What is fuelling neo-Biafran agitation in Nigeria’s southeast?
By Onyemaechi F.E. Ogbunwezeh - published 3 January 2022
Over 50 years ago, Nigeria was torn apart by a civil war, which pitted the Nigerian federal government against “Biafra”, a breakaway republic in the country’s southeast dominated by the Igbo ethnic group. The shocking brutality of the war would prefigure the many conflicts to come in postcolonial Africa. By the time Nigerian federal forces emerged victorious in 1970, over three million people had died.
Today, southeastern Nigeria is witnessing a resurgence of agitation in the name of “Biafra”. Led by a mystical figure named Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, a movement calling itself “the Indigenous People of Biafra” (IPOB) has begun calling for Biafran independence. And the federal government is responding as it did in the past: with repression and military force. This time, however, the neo-Biafran secessionist movement comes at a time when insecurity, discontent, and ethnoreligious conflict is at an all-time high across Nigeria, a situation that the federal government appears helpless or unwilling to resolve.
What is driving this new movement for Biafra? And what will the consequences be if the federal government responds to it with nothing but repression?
Nigeria gained independence from Britain in 1960 and was immediately plunged into a series of crises. A disputed population census in 1962 was followed by a disputed national election in 1964. The latter led to inter-party hostilities and intra-party infighting in Western Nigeria, and law and order began to break down. A group of young Igbo military officers, apprehensive of where the country was headed, seized power in a bloody military coup that killed off the crème de la crème of Nigeria’s politicians, who came mainly from the country’s Muslim-majority north.
Igbo secession sparks war
Nigeria never recovered from this fateful move. A July 1966 counter-coup led by mainly northern officers eliminated the military’s Igbo officers in a bloody purge, and led to a pogrom in which over 50,000 Igbos living in northern Nigeria were killed. Feeling hated, rejected, and boxed in by a nation whose construction they had contributed a great deal to, the Igbo retreated to Eastern Nigeria and declared themselves independent. This attempted secession by Biafra led to a civil war which reconfigured the power equation in Nigeria and laid the groundwork for the country’s present crises.
Before the civil war, Nigerian unity rested on a precarious balance of power among the three dominant ethnic nationalities: the Hausa/Fulani in the north, the Igbo in the east and the Yoruba in the west. The Igbo, being what Amy Chua would describe as a market-dominant minority,[i] were the most diffused across the length and breadth of Nigeria. They were found across the spectrum of life and trade, living among diverse Nigerian peoples, tribes, tongues, and ethnonationalities. They were in the commanding heights of industry, the army, and business. They were to lose these positions after the counter-coup.
During the war, the Igbos were at the mercy of Nigerian military power. The Nigerian government’s embargo of Biafra led to immense suffering - many Igbo women and children died from Kwashiorkor, a severe form of malnutrition caused by protein deficiency.
At the close of the war, Nigeria’s leaders declared that there would be “no victor and no vanquished” in post-war Nigeria. But the victors knew who they were and behaved as such. The Biafrans’ wealth was eviscerated by government policy; each Biafran was given 20 Nigerian pounds to restart their lives, regardless of whether they had had huge reserves in the banks prior to the war. In addition, the government introduced an “indigenisation” decree, which was presented as a way to appropriate formerly British-owned companies and sell them to Nigerian shareholders. In reality, Nigeria’s Yoruba minister of finance, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, used this policy to help Yorubas corner Nigeria´s choice businesses. In one swoop, Nigerian economic might was transferred from the Igbos to the Yorubas.
Political marginalisation of Igbos
The Igbos were also marginalised politically. The Igbo today believe that it was no historical accident that successive Nigerian governments decided to “confine Ndigbo [the Igbo people] to five states in Nigeria, with only 95 out of the 774 local government areas of Nigeria, thereby reducing structurally an ethnic nationality which constitutes about 40% of the country’s population to the status of minorities”.[ii]
In sum, the Igbo defeat in the war reduced their importance in the scheme of Nigerian socio-political and economic life. The war wiped out their savings, killed off the flower of their youth, and left their land devastated and their collective psyche traumatised.
The end of the war coincided with the oil-boom of the 1970s. The rush of petrodollars hijacked the trajectory of Nigerian development and incited the outright pilfering of state resources by an elite which was endowed with the avarice of colonial masters, but this time had a black face. Few plans were made to manage this windfall for the benefit of Nigeria’s skyrocketing population, or the education and employment of its growing ranks of young people. When oil prices, inevitably, fell in the world market in the early and late 80s, Nigeria reeled. The standard of living fell and inflation soared. In these conditions, Nigeria became an ecosystem of crime, corruption and violence. As the population continued to grow, the country amassed an army of youths, who were increasingly disaffected in a country that offered them no chance, no perspective for the future, and no opportunities to actualise themselves.
The Igbo, being a market-dominant and entrepreneurial group, were hit hard by the protracted economic crisis. Their enterprising spirit was heavily circumscribed by those lack of opportunities, leaving them at the mercy of the events. Igbos left Nigeria in droves, in search of greener pastures. The majority stayed home, hungry, angry and forlorn.
Ethno-religious conflict fuels secessionist movement
Two factors have helped crystallise this decades-long discontent among the Igbo into a neo-secessionist movement with a real following: the threat posed by the fearsome rise of other armed groups in Nigeria, and the election of a divisive, polarising president who is widely seen as favouring his ethnic kinsmen in conflicts involving those armed groups.
Since 2011, Nigeria has been plagued by widespread violence, insecurity, and ethno-religious conflicts bordering on genocide. Boko Haram has made a wasteland of northeastern Nigeria. Fulani herdsmen militias have been waging an unceasing campaign, executed with genocidal fury and vigour, to cleanse the Middle Belt of its Christians and minorities. More recently, these Fulani militias have begun to attack communities in Nigeria’s southwest as well. Despite this violence, Nigeria’s southeast has been a cocoon of peace. It is only in 2021 that this climate of fear and violence reached the southeast.
In 2015, at the height of the Boko Haram insurgency, Muhammadu Buhari, a northern Fulani Muslim and former military dictator of the country, was elected president after running on an anti-corruption platform. Buhari defeated the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the Niger Delta, in an election campaign whose bile and bitterness laid bare Nigeria’s unhealed ethno-religious fault-lines. Buhari used Islamic dog whistles in his campaign rhetoric to mobilise the Muslim vote against Jonathan. This frightened the southern Christians, especially the Igbos.
Buhari’s governance style has not been much better. In defiance of Nigeria’s “federal character”, a principle that dictates an even distribution of governmental posts between ethnic and religious groups, Buhari has skewed appointments in federal offices to favour northern Muslims. He hounded the Christian chief justice of the Federation out of office and replaced him with a northern Muslim, thereby ensuring that for the first time in Nigerian history, the three arms of the Nigerian federal government are headed by Muslims. He has also been variously accused of proffering only stoic silence in response to the killings of Middle Belt Christians and minorities by Fulani herdsmen because they are his kinsmen. The patent failure of Buhari to take any measures to effectively stop these attacks gives these accusations potency. On one occasion, President Buhari scorned Nigeria’s southeast as a region that “gave me 5%” of its vote.
Emergence of Nnamdi Kanu
Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB, appeared on the scene in 2012, with a separatist message of restoring Biafra as the only way for the Igbo to gain relevance, self-respect and economic uhuru (freedom). From the Peckham neighbourhood of London, Kanu’s “Radio Biafra” broadcasts attacks on the Nigerian state for the marginalisation, injustice, and lack of opportunities Kanu claims the Igbos have been subjected to in Nigeria since the civil war.
The ground was fertile for this message, especially among unemployed Igbo youth, who did not witness the savagery and carnage of the civil war but who are now keen to assert their place in the scheme of things in Nigeria, or die trying.
In its messaging, IPOB plays on Igbo nostalgia for their pre-war status, the trauma and the injustice of the war against them, their wounded pride at having lost a war, and the lack of opportunities open to them in Nigeria, which they attribute to a huge Hausa-Fulani conspiracy to dominate the state. IPOB’s narrative portrays the Igbo as an enterprising people, hemmed in all on sides by the wickedness of their enemies. In this narrative, the Fulani is a bogeyman, the source of all the Igbos’ troubles. IPOB also deploys a curious syncretic medley of Judaeo-Christian elements and neo-paganism. They regard the Igbos as the chosen people of Elohim.
During the first few years of Kanu’s campaign, his rhetoric was dismissed by most Igbo intellectuals as the diseased meanderings of a non-entity craving attention. But the Nigerian government took him very seriously. His rhetoric set off alarms at the top echelons of the Nigerian state and prompted it to reach for the military option - the favourite tool in its toolbox - to crush what it believes to be a major threat to Nigeria’s territorial integrity.
What catapulted IPOB into the mainstream, ironically, was the Buhari administration’s decision to arrest Kanu in 2015, and arraign him on charges of sedition, ethnic incitement, and treasonable felony. The arrest was a boon for Kanu’s persecution narrative. More people, hitherto on the sidelines, began to empathise with him as Buhari’s government bungled his trials. Many started viewing him as a martyr for the Igbo cause, a garb he relished and advertised, and has been using to good effect to raise funds for his movement, especially in the Igbo diaspora.
After Kanu’s arraignment in 2016, he was granted bail with strict conditions by the Federal High Court in Abuja. He subsequently violated some of his bail conditions, and in September 2017, he was forced to flee when the army invaded his home in Afaraukwu in Umuahia, Abia State. He remained incommunicado for many months, only to reappear in Israel, and then went underground, where he revived Radio Biafra, and became more jingoistic, temperamental and totalitarian in his views and instructions to his followers. The Nigerian government proscribed IPOB as a terrorist organisation in 2017.
Radicalisation of Kanu and his followers
In early 2021, Kanu was arrested by Interpol in Kenya and handed over to the Nigerian government, after nearly four years on the run. The government subsequently rearraigned him, amended the charges against him, and is keeping him in custody as the trial continues.
Kanu’s arrest, trial, bail, and the subsequent invasion of his home, radicalised him and his followers. In response, they established the “Eastern Security Network” (ESN), the movement’s paramilitary wing. For IPOB and its supporters, the ESN was necessary to defend against the Fulani herdsmen’s campaign of slaughter stretching from central Nigeria to the southeast. The government, on the other hand, refuses to countenance non-state actors agglomerating enough firepower to stake a claim to any extra-legal legitimacy, or even begin carving out a territory or a state-within-a-state for itself.
To that end, since 22 January 2021, the Nigerian Army has been conducting military operations in southeastern Nigeria to crush the ESN. This new conflict has shattered the unique peace that the region enjoyed until this year. There are numerous reports of Nigerian army soldiers committing human rights violations in the course of that operation. Both local and international human rights organisations have reported human rights abuses perpetrated by both sides, and civilians and innocent bystanders have been caught in the crossfire.
After Kanu’s re-arrest, IPOB called for its supporters to strike for his release by staying at home every Monday. The ESN has taken on the role of enforcing these stay-at-home orders, with the result that ordinary life and economic activity has been semi-paralysed in parts of the southeast. On top of all that, the southeast is witnessing the new phenomenon of “unknown gunmen” - possibly ESN members - carrying out prison breaks and indiscriminate killings of civilians.
Risk of implosion
Nigeria was a country created out of over 250 ethnic nationalities by the British colonial masters. Immediately after it gained independence, boiling dissensions along ethnic lines, which British might and arms had kept in check, came to the surface. The infighting and power struggles between tribes and nationalities has never ceased. But today, Nigeria risks a very serious and dangerous implosion, if the government fails to rise to the occasion and address the issue fuelling these separatist agitations.
No matter how charitable or patriotic one’s view of the country is, it is difficult to avoid the verdict that Nigeria today is hovering on the brink of collapse. Afflicted by the messy afterlife of colonialism, Nigeria is at risk of imploding under the weight of its internal contradictions into a failed state. Whether IPOB is one of the many icebergs threatening to make Nigeria capsize, or a psy-op, deployed by the Nigerian government to eviscerate Igbo aspirations in Nigeria, is a legitimate question. But either way, Nigeria needs to start seeking answers to the angst and anger of its youths, if it is to forestall this fast descent.
If Nigeria fails, it will result in a deluge of blood and instability the likes of which the African continent has never seen. Ultimately, finding answers to the Nigerian predicament is an exercise in genocide prevention. If Nigeria fails, the Rwandan genocide will look like the antics of schoolboys by comparison.
Onyemaechi F.E. Ogbunwezeh, PhD, is Senior Research Fellow at Christian Solidarity International (CSI)
[i] Amy Chua- World on Fire; How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, London, Arrow Books, 2003
[ii] Chekwas Okorie, An address presented on the public presentation of the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA), at Enugu, 28th July, 2001, p.4
Joseph C. Onugwu Esq. (Tuesday, 05 April 2022 07:38)
Great piece Prof.
Quest for self determination, especially in the context of secession poses many challenges across various parts of the globe, including threat to peace and in many cases genocidal.
Although there may be ample examples of successful secessions through constitutional restructuring or consent from parent states, like the case of Eritrea from Ethopia, Bangladesh from Pakistan, or the separation of Singapore from Malaysia or Montenegro from the State Union of Serbia and Mentenegro which are more often referred to as devolution rather than seccession. That option is constitutionally difficult in Nigeria, and that may be a major reason for continued crises in our nation.
To achieve restructuring or otherwise alter the current federal arrangement of Nigeria is almost impossible.
A look at Section 9(2) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended, relating to the procedure for passing any bill seeking to alter the current constitional arrangement, provides that such proposals "shall not be passed in either House of the National Assembly unless the proposal is supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of all the members of that house and approved by resolutions of the Houses of Assembly of not less than two-thirds of all the states". In effect, about 24 states out of the 36 states of Nigeria,
in addition to two-thirds majority of the National Assembly must give their consent before any "group" or "people's" seeking alteration of the existing federal arrangement can achieve that. This is obviously not intandem with the spirits of the rights to self determination, and opens so many doors to agitations in other forms. I believe that the best option for scholars is to continue advocating for a new democratic constition for Nigeria, made for the people by the people.
Nicole Koeck (Monday, 10 January 2022 09:37)
I enjoyed your insights, but: Let’s skip the praising paragraph! (You know how much I learned from you). In medias res:
I am still missing some questions – and answers - which play an important role here.
1. What are the underlying causes of the Biafran war?
Not going into details, as I am not an expert on post-colonial studies, but the remote causes of the Biafran war like differences in values, life style preferences (you mentioned the entrepreneurial spirit) etc. still seem to be present and strong. The ethnic tensions have been milder as long as the people did not suffer of economic challenges, but the decline in oil prices, and the climate change led to precarious financial situations for most Nigerians now. These awkward circumstances allow the sediments of troubles to come to surface again. This shows, the remote causes of these conflicts have never been solved.
2. Has the present government any interest in keep the nation together?
Since the tensions among the ethnic groups are deep rooted, providing different norms, social interpretation patterns and different concepts of life conduct, an easy solution seems not to be in sight. The present government does not show the will to change something, neglecting the peoples’ discontent. It only shows the government has the aim to stabilize the status quo, by pushing the economic interests of the established and dominant elite. I – as an outsider - can imagine what held Nigeria together in the past, such things as Independence from the Empire, Freedom or Common welfare. I cannot imagine what will hold Nigeria together in the future.
3. Is secession a solution?
You pointed out very extensively, how much the Igbo people suffered after they have tried to liberate themselves from the cage or box called Nigeria, how the present government still marginalizes the Igbos wherever it can, how it bends the rules when Igbos are killed, how the youth is suffering from the lack of opportunities.
No doubt, this is fertile soil for propaganda giving simple solutions for complex problems. Of course, Kanu should be criticized for his populism. For sure, a secession from Nigeria would cause a lot of difficulties, instabilities and calamities for Igbos, Nigerians, the whole continent. It could unleash the ugliest atrocities of men. History teaches us this will end in anomie and destruction.
And yet, is it nobler to stand the structural violence of everyday life, or to raise a storm of disaster and catastrophe, which genocide might be a certain part of?
Is there an alternative, a third way? I would like to propose the idea, that Nigeria could give an example for a peaceful overcoming of the heritage of colonialism, by giving itself another shape, in which ethnic groups could build their nations with their own political infrastructure and with autonomy. This would rather be a consensual separation than a violent secession.
To conclude, a secession like Kanu suggests it, is not a solution, he plays with fire by using all the propagandistic rhetoric he has in his caisson. But his initiatives could be a severe warning to the government, that it is time to alter the course.
Ezekwu, A. (Friday, 07 January 2022 07:03)
This is a beautifully and well articulated article. I cannot agree less with you that the Rwandan genocide would be a child's play if Nigeria fails to handle the growing agitation from IPOB carefully.
Unfortunately, Nigeria lacks progressive and development oriented leadership. Our leaders have been selfish and greedy. They lack vision for the country. Corruption and ethnicity have not helped the country. On the other hand, the misuse of religion especially in politics has added to the problems. However, achieving Biafra would be wonderful, but it would not solve the problem facing the citizens. The same corrupt people in Nigeria are also Biafrans. They're in the main markets of Onitsha, Aba, Enugu, etc., they are in our offices and hospitals, they are the workers and staff, they are the hawkers along the roads of Owerri and Abakaliki, they sell fuel, etc. At the slightest opportunity, they will steal from you and cheat you. It's the painful truth.
I believe that Nigeria can still be rescued from its pending collapse if the leaders agree to:
1. Restructure the country.
2. Practice true federalism.
3. Introduce "State Police."
4. Carry out massive education and re-orientation.
5. Build industries and create jobs to ameliorate the sufferings of the masses.
Once again, I really commend Dr. Ogbunweze for the beautiful and informative article.
Iyke Ekeocha (Tuesday, 04 January 2022 06:52)
Prof so this is your own way of saying "Happy New Year"
Well Chinua Achebe said the problem of Nigeria is that of leadership. Nigeria has never really had a leader. The closest we came was Goodluck Jonathan, who was rather too soft for me.
Nnamdi Kanu was doing his ranting on Radio Biafra even while Jonathan was in power. Buhari came in and made Nnamdi Kanu an instant Celebrity.
Nigeria may or may not implode today, but survive like it's presently structured is almost impossible.
Some scholars of Nigerian Politics believe that after the countercoup in 66, the North had intended to leave the Nigerian Union, but changed their mind after diplomats from US and UK pointed to them what they stood to gain.
Nigeria is actually sitting on a keg of gun powder, only a few understand this...
Nigeria needs a leader who can galvanized all the various parts well into one agreeable system. Achieving Biafra will hardly slove the issue.
Chibyke (Tuesday, 04 January 2022 02:42)
A Superlative article with a well delineated diagnosis of the fault-line issues which have metamorphosed into the monster we're contending today.
Coincidently, just last night I had an elaborate discussion on this with my neighbors with Buhari at the centre of the discourse.
Buhari has exacerbated the ethnic fragmentations in Nigeria with his polarizing and fissiparous leadership style, his conniving and culpable body language, exhibiting a tacit approval of the rampage and carnage perpetrated by his kinsmen coupled with the conspiracy of silence of the Northern Oligarchs.
Biafra remains an ideology and has become an intellectual construct among some individuals which would have long been buried had we a visionary and intelligent leader. But the Federal government in their manifest idiocy and grandstanding amplified the ego of Nnamdi Kanu, giving credence to his galvanizing agitation.
On his, Nnamdi Kanu's repatriation to Nigeria, I feel more comfortable describing it as an extraordinary rendition committed by the Nigerian State instead of viewing it as an arrest. The present Nigerian government runs a criminal enterprise.
Henry Uchenna Okwo (Monday, 03 January 2022 17:18)
1. No surprises.
Brilliant, and without equivocation.
Sadly, Prof., these are sores we would continue to revisit. How I wish your hankers are acceded to, so that we could go back to discussing Jean-Paul Satre's existentialism- we have to be on the earth for much more than talking about Nigeria's problems.
Well, for the dish we've been served, let's feast.
2. Prof., my problem with this problem (lol) is that we lack plausible alternatives. No alternative narratives, no alternative leadership and no alternative voices; whatever pretentious plausibility filling that void wins.
This is what Nnamdi Kanu has latched upon. He's success owes to these voids, and he's doing excellently well.
3. On narratives, permit me the mind of a Fulani. This narrative of a civil war feels like one the Igbos brought upon themselves. The narrative seems rather simplistic - "Do me I do you". The Igbos started it against the North and the North ended it- fair game.
While that was not true, we need to start telling this story a bit differently, with better nuance.
This civil war garb should not hang on our necks in perpetuity. I doubt the Fulani conquest of Hausa in the 1800s is told by Hausas with the same bile. I also do not hear Christians talk about Christianity as a product of horrendous crusaders and slave merchants. Yea, maybe time would heal our sores, but we have to stop scratching the itches. If we must go there, we need to do so with the care it requires.
We just need better stories. Better narratives.
Theatre art units from Usmanu Dan Fodio University, Sokoto to the University of Maiduguri in Borno need to portray the civil war no different from Abia State University, Uturu to University of Nigeria, Nsukka- as a painful event in our history that we all should come together to remember. Yea, we've got to mark that day collectively, as one nation. We cannot have a "lockdown remembrance" in the East, while the rest of the country jive with no subtle forgetfulness. This is a National Shame, one to be remembered by Nigeria and not just of the Igbos. The Igbos have to also understand that. The Igbos have to accept a Northerner who remembers and not take him as a white man who says "Nigga". We have to "forget". They also have to remember.
More, conflicts should be avoided, but when they occur, body counts should not be the metric of evaluation- a resolve for no more counts should. Jews don't live their lives waiting to hunt down Hitler's children- they've "forgotten" or lets say "forgiven".....and yea, Germans still atone for their past- the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin is symbolic of a Nation that remembers.
Nigeria has to remember, "Biafrans" have to forget or forgive. It shouldn't be the other way. It just shouldn't be.
If we do not start telling this story in a better way, Nnamdi Kanu's rhetoric would remain music to the ears of listeners of Radio Biafra.
4. On leadership, what else has to be said? Our political leaders are not different from the religious ones. They are all tried and true. They know only one or let's say two things- to plunder and divide. While both groups have been dealt carte blanche to "help" Nigerians, their spoils of trust are there for all to see. It is this void that Nnamdi Kanu has exploited.
He has come to help "Umu Elohim" and yea, "Umu Elohim" need help.
We need a leadership that feels this void.
5. On an alternative voice, beyond the staticism of historical narratives, we need voices who periodically help us remember what we must and forget what we should. It was Friedrich Nietzsche that helped us understand that staticism has its own undoings. History must be revisit to fit the times with the right socioeconomic, sociocultural and sociopolitical appropriations.
Prof., what you are doing is filling that vocal void. You are talking about these things, like a village town crier, calling us to the demands of the times, and we thank you.
We need more like you, if not, Nnamdi Kanu would pummel even the best narrative for his populist aim.
mehr Kraft für Ihren Ellenbogen, Prof.
I need to go back to this SPSS datasheet that is about getting me crazy.
Adaoma Jesu (Monday, 03 January 2022 10:35)
It's an interesting piece which I have read over and over again from other sources.
However, I thought there would have been a mention of a more meaningful movement of the Indigenous Nationalities that make up the contraption called Nigeria.
The movement I mean, is the Nigeria Indigenous Nationalities Alliance for Self Determination, NINAS, which has 3 blocs- The Lower Niger (SouthEast/SouthSouth Peoples), the Yoruba and the MiddleBelt blocs. They declared a Constitutional Force Majoure on the 16th December 2020. The reason for the CFM Declaration was because all the miseries and woes confronting every individual in Nigeria come from the social contract/constitution. The 1999Caliphate imposed constitution is worse than the Apartheid constitution of South Africa. It has 68 items on the exclusive list. It is not a democratic constitution which makes the Nigeria system a non Constitutional democracy!
NINAS movement is all about restoring the hijacked Sovereignties to the Indigenous Peoples. This hijack was done by the visiting and invading Fulanis by using the mechanism of the military imposed document called the 1999Caliphate constitution.These Indigenous Nationalities are today in a great Alliance without the Fulani who declared Sharia in the 12 contiguous states in the Northern Nigeria.
I personally don't believe in the restoration of Biafra by any individual or any organisation with no roadmaps/plans. NINAS is following the due process laid down by the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
I support the NINAS movement which will eventually lead to regional/ethnic Referendums, where individuals vote either to *stay or leave* the contraption called Nigeria.
Jide Williams (Monday, 03 January 2022 10:33)
Great read, very objective and constructive, devoid of any favoritism or bias of any sort towards any ethnic group or religious set up.
Marx Bayour (Monday, 03 January 2022 09:57)
The issue of the Nigerian Civil War is like that of a buried corpse that still has its feet exposed.
Until we, especially the Federal Government decide to face the truth listen to the cry of marginalisation by those who feel excluded on account of the clearly avoidable war; until a conversation is held, and an avenue to listen to grievances with a view to addressing them, is provided, and justice-induced reconciliation engendered, Nigeria will continue to try, albeit, fruitlessly, to run away from her dark shadow.
While the way Nnamdi Kanu's IPOB is going about it might be right, there must be genuine effort, never to allow a repeat of an (a divisive) administration like that of Buhari happen to Nigeria again.
Igbo elites must never allow a character like Kanu hijack the genuine agitation for justice that is embedded in the concept of Biafra, encapsulated in the famous "Ahiara Declaration".
Christian Schwietzke (Monday, 03 January 2022 07:32)
One thing I have taken away about Nigeria from our conversations is that Nigeria is an artificial entity created by Europeans, which forces very different ethnic groups to live together - an arrangement that causes nothing but grief to all those among these groups who are not currently in power. To me as an outside observer (admittedly one not as comprehensively informed as I would like) it would appear that breaking this artifical entity up would be part of the solution for that situation.
So I am curious: Do you think that Biafran separatism is a bad idea *as such* - or do you think that, given who currently champions it and how far the Nigerian government has gone and is determined to go to prevent it, it is doomed to failure and thus should not even be attempted?
Chidi (Monday, 03 January 2022 06:39)
A very good read, Prof! May your ink never run dry!
You really captured the predicaments of Biafrans. However, may I raise this curious question: why has subsequent groups of agitators for the realization of Biafra been convened by guys from the Imo State axis (MASSOB, IPOB, ESN)? These conveners (Uwazurike, KANU) emerged from nowhere and impose an authority not given them on the rest of us. They brainwash the gullible youths who do their biddings. Power is hijacked and our true leaders seem helpless. The Social contract theories of Thomas Hobbes, Jean J. Rousseau and John Locke have no place here.
Until the needful is done, I think theirs are efforts in futility as there's no structure in place to actualize their desires. How do these guys without structures believe they can achieve Biafra? Do they really believe they can succeed or are the conveners just out to enjoy their cheap popularity?
If Biafrans are really serious about the realization of Biafra, it has to be steered by the people we have social contracts with: our governors, senators, house of reps members, etc, and not by known impostors with their unknown gunmen.
Trudy Tamakloe (Monday, 03 January 2022 06:21)
The author has provided an insightful, informative overview of Nigeria's history including the role of colonialism and subsequent 'Independence' in the tribalism and destabilisation of the region since. This is a powerful, easy to read overview of the history and the predictations of the fate for Nigeria if this continues. It needs to be shared far and wide.
Danbala Garba (Monday, 03 January 2022 06:19)
A nice read. I agree with a large part of your analysis.
Steven Kefas (Monday, 03 January 2022 06:14)
This is a beautiful article indeed.
It captured the past, present and even the future realities of the entity called Nigeria with regards to the Southeast struggle for actualisation of Biafra.
One thing is certain and that is the fact that the events that instigated the 1967 Civil war are still prevalent today.
The injustice and marginalization of the Igbos gave birth to Nnamdi Kanu and whether we like it or not, more Nnamdi Kanu may emerge if justice is not given to the Igbos and other marginalised Nigerians.
MM Okorie (Monday, 03 January 2022 06:02)
This is a very urgent and expository take on the perils of the Nigerian-Igbo question, and a country where multiple non-state actors have rendered large swaths ungovernable.
The bottomline is that Nigeria needs to be renegotiated by the ethnic nations that make up its constituent parts through what Uchenna Okeja would call a process of “deliberative agency.” Nigerians must sit together and discuss the basis for their continued coexistence. It has to be based on justice and equity or it would continue to slide towards state failure.
Nigeria is unworkable, perhaps because it was not designed to; which is one of the high points of this article. It captures the toxic vestiges of colonialism as partly accounting for the country’s present rot. The world should take what is going on in Nigeria now seriously or it may have to deal with one of the worlds largest countries descending into unchecked violence and disorder.
Chijioke Ogbodo (Monday, 03 January 2022 05:51)
Well articulated and presented as always.
Well done, Prof.
Chuma Emeagui (Monday, 03 January 2022 05:38)
Another master piece from you, Doc.
Well chronicled historical facts of Nigeria socio-political experiences.
An unfortunate incident that has remained a reoccurring decimal and sadly, without any genuine intention from the powers that be to address the causes of the problem.
That said, may I crave your understanding that we begin to change the narrative that January, 1966 Nigeria coup was carried out by " A group of young Igbo military officers". I think it is wrong.
I have the feelings that this narrative has pitched the rest of Nigerians against NDI IGBO.
In absence of the foregoing, the piece is yet another brilliant expose from your rich knowledge of contemporary history of Nigeria. It is simply smart.
On this note, may i ask for your permission to share the article.
Thanks and may God's blessings never cease in your life.
Proud to know such brilliant and great treasure of Ndi igbo like you.
Chuma Emeagui ✍�
Uche Onwe (Monday, 03 January 2022 05:29)
A riveting read! Commendably, you were disinterested, in spite of your occasional fulminations with IPOB's social media inanities, besides being in-depth in your diagnosis of the ailments assailing Nigeria.
However, i don't see any paradigm shift in Buhari's modus operandi and if the Igbo are denied their claim to the presidency next year, I'm afraid, IPOB's rank will be swollen by the Igbo non-committal to its cause because it'll be glaring that the message of Nigeria being Igbo's existential threat as purveyed by IPOB is everything but a lie.
The only place you ignored, may be deliberately, is the need for the Igbo intelligentsia to galvanise themselves and take up the fight with some diplomatic fitness if IPOB's methods are considered crude to them. There's no room for sitting on the fence here by any Igbo because, home or abroad, we all have that nostalgic umbilical cord with our ancestral home, Igboland.