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Biafra: From certitude to uncertainty


Biafra: From certitude to uncertainty

46 years after the Nigerian civil war also referred to as the Biafran war, there has been an increased ag­itation for the Republic of Biafra by some identified groups mainly among the Igbos. The undeterred attempts from this group of the South-east region to secede from Nigeria seem to be riding faster than a resolve for a united Nige­ria. For me, this is a disturbing issue. I think the colossal num­ber of supporters for the Sover­eign State of Biafra need to re-di­rect their agitations as a careful check would suffice that what is uncertain is evidently more than what is certain. Simply put, from certitude to uncertainty – from known to the unknown.
Much more is known about the historic event of May 30, 1967, when Ojukwu declared the then Eastern Region a Re­public of Biafra, an action that the Yakubu Gowon’s led military government considered rightly as an assault on the sovereignty of the Nigerian State. This culmi­nated to a civil war lasting for 3o months.
According to reports, the Bi­afran War had killed over a mil­lion people. While some died in the battle, others died of hunger resulting from severe famine. On January 15, 1970, at Dodan Bar­rack in Lagos, Lt-Colonel Efiong, who was the Chief of General Staff to Ojukwu, surrendered to the Nigerian Military Govern­ment as Ojukwu exiled to Ivory Coast to seek refuge. Thus, end­ing the bloodbath in a manner that Gowon termed, “no victor no vanquished”. I think this was like saying – brothers are not to take arms against each other; so there shouldn’t be any defeat in the first place.
To demonstrate this brother­hood, Gowon refused to award medals to the Nigerian soldiers that engaged the Biafran Army in the ferocious war. For him, there could be no winner in a war be­tween brothers. The Biafran Sol­diers were not tried and executed as some Nigerian military offic­ers thought. Some Biafran sol­diers that were in the Nigerian Army prior to the war were also reabsorbed even though demot­ed. There was also a policy to re­instate the ‘Biafran’ civil servants who worked in government es­tablishment before the war. This claim however was strongly re­futed by the ‘Biafrans’. Expected­ly, the re-union was that of build­ing a formidable and indivisible nation.
Nearly half a century, this dream of one Nigeria is still seen to be several miles away from achieving. What could be the possible reasons for this un­yielding struggle by the Biafran agitators? They see themselves treated as captives and therefore consider the claim of brotherli­ness as a deceit. They complain of a noticeable level of margin­alization. According to them, it is evident in the manner that na­tional appointments are done; the distribution of resources, lack of government presence in the respective states of the region in terms of Federal government projects. They also mention the fact that each of the six regions in the country has at least six states except the South-East region that has only five states. The continu­ous persecution of the Eastern­ers living in Northern part of Ni­geria is another important issue that they have mentioned. These and many more contentious is­sues are the concerns for their ag­itations for an independent state.
Continuing with these agita­tions leading to a possible divorce of a union that has existed since 1914, is anyone thinking of a way to avert this threat to the break of the ‘African giant’? Is there any genuine effort by the government to address what the people from this region consider as injustice? For those clamoring for separa­tion, have they taken time to con­sider the realities on both sides – stay or exit?
While the agitators understand clearly where they are coming from, I feel that where they are headed remains uncertain. It will be fallacious for anyone to envis­age a Biafra that would be trou­ble free – no issues of bad gov­ernance, equitable distribution of resources, employment for all the motorcyclists and many oth­er uneducated traders in the re­gion and a guarantee of an en­viable standard of living for all.
Put the South-east Governors together and tell me their level of collaboration for the growth of the region since the return to democracy. Examine their politi­cal intrigue and you will find out how it is nothing different from what you will see in the ‘almighty Biafra’. Do I need to remind you of the repatriation of Igbos from Imo State who were termed non-indigenes? Take you mind back to your community and contem­plate the relationship that exists between neighboring kindred. They don’t fight and kill because of land anyway.
I think moving forward, eve­ryone needs to agree to the fact that there is injustice in the land that needs to be corrected ur­gently. But rather than divi­sion, it is better for us as Nige­rian people to decide now how we can build a nation and not a country as presently structured. As for Biafra being the answer, I think it is certainly a journey to uncertainty.

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