The candidate of the United Progressive Party in the Anambra governorship election, Osita Chidoka, has urged the federal government to issue a public apology over the massacre of civilians allegedly by soldiers of the Nigerian Army during the civil war in 1967.
Mr. Chidoka made the call on Saturday on the occasion of the 50th remembrance of the tragic incident that has gone down in history as the Asaba Massacre.
On that day in 1967, the soldiers reportedly assembled some Igbo-speaking indigenes of the then Mid-Western Region in a market in Asaba and allegedly executed them for supporting soldiers of the Biafra Army who had overran the region.
According to a statement on Saturday issued by the spokesperson of his campaign organisation, Viola Okolie, Mr. Chidoka said such apology by government would heal the wounds left by the incident.
Mr. Chidoka said the fact that Igbo still hold unto the memories of the ugly incident 50 years after was indicative of the dire need for genuine healing.
He said soothing word from the federal government at occasions such as the anniversary of the incident would go some way in mollifying the survivors and relatives of the deceased.
Mr. Chidoka maintained that the Igbo are a peaceful, accommodating and forgiving people whose only demand has been for a fairer Nigerian union founded on justice, equity and fairness, and where no one is oppressed or relegated to the background.
He said a fairer union where obstacles to equal opportunities were removed would calm frayed nerves and ease the pains of the past.
Mr. Chidoka also urged the military high command to release the report of its investigation of alleged abuses and violation of the rights of citizens by security officials involved in the controversial Operation Python Dance in the southeast.
The UPP candidate recalled that the military had stated that it was investigating alleged rights violations including a video indicating the dehumanization of civilians by some soldiers along the Port-Harcourt – Enugu expressway.
Mr. Chidoka, who had condemned the declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organisation by the federal government, urged the military to “accelerate its inquest, make its findings public and apply appropriate punishments on errant officers, while mechanisms are put in place to end such violations.”
The UPP candidate commended Nigerians from other parts of the country who identified with the anniversary of the massacre, including Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, and the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah.
He called for the continued spirit of brotherliness among Nigerians while assuring of his commitment towards the pursuit of the interest of Igbo people through institutionalized legal and legitimate means.
Also on Saturday, Mr. Chidoka revealed his plans to create direct graduate jobs across the state the very moment he is sworn in as governor.
He spoke at the Obiora (New Yam Festival) ceremony in his hometown, Obosi, an event graced by a large crowd of his supporters, volunteers and party members from other parts of the state.
Addressing the ceremony, the UPP candidate also unveiled his plans to bring governance nearer to the people and ease their cost of accessing government services, by creating Government Contact Centres in all the 171 communities across the state.
Stating that the contact centres will guarantee an immediate 1,710 graduate jobs by engaging at least 10 graduates from each of the communities, Mr. Chidoka announced another immediate jobs opening through a special Simultaneous Rapid Development Scheme (SRDS) for accelerated development of all communities across the state. The scheme will ensure that no community is left behind, while providing employment opportunities across the state.
Speaking further, the governorship candidate noted that he is happy that Anambra people have embraced the UPP ahead of the election.
“The UPP is the only party that stands for the people. It is the only party proclaims that Igbos have the right to self-determination; the only party that have declared that Igbos are not terrorists; the party that resisted the recent unconstitutional military invasion of the southeast and the general marginalization of the region”, he said.
Blessing the new yam, the royal father of Obosi, Chidubem Iweka III, also supplicated for the UPP candidate, praying God to grant him success in the election.
Mr. Chidoka also received prayers and endorsements from others who spoke at the event.