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A grassroots effort to mobilize support for the declaration of a National Memorial Day has taken off in the states of the Southeast. Disclosing this on his return from a recent visit to Nigeria from his base in Washington DC, Chief Manny Onyekwere, assured that contacts at the local government, state and national levels have been established to see to it that the bill is passed in the shortest possible time. The purpose of the four-paged bill is to enact the creation of a public holiday for the commemoration of the suffering and tragic loss of 1.5 million fellow citizens who died during the Civil War.

Unless the Federal Government first declares a “National Memorial Day” beforehand, the houses of legislature of the Southeast have been asked, through this bill, to declare one day in May to be the “Biafra Memorial Day”. A similar bill for the declaration of a “National Memorial Day” has also been forwarded through the national legislators of Southeast origin for both the Senate and the House of Representatives in Abuja. Active consultations are already in progress to synchronize strategies between the Southeast legislative assemblies and their colleagues in Abuja.

Because of the heightened unease caused by large numbers of restive youths who are now flocking into the ranks of Movement for Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), it is expected that the bill will be given sympathetic treatment at the national legislature. The state legislatures of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo are making arrangements to debate the desirability of creating a “Biafra Memorial Day”. With the high emotion rekindled by MASSOB and the Biafran issue, politicians of the Southeast are certainly under pressure to do something quickly to bring this matter to some type of closure. A press conference was recently held in Awka, Anambra State capital, by the State BMP Leader, Chief Chuba Nweke, during which the full text of the bills were released to the general public.

Apart from calling for the declaration of a public holiday to remember the Civil War, the bill empowers the Chief Executives at the national and state levels to establish monuments and memorial parks as well as preserve major historical sites that are connected with the Civil War. The bill also enables the heads of government to establish the “Civil War Reconciliation Committee” with a mandate to conduct open hearings for citizens on the Civil War. The recommendations from the committee shall facilitate the process of national healing and possible payment of compensations if necessary. The Reconciliation Committee is also tasked to suggest the means to ensure that circumstances that precipitated the Civil War will never be allowed to get out of hand again.
Osondu
The Survival Struggle for Ndiigbo

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