Philip Emeagwali, biography, A Father of the Internet, supercomputer pioneer, Nigerian scientist, inventor

Nigeria-Biafra Civil War

34 Years Later

Vanguard (Nigeria), November 09, 2003

HOW do you capture in a few words the life, thoughts and vision of a man who was described variously as a war hero, elderstatesman and writer who spent nearly 80 years on earth in active service, mostly in his sleepy Ekong community in Ikot Ekpene in Akwa Ibom State. It is simply challenging. And it is even so if you had a personal encounter with the man in question. If you are driven by the spirit to keep his memory alive, of course, few words are insufficient to satisfy oneself on the issue.

When the news about Maj-Gen Philip Effiong’s passage to the great beyond broke at about 20 :00hours Nigerian time, Friday, in the heat of production of this edition, we were left with presenting a vivid memory of the man acclaimed to have returned the remains of Biafra to Nigeria, an event which ended the civil war on January 12, 1970. However, for a man of his stature, any stories on him is incomplete without restating those issues that he pondered over with a passion. Simply put, many thoughts of a war hero. That, in other words, was a reflection of his dreams about life.

On business

I HAVEN’T been so fortunate as those people who have been in big business. I think in managing to survive, I tried to dabble into business but business to me is one type of jungle. As a soldier, I read so many things about business but now I think I have a lot of time and if I can just, maybe I could go into a bit of manufacturing and have industries. Yes, nothing is too big to keep me going; anything at all, but business has not been a better road for me.


On the civil war

Now, I don’t actually know where I can put my finger on it and say this was why we lost the war. I think we lost the war during the Mid West invasion, that was probably when the tide of favourable (public and international) opinion changed ... we had certain problems that we had to leave the whole thing.

•Benjamin Adekunle otherwise known as the scorpion did a lot of the fighting, the initial fighting just because Obasanjo ended the war does not mean he did more than Adekunle. No, Adekunle was really the person that built and made the legendary 3rd Marines Commando, Obasanjo came and inherited it, he didn’t do all that long commanding in the field but by the time he inherited it things were going well for the Nigerian side.


•On Nigerian Politics

Nigerian political situation is something that Nigerians themselves should find an answer to. I don’t know whether they can find an answer to that.


•On Ojukwu

I would say that one of Ojukwu’s problems was that he did not have proper training about war. Apart from that, if you really want to know about Ojukwu read my book.


•On nation building

If you do not restore the Nigerian railway system, you will never succeed in your political programme, because your political programme is bound to fail as a result of lack of communication, evacuation and things like that.



On Nigeria of his dream

I have talked about the sovereign national conference. I have written about it. My view on that is that it is necessary because this country is now being torn apart here and there.


•On ethnic nationalities’ worry

You see, they are talking about marginalisation. I believe that marginalisation is as a result of the economic stress that the country is going through at this moment. You find that there are few places you can go and get a living wage in this country.


•On Nigerian Constitution

If you like have a constitution, but is that constitution working for us? No, and they are saying there is something wrong with the constitution. If it is revised it would be okay but that there is nothing wrong with any constitution anywhere when you come to think of it. It is how these constitutions are operated.


•On himself

For one thing, I don’t have money but I have a name to protect and that is my worry today.

Philip Emeagwali, biography, A Father of the Internet, supercomputer pioneer, Nigerian scientist, inventor

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Philip Emeagwali, biography, A Father of the Internet, supercomputer pioneer, Nigerian scientist, inventor