Nigeria Matters

Biafra Is Dead, Buried And No More!

Exigent circumstances exist in Nigeria which make ethnic agitations possible or sustained. And so, Nigeria has had to contend with the collective nuisances of ethnic militia and their agitations, and sometimes, these agitations take on militant and violent tones, as with OPC, MASSOB and NVPF of Mujahideen Dukubo and others? I must state quickly that I have no preference for any ethnic chauvinists, whether they are ACF, MASSOB, OPC, Egbesu or whatever, so long as they pursue parochial interests that are not necessarily Nigeria’s national interests or consistent with Nigerian oneness.

Nigerian causes have not been advanced or helped and will not be helped by ethnic chauvinists. Whether such chauvinists are Hausas, Ndiigbo or Yorubas and all the other ethnicities that are embedded in, and of which Nigeria is diversely comprised.

According to Dr. Okenwa Nwosu in his article “
Is Biafra Alive, Dead Or On Life Support?”, ‘Amongst the Igbo, therefore, Biafra continues to be a subject that readily elicits profound emotions despite the fact that the Civil War ended more than 35 years ago. On one end of the spectrum, we have those who are willing to bet their lives on the fact that Biafra lives and offers Ndiigbo a clear path to their redemption while on the other end, the Igbo political establishment operates with the mindset that Biafra belongs to history?’

Allow me to be the first to admit and acknowledge that the word Biafra is an emotion laden word. It conjures the best and the worst among disparate peoples.

Biafra is a very delicate and sensitive word particularly among Ndiigbo, and that is understandable. I for instance, have repeatedly and publicly stated my raw emotion of about 38 years ago, when for the first time, I saw my father bawl and wail as if a child, as he notified and received the sorrowful news, a notification to the effect that Christopher, his second son, my brother, was killed by Nigerian Third Marine Commandoes at ‘Abagana Sector’ and until that day, I did not know that grown men cried, and if they did, it could not include my father, our family protector, our family fortress and my father, my family’s lord of stoicism. It remained a strong imprimatur in my indelible child mind, hence wars still elicit an almost automatic rejection response from me when people talk carelessly about needless wars that they seek to foist or impose on Nigeria?

As an impressionable child, I saw the gory effects and horrors of war! I saw soldiers with guns and bayonets, I saw trailers and lorries hauling dead bodies or corpses, some part decomposed and dripping fetid body liquid of decay and decomposition of war dead, and I was deprived of so much, I was not allowed to play in nearby bushes as my parents feared and heard constant machine gun fire, sounds of which I can still recite precisely, they sounded tooooook, tooook-kaaaay, gaaaar, gaaaar, toooook, tooook, tooook, gaaaar, gaaaaar, gaaaar day and night, more so at evenings and nightfall

All children of my neighborhood were forbidden from entering bushes and shrubs for fear of running into soldiers or weapons or booby-traps set between Biafra and Federal troops, but for us children, we all just wanted to play, but the frequency of bursts of machine gun fire usually drove home our parents’ concerns to us, sounds that I still recollect so clearly, it is scary!

They do not know what the horror and barbarities of wars are like, and they do not know the magnitude of personal loss to families, the collateral damage, in today’s parlance and euphemism. And warmongers are unable to understand that war is senseless! War mongers are unable to reject the Clauswietzian mantra of war is pursuit of policy by other means. No, war is a horrible machinery and a most brutal instrument of failed policy, and warmongers are oblivious of ultimate sacrifices made by many, sacrifices that I do not wish even upon my enemy now.

Regarding Nigeria, there have been this developing trend, a troubling trend, by some, some too young to know what the suffering was like, among the families like mine, who took no direct hit or felt the impact of the Biafra Nigerian war in a very personal, more than national sense! A developing trend whereby threats of war are issued as a means of nudging ahead important political negotiations or as means of fending off perennial marginalization, but war is not friendly.

War is Horrible! It is horrible horrible! We must negotiate our future and Nigeria’s future without war, without the threat of war or promise of anarchy upon ourselves or anyone? We must negotiate smartly, even if we have to hold our noses! Even an imperfect peace is infinitely better than war!

I have been equally troubled by this trend, just as Dr. Nwosu indicated in his very analytical article, as he described this seeming ambivalence amongst Ndiigbo, a feeling of to-be-or-not-to-be and a sort of crossroads feelings of not being entirely Nigerian and not being entirely Biafran! And this hesitation is a distraction and time consuming, I have myself wrestled with these and have wanted to make a public debate of it since and most recently, I was dissuaded from doing so, as I was told that I will promptly receive the hostile treatment meted out to Olisa H. Osita, just because he dared to be different and think outside the box perspective-wise, regarding Biafra and such other issues Ndiigbo.

Just as I also worry that Ndiigbo has not started to tally presidential hopefuls and rally round a possible consensus candidate, despite the explanations or defense mounted by Chief Joe Achuzia, the Secretary-General of Ohaneze in his recent news briefing in preparation of this year’s Igbo Day Celebrations. Chief Achuzia suggests it is a matter of strategy, and that time is not yet ripe for Ndiigbo to announce a consensus candidate(s) but other political gladiators are already getting name recognitions, as they have already thrown their hats into the presidential bid ring. Chief Achuzia, of course, also mentioned another worry, what he described as ‘Part of our problems as Ndiigbo is the emphasis on individuality’ even as he urged unity and cohesion amongst Ndiigbo. It must be pointed out, that there are already dashes in the race for 2007, in leaps and bounds, hence, there should be no snoozing on the part of Ndiigbo, even now.

My first draft of this article was several months ago, what motivated me then was an article by a Nigerian who referred to himself and adamantly stated his preference to be known, and described as a something he called Biafra!

I have variously thought of this subject matter and title in different ways. Eventually, I refrained from completing and sending my first writing of this article for publication because I was dissuaded by another Nigerian who I had intimated of my frustrations with the Mr. Biafra and those with similar inclinations and mindsets as his. The advice that I got was that I should ignore the ranting which amounted to nothing instead of appear to give it more importance than it deserved. But ranting and raving got louder and even violent.

But so much has transpired and changed since I received that advice, including the fact that a so-called Biafra Pound now circulates in Nigeria and most of West Africa! And there were some Nigerians of Igbo origin, who were celebrating the existence of the illegal and worthless Biafran Pound Sterling, some such celebrations were for pure nostalgia, while others, used it to perpetuate fraud upon the gullible and unsuspecting simpletons.

Something that is worse has also occurred. MASSOB has ostentatiously announced its intentions to disrupt Nigeria’s Population Census formerly scheduled for November and even disrupt the dry-run by the Census Commission. MASSOB has also c

hosen to identify with the Osama bin Ladin loving Mujaheedeen Dukubo, a Robbin Hood wannabe and a very violent version of it, at that! So handshake between Dukubo and Ojukwu!

More and more pronouncements are being made by advocates and adherents of the dream or make-belief nation of Biafra. I know that I am now walking into the lion’s den or the equivalent of a snake pit, full of venomous vipers, but this must however be said and done in the interest of our national interests, our oneness, our benefit in unity and diversity in our collective Nigeria-ness, Ndiigbo genuine aspirations and that of all other ethnic groups of Nigeria, in Nigeria, are realizable within the confines of the potpourri of Nigeria’s wondrous diversities, without bullets flying or without firing any weapon. And without invoking or threatening mayhem and anarchy!

The time has therefore come to speak up, time for those of us who believe in one indivisible Nigeria as sacrosanct, time for us to raise awareness and perhaps raise alarm as well, regarding the increasing specter of the spread of the phantom excitement thing that, is, the so-called Biafra!

Some of us Nigerians are sadly consumed by dead and useless causes. I have been in rooms where people made incendiary statements like Nigeria should still not trust the Igbo because of the declaration of Biafra and the civil war that followed…and such discussants are quick to gloss over the antecedent grievances that led to or culminated in the Nigerian civil war… Biafra and now MASSOB, but those who harp on separation, of Ndiigbo as Biafra and away from Nigeria, give Ndiigbo’s detractors ample ammunitions, to classify Ndiigbo as non-Nigerians undeserving of presidential powers.

A reading of the article “I am Biafra” is a symptom of the contradicting aspirations by some Nigerians! How else would anyone excuse, let alone explain the obvious ambivalence of some who would seek and should concentrate on producing the next president but are also engaging in the irritatingly futile efforts of clamoring for the moribund and long defunct and dead fabled republic of Biafra? What a useless exercise indeed?

Why are some continually engaged in these self distracting exercise, which has done no good but defeat the main purpose? While at the same time busily offending every friend and well wishers?

We cannot afford to be simplistic or be dismissive of feelings…raw feelings that existed….we all need to reconcile or to reconstruct and heal and we can neither fan embers of hatred, we cannot act as if we are not full citizens, even if that is what others wish that we feel. African Americans and Jews are good precedents for what I suggest here. These groups have been devalued and defined downwards, but these groups continue to define themselves and hold their heads high as full citizens of the world, with meaningful contributions to make to the world, Ndiigbo is similar.

It is now time that all Nigerians say enough to these energy sapping and dissipating dispiritingly useless mutual suspicions, which only ensures a backward march for us as a collective and as a nation with purpose and for Nigeria as a nation that must advance to its destiny for greatness.

In my opinion, those who continue to fan the sores and scars of events leading to the declaration of Biafra, and its demise, actually make life difficult for all Igbos, regardless of belief or support and non-belief and non-support of Biafra as it then was, and as it is now hoped.

My father of blessed memory spoke Igbo Hausa and Yoruba and he like Azikiwe, IK Dairo and Aminu Kano and Fela and Enahoro believed in one united Nigeria and so do I, and so will I, until I die! I am an Igbo man, as I am a Hausa man and a Yoruba man! For I am Nigeria and Nigeria is me!


We accept that Nigeria is complex, just as our families are and the world is. Even among Igbo families, there can be differences. Abum and Awum onye Igbo! And among the Igbos in my family, some actually claim superiority to the other Igbos! Because those from Nnewi in the former Anambra state are always accused and labeled as peripheral Igbos by my other family members from Oguta in the former Imo state, who shamelessly assert their authentic Igbo-ness, Ndi-Imo, which they insist is superior to the ‘adulterated’ Igbo-ness of Anambrarians, as poor Anambrarians are accused of being too close to the Bendel people of the lower, and across the Niger Bridge, possessing only flimsy claim to Igboland, but we all joke over this these days!

It is a mini Nigeria when my family gathers! Where everyone is superior in our equality and equal-ness, we are all equal in my family as Nigerians are all equal, my family constantly argues, just as Nigerians at large argue about our place in Nigeria and our rights, duties, obligations and responsibilities of full citizenship, etc., and our competing and sometimes conflicting interests. As is often the case in multicultural and plural societies, Nigeria is no exception.

A time will come when religion, region, ethnicities, such ancillaries and seeming extraneous prefixes are no longer major factors or determinants of political and economic outcomes in Nigeria. But unfortunately, Nigeria has not matured economically and politically as yet.

Apparently some NIGERIANS never received the memorandum or e-mail? We are all God’s children, whatever ethnicities in Nigeria we may claim or belong, or have as our heritage. All Nigerians certainly need to be patient with other Nigerians! Nigeria is God’s and in so many ways, the story of my family, is the same as Nigeria’s. And this is the story of Nigeria… We are all God’s own and we are assuredly needing patience, with each other, so we can co-exist with all fellow Nigerians, just as all Nigerians reap the benefits of our Nigerian-ness, and unity of our national purpose….Forget Biafra, Biko!

In the past I have written in a series of articles “Genuine Aspirations; Ndiigbo and 2007” again, “From Biafra to MASSOB What Do Ndiigbo Want?” expressed my desire and opinion in seeing a citizen of Ndiigbo become president come 2007, but now, it has become difficult to harp on such. Utterances and actions by those who should be marshalling and corralling others to the aforementioned presidential efforts are busily insulting everyone else with seemingly immature public discourse that has only inflamed national nerves

I cannot fathom the logic or rational of those who are adamantly advocating a cause that is NOT coming to fruition even in a million years! We ought to pay more attention to what is attainable, reasonable and possible, as opposed to a dead dream, and the pursuit of this dead Biafra dream, some give weapons to those who would distract us, and detract from real and worthy goals. Ndiigbo ought to focus on what is really important.

So much energy has been dissipated by those who ought to be working assiduously and most diligently in the attainment of the more worthy cause of full citizenship in our national scheme of things? Ndiigbo ought to be engrossed now, in earnest, plotting strategies and drawing graphs for 2007. There ought to a clear demand, an insistent demand for respect for the collective will of Ndiigbo as full citizens of Nigeria, within Nigeria, not outside of it.

But what we have instead are some of our citizens who seem to be more interested in annoying the daylight out of would be supporters and well wishers in the more plausible cause, making one of our own, from Ndiigbo, president of Nigeria, for all Nigerians in 2007!

This is what Ndiigbo need, from Biafra to MASSO

B, Ndiigbo? Genuine Aspiration Within Nigeria!

6 Comments

  1. thanks mr paul for this wonderful counselling to the nation in general and the igbo community in particular. Even though i did not agree with the method which the igbo nation are going about their grudges there should be a better and more civilised way to go about this things. How ever i have some compelling questions to ask; why should i as an ibo man held accountable for the war that happend before i was born why cant i hold a reasonable position like my other ethnic counterpart and why is it ok for the northerners to retalieta and business as-usual and the ibo man be sent to hell. Responding to comment 5 the ibo men are not course and illiterat rather the correct adjective to describe them is indomitable. commenter 5 should check his tenses the war began and not begins and the name is odumegwu ojukwu for your info.

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  2. Mr Paul

    Thanks for this passionate information.

    It is true that many Ibo young men are looking forward to seeing the restoration of the past Biafra state. Though one can relate this enthusiasm to ignorance or lack of information of how it all begins some 35 years ago.

    The best legacy left behind by the British on living Nigeria was the democratic institution. It is unfortunate that after 35 years we are still struggling to establish the rule of law in our country.

    Course is the day Major Kaduna Nzeogwe along with Ifeajuna conceives the idea of their failed coup. This action sent our beloved country 200 years back in both social and political developments.

    Colonal Odumegwe Ojukwe was one of the officers that sew the hand writing on the wall and tried within his ability to about the senseless actions of Nzeogwe and co. But it was too late because the above mentioned persons and their collaborators have unlashed their barbaric acts of assassination on respectable statesmen of the country. Worst still is the selection of their victims.

    Most of the leaders killed in the senseless and selfish uprising were from the North. This provoked retaliation from the northern officers lead by Major mortal Mohammad. Which lead to a 3 years period of darkness in our country

    We lost many innocent young men and women that have no knowledge of politic; our social-political development was greatly affected by the 3 years senseless war. Some part of Nigeria land was lost to Cameroon the Educational system went 200years behind and military spending went to the mountains.

    35 years later some ignorant persons are still thinking of throwing Nigeria into another period of darkness.

    My questions is are the Ibos course to Nigeria

    Many Ibo men agitating for the revive of the late Ojukwu empire are ignorant of the consequence of that unfortunate incident of 1966/67.

    Statesmen like Nmandi Azikiwa were suppose to lead the country to a progressive but painful path to both social and economic progress but some selfish illiterate Ibo-boys that had been mentioned above chose to send the country behind development.

    . This had lead us to the unfortunate civil war after the declarations of the Biafre state by Rtd Colonel Ojukwe that later promoted himself to a General.

    Many young men are today clamouring for the revive of that state without counting their loose or the losses of their ancestors.

    The declaration of Biafra Republic was illegal and that was why the Nigeria state defended its territory.

    Since the end of the war in 1970 the Military has played games a very expensive game with our dear Nation.

    Now that we are coming out of the struggle some ignorant elements are thinking of taking our dear nation some 200years back again.

    God forbid!

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  3. Dear Paul

    I salute your courage. And please don't ever be deterred by the idle dreamers who are propagating the silly little empire called Biafra.

    The elders and the intelligent among us (Igbo) know very well the mistake that the dead Biafra was all about.

    For someone who was born and bred in Lagos before the war I knew what war was all about and so I can easily empathise with you on the loss of your older brother during the senselessly declared war.

    And to those Igbo who keep distorting history by saying the Igbo did not declare the war. For God's sake when Ojukwu and a few ambitious individuals declared the independence of the then Eastern Region what else did that mean if not a declaration of war As a former senior officer in the Nigerian Army I would do precisely what Gowon did in the face of the said declaration of independence by a section of the nation.

    The problem of our nation started with the biased manner the January 1966 coup plotters were treated. If they had been tried and shot immediately for commiting the most heinous crime against their superiors the war would not have occurred. Nzeogwu and co were the very first set of officers to destroy the once sacred espirit de corps in the military.

    Worse still they were so dense as to allow a sentimental Ifeajuna to play such a major role whereby he alowed all Igbo politicians and officers to escape. What did they expect the Hausa and the Yoruba officers to do…..clap for them

    One can now rationalize that the Hausa/Fulani officers along with some Yoruba officers should not have retaliated because two wrongs don't make a right…..but would the Igbo officers had clapped if it had been the other way round

    And even in spite of the killings in the North our leaders should have used extreme tact to tackle it……not war!

    With no logistics no rapport with the neighoring nations and no tangible access to the sea even a fresh graduate from the NDA would never attempt such a most stupid gamble. My father will never forgive Ojukwu and neither will I in view of what my family had to endure during the stupid war. We the Igbo were practically in charge of the nation's destiny…..controlling the ECN the Railway the Army the Police etc etc before the useless war. But what happened after the war We are still struggling to gather the pieces together…all because of the ambition of ONE man and his cronies!

    One could easily see the approach of the Yoruba to the isuue of the June 12 imbroglio. They knew very well that it would be suicidal to go into an outright war. So like my very good friend (Femi Olawole) once wrote in a past article on the internet the Yoruba leaders simply declared a guerrila war fare…..using the NADECO the Radio Kudirat and even the OPC! At the end of the day did they not win Of course they did!

    Biafra is dead period! We should all learn from the misadventure and teach our children to learn a lesson from a Yoruba adage that says "until you get hold of a machette never ask about the killer of your father."

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  4. One of the reasons for various ethnic agitation is because the Nigerian private sector is not well developed; therefore groups see political leadership positions as the only way of regional economic power and advancement. This is because of the corrupt leadership practices Nigerians have come to experience since Independence. Once the private sector is developed and states compete against states for the development of various industrial sectors; ethnic group will no longer see Aso Rock as the only source of economic or political power. As you rightly stated the Jews in America really do not care who the President is because that is not were all the power resides. Why because the American system seems to be working for every American irrespective of the plight of the black Americans and other minorities. Igbos are not minority in Nigeria and should not allow themselves to feel that way. As an Igbo person I refuse to put myself in that mindset and will refuse to be pigeon holed into that group. You got to be in it to win it. Once you remove yourself; you are 90 defeated — this goes for every situation in life.

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  5. it lacks base vision.u cannot c what is obtainable deny it.

    BF is alive.The spirit is alive will definitely emerge.

    Reply

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