Cries of Biafra and Woes of Nigeria

by Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

We take so much pride in telling lies to ourselves as Nigerians.

The Nigeria-Biafra war officially ended back in 1970, but so-called Nigerian leaders have made the country even more divided than in the time of the civil war.

Former Vice-President of Nigeria, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, had cause to put out one lament in his lifetime: “Nigeria is not ready.”

The truth is that young Nigerians are always pumped up to change the Augean stable of the ancient regime but they are always thwarted by the shenanigans of the old guard.

The old Nigeria stagers would then go ahead to blame the victims they had shortchanged by manufacturing and telling all shades of lies that even children would laugh at.

These mutant characters have through their manipulations ensured that the issue of Biafra continues to dominate the Nigerian space nationally and globally.

It is against this background that I became quite interested when I got the manuscript of the book Cries of Woes over Biafra and Nigeria – The Insider’s Story of War and Peace by Boniface C.E. Egboka, an Emeritus Professor and a former Vice-Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.

The Making-Nigeria-Work-Initiative in association with Awka Museum Foundation undertook a presentation of Cries of Woes over Biafra and Nigeria – The Insider’s Story of War and Peace by Boniface C.E. Egboka in the Library of Memories of the Awka Museum Foundation, off Zik’s Avenue, Awka on Saturday, June 29.

The personable CEO of Awka Museum Foundation, Attorney Arthur Harris-Eze, offered the Foundation’s hall free of all charges for the event.

The essence of the presentation was forged on the platform of the exchange of ideas rather than the fixation on the donations of moneybags.

The Chairman of Aguata Local Government Area, the youthful and insightful Prince (Dr.) Chibueze Oforbuike, stressed that works such as Cries of Woes over Biafra and Nigeria by Boniface C.E. Egboka ought to be in all libraries across Nigeria and should be recommended reading in the schools.

The erudite Anambra State Commissioner for Information, Sir Paul Nwosu, gave an astonishing account of how his parents and the family survived the war based on the dangerous retrieving of the mother’s sewing machine from Lagos back to the Biafran refugee territory.

Prof of Fine Arts Cliff Nwanna who is on the Board of Trustees of Awka Museum Foundation disclosed his long association with the author, Prof Egboka, in the period of writing the book.

Prof Ernest Igwe of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka advised all authors on the subject of Biafra to undertake the extensive reading of books written on the matter before putting to paper or hitting the computer keyboard.

A former Deputy Speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Afam Obi, recollected when he was given the charge of taking care of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu while on a visit to London and he utilized the opportunity to ask the ex-Biafra leader some pertinent questions.

The traditionalist writer Eme Awa promised to bring his book to Awka Museum Foundation when eventually published.  

Former MD/CEO of Anambra Printing and Publishing Company, publishers of National Light newspapers, Sir Chuka Nnabuife revealed that the issue of Biafra has continued to be relevant because the book he published Nigeria Civil War (!967-1970) Holes in Our Bubbles has turned out a bestseller that is always in demand.

Prof Egboka who was in Canada sent his words across, thusly: “The Book is an encapsulation of my personal experiences during the unfortunate Nigeria-Biafra War that lasted from 1967 to 1970. I decided to give in the Book what I saw in Biafra personally and generally, particularly for people and youths to know and learn in order not to repeat any mistakes or bad History.

“I joined the Biafra Army from High School as a youth and I had sordid Experiences for the years of pre/during and post-Biafra.

“Even though Nigeria eventually became physically victorious over Biafra, the Nigerian military did not find it easy with our own military in the war fronts.

“While the British, Russia etc were supporting Nigeria, few African countries and Republic of Haiti were supporting Biafra. We manufactured and produced our weapons, bombs, vehicles, fuels, food etc. Hunger and deprivations were used as weapons of war on Biafra and were endemic. As a result, millions of children suffered and died, principally caused by Kwashiorkor. Parents who lost many children really suffered as their children never returned. The Economies of the two suffered inexorably.

 “Life became a walking shadow; death and dying became commonplace and full of suspicion. I lost to date many of my relations, classmates, school mates and age grades. 

“Nigeria created States during the War, giving us fewer States and LGAs which snowballed into fewer opportunities in the Socio-polity when compared to other Zones of Nigeria. 

“According to Long John Silver in Treasure Island, there is no good out of force. After every war with its consequent destructions and losses, the belligerents usually sit down and talk Peace – why not skip war and talk Peace ab initio? 

“Despite the destruction during the Nigeria-Biafra War there are playing of cymbals of Disunity today. No Nigerian should talk of another mass killings and deprivations that may lead to another War.

“Genuine Restructuring of Nigeria into the old or new political units should today be of the Essence; at least one more State should be created in the Southeast Zone. 

“We abandoned schooling and joined the Army as combatant officers or other ranks. I was a volunteer. We were trained for two to three weeks or more before the eventual deployment in the war fronts. 

“War is not any fun. Officers and soldiers of the belligerents on both sides suffer severe injuries, deaths and deprivations at different levels. Lands, foods, utilities, communities, social life, towns, infrastructure etc. are destroyed and lost.

“Integrity, self-respect, good image etc. may be lost.”

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