Pension for Biafra police personnel: Buhari should tackle issue of Igbo marginalisation – Ohanaeze

Following reports of presidential approval of pension for Biafra police personnel, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, among other organisations and Igbo leaders have expressed mixed feelings over the development. Nnia Nwodo, President-General of Ohanaeze   While some gave kudos to the president for the approval, others dismissed it as an action not far-reaching. President Muhammadu Buhari had, Wednesday, approved the payment of pension for police officers who were granted presidential pardon in year 2000 after serving in the defunct Biafran Police during the 30 months civil war. The personnel who were granted presidential pardon by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, have  not yet received their pension. But a statement released by the Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) Wednesday, said President Buhari has approved the payment of pension for the personnel. It said a total of 162 officers will be payrolled, while 57 next of kin, who have also not been paid their death benefits, will be paid in the first batch.  The statement also  said the first batch of the payment will commence in Enugu  today, October 20, 2017. Approval good, but…—Ohanaeze Reacting to the development, yesterday, President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, said although it was a good development, it was justice denied for too long. He said: “It’s been 47years since the war ended and many of the people who should benefit from this pension are dead already. That goes to show you how the South-East region has been marginalised and that is why we are harping on it. “It’s not good to be treated like a second class citizen in a country you are supposed to belong. We thank Buhari for this approval but he must tackle the issue of Igbo marginalisation headlong. Buhari must understand that justice delayed is justice denied.” Action not far-reaching—IPAC The  South-East Caucus of Inter-Party Action Committee, IPAC, in its reaction, yesterday, dismissed President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval for the Biafra policemen who were granted Presidential pardon to be paid pensions, saying the action was not far-reaching enough to placate the people of the South-East. The South-East caucus of IPAC said the decision was “not enticing at all” going by the level of marginalisation the zone is suffering in the Buhari’s administration. Chairman of the caucus, Prince Emeka Okafor, said President Buhari took the decision because he is being accused of being sentimental against Ndigbo in his running of the country. He said: “Truly, he is not getting it right. As far as we concerned, the Igbo are being marginalised, and he has never hidden it.” Buhari has shown he’s a statesman—Ikedife But  former  President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, commended the decision of Buhari to pay pension to the pardoned retired Biafra police personnel, saying his action was that of a statesman. Ikedife said the action would go a long way to heal the wounds inflicted by the long neglect of the officers whose offence was that they belonged to the Biafra side during the civil war. According to him, decisions of this nature would go a long way towards promoting peace and unity in the country and could also go a long way towards reducing agitations in the country. He said: “The action of the President is good. All these years, nobody had taken them into consideration even after they were granted pardon by the former president in 2000. This is the type of thing Nigerians expect from their leaders.” Also reacting, Mr. Gabriel Okonkwo, who said his late father was among those pardoned in 2000, but died in 2010, said it would give all those concerned a sense of belonging. “Though my father is no longer alive to enjoy his benefit, the mere fact that the Nigerian leader decided to pay them is an indication that he wants to heal the wounds of the civil war,” Okonkwo said. Pay ex-Biafra soldiers, businessmen In his reaction, Coordinator of Save Aba Group, Mr. St. Moses Ogbonna, asked Buahri to also pay the pension of ex-Biafran soldiers and compensate Igbo businessmen who were only issued 20 pounds at the end of the civil war. He stated that the injustice inflicted on Ndigbo during the war should be addressed in the interest of national cohesion and urged Buhari to act without further delay. He urged Buhari to resettle ex-Biafran soldiers who are now living in penury at the war veteran’s camp at Oji River and other places, stressing that only such effort could heal the pains of the civil war on Ndigbo. It’s medicine after death —MASSOB Also, yesterday, Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, described President Buhari’s payment of pension to ex-Biafra policemen as an administration of medicine after death. MASSOB in a statement  made available, yesterday, through its National Director of Publicity, Samuel Edeson, said President Buhari used the carrot to placate what it alleged as Nigerian government’s atrocities against Ndigbo and Biafra.