Biafra, the mountain of yesterday that mighty men could not climb
As the saying goes, if a young fellow has more fine items of clothing than the elderly, he cannot have more rags. Such is the tale of the ‘noise’ for the secession of the Igbo tribe in Nigeria. The cry for Biafra is easy to act, but the dance to the Python is not a very good drama. Biafra ended 47 years ago with bloodshed, hunger, and death.
Today, few of the total population of the tribes in the southern part of Nigeria, those who are not older than 55 years are still looking for trouble. They are thirsty for more blood and hungry for death. Neglecting the doom which took most of their unknown relatives that would have been their aunties and uncles with the Nigerian civil war which started and ended from 1967 – 1970.
Biafra seemed like an instant show of ego, a war cry made from an egoistic point of view of a certain man, Odumegwu Ojukwu. Biafra was nothing but a thought of not co-existing with the Northern region of Nigeria by the then military leaders of the Southern region. Biafra stemmed from the hatred of fellow humans in the same nation. The turn up of the Igbo youths of the 21st century for the support of Biafra secession is ultimately in its own drama, astonishing. These children are oblivious of the affairs of the yesteryears. They are oblivious of the pestilence and famine that rocked their parents and grandparents between 1960 – 1970. They are unaware of the dreadful conditions the helpless went through during the civil war and they have ignorantly created another warpath. The good news is it’s not going to happen this time.
The nation responded well to the attacks and the threats of General Odumegwu Ojukwu in July 1967 with fury and fierce reprisals. Reprisals that got him begging and surrendered after 2 years and 6 months of endangering innocent children and old folks. Nigeria herself was undergoing the hard labour of the military regime in the 60s and was just budding in independence. This actually made the country which was at that time dominated by the Northerners to defeat Biafra easily. Despite getting help from countries like France and Isreal, over 500,000 to 2 million Biafran civilians died from starvation alone. That is awful.
The Biafra war which saw about 500 thousand to 3 million people turned to refugees stemmed from ethnic division and disagreement which started from the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern regions of Nigeria in 2014
· The Igbos actually opposed the inclusion of the right to secede in the constitution proposed by the Yorubas prior to the Biafra war in 1967.
Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, both the parties in the Eastern and Western regions of Nigeria (The NCNC and the AG respectively) were in the vanguard of the struggle for independence from the British rule. Part of their requirements was that an independent Nigeria should be structured into some states so that the traditional oriented North would not be able to rule over the country. The Northern heads were worried that the independence could mean political and economic power for the Westernized elites in the country which they were short of, so they favoured the continuation of the British rule. When the Northerners finally accepted the idea of freedom, they mandated that the country should remain divided into three regions (North, West, and East) while the North will have a clear majority.
The Igbo and the Yoruba leaders were defeated by the excitement of independence, so they accepted the Northerners demands. The Action Group (the political party of the Western region) maintained that Lagos, a city in the Western region must be acknowledged as a Yoruba town shorn of loss of identity, autonomy or control by the Yoruba group. Opposing this opinion, the NCNC (The political party of the Eastern region) was eager to announce Lagos, all because it was the FCT (Federal Capital Territory) as “no man’s land.” An announcement which as expected angered the Westerners which had offered to assist funding the development of another territory in the country as a Federal Capital Territory. They then threatened to secede from Nigeria if they didn’t have their way. The threat was substantial, and it featured everywhere. It was recorded and recognized in many conferences including the constitutional conference in London in 1954, demanding that a right to secede should be included in the constitution of the developing Nation to permit any part of the budding Nigeria to withdraw from the country, if need be.
The proposal for the inclusion of the right to secede by any region in the independent Nigeria by the Western AG was refused and opposed particularly by the NCNC which ultimately represented the Eastern region. The Eastern region fervidly argued for a firmly bound unitary nation that the provision of a right to withdraw is harmful to the realization of one Nigeria. NCNC stood by their disagreement of the inclusion of secession rights in the constitution and was later supported by the NPC (Northern People ‘s Congress, the party that represented the Northern region). They both threatened the Western region for upholding their demands of secession rights in the constitution with treason by the British. The AG was forced to relinquish their stance of the inclusion of rights to secede as part of the Nigerian constitution. The cooperation between the Southern region and North of the country against the Western region pre-independence has however been hunting the Eastern region since then. Had they supported the inclusion of the rights of secession like the Westerners, there would have been no need for the Biafra war which broke out in 1967.
· MASSOB is not IPOB. The emergence of Nnamdi Kanu the new terrorist.
The Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) is a secessionist movement in Nigeria, associated with Igbo nationalism, which supports the recreation of an independent state of Biafra according to Wikipedia.
MASSOB which has claimed to follow the non-violent ideology postulated by Mahatma Gandhi has Ralph Uwazuruike as its leader. The group has laid down a 25-stage plan to achieve its goal peacefully. Although MASSOB has been accused of violence in times past, their leader has been arrested many times and released by the Nigerian government. MASSOB, however, has two arms of government, the Biafra government in exile and the Biafra shadow government.
There are more than one or two pro-Biafra groups, and the most non-surprising thing about them is that they don’t support one another. The different groups agitating for the return of independence of Biafra have several times been plagued with internal strife that has hindered its secessionist efforts. Ralph Uwazuruike of MASSOB on 19th of October 2015 disclosed that the director of Radio Biafra and leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu does not belong to the movement and was sacked for indiscipline. He accused him of inciting violence among members. Biafra Nations Youth League (BNYL) have continued to dissociate itself from the internal strife between MASSOB and IPOB. Although, Princewill Obuka of BNYL, as reported by the New Telegraph Nigeria announced the group withdrawal from a Coalition of Pro Biafra Groups, following the union announcement declaring the IPOB leader the overall leader of the Biafran struggle, This he said was done without the consultation and consideration of other people’s opinions.
We will definitely have to worry about the internal wars that will erupt should Biafra be allowed to secede from Nigeria.
· A Biafra war lost by the army commanders may not be won by a terrorist.
You cannot win a war by threatening your opponents. And even if you want war, you need guns. In this century, if you need guns or purchase guns and you’re not in the army or in the police, you must be a terrorist. This is one thing Nnamdi Kanu has failed to understand. Where the country stands now, we need revolution more than secession. Nnamdi Kanu was not even born when the lands of the Igbos were being destroyed. Nnamdi Kanu does not even know the faces of the victims of the Biafra war, as unfair as that may seem, it is true.
The men who fought and fell during the Biafra war, all were in uniforms. Generals, Colonels, Lieutenant, and Brigadiers. None of them was schooled within the beautiful walls of London Guildhall University. They were all trained for war. The leader of IPOB has been calling for war as if he would also suffer from the aftermath of the war. His family and himself are citizens of Britain. It should be known, however, that the wealth that could be created from the oil-rich southern region is largely responsible for the false cry of independence by the greedy southerners. The people must realize who is going to suffer should the south go to war against the country. It is evident in the proceedings of the military actions recently carried out by the federal government. The corpses counted did not contain any of Nnamdi Kanu’s family member. So it will be if he succeeds in taking the Igbo people to the war he cannot win.
The people who witnessed the Biafra war between 1967 and 1970, who felt the grip of the war and miraculously survived would not wish for another civil war. Everybody has the right to self-determination, you need not put this in any constitution for establishment as it is the first line of the human rights. But the secession of a region from a state is absolutely different from self-determination. The southern region is a very populous region. Many of the inhabitants of the region, those who survived and remembers the Biafra war vividly are yet to disremember the gory event and yet another one looms.
The majority of the supporters of Biafra are young people. It can be argued that these supporters would not be willing to carry weapons when the war which will be fought with bullets and bombs begins. Right now, they are busy fighting on social media outlets with words of mouth. Forgetting how Nnamdi Kanu has sold them out by going about threatening that Nigeria will burn and claiming that they need guns publicly to fight Nigeria. IPOB has also recently threatened to boycott the upcoming Anambra governorship election, although, there were claims the threat has been withdrawn. SaharaReporters, however, claim IPOB denies the news.
IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu have asked the federal government amidst threats to boycott the election to release a referendum for the southern people to vote if they want to secede or not. This referendum might favour IPOB because a large percentage of Igbo youths who think with their hearts are in support of Biafra. The referendum may not be as effective as it could in the absence of corruption. Whether Biafra will stand or not solely depends on how the agitators choose to go about it, peacefully or otherwise. It has been difficult to break away since the Igbos actually stood against the inclusion of the rights to do so in the constitution before independence. A stand which has been hunting them since 1967. It is no news that Nigeria will really be affected if they leave, but Biafra is not meant to stand as well, and innocent lives will pay for this greed called Biafra. Nnamdi Kanu has shown his incapabilities when it comes to ruling, he has incited violence many times among the Igbos, he was eventually labelled a terrorist by the Nigerian government after the Python dance operation. No good citizen want to be led by a terrorist, the Nigeria government is also filled with corrupt politicians but at least they are not terrorists. Although there have been claims that some of them have funded Boko Haram which is a terrorist organisation, it still remains unproven.
The three basic regions in the country must join hands to seek good governance. The hatred between the Hausas and the Igbos must stop. If the Igbos feel they have been marginalized, they should tender their agitations peacefully without threats. Nigeria must stand as one.