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A bill to establish a National Memorial Holiday for the remembrance of all the victims of the Nigerian Civil War has been tabled by a legislative caucus with operational contacts in Abuja and many State capitals. This bill wishes to establish an annual holiday which “will enable all Nigerians to honour the lives of their loved ones who perished in the bloody Civil War that claimed the lives of millions of fellow Nigerians”. The National Memorial Holiday will also serve to remind all Nigerians of the “cold realities of Civil War , encourage all Nigerians to strive for national unity and to resort to peaceful resolution of disputes on the federal, state and local government levels” in times of crises.

The four-page document, apart from providing for the creation of a national holiday, also empowers the President of the nation to “establish National Monuments in honour of the millions of Nigerians who lost their lives in the Civil War.” The bill requires the President to declare major battlefields in parts of the nation as National Monuments and also to “persuade each State Governor to establish similar monuments in their respective states as needed”.

As a tool for healing the pain of the Civil War, the bill has asked the President to establish a “Civil War Reconciliation Committee”, from all political parties and all geopolitical zones in Nigeria, to address all pertinent issues regarding the Civil War. The Committee shall be required to invite group and individual testimonies which shall “focus on the causes of the Civil War, the massacres of the Civil War, the tortures of the Civil war, and the necessary reparations to be made by the Federal Government to the aggrieved, if any”.

The return of democracy to Nigeria has provided a unique opportunity to bring the issues surrounding the Civil War to a satisfactory resolution. Some believe that failure to commemorate the Civil War may be the reason why some parochial interest groups still embark on agenda that can result in a rehash of the tragedies of that traumatic epoch of our history. Healing the wounds of the Civil War can provide Nigeria with a fresh impetus to fully galvanize the collective energies of all its people in facing many challenges that lie ahead. Many notable political and community leaders nationwide have expressed enthusiasm for the proposed holiday because it will be the only other non-religious work-free day in the year that truly reflects the real history of Nigeria besides the Independence Day.

Osondu
The Survival Struggle for Ndiigbo

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