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Monday, February 1, 2016

Reconsidering Biafra

  • Reconsidering Biafra
  • The Biafran in all Nigerians


Reconsidering Biafra
Written by Ayo Sogunro - The Punch, Nigeria.
Sogunro is the Senior Adviser at the Initiative for Equal Rights

Opinions are not lacking when it comes to the issue of Biafra and the Nigerian Civil War. There are fictional and non-fictional books themed around it. Personal stories have been passed down. Articles written and papers presented. The Civil War has inspired poetry, produced movies, and it has led to even more disputes.

What seems lacking, however, are agreed facts. Despite the abundance of literature on Biafra, the issue is still as divisive in 2016 Nigeria, as it was in 1967.Yes, we know who shot whom and when. But we are yet to simplify these accounts into a logical narrative of cause and effect without expressing justification or blame.

This is, principally, because political decisions in this country have always been tied to the perspectives and personality of the Ogas at the top-and rarely to institutions or systems-and so it is very difficult to reach objective facts about the Civil War (or any other political issue) without seeming to pass value judgments-positive or negative-on the actors involved, some of whom still shape aspects of Nigeria's politics today.

Consequently, it has been safer for successive federal and state governments to adopt a deliberate or subconscious policy of ignoring the causes and effects of the Civil War in official administration. The Civil War is rarely referenced and almost never discussed by government. It is treated as like a nightmare whose vestigial memory is best ignored in view of the sunny day ahead.
The adverse effect of this attitude is that some fifty years later, there is still collective ignorance on the facts of the war.

It is, therefore, not surprising that, to a fair number of my Yoruba acquaintances, the Civil War was a bad thing, but no more socio-politically significant than a violent student protest in the '70s. To other non-Igbo Nigerians, generally, Biafra was mainly a nuisance affair that, like Boko Haram today, threatened the sovereignty of Nigeria and was justifiably dealt with by the Federal Government. Whereas, to a number of my Igbo acquaintances, the Civil War was simply the African version of the Holocaust.

These are all perceptions promoted by a wealth of opinions and a dearth of facts. None of these perceptions is absolutely correct, and none is absolutely false. Worse, because the direct consequences of the Civil War have been overtaken by events that have now become historical in their own right, the need for re-examination is undervalued. More importantly, since the days of the Civil War, all sections of the country have been jointly involved-in varying degrees-in a never-ending stream of almost equally lamentable economic and political misfortunes.

And so, a number of non-Igbo Nigerians are baffled by the current pro-Biafra agitations. They do not see any socio-economic justifications for a renewed agitation. Afterall, is Abeokuta any better developed than Aba? Has Awka been more marginalised by the Federal Government than Birnin-Kebbi? Are Igbo (and the miscellany of ethnicities of the South-East and South-South erroneously identified with the Igbo) generally poorer than the Hausa?

Nigerians measure individual success by material progress, and when they see the containers in Apapa Port, the shops in Alaba, the shareholdings of banks and high finance, they are satisfied that the Igbo have had their fair share of the national cake, and any purported underdevelopment in "Biafra" is the fault of the Igbo elite.

Nevertheless, the Biafran discontent as expressed today isn't about building roads and bridges-at least, not literally-nor about access to business or finance, but about Nigeria steadfastly dismissing the humanitarian injustices done to the Igbo (and their neighbouring ethnicities) from the pre-War pogrom to the post-Civil War nonchalance. Biafra agitators want the Nigerian government to sit-up, and agree that: Yes, there was a country and everyone involved bungled it very stupidly. This may look like a little thing to ask, but the Nigerian government is notorious for not apologising.

This point may be difficult to grasp for the non-Igbo Nigerian, but it is a hurt and anger that is real to many people-and directed at the current concept of the Nigerian nation. They were hurt by Nigeria and nobody cared afterwards.This hurt, and its accompanying anger, is passed down with every generation of Nigerian Igbo. The descendants of the Biafrans-no matter how prosperous they seem now-are still rankled.

Yet, as an older acquaintance recently reminded me, others were hurt too. Significant individuals (like Wole Soyinka) were imprisoned by the Gowon administration. A power-high and paranoid Ojukwu ordered the execution of Emmanuel Ifeajuna (the first African international gold medallist), Victor Banjo, Phillip Alale and Sam Agbam in unclear circumstances. Ethnicities like the Efik, the Qua in Calabar were allegedly massacred by Ojukwu's soldiers because he suspected they were saboteurs to the Biafra cause. There were also the Benin people and others who suffered loss of life or property simply for being ethnic minorities in a war involving major ethnicities.

The argument for reconsidering Biafra is not about justifying the reckless, and often criminal, decisions of the Nigerian and Biafran leaders, but it is about placing a value on Nigerian lives-whether "Biafran Nigerian" or "Nigerian Nigerian."
Ojukwu may have been pardoned by President Shagari, but when will the people pardon the actions of Gowon, Obasanjo, Murtala, and other actors?
Still, it is no wonder that a lot of people want to forget those days in a hurry. But the dead refuse to stay dead. And there are people like Nnamdi Kanu willing to profit from their ghosts.

We should not conflate arguments about reconsidering Biafra with the antics of folks like Kanu. These ones are hypocritical demagogues, playing on the sentiments of their audience for personal advancement. Yet, the sentiments they profit from are serious socio-psychological ones that a concerned government should create space to address. The rapidness with which Kanu built an audience, alone, is weighty enough to make a concerned government pause.

Yes, some people are merely annoyed that these issues have resurfaced under President Buhari's administration and consider it to be a deliberate attempt to "make the country ungovernable" for the current President. Yes, I agree that Biafran sentiments were subdued under the former administration and, maybe, a misguided sense of ethnocentrism has resurfaced it. But, inconvenient timing is not enough justification to dismiss a social issue.
Human life is sacred, and Biafra requires some reconsideration-some national remembrance, some educational policy or official catharsis-from us, today's citizens of the surviving entity Nigeria. Biafra requires our reconsideration of the administrative indecisions, malice, ignorance, vengeance, pride and foolishness on all sides that aggregated into the Civil War.

Reconsidering Biafra is not just for the protesters in Port Harcourt or the people broadcasting hate-speech onRadio Biafra. It is for the appreciation of the everyday Igbo women and men, as well as the other South-East and South-South ethnicities, for the surviving families of the victims of the Civil War, for all of them who still contribute to the economic and social success of Nigeria in different ways.

We keep getting upset that the Nigerian government is generally careless about the deaths of innocent civilians: the killings in Southern Kaduna, the ethnic clashes in the Middle-Belt, the victims of miscellaneous police murders, the Immigration recruitment stampede, Boko Haram victims, aviation crashes, and so on. But this official nonchalance was encouraged when we, the people, sanctioned the murders of the country's first leaders, the ethnic "cleansing" in the North, and then-till date-we allowed the deaths of over two million Nigerians to be swept aside as collateral damage.

We have to start taking our right to life seriously. We have to recognise that this nonchalance to civilian death is a problem. And then, we may be healed from the burdensome memories of the Civil War.

I have been reliably informed that there are records of the events that shaped the Civil War in what is now the Office of the Secretary-General of the Federation, as well as the E "Special Branch" Department of the Nigerian Police-now known as the SSS. Hopefully, one day, the government in Abuja-as part of a healing process-will release enough of the letters, executive orders and other documents that decided the fate of millions and thus enable us to accurately document our history, and reach an objective and settled understanding of the guided and misguided events of 1966-1970.

But, for now, Abuja is unbothered about Biafra. Abuja is never bothered by anything. If something gets bothersome, Abuja simply sends in the Army.
That is Abuja's M.O.

The Biafran in all Nigerians
Written by Lekan Sote - The Punch, Nigeria.

Lekan Sote
After considering the complaints of the Publicity Secretary of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, Fegalo Nsuke, you'll agree that Biafra could stand as a metaphor for any tribe marginalised in Nigeria: "In a supposed federation of 36 states, the Ogoni do not have a state of their own. (And) the right to self-determination, enjoyed by the majority ethnic groups, is denied the Ogoni."

The Basque of Spain, Moro in the Philippines, Uighurs in China, French Quebecois of Canada, and Saharawi Arabs of Morocco all want out of their countries because of marginalisation, the same way Ukraine's Crimean want to join their kith in Russia. But as the Negro Spiritual jibes, "Everybody talkin' 'bout heav'nain't goin' there," the Scottish separatists lost out in a referendum.

Though cynical John Grimond taunts, "Both fugitives and stayers would do well to know that (countries are transitory as history shows), and pay less attention to their national flags and folderols," consider the frustrations of two of Nigeria's founding fathers.
Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa laments: "Since 1914, the British has been trying to make Nigeria into one country, but the Nigerian people are intrinsically different in their background... religious beliefs and customs and do not themselves show any signs of willingness to unite." He adds: "Nigerian unity is only a British invention (that) existed as one country only on paper."

Western Region Premier, Obafemi Awolowo, avers: "Nigeria is not a nation; it is a mere geographical expression. There are no 'Nigerians' in the same sense as there are English or Welsh or French. The word 'Nigeria' is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within the boundaries of Nigeria from those who do not."

While some want to "pieces" Nigeria, to borrow a street slang, others want to keep Nigeria one. Johnson Anumudu, an Igbo lawyer, queries Ray Ekpu: "Assuming the Igbo are marginalised in Nigeria, are the Yoruba, Ibibio, Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom states not marginalised, or believe so? Why have you not championed them to ask for a separate nation? Why do you support and goad (the) Igbo to leave Nigeria?"

A former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, under the Ibrahim Babangida regime, Gen. Domkat Bali, from the northern minority Tarok, also prefers a united Nigeria. He notes: "If the North secures independence from the rest of the country, the Hausa/Fulani will be so dominant that they will lord it over us... A bigger Nigeria will check such excesses… (and) the freer my tribe and myself (sic) will be."

The North was the first to raise the issue of marginalisation, and insisted that the deadline for Anthony Enahoro's 1953 motion for Nigeria's independence from the British be modified to "when practicable," instead of the 1956 that Northern Region Premier, Ahmadu Bello, thought was an "invitation to commit suicide."

Northern leaders thought that the better educated Southerners had an advantage. They demanded a separate country unless they got half of the seats in the Federal Parliament and commensurate quota of enlistment into the military's officer corps. Premier Bello's "Northernisation" programme chose an expatriate over a southerner for a vacant position in the Northern civil service, if no northerner was available.

After the January 15, 1966 coup, perceived to be Igbo-led, had eliminated visible Northern and Western political and military leaders - Balewa, Bello, Ladoke Akintola, Festus Okotie-Eboh, Brigs. Samuel Ademulegun and Zakariya Maimalari, Col. Ralph Shodeinde, and Lt. Col. Yakubu Pam -and inadvertently placed Nigeria's government and military in the hands of Igbo officers, northern majors, subalterns, and Non- Commissioned Officers staged a murderous mutiny.

With the separatist 'araba' slogan, they wanted all Nigerians to return to their places of origin, so that the North could secede. They feared a reprisal after they had massacred many Igbo military officers and civilians, including the Head of State, Maj. Gen. Johnson Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi, and the Yoruba military Governor of Western Region, Col. Adekunle Fajuyi.
American Ambassador, Elbert Mathews, and the British High Commissioner, Sir Francis Cumming-Bruce, categorically stated that their countries wouldn't back a secessionist North. After pragmatic Northern civil servants explained that a seceding North would be landlocked, and lose economic benefits from the South, the mutineers accepted one Nigeria only if a Northerner, Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon, was Head of State.

The North certainly used the power for utmost political, economic, and military advantage. Except for the accident of history that threw up Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, no southerner could have expected to be Nigeria's military Head of State. And of the 15 Nigerian Chiefs of Army Staff, starting from Gowon in 1966, till 1999, only two, Maj. Gen. David Ejoor and Lt. Gen. Alani Akinrinade, were Southerners.

After the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, believed to have been won by Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola, his Yoruba kinsmen engaged the state, represented by Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, and the military, in a grim battle of wits, using the National Democratic Coalition, and the militia, Oodua Peoples Congress with its mystical myth.
A realistic Northern establishment conceded the Presidency to a civilianised Obasanjo, who was not acceptable to his southern Yoruba kinsmen. Later, the restive Niger Delta region also got one of their own as Nigeria's President. Now, if you were Igbo, and saw that the Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba, and Ijaw got a listening ear after throwing a tantrum, wouldn't you act the same?

That explains the skirmishes of Ralph Uwazurike's Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, and Nnamdi Kanu's Indigenous People of Biafra, and his vehicle, Radio Biafra. It is even more pertinent when the North that had conceded power became antsy for power, even before Obasanjo completed his first term. They finally got it back in 2015!

But it is the ordinary man that gets marginalised the most. As Nsuke complains, "The revenue generated from Ogoni is more than those of 20 states in Nigeria, yet the Ogoni, a distinctive people with unique language and culture are not allowed to determine their future in their own state. Ogoni is not cared for, denied everything enjoyed by the majority ethnic groups in Nigeria, and subjected to the most inhuman conditions that assure them of no future."

If the Igbo, who partnered the Hausa/Fulani in the Federal Governments of the First and Second Republics, and were prominent in the 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party rule of the Fourth Republic, complain about marginalisation, it will appear that the John Doe on Any Street, Any Town in Igbo Country, got nary a share in the booty that was lapped up by the elite.

The Igbo should be wary of former old Anambra State Governor, Jim Nwobodo, for defecting to the ruling All Progressives Congress, after allegedly benefiting from the Dasuki purse of royalty. His words, "I want our people to be reintegrated and have our share of the Federal Government resources," are self-serving altruism.

Though Obasanjo thinks the agitation for Biafra is a means of making money, the Nigerian state must ask, as Prof Wole Soyinka's counsels, "What can we do to make them feel that they belong, and not alienated?"A good way to start is to free Nnamdi Kanu, complete the Second Niger Bridge, the East-West Road, lay the East-West Railway line, prepare the way for an Igbo President, and let states exploit their resources.

No comments:


I am an Igbo, I was born an Igbo, I live the life of an Igbo, I come from Igbo, I speak Igbo, I like to be Igbo, I like to dress in Igbo, I eat Igbo food, my heritage, culture and tradition is Igbo, my parents are Igbo.

Am sorry I cannot help it if you hate my lineage. Am sorry I cannot help it if you detest Igbo, am sorry I cannot help it if you hate me because am Igbo. Igbo is who I am, my name is Igbo and I must die an Igbo.

You see Igbo as a threat, why? You call Igbo rapist, criminals, ritualist, prostitutes, kidnappers. You attribute all negative vices to represent Igbo? Why do you do that? You do because you feel threatened that Igbo might outrun the rest of the tribes. Why do you hate Igbo and despise us? You do that because we are creative, enlightened, hardworking, industrious, genius, intelligent, smart, rich, beautiful and amazing. But its difficult for you to admit it because you feel jealous of my race.

Igbo do not own politics, Igbo do not control the economy neither do we control the natural resources and the common wealth of the nation. You do, we don't and yet, despite the fact that you own everything, we still remain one indispensable race that has outshined the other race in all ramifications.

You fear us because you want to exterminate and annihilate our race, you deny us many things and yet we are stronger, richer and mightier. You fear us because we are everywhere. You fear us because no matter how rural a place might be, when Igbo steps in, they turn it into a Paradise. We have our own resources, which lies in resourcefulness, we do not bother you and your control over the polity, but yet when we cough you and the other race begin to shiver.

Am proud being an Igbo, am proud of my heritage and culture. Igbo means high class, Igbo means independence, Igbo means hard work and strength, Igbo means riches, Igbo means resourcefulness, Igbo means self belonging, Igbo means self esteem, Igbo means pride, Igbo means swag.

Udo diri unu umunnem.
# IgboAmaka
# AnyiBuNdiMmeri

Michael Ezeaka

This is beautiful poetry ...

In response to Alaba Ajibola, the Babcock Lecturer Hate Speech against Igbos.


In Igboland women live apart from their husbands and neither cook for them nor enter their husband's quarters when they are in their period. They are seen as unclean. Even up till today such practice is still applicable in some parts of Igboland especially by the traditionalists. Before a woman can enter the palace of Obi of Onitsha, she will be asked if she is in her period, if yes, she will be asked to stay out.

Leviticus 15: 19-20
When a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean, anyone who touches her or anything she has sat on becomes unclean.

An Igbo man's ancestral heritage, called “Ana Obi” is not sellable, elders will not permit this. If this is somehow done due to the influence of the West the person is considered a fool and is ostracized by the community.

1 Kings 21:3
I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors, and the Lord forbid that I should sell it, said Naboth.

Igbos have practiced the taking of a late brother's wife into marriage after she had been widowed until the white men came. Now it is rarely done but except in very rural villages.

Deuteronomy 25:5
A widow of a dead man is not to be married outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her.

In Igboland, there is a unique form of apprenticeship in which either a male family member or a community member will spend six (6) years (usually in their teens to their adulthood) working for another family. And on the seventh year, the head of the host household, who is usually the older man who brought the apprentice into his household, will establish (Igbo: idu uno) the apprentice
by either setting up a business for him or giving money or tools by which to make a living.

Exodus 21:2
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay you anything.

In Igboland , the yam is very important as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iri Ji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. New Yam festival (Igbo: Iri ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop. In the olden days it is an abomination for one to eat a new harvest before the festival. It's a tradition that you give the gods of the land first as a thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 16:9
Count 7 weeks from the time that you begin to harvest the crops, and celebrate the harvest festival to honor the lord your God, by bringing him a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing he has given you. Celebrate in the Lord's presence together with your children, servants, foreigners. Be sure that you obey my command, said the Lord.

In Igboland it's a tradition that the male children are circumcised on the 8th day. This tradition is still practiced till date.

Leviticus 12:3
On the eighth day, the child shall be circumcised.

In Igboland, there is a practice known as "ile omugwo ". After a woman has given birth to a child, a very close and experienced relative of hers, in most cases her mother is required by tradition to come spend time with her and her husband. During which she is to do all the work of the wife, while the new mom's only assignment to the baby will be to breastfeed. This goes on for a month or more. In the Igbo old tradition, at this time, the new mom lives apart from her husband, would not cook or enter his quarters.

Leviticus 12:1-4
For seven days after a woman gives birth, she is ritually unclean as she is during her monthly period. It will be 33 days until she is ritually clean from the loss of blood; she is not to touch anything that is holy.


The Igbo tribe is in a serious problem and danger of extinction for the following reasons:

50% of Igbos are born outside Igbo land. Meaning that those children are not likely to live and work in Igbo land and cannot speak Igbo language but foreign language (Yoruba, Hausa, French, English).

40% of Igbos girls between the age of 25 & 45 are single with no hope of marriage because 35% of Igbo boys live overseas and they have all married white ladies.

75% of Igbo youths leave Igbo land every year in search of opportunities in Yoruba, Hausa land or overseas.

85 % of Igbos have family houses and own investments outside Igbo land. They strongly believe in one Nigeria but failed to know that NO Yoruba or Hausa man has a family house or investment in Igbo land.

Igbos are the only people who believe that living outside their land is an achievement.

Igbos are the only tribe that celebrate their tradition outside their land e.g. Eze Ndi Igbo, Igbo Village in America and this is because they have family homes in foreign lands.

Igbos have failed to know that the children you have outside Igbo land especially overseas will never think of living in Igbo land. So what happens to the properties you are building for them when you are gone?

Igbos are the only tribe who see their land as a place to visit or a tourist site than a place to work and live.

Igbos are the only tribe who instead of promoting and appreciating their culture through movies and documentaries they have sought to ridicule it by portraying rituals, killings, wickedness, love for money and other social vices which were not originally inherent in our culture thereby cursing more harm than actually promoting their culture.

Igbos are the only people who without hesitation believe their history and description when it is told or written by an enemy or a foreigner. E.g. that you do not love yourselves or that you love money.

Igbos are the ONLY largest tribe on earth who fought for their independence and failed to achieve their freedom after 40 years.

Igbos are the only tribe who fails to honour their brave heroes and heroines especially the innocent children starved to death during the Biafran war.

Igbos are the only tribe who embraced their enemy after a bloody civil war and subsequently become slaves.

Igbos do not find it necessary to teach their own version of history to their children.

Igbos fight for marginalisation in Nigeria but has no collective strength or teeth to bite.

Igbos how long are you going to fight for your relevance in Nigeria?

How long are you going to fight for a functional airport, rail networks and other structural establishments that underpin sustainable development?

How long are you prepared to wait for your enemy to guide you to your destiny?

Oh Igbos!
Where are your leaders?

Unfortunately, none of them live and work in Igbo land. If you wish to save the future of your children, your identity, your generation and your race then you need freedom and that freedom is Biafra.

Ukpana Okpoko gburu bu nti chiri ya!

By Chime Eze

The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities

Written by Emeka Maduewesi

~on fb. 28th September, 2016.

The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.

The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.

In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.

Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.

In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.

The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.

Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.

The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.

The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.

The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.

This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.


"My boy, may you live to your full potential, ascend to a dizzy height as is possible for anyone of your political description in your era to rise. May you be acknowledged world-wide as you rise as an eagle atop trees, float among the clouds, preside over the affairs of fellow men.... as leaders of all countries pour into Nigeria to breathe into her ear.

But then, Chuba, if it is not the tradition of our people that elders are roundly insulted by young men of the world, as you have unjustly done to me, may your reign come to an abrupt and shattering close. As you look ahead, Chuba, as you see the horizon, dedicating a great marble palace that is the envy of the world, toasted by the most powerful men in the land, may the great big hand snatch it away from you. Just as you look forward to hosting the world’s most powerful leader and shaking his hands, as you begin to smell the recognition and leadership of the Igbo people, may the crown fall off your head and your political head fall off your shoulders.

None of my words will come to pass, Chuba, until you have risen to the very height of your power and glory and health, but then you will be hounded and humiliated and disgraced out of office, your credibility and your name in tatters forever...”


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