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The Nigerian Civil War ended abruptly with the surrender of Biafra on January 10, 1970. In the immediate post-war period, token gestures were made to address the physical and emotional damage that the war years had inflicted on the Nigerian nation. Even these were quickly abandoned as the then military junta of General Gowon was in a hurry to assure everyone that the issue of Biafra was dead and buried. The succeeding governments totally ignored the realities of the Civil War, which had cost 1.5 million lives, and went out of the ordinary to avoid even the mention of the word Biafra with religious deference.

Nigeria fought a brutal civil war which cost millions of lives, billions of dollars as well as an immeasurable trauma on the psyche of the nation but there is no coherent way that the polity is utilizing the wealth of that experience in nation building. Most nations that have survived a bitter civil war attempt to immortalize the memories of that horrid era in order to continuously remind the citizens about the horrors of such internal fratricidal carnage.

Memorials and holidays are used to remind the citizens of crucial landmarks and events that define the life of their nation. Nigeria needs to declare a National Memorial Day, as a national holiday, to remember the price which we all had to pay during the Civil War to preserve the nation that we inherit today. There should be construction of befitting monuments and preservation of historic sites, where appropriate, which will be utilized as permanent reminders of a painful period that ultimately helped to bind our destiny together as a nation. They ought to be used as the instruments to heal the nation and foster national unity and cohesion. Such memorials ought to be financed through non-governmental sources but the government’s input in policy development and planning will help to implement the entire project faster.
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