Expresses Regret over His Participation in Nigerian Civil War

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  • Wants country restructured to save it from collapse

Segun James

Almost 50 years after the Nigerian civil war ended, a major participant in the fratricidal war and former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Alani Akinrinade (rtd), has regretted his participation in the war fought to keep Nigeria one.

Nonagenarian and elder statesman, Chief Femi Olopade, disclosed this at the presentation of Akinrinade’s book titled: ‘My Dialogue With Nigeria’ at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs in Lagos yesterday.

Olopade, who was the Chairman of the occasion, said based on what has been happening in the polity over the years, Akinrinade has now become the chief proponent of the restructuring of Nigeria in order to save it from imminent collapse.

He warned that if people like Akinrinade, whom he described as frank, detribalised, kind-hearted and stubbornly principled now advocates restructuring, then something is wrong with Nigeria as it is presently composed and he must be listened to.

According to him, the army general who does not “carry the baggage” of partisan politics on his shoulders is in the best position to tell the true situation of Nigeria, adding that Akinrinade was a NADECO chieftain at the height of battle to wrest the country from the clutches of the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, and paid dearly for it when his home was bombed and burnt by unknown persons during the struggle.

Also speaking in the same vein, veteran journalist and Director of Mayfive Media, the publishers of the book, Mr. Ray Ekpu, opined that Akinrinade, as a young man, fought to keep Nigeria one, hence he cannot now as an old man, want the country to disintegrate; and that he insisted why his call for the restructuring of Nigeria must be taken seriously.

He recalled that during the coup of 1975 led by Lt. Col. Bukar Sukar Dimka in which the then Head of State, Gen. Murtala Muhammed, was killed, it was Akinrinade as the General Officer Commanding the 2nd Division of the Nigerian Army in Kaduna that first stood up against the coup plot before the putsch was put down.

Ekpu urged President Muhammadu Buhari to listen to the calls by Akinrinade by going ahead to restructure Nigeria now because it is an idea whose time has come and the outcome will be good for all peoples of the country.

At the occasion which saw a galaxy of who is who in Nigerian military and politics including chairman of Globacom, Dr. Mike Adenuga; Alex. Duduyemi, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Alake of Egbaland, Oba Gbadebo, who served under Akinrinade as an officer; Governors of Ondo and Osun States, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu and  Rauf Aregbesola respectively; Chief Bisi Akande; Gen. David Jemibewon (rtd); Deputy Managing Director of THISDAY Newspapers, Mr. Kayode Komolafe; Lady Maiden Ibru; Gen. Ike Nwachukwu (rtd); Gen. Godwin Alabi-Isama (rtd) and Mr. Tunde Rahman who represented Senator Bola Tinubu, among others, the book reviewer, Prof. Adebayo Williams, disclosed that the book was not a memoir of the General but a compendium of speeches, presentations and opinions over the course of time.

But the book, which he urged Nigerians to read, is a “pre-memoir” which shows that the nation is more divided today than it was a couple of years ago, but that “we must wait for a more detailed memoir from the military and cerebral warrior.”

Also speaking, both Governors Rotimi Akeredolu and Rauf Aregbesola said they were with retired general in his call for the restructuring of Nigeria.

However, Aregbesola who said he would never accept anything less than restructuring, said the step must begin with the restructuring of the Nigerian Police.

 He insisted that it was an anomaly for a commissioner of police in the state to be reporting to an Inspector General of Police in Abuja, yet the governor is said to be the chief security officer of the state.