Read This new Biafra is a confused cause part 1 here
On May 30, 1967, Biafra also known as the land of the rising sun in South Eastern Nigeria became a secessionist state. Two and the half years after the deaths of more than a million civilians felled in the war by enemy bullets, air strikes and starvation resulting from blockades, Biafra agreed to a cease fire with Nigerian Federal Military Government. Subsequently they were re-integrated into Nigeria. 45 years later, they long for recognition again, only that this time it has nothing to do with the power play in the military or the Northern plot to eliminate Igbos in the mid- 60’s.
Having gained independence in 1960, all seemed well with Nigeria though pretentiously, until 1966 when an Igbo Major who was born and bred in Kaduna and was popularly called Major Kaduna Nzeogwu led an Igbo dominated coup which prompted the killings of Northern elites and Military officers including the then premiere of the western region who was a Yoruba man. That coup won’t have mattered if at least one Igbo man was killed. Though Nzeogwu grew up in the north, he never mistook the northerners for brothers. Young Igbo military officers murdered the first and only Prime Minister of Nigeria, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.
No Igbo political leader not even the then premiere of the eastern region nor Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, the then President who were all part of the corruption their administration was accused of, was killed in that coup. Hence, It was widely believed to be an Igbo coup.
Though Nzeogwu and his small group of Igbo officers put a wrong foot forward when a coup designed to rid the country of corrupt leaders in the first republic was targeted at mostly northern senior military officers who had no hand in the ugly situation back then, and worse still a Sarduana, however, the retaliation by the north was demonic. They went too far with their sport. It was a blood bath! It was like they had been waiting for the Igbos to falter.
And I ask; is that what you get for killing a highly respected Sarduana in cold blood and even having ample time on your hands to make a mockery of his death right in his domain?
The Igbo military officers were enjoying bloody games and fatal jokes while it lasted. They didn’t know then that a Hausa/Fulani man does not react well to jokes. They don’t even have ears for sarcasm.
If an Igbo man makes the mistake of slaughtering a cow belonging to Fulani herds-men, trust me, they would kill 10,000 Igbos as compensation. Then, how much more a Sarduana, who was the most revered Islamic icon in the North?
The Hausas felt the Igbos played God in the North, however the north went overboard with the massacre that ensued. The ruthless Northerners went on a killing spree! Haba! 10,000-30,000 Igbos were murdered in broad daylight, depending on the account you choose to relate with. No doubt, there was indeed a grand plan to eliminate Igbos, we just can’t conclude if that plan was entirely Northern. Who wouldn’t go to war on that account? Which tribe in Nigeria would suffer that and still want to be under the leadership of such menacing region of the country?
Though they lost the war, the Biafran army was a gallant force and I believe their plan would have been successful if the war had been balanced. But like they say, all is fair in love and war.
The war was forced upon them and it’s sad that till date the Igbos are still held at arm’s length politically. The effects of a war doesn’t last till the end of a war, it lasts many years after and may not even have an end.
You want to know the truth; the problem with Nigeria and Biafra did not start during the civil war. The problem started in 1914 when the British selfishly amalgamated a then Northern region that was backward in every sphere of human endeavour and had no form of inclination towards the South with a more illustrious, vast and economically prosperous Southern region; it was indeed the greatest injustice of colonization.
Later, another problem sprang up in 1956 when oil was discovered in Oloibiri; that set the stage for the British spiral ball to roam recklessly on our fertile green land with no holds barred. If only we had no black gold, ‘boya ife wa ma gbono gidigidi’ (probably we would have been genuinely united)
Back to present day; so, this time what is the last straw that has hit the camel’s back that would warrant calls for another wanton loss of lives and properties; Jonathan’s loss in the April 2015 polls? Buhari’s presidency and his own supposedly unreserved and unmistakable hatred for the Igbos?
Or was it after the ones that didn’t really know what happened then, saw the movie-half of a yellow sun? Though I’m not sure half of a yellow sun told us what really happened before the pogrom, just like Achebe’s book,”There was once a country” only did justice to the part that grossly affected his kinsmen.
I respect Achebe; he remains my best Nigerian writer ever. In fact I liked him more than I do like a Soyinka, both in their writings and their deeds. But that doesn’t change the fact that his last book before his death could have been biased (Now, I’m not sure if it was his last); he told us the bitter truth about the war we needed to know; albeit it still didn’t change the fact that it was a one-sided account of what ‘really-entirely’ happened before and during the war.
Albeit, I still give it to the literary genius of the man of blessed memory. It was his personal history of Biafra; his own account of the civil war. Just like this article is my own account of what I think this renewed agitation is about; my own opinion. Probably I would have understood things better if my tribe was at the receiving end of the ‘1967-1970’ madness.
Often times, we choose to believe what we want to believe, not necessarily what our mind tells us; that is what they call sentiments, right? Invariably, I had to find a balance between sentiments and belief, in writing this piece. And this was what I could come up with.
Regardless, is this new clamour for the sovereign state of Biafra borne out of genuine concern, or is it just one plan of an overly ambitious, power thirsty man or group of Biafrans who want the innocent to suffer for their cause?
Nnamdi Kanu says Nigeria is a failed nation where nothing works; I hope Biafra holds more promise so he won’t have to eat his words. Moreover, do the majority of the Igbo people support his cause or is it only a cross section of Igbos in the east?
Though, I vehemently oppose President Buhari’s alienation of a major ethnic group through his political appointments, albeit is that enough to lose rag?
In my minds’ eye, Nigeria has always being a mere geographical expression but will a civil war do us any good? Will Nigerians and Biafrans alike survive yet another civil war? Or is it that we’ve developed selective amnesia to forget so soon the dark era that lasted some 30 months; an era which still lives in the consciousness of the affected ones still alive; a time when over 1 million Nigerians of eastern descent and another 100,000 from the federal forces lost their lives to a war that could have been averted.
With the many groups/leaders clamouring for Biafra and the divisions even within the Biafrans, will they not face the same problems of wanton power-play, inequality and injustice, Nigeria has consistently been saddled with from time immemorial?
For 8 whooping years, Igbo leaders were unable to settle an intra-party disagreement; I wonder what a Biafra will be like with them at the helm of affairs.
I don’t have a problem with Igbos falling out of Nigeria because I have a problem with the so called country called Nigeria; A country that acts like a toddler who fails to learn from every fall. Yes! We should never have being? But that doesn’t change the fact that the Biafrans need to know and understand well enough what they are fighting for.
They need to first take care of the internal politics inherent in their domain before they face the Nigerian factor or else they would be no better than Nigeria if and when that region secedes.
I did say at the start of the first part of this article that I may lose my numerous Igbo friends to secession if it eventually works. Obviously, I don’t have to wait till the secession before I lose my Igbo friends; I have a feeling I’ve lost them already.
I still love you guys though, even more than my own people, you know yeah? And you know better than to let this piece come between us, right?
What God has joined together, let no article put asunder! Did I hear an Amen!
God bless Nigeria!
Lekan Linkin LofinjiMember of the Federation (MOF)