Biafra, which was officially named the Republic of Biafra from West Africa, came into existence in May 1967- January 1970. Biafra was made up of states located in the Eastern region of Nigeria.
The declaration of independence to the Republic of Biafra resulted in civil war between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Federal Republic of Biafra. Biafra was formally recognized by some nations such as; Ivory Coast, Zambia, Haiti, Gabon and Tanzania. In other words, countries like France, Portugal, South Africa, Norway, Isreal, Spain, and Vatican City, did not give official recognition to Biafra rather, they issued assistance and support to them.
The inhabitants of the Republic of Biafra were mostly Igbos. They led the movement for independence due to cultural, economic, ethnic, and religious fear and indifferences amongst various Nigerians. According to history, Efik, Annang, Eket, Ijaw, Ibibio, Ibeno and Ejegham; later joined the independence movement for the Republic of Biafra. These later ethnic groups are still yet to accept the fact that they really joined the independence movement because, they claim to come from the Niger Delta region of Nigeria and not the Eastern Region of Nigeria.
The civil war lasted for two years and half; of which, close to three million Biafra civilians died of starvation which was as a result of the acute famine as of then. This famine was as a result of the border closure of the region by the Nigerian and the British government. The surrender by the republic of the Republic of Biafra Army to the Nigerian Federal Military Government was facilitated by the Biafran Vice President and Chief of General Staff, in the person of Major General Philip Effiong, who assumed leadership of the Federal Republic of Biafra after the original president, Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, who later fled to Ivory Coast. On hearing the surrender,most Igbos who had fled as a result of the great chaos, returned to their homes but lost their properties because they were not able to recover them from the new occupants. In no mean time, this particular act became a law in the Abandoned Property Act of 28th September,1979. It was therefore assumed that at the initial start of the civil war, Igbos withdrew all their funds from the Nigeria banks and converted it to the Biafran currency. But, as a result of the surrender, and new government handover, bank accounts owned by the Biafrans were seized and a constituted Nigerian panel resolved to give every Igbo with an account only 20pounds. Uptill date, properties owned by the Biafrans are greatly reduced in comparison to that of other states in Nigeria.
THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE OF BIAFRA (IPOB)
After the brutal civil war between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of Biafra, which lasted for almost three years, but on a futile ground, Nigeria, under the leadership of Major General Mohammadu Buhari has again faced and is still facing separatism due to same fear of ethnicity, religion, economic and cultural differences. Across the Eastern and South-eastern part region of Nigeria, there still lies a resurgent agitation for the Arewa people and in the South-south region of agitation boundaries by the Indigenous People of Biafra.
Mental slavery is the worst kind of slavery or enslavement because, you fight in futility,get yourselves injured, killed and homeless. War has never brought peace to any nation; not even the mind. The starting point of the Biafra agitation were on the basis of political and economic grievances, deep and mental sense of collective victimization among the Igbos, failure of the South-east and Eastern region politicians to be elected into top offices.
BASIS OF IPOB AGITATION
The IPOB agitation was placed and is still placed on the following:
- Since Nigeria is made up of three major ethnic groups, no igbo has been elected to lead the country since the ceremonial presidency of Nnamdi Azikiwe in 1960 and Alex Ekweme’s Vice Presidency in 1979-1983. The only Head of State which was Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, during the military rule, who was killed after seven months in office.
- The Biafra states today, suffers high level of bad roads, deficient and dilapidated infrastructure and widespread of youth unemployment. This is because, the federal revenue allocation goes more to the North while, the East suffers in less.
- No Igbo heads any military and security services. The igbos see this as being maltreated or power-starved or better still, seen as second-class citizens in the country. They believe, because too many of them voted for the former President of the federation, in the person of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who hails from the South-eastern region of Nigeria, the incumbent president of the federation, in the person of Major General Mohammadu Buhari, who hails from the Northern region and his vice-president, Dr. Yemi Osibanjo, who hails from the Western region, will not appoint any Igbo as a head in the military or any security service.
- The Igbo people are always victimized and killed in every part of the nation. No wonder, the well known Igbo leader, Nnamdi Azikiwe said in his speech in 1949; “It would be that God has specially created the Igbo people to suffer prosecution and be victimized because of their resolute will to live”. Theprominent writer, Chinua Achebe, also came up some years later to claim that; “Nigeria of all other ethnic groups will probably achieve consensus on no other matter than their common resentment of the Igbo”.“Charity begins at home”, they say; but, the figurative meaning of this has been proved futile by the Igbos. This is because, majority of the Igbo people have planted their hard earned income and properties in other lands and even countries, making it very easy for the land owners to come up with a chaos that would make them claim back their lands from their purchasers. This is as a case study of the recurrent rioting in the North, where the Igbos have suffered really great loses. According to report, in 1966, over 35,000 Igbos were killed in the North and two million fled back to the South; now I ask the question; are their indigenous homes on fire? During the Biafra war, over two million Igbos lost their lives and many more still died during the post-war riots and other conflicts in the North.
Over the years, the IPOB has complained of inadequate and imperfect responses from the Nigeria Government as regards to the Biafra agitation from both the Presidents of the Federal Republic if Nigeria and other top leaders of the world. Under the leadership of then President Olusegun Obasanjo, the leader of the Movement for Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra(MASSOB), in the person of, Ralph Uwazuruike, was arrested and charged for treason and was under the police custody for almost three years(2005-2007). The arrest of the MASSOB leader resulted to a deadly clash between the Nigerian Police and the MASSOB members repeatedly, which left many dead. The incumbent President of Nigeria, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, has been very intolerant with the IPOB agitations and rallies. In 2015, he issued a fierce warning saying; “the corporate existence of Nigeria as a single entity is not a subject of debate and will not be compromised”. On another occasion, he said; “for Nigeria is divided now…it is better for all of us to jump into the sea and get drowned”. As a result of this speech, he had taken actions to ban Pro-Biafran newspapers, shutting down the unlicensed radio Biafra station and arresting the Biafra newspaper vendors. Also, he’s still setting up security agencies on the lookout to breakup every IPOB rallies and meetings and as a result of a fight back by its members, lives are still been lost till date. In October 2015, the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu was arrested and imprisoned till April, 2017.
POSSIBLE WAYS TO STOP THE BIAFRA MOVEMENT POSITIVELY
Ever since the beginning of the IPOB agitation and yelling for an Independent Republic of Biafra, no top leader has devoted a concordance to it. All the Federal government(s) and other world leaders has done to wave these agitations in futility has been for the betterment of the citizens and the Nation at large.
The following steps therefore, can be worked upon to positively put an END to the Biafra movement:
- BALANCE ON EMPLOYABILITY STATUS
Since the IPOB has claimed and also have claims of being maltreated and starved of the Federal revenue allocation, the Federal government and other governing agencies should therefore, balance the revenue allocation of every state in the federation thereby, making it equal.
Though, the high unemployment rate is not only tied to the IPOB states, infact, the issue of previous and current security brouhaha around the country has been tied to the high level of unemployment rate. ‘An idle mind is the devil’s workshop’, this has been proved very correct because,85％ of unemployed youths who lack care givers and people to fund them in passionate businesses have had no option than to engage in social vises such as cultism, armed robbery, internet fraud, impersonation and others. If adequate employment is created and employability allocation is probably balanced in every state, letting go of favouritism, bribery, and sex-for-employment; the issue of insurgency and societal vices will be greatly minimal and easy to tackle.
Also, the grass-root government and state government in whom these revenue is fully handed over to, in other to ease the workload on the federal government, should be greatly monitored and disciplinary actions should be taken if none is exhibited within a stipulated period of time.
- FAIRNESS IN GOVERNANCE
Government is a means by which organizational policies are enforced, as well as a mechanism for determining policy. Each government has a written constitution; this constitution was deliberated and written by a particular group of the governing body; this means that, it has been deeply scrutinized and balanced in order to favour everyone in the society. Therefore, if by any means, there is a bend; favouritism, bribery and others, has found its way. If the governing policies are balanced and shared appropriately among the states, there wouldn’t be any controversy among political parties, election and the elected.
- ONE NATION, ONE PEOPLE, ONE NIGERIA
The state “Biafra”is not the problem of Nigeria, rather, members of the Indigenous People of Biafra are the real problem in the nation. “Two wrongs cannot make a right”. In other words, peace has never reigned in a chaotic environment. “Fighting has never brought peace to any nation; not even the mind”. For so many years ago, Iraq and Iran has been in great chaos; fighting and killing many innocent lives; children has been rendered fatherless, motherless, and homeless yet, peace has been a long journey of a million miles to these two countries.
Striving together to build a better Nigeria is the best take because, with the turn-downs from the incumbent and past presidents of Nigeria; even other top leaders of the world, it is therefore, a clear handwriting on the wall that the chaos and agitations from the IPOB should have a STOP. If these futile energy used by the IPOB members in the past years and present, is used to fight against the current insurgency in the country, it would go a long way. Its therefore, high time for the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu and his cohorts to have a secret parliamentary meeting with the president of Nigeria and his cohorts, deliberate on peace, agree on a peaceful one Nigeria; then, create peace among the IPOB members and the Nigeria citizens in agreement with the Nigerian Police Force and the Military.
- DOMINATION AND CIVILIZATION
Over the years, statistics has shown that all the killings in Nigeria and outside Nigeria, that involves the black race, are mostly Igbos. Leaving your hometown uncivilized, travelling outside to erect companies and big living houses, thereby, finalizing on spending their lifetime outside is never a good idea. In-fact, it is an idea of a mentally blind man.
In 2018 and 2019, the South Africans came up with xenophobia. This strange fear led to the killing of strangers in the said country. According to statistics, 80％ blacks killed were Nigerians and 70％ were Igbos; among the 20％ deported through the help of the federal government, 19％ were Igbos too. This happened because they all planted their lives in a strange land, developing the land of other people and the Landlords, using xenophobia as an excuse to take the wealth and possessions of these Nigerians.
- KILL DISCRIMINATION
The world is minute, and as such, help may come from anywhere but, discrimination hinders help. This particular ailment of the mind has eaten the minds of Nigerians, forgetting we are one, we fought in one accord for independence, peace and unity. The major basis of the IPOB agitation according to its members were; religious, economic, political and ethnic fear; all these is just as a result of the strong discrimination in the hearts of the IPOB members. If this is let aside, everyone will be free to render help, love, without thinking evil for the other. Love conquers all; in other words, hatred causes division and mental enslavement; which increases the level of inferiority complex in the hearts of both parties.
The typical Northerner has in his heart that if the Igbos come close, they will loot all they have. In otherwords, the Igbos are seen as thieves and fraudsters. While in the hearts of the Igbos, the Hausas or a typical Northerner is seen as a killer/murderer.
The movie written by the popular Nollywood star, Genevive Nnaji, titled Lions Heart, proved these deep discriminating thoughts are totally wrong and should therefore, stop in order for the country to grow in peace, unity and trust. Its a must see for all.
- Philips, James F. (2018). “Biafra at 50 and the Birth of Emergency Public Health”. American Journal of Public Health. Pg108(6): 731-732.
- Mwalimu, Charles(2005). The Nigerian Legal System.
- Alexsamade (9 January 2013). “Biafra: Group sues FG over abandoned property,others”. Vanguard News Nigeria.
- “Half a century after the war, angry Biafrans are agitating again”. The Economist. 28 November 2015.
- “FG Files Fresh Treason Charges Against Nnamdi Kanu”. 24 December 2015.
- Biafra will not stand, Buhari vows. Vanguard News Nigeria. 6 March 2016.
- Achebe, Chinua(2012). There Was a Country. A Personal History of Biafra. The Penguin Press. New York.
WRITTEN AND PUBLISHED BY: AMARA CHRISTA©2020