“THE United Middle Belt Youth Congress (UMBYC), a group at the forefront of mapping out the North Central geopolitical zone as Middle Belt has lampooned the north for lining up soldiers from the zone against the Igbos during the Nigerian civil war….” –Mingione in allafrica.com December 9 2011
Author: Mingione Mon Dec 19 12:52:59 201
Finally, another Minority Group in Nigeria is beginning to speak up. I thought that those of us in the Niger Delta has been whispering in the dark all these years. Had the Middle Belt spoken up during the 1966 pogrom, the problems we have today in the country may not have existed. But, because some minority groups found comfort by being complicit, even to the extent that the very physical embodiment of the war in Nigeria - Gen. Gowon was himself a minority; though I'm encouraged by this current revelations and contritions, but while Gowon is still alive, he may render justice to this contrition process by publicly vindicating the arguments which Ojukwu was presenting at that time.
As a Niger Deltan, inasmuch as I am relieved that Biafra never succeeded because the Igbos had their ulterior motives for the ethnic minorities in the South-South, especially by the subtle and nuanced commentaries in his Ahiara Declarations, the fact still remains that in order for Nigeria to completely achieve greatness, she must allow each region or economic zones to control and manage the resources in their zones. Again, the National Assembly must now vigorously seek to remove the promulgating edict which Gen. J.T.U.Aguiyi-Ironsi used to collectivise and concentrate powers at the Federal Government, thus stripping the regions and now zones the powers to manage their resources and properly run the political affairs of their various segments in the country's geographical divisions. This would also remove the ultra vires or eminent domain powers which the Federal Government have accorded itself by confiscating massive land mass belonging to farming communities and erecting often useless structures for appeasing political cronies. We've become a country without a developmental ideology. Outwardly, we appear to be both socialistic and capitalistic. The government and their kleptomatic technocrats are driven more by self-interest behaviour, than for the well-being of their populace. Because of this lack of ideology and developmental directions, it is no wonder that those in power see their political positions as a way of enriching themselves rather than serving the interests of the people who elected them to office. Worst still, the 1999 Constitution has vigorously protected thieving Governors and their High Ranking Civil Servants with immunity clauses, whereby many governors escape prosecution from stealing from the coffers of their states, while at the same time, these civil servants create sometimes, untraceable paper trails to hide the loots of their master kleptocrats.
Is this admission by the UMBYC a vindication for Gen. Ojukwu? I would certainly agree that it comes One (I) year too late. At least, this admission should have been made while Ojukwu was alive and should have come directly from Gen. Gowon and Lt. General T. Danjuma, all of whom are from the Middle Belt, and are of a different religious faith than those the Northern Leaders have assumed that everyone in the North should automatically belong to. These two individuals, and Gen. Obasanjo I might add, and Gen. Adekunle as well helped to prosecute the war to its conclusive end. I am not exempting Gen. Mohammed, or Gen. Buhari or Gen. Babangida or any other "baby general" that the Nigerian Army saw fit to elevate to these levels at the time. Although to his credit, I would continue to applaud Gen. Gowon for properly isolating the minority tribes of the South-South from the clutches of the Igbo domination in the former Eastern Region, and for finally liberating the Mid-West from the clutches of the dominant Yoruba tribes. If Nigeria is to survive as a nation, it must fully begin to recognize that much of her resources lie within the zones of the minority tribes, and that the country must as a matter of urgency, begin to recognise and accord these minority tribes their legitimacy without further delays. Thus far, the "Federating Government Officials" at the Federal Government have successfully perfected their exclusionary practices of avoiding to appoint people from the minority tribes into high level ministerial or ambassadorial positions. this selective marginalization can only create more and more rifts between the federal government and these minority communities because of lack of representation.
Although this admission by the United Middle Belt Youth Congress comes 40-years too late simply because those of us from the minority tribes in the South-South have been seeking for their support throughout these periods, it is however, re-assuring to know that by these admissions, we now begin to work together in order to streamline our priorities and force the Federal Government to repeal the edict which Gen. J.T.U.Aguiyi-Ironsi promulgated in 1966 before his assassination. Once this is repealed, then we can legitimately begin to talk about regional or zonal sovereign conferences to re-define the Nigerian landscape and how best to manage this resource rich nation.
Source: All Africa.com, 19th December 2011.
Here is my take on Mingione's article of the above caption in his response to the unprecedented (in Nigeria) courage and honesty of the UMBYC youth whose collective contrition and apology regarding the role of the Middle Belt in Nigeria's ethnic cleansing exercise and genocidal war against the Igbo and other Biafrans is a first for Nigeria. This singular show of courage and decency needs to be emulated and repeated.
Nigeria: How the North Tricked Middle Belt to Fight Igbo
Chikwendu Chukwudi 19 December 2011
THE United Middle Belt Youth Congress (UMBYC), a group at the forefront of mapping out the North Central geopolitical zone as Middle Belt has lampooned the north for lining up soldiers from the zone against the Igbos during the Nigerian civil war.
They said the core north easily achieved this by exploiting the command structure of the military and manufacturing fear that Biafra is out to overrun them.
'We know the ignorant years that have passed when we went to war. When they mobilised us to war and told us 'ah they want to terminate you people. The Igbos are majority and in fact they are coming to swallow you people'
'A lot of us went to the bush to fight. I know how many families of our brothers that we lost in that war. Not to talk about our other brothers, the Igbos who we went to fight ignorantly.'
The president-general, Abuka Omababa disclosed this during a courtesy visit of the group to The Moment in Ogudu, Lagos recently saying that the hackneyed concept of 'one north' was also crafted with the connivance of the British to mislead the rest of the country into believing an existence of a gigantic and awesome 'north'.
He added that while it was disheartening enough that they were manipulated into a fratricidal war with the Igbo, the Hausa/Fulani 'were in Sokoto and Kano relaxing and watching the two of us kill each other.'
The group consequently declared that the days they were plaything in the hands of 'the north' are over for good. They therefore extend a hand of fellowship to other ethnic nationality groups in Nigeria saying that 'without us there is no north; no Middle Belt, no North. If we remove ourselves they are disconnected from Nigeria. So we are the bridge. We have served as the bridge.'
The group said that serial cases of religious intolerance in the north are championed by the Hausa/Fulani who are moulded to perceive non-Muslim practitioners with distaste. They dissociated the Middle Belt from it saying they see others as members of a single humanity rather than with religious or other colourations.
'Prior to the coming of the British, we were occupying our land. We are democratic. We are freethinkers in our various nationalities. If you see a Langtang family; they may have one Muslim, one Christian and one pagan; they cohabit and you will not know the difference.'
'Whenever there is riot in the north, it affects us. Our people run like any other southerner. If you look at these youth corps members that were killed, they brought two to Kogi. So, if Kogi is north, then why is north burying their children?'
Though they blamed the British for grouping and lumping them together with the north, they were insistent that the Middle Belt is not north. Thus, they ask for the official regrouping of Nigeria where they are recognised as distinct federating unit.
'We want our identity to be known. We want to bear our name. We don't want to be covered again...we have the right to determine our own identity.... And we have decided that we are going to do it legitimately. We want to be officially regrouped as Middle Belt region.
'We have the Niger Delta that has been officially regrouped. They are minorities in the south like we are minorities lumped into the north.'
They maintain that gone are the days when they are used as a buffer to protect and comfort the north. They did not see any reason why they would only be used by the north to gather votes during election, and food during scarcity but discarded just as soon as the 'hegemonic' north is satisfied.
'Our resources and land remain closed under the northern Nigeria. And what they do is; if it is time to make use of numbers, our population, they say yes we are relevant. After that; no we are no more relevant.'
'Thanks to the struggle of June 12 which brought President Olusegun Obasanjo to power in 1999. While making appointments he brought General Victor Malu as Chief of Army Staff, Saliu Ibrahim and the rest, then, the north through late Alhaji Wada Nas rose and said that these people do not represent northern interest.
'It is a clear thing that we do not belong there. We want to be separate people, and so shall it be.'
They went on to reiterate their backing to the evolution of a fiscal federalism where the federating units will control the resources in their geographical sphere.
'Make the centre less attractive, so that if you are going there, it is for service. We from the Middle Belt, we will pay our taxes. They should leave Ajaokuta for us; they should leave all those gold, columbite, timber and other solid minerals found in the Middle Belt for us to develop our community.
'What we are saying is that they have concentrated too much power at the centre which is the reason everybody wants to kill others in order to get there. Every region will have to pay tax to the Federal Government.'
Then they upped the ante with some other bold demands.
'We said we need our own 13 per cent from electricity. We need 13 per cent from Ajaokuta, from solid minerals coming from Middle Belt, even from our food. If you see the level of farm work going on in the Middle Belt, you will see why we agitate for Farming Development Commission to provide modern equipment and health facilities.
'Give us also HYPODEC - Hydro Power Development Commission - which Jonathan has already granted and signed into law but has not constituted the board.'
While tracing the history of their struggle for identity, they say that at great cost their progenitors like Ameh Oboni, David Lot and JS Tarka had kick-started this resistance which people like Paul Unongo had continued.
They say that while they remain in touch with their parent body - United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC) - they are determined to add youthful vigour to it, and facilitate the realisation of their dreams of emancipation from northern hegemony and resource control.
'The issue of Middle Belt identity started with the late Ameh Oboni and Attah of Igala. At the northern emirs' meeting, when the Sultan of Sokoto and the rest came, he was told to remove his cap; he said no that the Hausa/Fulani has never been commanders of Igala, and Igalas has never bowed down to them.
'So they threatened that they will show him where he belongs at the next meeting; he too retorted he will show them where they belong. At the next meeting, they insisted and forcefully removed his cap, from which emanated stinging bees that disrupted the meeting. All the emirs ran away except him. But that is the local way of struggling against the domination of the Hausa/Fulani.
'Late Dr. JS Tarka and Paul Unongo, because they were educated, brought it to international attention through the UMBC - United Middle Belt Congress of those days. So the struggle for Middle Belt identity has been on.
They added that when Usman Dan Fodio came with a jihad in 1804, he conquered Kastina, Sokoto and Kano but could not conquer the Lantang and the Birong peoples of Plateau. He was also said not to have defeated Taraba when the state comprised Igala, Jukuns and Tiv peoples.
'He could not conquer us. He could not conquer Middle Belt. So when the British were going they said that these people are difficult to conquer in war, so give them indirect rule system. Co-opt them through the Atta of Igala, through the Gbomgbom of Jos. That is how the British played us to the monolithic north' the group's president-general explained.
The Moment's Editor in charge of daily operations, Martin Azuwike who received the group urged them to continue in the part of non-violent struggle. He said that the nation has so much security concerns which if they resort to violence, Nigeria will have more than a mouthful to chew.
He also said the newspaper will always report their activities with a sense of balance and fairness to others.
“…the North Tricked Middle Belt to Fight Igbo…”
An invitation is hereby extended to the Arewa Youth to show similar courage and honesty by admitting that it was wrong for the North to engage in and savor ethnic cleansing against the Igbo living among them in 1966, and then proceed to pursue the Igbo into the latters' enclave in order to annihilate them.
The Odua Youth are invited to follow suit and agree with their very own—our—Wole Soyinka that Nigeria's war against Biafra was wrong; that the North “tricked [them] to fight the Igbo”, and in so doing used them to commit genocide against the Igbo during the Biafra-Nigeria war.
The invitation also goes to the Igbo Youth to show contrition for allowing themselves to be manipulated by the Igbo elders who are under the thumb of the North, acquiescing to continued Northern occupation of Igbo space and enslavement of the Igbo people. OHANEZE, WIC (World Igbo Congress) and suchlike trick the Igbo and confuse Igbo youth into fighting and dying with utmost futility to belong to a Nigeria that rejects them and kills them without mercy.
There is an invitation for the Niger Delta Youth to show contrition for the role of the Niger Delta in the genocide against their Igbo brothers and neighbor. Let them see that they, too, have been tricked into thinking that the Igbo are their mortal enemy, hence, into fighting against the Igbo. And here is where Mingione comes in: this invitation to the Niger Delta youth is made through Mingione.
Why? Because Mingione's response is actually a continuing anti-Igbo statement so deeply enmeshed that it wouldn't be a surprise if he fails to see it, although any objective reader is left scratching his or her head as to why Mingione positions himself as pro-Ojukwu, pro-Biafra, even as he relentlessly tears at the Igbo. Mingione says Ojukwu is vindicated and leads us to believe that Ojukwu is his champion, but he, as a Deltan—by his own emphatic reminder to the reader—is quite glad Biafra was defeated. He even invokes something else (which he does not tell us what of) from Ahiara Declaration written by Ojukwu during the Biafra war to support his accusation of Igbo having an “ulterior motive” as Biafra. Mingione praises Gowon for creating States…thereby, according to him, liberating the Niger Delta from Igbo domination; however, everyone knows that the only reason Gowon created the States was to punish and divide and dispossess the Igbo. He succeeded. But, as it turns out, contrary to Mingione's claims, this calculated anti-Igbo action by Gowon never helped the Niger Delta, and it never helped the Middle Belt either, where the manipulative hegemony continued it's deceptive “one North policy.” As long as this act by Gowon thoroughly victimized the Igbo, Mingione is well pleased by it.
Nowhere is Mingione's subterfuge so heavy as when he heaps blame for the sour lot of the Niger Delta today personally on Aguiyi Ironsi, an Igbo man. This is based on Decree No. 34 of 1966 by which the then military government of Nigeria then under Ironsi centralized the powers and authority in Nigeria. Not once but twice Mingione is tricking readers and Nigerians to believe that it was Ironsi's fault then and ongoing fault still that Nigeria is pathologically centralized up till today. Let's assume that the man historically and accurately known to harbor no political, power or wealth-mongering ambition, Ironsi, was personally responsible for this. He paid with his life for this error: when Mingione's real champion, Gowon, and his cabal of fellow-Northern Nigerian military putschists clearly cited this as the reason why they murdered Ironsi. Facts will show that Ironsi was Head of State of Nigeria for 194 days; so, for a little over half-a-year, he imposed Decree No. 34 on Nigeria; but Gowon and his cabal and their successors have had almost half-a-century to reverse Decree No. 34, and yet have not done so. Gowon and his comrades are still alive today, supporting and operating Decree No. 34; why not blame them? Why not go after them, if change was the real desire, rather than choose the self-serving path of blaming Ironsi the Igboman who is no longer here to make any type of changes? Common sense would assume that the minute Gowon killed Ironsi because of Decree No. 34, he, Gowon would have killed the decree too, and reversed it completely: why hasn't he, and why does Mingione want to blame Ironsi?
Truth be told, it was not even Decree No. 34 that messed up the Niger Delta. It was the so-called ”Land Use Decrees” forced on the peoples by well-after-Ironsi successive Nigerian governments which have been led and or controlled by the North, that did the job. It started with Gowon's “Petroleum Decree of 1969” which gave the entire ownership and control of Petroleum resources to the State of Nigeria. By the Land Use Decree of 1978 (Obasanjo's Military government) followed by the Gas Re-injection Decree of 1979, government usurpation and control of private and communal / ancestral lands, property and resources was complete. In 1999, this State-control was carved into the cement of the 1999 Nigeria's so-called Constitution which mocked “…we the people…”, the doing of another Northern military cum Northern leadership oligarchy of Nigeria under the rulership of Mohammed Abubakar. Yet, that's not all: today, a Niger Delta man is the ruler of Nigeria. Since President Jonathan was the Vice under late Yar'Adua, he was part of Yar'Adua's Land Use (Amendment) Act of 2009 which was hailed as a corrective Bill aimed at restoring what had been taking from the peoples by the government. This means that Jonathan, a Delta son, has had at least 2 years to solve this problem. Why does Mingione keep blaming dead Igboman Ironsi?
Perhaps, Mingione will also blame the Igbo for the fate of Bakassi. Gowon promised away Bakassi to Cameroon to continue to limit the Igbo and squeeze Biafra. Later, in these contemporary times, Obasanjo gleefully handed over not just the Bakassi land, but also, the protesting hapless Bakassi people and their nation to Cameroon, in consummation of Gowon's plan and in the spirit of Obasanjo's well known, open anti-Igbo anti-Biafra stance. The most important information in reading the ICJ (International Court of Justice) proceedings in this case is how the Cameroonians lawyers, though happy to win, were so shocked and taken aback by the fact that the Nigerian lawyers never put up a defense at all to keep Bakassi.
The Igbo are not the mortal enemy of the Niger Delta that Mingione subconsciously or consciously projects. For that matter, the Igbo, for all their drive and energy, show no propensity for hostility towards any other ethnic nation in Nigeria. For example, and this can either be to their credit or their foolishness, destruction, suicidality and even downfall, the Igbo have returned to the same villages and towns in Northern Nigeria and the rest of Nigeria where their shed blood and broken bones, hacked sinews and burnt flesh have become part of the fabric of the physical infrastructure and of the collective lore and psychic scar. They did not and do no demand an apology nor did they wait for one before going back to the place of their torment to live again among their unrepentant and unremorseful tormentors. Biafra happened because there was no other way: one who does not put up a genuine effort to defend oneself with the full intent of winning is not part of the human family and is not worthy of humanity. Mingione, take note; do carry this message to our Niger Delta brothers and neighbors: the Igbo are not your enemies. Let's stop tricking anyone to fight and kill the Igbo.
And of Biafra, it is still the best, if the only, answer to Nigeria. It is a pity that in these days of Self Determination, people are still talking about “resource control” and ethnic minority-majority dichotomy politics, or even confederation of Nigeria, and the inane concept such as “making Nigeria better.” We should be past all that: we are past all that. Nigeria will never smell anything more than it smells now—its own stinky self. The Middle Belt should be looking to exercise their Self Determination rights leading them to an independent sovereign nation—if they so choose, for it is their choice. Ditto, Arewa. Ditto, Oodua. The Niger Delta had always wanted out of Nigeria: now is their chance to use the principles and power of Self Determination to accomplish that, an Independent Sovereign Delta Nation. The Igbo nation can and will have their Biafra using the same Self Determination workings; a Self-Determined Biafra can and may only include Self-Determined nations willing to participate, otherwise, the Igbo nation is content alone as Biafra. Self Determination is for every group. In fact, the Bakassi have now turned to Self Determination to rescue their land and nation from the unconscionable, unfathomable wickedness of Nigeria and the likes of Nigeria's Gowon and Obasanjo and their Cameroonian accomplices.
One thing is certain: Nigeria can never be, though some try in vain to prove otherwise, and in so doing, only subject all to more gratuitous misery. Self-Determined Nationhood beckons us all. This is the only true basis for mutually acceptable and consenting inter-national relationships—the type that allows for peace, progress and prosperity within borders and without. Along the way, or perhaps before we move to that natural rhythm, we need to clear our conscience of excess baggage –following the example of the Middle Belt youths. Only thus can we claim and multiply the goodwill necessary to respect without question the right of each ethnic nation to be in complete charge of its own natural sovereignty and national Destiny. We salute the Middle Belt youths.
Oguchi Nkwocha, MD
By Osita Ebiem
The life that can be considered as truly fulfilled whether private or public, is only that which has been lived according to what it believed in. It does not matter how much material acquisition or the number of trophies and laurels that have been accumulated, in the end true life's successes are only measured by whether we believed in something or not, have we lived according to our persuasion. A truly successful life is that which believes in something enough to live or die for that thing. As individuals and as a people of Igbo/Biafra you must stand for something or you would not be considered as worthy of the space that you occupy on Earth. The totality of a people's culture comes from the experiences they have passed through. Collectively and individually the Igbo/Biafra people went through a very far reaching experience that would stretch on till the end of time and, that must continue to guide and inform the way we believe and act as individuals and as a people forever.
It is through conducting our affairs as riding the crests of this constantly nagging echo of that horrifying period of our history can we claim to have evolved as a people in the comity of human beings. Because it is only by the conscious, deliberate and constant reference through reasoning and instinct rather than chance to our past experiences shall we be able to progress and go from one level of development to the next. What we mean here is, if we had fallen into any booby trap travelling on a path as a people we must be able to reflect and analyze when, where, how and why so that we don't get caught in the same web the next time. Like a people riding the tiger we cannot afford any careless moment or become less vigilant at any time. Moreover, we must effectively dismantle those sources of our hurt and act so consciously and methodically and effectively to sanction those responsible for our pain such that the next time not only would they not try to harm us but they would never have the ability to contemplate it in their mind. That is to say that after we would have understood every aspect of the enemy's snares through serious study then we must effectively dislodge and demobilize, ahead of time before they can pose any danger, all of the enemy's fangs and subtle deceptions. This can easily be done by knowing who your enemy is and reading and interpreting correctly his every move. Igbo/Biafran politicians and leaders must wake up to this all important leadership responsibility.
Nigeria's Genocide on the people of Biafra starting from 1945 in Jos, 1953 in Kano and, 1966 till the present time as we write this must serve to persuade all our conducts, policies, decisions and utterances as private or public individuals and groups. In the recent time a few things have happened that have necessitated us to re-emphasis and remind us of our collective and individuals' responsibility to guard vigilantly the sanctity of this our common-ownership – the Biafran Genocide. Every Igbo/Biafran no matter their place in life must constantly be reminded that none of us can afford to forget at any moment as we act or say things or deal with people or conduct businesses with those who would want to kill us and those who actually did as if they never did anything wrong against us or any human being anywhere for that matter. These people did everything wrong and must be told so and dealt with in that light. This point is necessary to heed because it would not only help in the survival of our people and Homeland but also for the sake of the survival of humanity here on Earth. Any crime against humanity must not be ignored or taken lightly. People must constantly keep it in view and keep asking questions and demand for answers.
We shall illustrate this discussion with the recent unwholesome behavior and wholesale betrayal of the people's trust of one of our governors. The Governor of Imo State Rochas Okorocha received Yakubu Gowon in Owerri recently. The man Gowon is the same person who headed Nigeria's genocidal squad against Biafrans about 44 years ago. (http://www.imostate.gov.ng/news/920) The most disturbing thing about Okorocha's meeting with Gowon the evil murderer of Igbo/Biafrans is that the Governor acted not in the spirit or in the interest and dignity of the Igbo nation; he was not like the person we have come to respect in him and in other Igbo men and women. On this occasion while dealing with Gowon, Okorocha let all his guards down and at the same time those of all Igbo people whom he represents. The Governor without shame acted as if the Igbo people of Imo State were so needy today such that they are no more dignified enough to differentiate from whom to accept favors. Should the Igbo nation descend to so low a gutter level and accept medical assistance to cure malaria from the man who murdered 3.1 million of their children, women and men and up till today never said sorry? Such an act meets all the description of shamelessly taking a knowingly poisoned food from a monster. We, all Igbo people had expected that the Governor should have looked this killer of Igbo unborn and suckling babies and their mothers in the eyes and told him no thanks for his poisoned gifts. Like Samuel to Saul, Okorocha should have told him that Igbo people do not take “gifts” from just about anyone, at least not from an unrepentant killer monster like him.
The Igbo of today and always have pride. Let the Governor and his people tell Gowon the murderer that he should go stuff his medicine and gifts in his anus in hell because that is where murderers of little babies who do not say sorry go to. The Igbo people of Imo State will not give Gowon any such opportunity to show himself in the light of those who are doing good and charitable works around the world. He does not and can never belong in that class. The people of Imo state should remind that head of the Nigerian Genocide squad that it is still the same people who between 1967 and 1970 he refused access to food and medicines sent to them by the Red Cross, Caritas and other charitable organizations that would have helped them at their neediest moment. Remind Gowon that he was so heartless that even after the so-called end of the war he Gowon would still not let Imo state people and other Igbo/Biafrans receive the needed medicines and food sent to them by the good people of the world. Go check it out, Jimmy Carter of United States that he wants to imitate is not a murderer but Gowon and Obasanjo of Nigeria are murderers who have not regretted the Biafran Genocide which they executed. And as if that was not insulting enough in Governor Okorocha's unforgivable political and diplomatic misstep, he went on to request that Gowon the murderer of Igbo/Biafra people participate in General Ojukwu's burial. What was Okorocha thinking? What the Governor was saying in essence is that the murderer should come to dance on the grave of his victim. Let the reader think of it, can anything be more abominable than that? The Igbo/Biafran nation cannot accept such a disgust and sacrilege.
Biafran Genocide is so important in the history of the whole world and strikes at the very core of humanity's individual and collective existence such that we can only ignore the desecration or careless handling of that sacred history to our certain damnation.
In the same vein we recall to mind the man Kunle Adegoke, a solicitor and advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria with Phone number: 234-802-333-7003 who about two weeks ago had boasted so brazenly that he with other Nigerians would wipe out Igbo/Biafrans off the face of the Earth. This is what he said exactly in his own words; “If they [the Igbo] attempt the same thing again, we shall wipe them off the surface of the earth. Ebi loko yin (starvation is your [their] albatross).” When there was a wide outcry against such display of callous insensitivity from this potential Nigerian ethnic/religious cleanser of Igbo/Biafrans (his email address reads firstname.lastname@example.org he is also an Islamic terrorist. That makes him even more dangerous) he came back to apologize because he said that among his clients he has as many Igbo/Biafran clients as Nigerians. Now the question is why would any Igbo/Biafran person still patronize the man who would kill them and everyone of their people and wipe out their memory off this world? Was it not Awolowo of Nigeria who had said when talking about the same Biafran Genocide that hunger is a legitimate instrument of war and that they would not feed their enemy so that they can have strength to fight back? But the reader must bear in mind that the “enemy” that Awolowo was referring to were mere defenseless civilian babies, children, women and men of Biafra. Think about it. Now why should any Igbo/Biafra people continue to patronize this Adegoke so that he can have enough money to acquire the weapons with which to murder Biafrans en mass as he has threatened? No community or individuals should continue to patronize and encourage persons and businesses that do not have their good interest at heart. It is morally wrong to do so.
IT is a normal thing to see in the media of the sweet eulogy on the passage of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu by both friends and enemies alike, even those who had for long wished him dead.
If he were alive, he would know that, among those in friends’ clothing lie enemy wolves. He was a man who defied any classification, gadfly to the oppressors and a sight of hope to the oppressed.
No wonder at just 11 years old he made headlines when he fought a colonial teacher at his school, Kings College, Lagos, for degrading a black woman. He was a man with so much hatred for injustice, oppression and imbalance.
It has always been said that Biafrans fought a secessionist war with Nigeria but it was the other way round. Ojukwu in a series of interviews during and after the civil war, always reminded us that it was Nigeria that declared war on Biafrans and not the other way round.
Before the war, there were dangerous issues that the then Nigerian government, led by Gen. Yakubu Gowon, which by actions and inactions showed that the government was unwilling to solve them.
There is an Igbo adage that says ‘an adult cannot be at home and watch the goat deliver with rope round its neck.’ Obviously, Ojukwu didn’t want to be the first adult to watch goats do that; he had to take protective charge of his people.
The experience of three harrowing waves of remorseless genocide of eastern Nigerians residing in the North in 1945, 1953, and 1966 where nearly 40,000 Igbos were killed and countless others made destitute is no doubt what gave rise to the quest for a separate and safer entity by Biafrans.
There was a lot of discriminations and marginalisation of easterners immediately after the counter-coup of 1966, which also created a sense of alienation in the minds of the Igbo, together with a frightening level of insecurity under the Nigerian government, which led to natural response of self-defence.
We are yet to see if the failure of Biafrans to secede has brought success to the Nigerian federation. If Nigeria is far worse off today than in thev1960s then Biafrans were right and far-sighted to have made the move.
There is discontent in all the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria today. Problems ranging from inequitable distribution of oil wealth, to cravings by some religious zealots to impose their faith on others and unprecedented corruption in public offices, all in the same system.
The Aburi agreement, if it had been implemented, would have averted all these ills that are eating Nigeria like cancer. Gowon repudiated the Aburi accord he willingly entered into and watched over the near extermination of the Igbo nation and the subsequent confiscation of their hard-earned property. Looking around Nigeria today, it would be noticed that not only does the killing of Ndigbo continue, but also those that ganged up against Biafrans are killing themselves.
How can one explain the massacre going on between Plateau people and their Hausa-Fulani neighbours? There is a lot of imbalance and betrayal in Nigeria today than before the Biafran war. The Almajiris (Boko Haram) of the North, OPC of the West, MASSOB of the East and militants of the Niger Delta are all evidence that the 1914 amalgamation of variegated groups in Nigeria was an intentional error of the British.
A diversified people like Nigeria, that should be growing together with the passage of time, are growing dangerously apart and widening their differences. Insecurity is worse today in comparison to Nigeria of the 1960s. ‘The name Biafra was given to an area that once gave hope to our people, and made them know, and got them fixed on an access, when you start fleeing, once you cross unto this area named Biafra, you are home.’
This statement by Odumegwu Ojukwu encapsulated the reason and purpose of Biafra’s creation. The Biafran project failed, Nigeria became one again, but today Nigeria is a larger, insecure entity riddled with leadership without any purpose and direction, which further deepens and compounds our woes.
Most Nigerians, especially scholars believe that Nigeria was programmed by imperialist Britain to fail as a state, but I believe that if the Nigerian-Biafran war had not started on the of July 6, 1967, it would still have come on a later date. It is saddening to know today that the war experience has not made any impact on the way of governance in Nigeria.
The successive suffocative governments we have had have made secessionism an ideal option to millions of Nigerians in this 21st century. Division was supposed to belong to the history of Nigeria, but it is rather unfortunate that it is still a topical issue with millions more of Nigerians (non-Igbos inclusive) seeing it as the only option in escaping this problematic British-arranged union.
Whether Nigeria would have been better or worse off today if Biafra had succeeded is only in the thoughts of a people failed by their government.
Source: The Moment, 23rd December 2011.
By Tony Nwankwo
Tributes for Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, will be long lasting, he was larger than life. Even before his burial snippets of a challenge to the long dream of Ndigbo to aspire to the presidency of the country have come.
That resolve shows how lowly some from outside the Southeast rate the Igbo leadership to vie for the highest office in the land. To them, the Igbo can crown the king, but can never be king. The drama on Igbo leadership in the country, resides in the poor execution of a war, in which the opponent took advantage of poor preparation to defeat a universally acknowledged resourceful race.
After the first and second coups, none of which Igbo, as a people was mastermind, the enemy chose to eliminate a tribe they viewed as powerful and major threat to their dominion And the Igbo played into their hands.
After the Aburi, Ghana negotiations that failed, Ojukwu assembled prominent easterners through the Eastern Nigeria Constituent Assembly in Enugu. May, 27, 1967. At the occasion, he, as governor of the region, gave three options on the resolution of the crisis with Nigeria.
Ojukwu listed the options as follows: That the East remains in Nigeria, a painful option considering that mangled and dead bodies were being ferried by train to the East from the North, with pregnant women opened up and unborn babies slit in half.
The second option was that the East continues to drift in the Nigerian enterprise, irrespective of how long and how painful. A third and last option was to secede from Nigeria with a declaration of a sovereign state of Biafra. And there was a proviso: Should the Constituent Assembly accept the third and last option, “there is no power in Black Africa to subdue the East by force”, the governor had said.
In 1967, people were not as smart as today. When a soldier spoke, people believed. So people believed that actually the young state could defend itself from any outside aggression. But everyone later realised, it was propaganda, probably to frighten the enemy. And it backfired.
In my father’s compound in Port Harcourt in 1967, there were about 17 young and able bodied men who swore to defend the new sovereign nation. They went through trainings, in civil defence and later joined the Biafra army. The chant across the city was the same across the new nation: “Ojukwu give us gun to go and kill Gowon”, and they meant their song.
So one breezy Monday morning, the call to duty came. All 17 were ferried along with thousands others, by train to Enugu to confront Nigerian solders who had now declared war on the new nation. On arrival, they were moved into camp before deployment at the early fronts of the war around Nsukka.
On deployment, these young men, routing for action were handed blunt machetes that had been confiscated from the wharf in Port Harcourt. These were the weapons they were given to confront a well trained and better equipped Nigerian military force that had just seen action in the Congo. Till my father joined the Biafra Army as instructor, being a veteran of the Second Wold War and my family returned to Idima Abam, now in Abia State, none of the 17 returned alive.
Another miscalculation that sank the new state was the invasion of Bonny which eventually led to the collapse of Port Harcourt. It provided effective blockade by sea and fastened the death of the new nation. My elder sister, Nko, was a business woman living in Bonny with her family then.
Her account was that, very early one morning, a submarine accompanying a vessel that regularly called to lift crude oil owned by Shell Petroleum, suddenly surfaced from the high seas and directed its big guns on the island of Bonny.
The platoon of soldiers deployed there was overwhelmed by the attack, so while some died in the swamps struggling to escape, others simply disappeared. My sister was caught in the cross fire while preparing breakfast for her family.
That Biafra was sustained in bitter confrontation with Nigeria for 30 months resides in the courage and resilience of the Igbo, particularly after the other tribes in the region jumped ship. For instance, the initial gains by the Biafra Army to recover territories captured by Nigerian forces was executed with weapons captured from Nigerian troops themselves.
And then the legendary weapon of mass destruction, (WMD) Ogbunigwe that eventually prolonged the conflict was the ingenuity of Igbo engineers and others who, even to this day, are capable of re_enacting such feat, should duty again so call.
Like has been variously discussed, the Biafra conflict was a mismatch. The Igbo went to war unprepared. Nigerian soldiers that were already poised to eliminate the people took advantage of the secession call. At the end of hostilities they took hostages, even married women. They would have done more but for the Christian, General Yakubu Gowon.
Ojukwu meant well for the Igbo, but he hated opposition particularly from other Igbo leaders. For instance, I was at Government House, Umuahia, when former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, made peace between Ojukwu and Dr. Alex Ekwueme.
The two most powerful Igbo statesmen had been at daggers_drawn before the former governor decided to call a truce. Not only had the twosome been students at Kings College, Lagos together, they were classmates, but never saw eye to eye. They made peace that night at an age when they both had nothing further substantial to contribute to Igbo unity.
With Ojukwu gone, it may be difficult to interpret the Eze Igbo Gburugburu title. The title has since been bastardized across the land that some traditional rulers in Igbo land had to cry out. The Gburugburu angle was to distinguish from the crowd of Eze Igbos.
The Biafra experience should teach leaders to exercise restraint and think through a project like secession before jumping into major conflicts, particularly those that can involve human lives. One agrees that Nigeria declared war on the new nation, but they used the secession bid to justify their action.
By Osita Ebiem
The language is plain enough for all to understand what Biafran advocates want but it seems like some people still fail to comprehend it. For those who fail to get the message it may bear repeating over and over again. We, Biafrans want a clean-cut separation from Nigeria; free, independent and sovereign state, doing our own things our own way. That is simple enough and it is the language of self actualization, Self Determination and that is the language we speak. Some people seem to feel uncomfortable, even disappointed with that but we actually careless about those people's feelings. We are the ones who are hurting from our continued association with Nigeria and are knowledgeable enough to know what is good for us and our children and we have made our choice. Sometimes we feel that some people fail to understand our message not because it is not plain enough but because for so long most people have come to expect to be entertained or just “educated” with the story of a Biafra that once was. So in that way these people feel more comfortable with just reading or learning for mere entertainment or academic exercise rather than reading for inspiration and resolving to take personal responsibility. For such ones they would rather that all talks about Biafra stop at talking of what could have been or about the old glories and accomplishments of Biafra while she lasted. But the truth is that Biafra Story cannot stop at mere historical rhetoric and nostalgia. Nothing can be more sacrilegious than that. There was Genocide and it is still on-going. 3.1 million Igbo/Biafrans were murdered by Nigeria and Nigerians. So, who wants to be regaled and entertained with such horror? Such story can only call for moral and conscientious action from all readers and hearers.
Biafra advocates have no reason to stop short of asking the readers to take up arms of every kind to fight against the Nigerian state so as to free Biafra and her people from the unnecessary entrapment in the noxious one-Nigeria. Some have even argued that we should wait and that somehow when Nigeria disintegrates then every part of the demonic union can go its own separate way just like that. But the question is why waiting for what you can have now. Without meaning to sound cliché, every delayed justice will always be equated with one that is denied. There is no Biafra advocate who is interested in any idle gawker who just wants to watch and sometimes squirm in “pity” at the misfortunes of others. Biafra advocates are not out to entertain any reader. The Biafran Story is too sad to serve that purpose. Genocide is involved and no sane person will be talking about the unjust murder of 3.1 million children, women and men and expect to leave the hearers refreshed and made comfortable, then go home and have sweet dreams. No, every reader is expected to become active in this fight against Nigeria to obtain justice for those murdered human beings. It is only a sadist who would remain indifferent or worse still just feel warmed and “educated” and still do nothing actively to right the wrong done to Biafra and Biafrans. We therefore implore all to get involved because we are all members of the same one-world community.
Considering the enormity and gravity of this genocidal crime it tends to beat the imagination of how some of the direct victims of the heinous crime have erroneously tried to equate their cowardice in the face of this injustice with “education and civility”. But Biafra advocates are educated and civilized enough to know the difference. They know the difference between the courageous and sincere willingness to solve a problem and the exhibition of mere infantile eagerness to appease those who are browbeating you into thinking and acting according to their pleasure at the pain and suffering of our people which is as a result of remaining any additional second in Nigeria. It does not matter how highly or lowly placed you are, every person of Igbo/Biafran extraction had been and is still being affected by Nigeria's evil and unconscionable destruction of Igbo/Biafra's future and you can and should fight back in every way that you can both individually and collectively. Those in politics and positions of leadership must show boldness, wisdom and leadership. They must champion the lead to take their people out of the one-Nigerian entrapment. It is their moral duty as leaders of the people. They should advocate through legislations, negotiations and through all other means. This is the era of Self Determination. South Sudan just did that. The rest of the world is waiting for Biafra and the time is now.
Genuine Biafra advocates are not fussy and will not leave you guessing as to what they want. All advocates for Biafra are honest and sincere and will not talk about a confederating or any “true federal” Nigeria because they know that such is cowardice, half-measures and outright stupidity. Why should anyone federate with peoples with whom they cannot see eye to eye or whose world view is a world apart from theirs? It is nothing short of intellectual cowardice. Such is not different from what General Emeka Ojukwu, Joe Achuzie and some others who fought for Biafra and later seem to be capitulating and apologizing by their words and actions in trying so hard to convince Nigerians that they never meant to break up Nigeria. Such people scandalously will want to convince the people that they are trying to reintegrate Igbo/Biafrans into the Nigerian polity. But who wants to be integrated into an abomination anyway? We want to break up Nigeria. It is that simple. Nigeria has no merit of existence, having killed so much of our people. Biafra has always and will always want to break away from Nigeria.
The pathetic Nigerian apologists claim they were pushed to secede from Nigeria because of the pogrom visited on their people in 1966. What a lame excuse and one that smells of cowardice. That is nothing short of saying sorry to Nigeria for killing Igbo/Biafra people without any justification. True Biafrans will never entertain such absurd sacrilege and unforgivable stupidity. There will never come a day that Biafrans will be sorry for leaving Nigeria. The decision was deliberate in the sense that the abhorrent event of 1966 where the government and people of Nigeria deliberately murdered tens of thousands of Igbo/Biafran people happened and, the people chose to go away from Nigeria in an act of deliberate Self Determination and that decision is final and forever and can neither be regretted nor reversed. For the sake of those who choose to remain in perpetual confusion it will be necessary to let them know that the truce is over. The truce between Biafra and Nigeria that lasted from 1970 ended some ten years ago and we are well on our way to regaining our sovereignty as free and independent Biafra and Biafrans. Therefore, no one needs remain in doubt as to what Biafra advocates want: We want out of Nigeria. We are not interested in any form of confederacy or any such thing. When we talk of restructuring Nigeria we mean a complete break-up of the union, or at least we the Biafrans want to opt out of Nigeria and be separated as an independent and sovereign nation. We have no interest in any kind of “weak or strong center” of a Nigeria that we are part of. That is what we need and we are neither ashamed nor sorry for wanting that, it is our wish and our right and we feel very proud of Biafra.
On December 7, 2011 ·
By Bashir Adefaka
Justice Paul Nwokedi, pioneer Chairman, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), former Chief Judge of Anambra State and retired Judge of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, played a major role in the defunct Republic of Biafra as Administrator, Awka Province. Working with a protective army rank of lieutenant colonel at that time, he joined late Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu in most of the struggles before it all ended in 1970.
The retired jurist, who had a stop over in Lagos on his return from a medical break in the United States, spoke to Vanguard. Excerpts:
You were Administrator of Awka Province in Biafra. What is your own account of that era?
Ojukwu, as against what many say, was a man with kind heart. The Civil War was just an unfortunate development because nobody liked the war. But in a situation where the Ibos were being attacked and killed all over Nigeria, in most indescribable manner, you don’t expect more or less than attempt by people to defend themselves and that was what happened.
Ojukwu went into that war to defend himself and liberate the Ibos from the outrageous attacks and killings. That was what happened. The Civil War fought by the late hero was a fight to defend, he didn’t start the war.
What exactly was this issue of one Japan too much for Europe when talking about Biafra?
I can’t remember that much but I can only remember that we were sent on a mission abroad and when we got to Bulgaria or somewhere in Europe, we had a meeting to solicit support for Biafra. At the meeting they said if they support Biafra, it would mean the emergence of another Japan and that one Japan was already too much for Europe and so, that they could not afford to support Biafra and that they would rather support Nigeria.
By that they were equating Biafra to Japan because they already saw the potentials for Biafra to emerge as big as Japan if they succeeded in seceding out of Nigeria and they said it would be too much for Europe if it happened. That was it.
What was the nature of your relationship with late Odumegwu Ojukwu’s Biafran regime and how did you become a lieutenant colonel in the now defunct republic?
As an administrator, governing Awka Province, I was meant to play an army role and so I was given the protective rank of lieutenant colonel. It was a political office quite alright but it was also meant to play army role and so they felt the best way to support that office like others was to give the administrator the protective rank, which I was given.
How did you start out together with Ojukwu?
We all started out in Lagos. Ojukwu attended King’s College and I went to St. Gregory’s College. We were all friends but he was best of friend to my brother, the late Igwe Charles Nwokedi and that was the relationship.
How would you describe human rights under Abacha, Obasanjo and now?
I have not participated in national activities for quite sometimes now and so I leave comment on that to those in the system.
As Chairman, National Human Rights Commissioner that you pioneered, you were alleged to have turned your eyes to the other side while the Head of State, General Sani Abacha was busy abusing the rights of many. What is your take on that?
Do you have one example to show? Just produce one example of one person, whose rights was being abused by the Head of State and I turned my eyes away from it. Then I will be able to give my comment. As far I am concerned, I am hearing this from you for the first time and so I am not aware of that during my time.
Just for the record, I happened to be the first chairman to steer the affairs of the National Human Rights Commission under the Abacha regime. When I was there, a human rights delegation visited me and they told me that I was appointed by Abacha and that their fear was that I was going to be pro-Abacha.
I then asked them if the Chief Judge of Britain was not appointed by the Prime Minister of the country that did that mean the chief judge would not support the Prime Minister? They answered no. I said, “Well, I am here for the truth and nothing but the truth and that no matter who you are, what I would do I must do.” And the delegation went back to meet Abacha and told him that he had got the right person to head the National Human Rights Commission.
On his own side, General Abacha invited me and asked what I needed and I said nothing. Abacha wanted to give me oil well but for what reason should I sell my conscience for the good of this world which was going to be temporary?
Rejection of oil well offer
I rejected the oil well offer by Abacha. As a matter of fact, I never enriched myself by virtue of the many positions I had served in this country, not even as Judge of East Central State or Chief Judge of Anambra State or Judge of the Supreme Court. I went in there not a rich man and I came out of the place exactly the way I was when I went in.
How did you become a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria?
I had practiced Law for about 17 years or so and I was appointed a Judge of East Central State when they were trying to reorganize Nigeria. Then when the East Central State was split into Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo, I was made Chief Judge of Anambra. According to them, in Enugu, they had their independence (laughs). It was later I was nominated and accepted as Supreme Court Justice.
You went straight to the Supreme Court, skipping the Court of Appeal?
I didn’t have to got to the Court of Appeal because my judgments were thee to bear witness… Particularly, your records as a Judge were very important at that time and so, from Chief Judge of Anambra State I became a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
As a matter of fact, when I was told to go to the Supreme Court, I protested but they said; look, man, we have left you here because Anambra area was very notorious for justice but now we want to show the world; we have seen the appeals and we have seen the sort of work you have done and so we are satisfied that you should be there. That was how I went to Supreme Court.
What was your attitude to justice delivery as a judge in your days at the bench?
It didn’t matter to me who you were,. Even whether you were my mother or my father, I would deliver my judgment. Whether you were related to me or you were a friend or enemy, it didn’t mean anything to me. I delivered my judgments, straight and clear.
Source: Vanguard, 7th December 2011.