A Nigerian war veteran, Brigadier General Godwin Alabi-Isama (Rtd), has said that former president Olusegun Obasnajo’s memoir of the civil war, My Command, is full of errors, adding that, the former military head of state only joined the war 30 days to its end.
Speaking on Sunrise Daily, Alabi-Isama debunked claims that his recently published civil war memoir titled Tragedy of Victory, is about General Olusegun Obasanjo but rather about his work at the war front.
“This book is not about Obasanjo”. “It is about his work” in the war front, he said.
“He was not there” and “he did not know enough,” he added.
He alleged that many of the older soldiers who fought in the war ‘made noise’ about their activities in the war in order to secure political positions.
“I didn’t know that if I made a lot of noise about what I did, I could have been made a governor or minister or a head of state but all these elder people knew what it would be if they made a lot of noise.”
“Every sentence there on strategy and tactics is not right.” Even “the captions on some pictures are not correct”
Alabi-Isama, who was once a Chief of Staff and then Sector Commander, said working with the former head of state was “very difficult”
He said although the book is not about him, it is impossible not to mention Obasanjo, who only came to the battlefield 30 days before the end of the war which lasted six months.
“When somebody was not there but claimed to be there, it can be very annoying”
The book, he said, records his own participation in the war, what people did to him and what he did to/for them.
The book, Tragedy of Victory, is a 670 page memoir containing his account of the Biafran war, 450 war pictures (some duplicated), 35 maps and 19 documents of the war.
The war veteran explained the title of the book which came about because the civil war was successful but has resulted in tragedy because lessons were not learnt from it.
“Where did we find the war in the first place? The first coup said there was corruption, there was nepotism, there was banality
Don’t we have that now?” he asked.
Alabi-Isama raised concerns about the welfare of men who fought in the war and are now retired with little or nothing to live by. He also mentioned Baba Akinkunmi, who designed the National flag but can “barely feed himself”.
“How much does it cost for this country to look after a person like that?”
One of the soldiers who he worked with, Major Salau (retired) is left to fend for himself with N2,600 as pension every month. “Civil war soldiers have become beggars all over the country.”
“This is quite a tragedy,” he said.
This trend, he said, would create an effect in the psyche of the younger generation who would be discouraged from doing ‘anything nice for the country’ because the country isn’t looking after anybody.
“The aim of the book is to address the youth, who will be leaders of tomorrow.”
Lesson from civil war
Asked if the country has learned lessons it should have learnt from the war, he said “we haven’t learnt anything and that’s why it’s a tragedy”
He said the war was to foster unity “We wanted unity in the country, But are we united?” he asked.
“We need competition. We need true federalism”.