— The Republic of Biafra, which was short-lived as a result of civil war of 1967—1970 with Nigeria and after the war was re-integrated into the federation, will be 50 years on May 30, 2017.
Fifty years later, many of us still imagine what Biafra nation would have become by now if Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and their backers had not truncated it.
For some years now, various groups have been clamoring for the restoration of the independent State of Biafra. But in the recent times, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) under the leadership of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu and his deputy, Mr. Uche Mefor has elevated the clamor beyond Nigeria to global stage.
The right for self-determination was enacted by the United Nations and passed by General Assembly Resolution on September 2007 with overwhelming majority of nations including Nigeria recognizing and supporting the rights of ethnic and indigenous populations to self-determination.
“Self-determination” is the principle and practice whereby a nation, for example, an ethnic population control its own people, its own land, its own resources, and its own governance, independent of any other subtending political structure.
Therefore, IPOB, a movement representing majority of Biafran people is seeking a just cause for millions of Biafrans who are being suffocated in Nigeria and want to be free from such oppression. And so, as the quest and agitation for the restoration of Biafra rages on, a “Sit-At-Home” a form of protest has been ordered by IPOB to be observed on May 30th, 2017 mostly by all Biafrans in Nigeria to mark the 5oth anniversary of the independence of Biafra State and especially to honor the lives of Biafran soldiers, men, women and children that perished during the three year war and continues to die till today.
The IPOB leadership is requesting that all businesses, markets, shops, offices, schools, etc. be shut down in Igboland that day. The “Sit-At-Home” is designed to encourage all Biafrans to pause that day to pray and meditate on the lives of their fallen heroes and heroines who died fighting to defend themselves against Nigeria’s war of aggression. They are to pay tribute, recognize and honor those who gave their lives to defend them against Nigeria’s pogrom and genocidal war of annihilation within Nigeria.
In the quest to defend their mother and fatherland, the small size army of only 3,000 men without proper war weapons but machete, bows and arrows were able to manage the war for about three years. The scanty and ill-prepared Biafran soldiers gallantly fought to defend their mother and fatherland against the brutal and aggressive jihadist war against them and their land. Eventually due to horror of death especially children dying of hunger, kwashiorkor, lack of medicine and food, etc. were forced to surrender to the federal troupe.
The “Sit-At-Home” is appropriate and commendable. It is another method of protest to avoid being massacred by the irrational Nigerian police forces should Biafrans engage in any public activity such as rally or marching to honor their fallen heroines and heroines. Last year, hundreds of Biafran youths were mercilessly massacred during the same event at Nkpor and Asaba in Biafra land by the incompetent Nigerian forces.
The Nigerian State honors the federal troop that fought to keep Nigeria one but will not honor the Biafran soldiers who defended Biafrans especially civilians, children and women who were being massacred like chickens all over Nigeria. Yet, we say we are one country. What a shame!
So, it is a just and moral thing that all true Biafrans honor their fallen heroes. They were brave men who willingly and voluntarily gave their lives so that Biafra may be and live. They deserve our highest respect and honor.
Biafrans or non Biafrans who oppose such rectitude are ungrateful and not worthy to live. They are a disgrace to mankind and may the spirits of our fallen heroes and heroines may be upon such people.
It’s morally right that we pause and pray for our fallen heroes and heroines on the May 30th 2017. We must memorialize and honor them for their bravery and courage. We must cherish and honor the memories of those who served and paid the ultimate price that we live. They epitomize the spirit of selflessness, valor, and service in their dedication and willingness to give their lives in the hope that others may live in freedom.
Personally, I remain eternally grateful for their ultimate sacrifice they made by willing and voluntarily giving their lives that I may live. Their commitment to service and love of Biafra will never be forgotten.
The “Sit-At-Home” is quite commendable and I commend IPOB for such vision and courage.
I have a firm belief that one of the reasons Nigeria has not moved forward as a nation is due to systemic injustices against Biafrans and dishonor against other indigenous peoples that make up the contraption created by the British Empire for their selfish and self-seeking political and economic control of Africa.
Having said all that, I’ll like to briefly comment on some of the statements, speeches and news items of the recent Biafra@50 Conference held at the Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja last Thursday.
I’ve been reading the news analysis regarding the one-day conference titled: “Memory and Nation Building – Biafra 50 Years After,” held at the Yar’Adua Centre Abuja, in which some of the speakers included former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, former Permanent Secretary Information, Education & Industry, Alhaji Ahmed Joda, President General Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, Professor John Stremlau of the University of Witwatersrand, Honorable Chudi Offodile and Honorable Nkoyo Toyo while Professor Part Utomi chaired the panel discussions and served as the Conference Moderator.
Let me begin with some of the statements made by one Hakeem Baba Ahmed, who is the Chief of Staff to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. Malam Ahmed said that all “Nigerians are Biafrans, and that Biafra was a cause just like other causes.”
What a silly, senseless and idiotic statement. First, Biafra is not a cause but a country, a nation that had its own flag, currency, economy, military, various languages with official language as English and Judeo-Christian values. Biafra nation comprised about 30,000 square miles of land, with terrestrial borders shared with Nigeria to the north and west, and with Cameroon to the east. Its coast was on the Gulf of Guinea in the south.
Second, it seems to me that this Malam does not have any sense of history. He does not know that there was a nation called the Republic of Biafra that existed from 30 May 1967 to January 1970. Before Nigeria was amalgamated in January 1914, there existed various ethnic groups: Igbos, Yorubas, Edos, Efiks, Urhobos, Hausas, Fulanis, Bornus, Idomas, Nupes, etc., that were conquered by the British and forced to be one nation. The distinct groups namely: the Igbo, Efik, Ibibio, Anang, Ogoni, Urohbo, Oron, Eket, Ijaw, and Itsekiri among others had common ancestry and ethnic cohesion and constituted the former Eastern Region. They were a distinct people from the Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba ethnic groups. They had existed hundreds of years before the White people came to scramble and to colonialize Africa that created the worst human conflicts, violence & wars, death & disease, migrants & refugees, bribery & corruption, and pandemic poverty and hunger we have today in Africa.
To add insult to his ignorant statement, Ahmed said all Nigerians are Biafrans. It is the most idiotic statement I have heard in my entire life. Let me just leave it alone because it is a waste of time and space to unpack the foolishness of such silly and senseless statement.
Then, there was another speaker, ex-military head of State and former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, speaking at the Biafra conference.
He said that dialogue is a sure way to resolving the issue of agitation for an independent Igbo nation. Obasanjo said some of those agitating for Biafra today lacked the understanding of what it entails. According to Obasanjo, “We never had a national leader. Our leaders at the beginning were mindful of their regions. That is our problem till today. “I have maintained that the young officers who struck in 1966 were naive but there were some element of nationalism in some of them. Be that as it may, it set us back. “The language used in the war did not help matters, the people on the Biafra side called us vandals and we called them rebels. “We thought we would end the war in three months, but it took us 30 months, and the federal side nearly lost it.”Civil war is more difficult than fighting in a foreign land because we are fighting to unite. ”Even a soldier of mine who tried to rape a woman… I had to chase him with a gun. He did not succeed in raping the woman, and I did not have to gun him down. ”Some of the people agitating for Biafra today were not even born then. They don’t know what it entails. “But I think, we should even appeal to those saying they want to go, we should not tell them to go, we should make them understand that there is enough cake to share. We should massage Nigeria just like in a love relationship.”
Obasanjo’s conciliatory speech and rant is not just cowardly but hypocritical. This is a man who is in his late 70’s, a war criminal, ex-military dictator and former head of State, one of the plunderers and benefactors of the rich oil deposits in Niger Delta Biafra, is now telling the owners of Nigeria’s only source of revenue that there is enough “cake to share.”
This is the most childish and hypocritical statement I have ever heard made by any Nigerian leader. These are the sorts of men who governing the country for all these years and no wonder nothing works in Nigeria. As long as these sorts of men remain in position of power and authority, Nigeria has no future. As long as these kinds of dishonest rulers and men without character continue to parade over the affairs of the people, Nigeria can never prosper. How can any nation move beyond the state of lawlessness and corruption with these kinds of evil and wicked men in power?
Obasanjo, is a war criminal who committed genocide against the people of Biafra and even more during his presidency from 1999 to 2007, during which he authorized the massacre of thousands of Biafrans in Nigeria.
Last year, Obasanjo called Biafra agitators: miscreants and internet fraudsters. He consented with another war criminal and genocidist – Yakubu Gowon that Biafra is dead. Now, this shameless Obasanjo wants President Buahri who is leading a totalitarian and authoritarian government to dialogue, negotiate and beg Biafran agitators. The same Buhari who sent his military killer squad made of Army, Police, DSS, Boko haram, Fulani herdsmen and others to massacre young Biafran agitators. After massacring thousands of armless young lives for rightly seeking self-determination due to the hopelessness they have been subjugated in Nigeria, the federal government now wants to dialogue and beg them to forsake Biafra and remain in Nigeria. What a hypocrisy!
Buhari and his advisers think they can use force to quench the spirit of Biafra which is based on truth, facts, and reason. Now, that they are losing the truth war, they want a soft landing by sending Obasanjo and Osinbajo to calm things down in Biafra. What a bunch of hypocrites.
Another speaker is the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, who is also using conciliatory tone. Osinbajo has always argued that Nigeria is better together and always emphasizing on the nation’s size, population and diversity as her strength.
However, what this learned lawyer forgets to understand that the kind of diversity and size of Nigeria is not really any strength at all but a curse and a domination of hundreds of indigenous peoples that make up Nigeria by Hausa/Fulani. Today, Nigeria is a lawless, corrupt and failing state. So why hasn’t the diversity and size worked for Nigeria?
Another baffling fact is this: Osinbajo is also a pastor who has studied the scriptures and probably taken classes on history of religions and comparative religions. Islam and Christianity are antithetical to each other and can never cohabit especially the size and kind of militant and radical Islam being practiced in Nigeria.
Additionally, the Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo/Ijaw ethnic tribes are very different people: socially, culturally, linguistically, and otherwise. The hatred and distrust between the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria will make it impossible for them to live together in peace with each other. That’s just the simple truth. Let us stop deceiving ourselves.
By the way, Biafra is also a diverse nation with various ethnic groups, languages, social and cultural norms but based on their Judeo-Christian value systems and identity. So, we do not need the kind of diversity that exist in Nigeria today, which is antithetical and hostile to the Judeo-Christian values and identity of the Biafran people.
On the issue of size, there are many nations in the world with less population than Biafra and yet are developed and industrialized. Israel for instance is less than 10 million and yet is a highly industrialized nation and rate among the top technological advanced country on the planet. Israel does not have any natural resources. Britain is about 65 million people. It does not have any verifiable natural resources and until today, remains a super power.
The amalgamation of variant groups of more than 400 people and ethnic groups to form Nigeria in 1914 remains one of the great atrocities of the British Empire and they know it.
It’s time Britain and international community peacefully dismantle Nigeria to avert another waste of human lives. The Biafran people want to live in freedom, liberty, justice, peace and prosperity for all. They are sick and tired of oppression, marginalization, ethnic hatred, religious violence and killings.
The Hausa/Fulani have sent Obasanjo/Osinbajo to calm down Biafran agitators but I’m afraid to say that it is late. Biafra spirit is high and has spread like wildfire, while Nigeria is rapidly disintegrating.
Since the end of civil war, these plunderers of crude oil resources located in Niger Delta of Biafra land have continued to use all kinds of propaganda and tactics to divide, subjugate, marginalize, rob, butcher, and oppress Biafra people. The systemic injustices against Eastern region of Nigeria is simply evil and wicked. Yet, the end of war slogan: “No victor, No vanquished and national reintegration, reconciliation and reconstruction slogans echoed by General Gowon was just words and deceit.
Their oppression, marginalization have virtually touched every part of Biafra and facet of life and that’s why Biafran people are taking such risks running to other countries in their millions for a better living conditions, to live in freedom in other nations which has eluded them in their own land, and sadly leaving behind the vulnerable and politicians who have caved in submissiveness and obedience to the Hausa-Fulani tyranny and oppression as long as they are getting some crumbs from their new colonial master.
Obasanjo also said that the civil war was never intended to wipe all Biafran people yet, the war was genocidal. It was unspeakable brutality. Nigeria military banditry butchered and vanquished Biafrans using their British, former Society Union and Egyptian supplied military jets and bombs as well as blocked relief flights bringing food and medicine into Biafra. Shortages of food and medicine throughout Biafra was due largely to the Nigerian government’s blockade of the region.
Chief Anthony Enahoro had then stated that “there are various ways of fighting a war. You might starve your enemy into submission, or you might kill him on the battlefield”.
The late national Yoruba leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo also said, “All is fair in war, and starvation is one of the weapons of war and I don’t see why we should feed our enemies in order for them to fight harder.”
On 30 June 1969, the Nigerian government banned all relief flights into Biafra territory including Red Cross aid to Biafra. In October that year, the Biafran hero and leader, Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu appealed to the United Nations to mediate a cease-fire with Nigeria to end the horror of death of millions of children and civilians.
And then after the war, the despotic colonial systemic oppression and domination of eastern region have continued which has inflicted terrible psyche-mental toil on the conquered people. The cruel and tyrannical reign of the Hausa-Fulani military dictators compounded the misery and suffering of the Biafran people. Today, the land of Biafra suffers from profound and pandemic poverty of economic, political, religious, moral crises. Nigeria’s legacy of terror and treachery against Biafrans has continued to deny them of their God-given talents, creativity, and innovation.
Nigeria has been built on greed, violence, oppression, domination and gross disrespect of the rights of indigenous populations that make up the federation. These shameless politicians and rulers forget to understand that true peace and prosperity can never be built on the faulty foundations of greed and oppression.
Today, Nigeria is an empire of lies, deceit with its relentless, almost pathological propaganda of undermining the truth, manipulation of facts deceiving gullible citizens. Nigeria’s politics of naked shameless greed has barred credible and people with character and integrity from dabbling into such cultic politics of nudity.
In conclusion, the conference on Biafra@50 in Abuja last week again shows the dishonesty and cowardice of many Nigerian rulers and politicians. Their lack of integrity is beyond belief. On the other hand, the leaders we have in Biafra especially Igbo leadership today are pathetic, profligate, traitors, saboteurs, and cowards. They are mostly politicians who are selfish and self-seeking more than the welfare of Ndigbo in general. That is the dilemma of Ndigbo in today’s Nigeria. I doubt if Ndigbo will ever be free people in Nigeria due to the kinds of selfish, corrupt and coward politicians and leaders running their affairs. Ndigbo and Biafrans in general are in dire need of wise, sincere and courageous leadership to liberate the people and their land from captivity, marginalization, oppression, and slavery and coming islamization of entire Nigeria by Hausa-Fulani with full support of the evil British government and support of corrupt global powers.
Dr. C. K. Ekeke is a theologian, author, consultant, and leadership scholar. He is the founder and president of Institute for Leadership Wisdom.