South East Governors’ Forum Chairman, Dave Umahi, has said May 30 would be set aside as a day to remember millions of Igbo that lost their lives during the civil war.
Umahi’s comments comes days after the order by Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) demanding residents of the South-Eastern states to sit at home on Monday May 31 witnessed widespread compliance.
Speaking during a television interview on Tuesday, Umahi said there was the need to set aside a date to honour the Igbo who died during the three-year war, insisting there was nothing wrong with it.
According to him, if the country can recognise June 12 as Democracy Day to honour MKO Abiola, winner of the 1993 presidential election, there was nothing wrong in setting aside a day to remember five million Igbo, including children who were killed during the war.
“People are beginning to say that even beyond the issue of sitting at home, there is a need to set aside a date to honour our brothers and sisters who died during the civil war and there is nothing wrong with doing that. If it comes before the South East governors, we would give it consideration and put conditions and one of them would be that if anyone decides to do otherwise, you must allow the person to exercise his or her rights.
“Children, who didn’t know the reasons for declaring the war were killed and we are saying we should have a public holiday for people like that. We are saying if our leaders bring such proposition to us and speaking for myself, we would grant that day as a public holiday but there must be a proper request for this in one of our meetings. I believe it would even be deliberated upon in our next South East governors’ meeting.
“We have June 12 dedicated to MKO Abiola, we also have a date set aside for our fallen heroes, so, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a day set aside to mourn our dead but it depends on the motive because such a day is supposed to be a day of reflection.
“The South East leaders would be willing to set aside May 30 every year to honour our dead. The significance of that day, if set aside, is for each and every one of us to reflect and ask if we should have done things differently. Yes, we were being killed and we were being maltreated but maybe there would have been an alternative. What is done is done and the man who led us said there shouldn’t be a second war and that is where we are,” Umahi said.
More About May 30th or Biafra day
May 30, 1967 was the day Late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu declared the separation of the old Eastern region from the federal Republic of Nigeria, a declaration which led to the Nigeria civil war between 1967 and 1970.
The day wasn’t of much significance to South Easterners until IPOB and other secessionist groups instituted it amid intense agitations for secession, a development which led the Nigerian government to declare IPOB as a terrorist group.
This year’s observance was scheduled for Sunday but shifted to Monday, May 31st 2021 with a view to allowing Church activities hold across ‘Biafra land’ and the diaspora.