By Tersoo Achineku
When we sing the national anthem and hit the stanza with the words, the labor of our heroes past, shall never be in vain, I always chuckle. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Benedict Odiase had comedy in mind when he and his crew composed the anthem but let’s face it, the ghosts of our heroes would get the scare of their afterlives if they ever took a sneak peek at the current situation of their dear Nigeria.
A lot of articles have been written about the current hot topic of the Nigerian political scene, Biafra, and as such, I won’t bore you with the usual sitting-on-the-fence gobble-wobble that our dear opinion maestros have become known for. If you lack an open mind and about the political scene of the nation. Or you’re an unofficial fan of tribalism who can’t wait to play the ‘He’s overlooking us ’ card. Or you’re the type that has become addicted to the propaganda set off unconsciously by a Rick Ross lookalike. Then please, put to use the art of scrolling because this article is not for you.
With all protocols observed, I’d like to kick-off my extremely controversial but indisputably factual write up with an even more controversial and unnecessarily obnoxious sentence; The current Biafran Movement is a stupid idea that was borne out of selfish interests of a group of baboons who are willing to drag an innocent people into a war that to be frank, shouldn’t even be considered. Now let the fireworks begin.
The Mistake of Independence.
I’ll always say this, the Nigeria of 1960 was far from ready for independence. We weren’t. The worst part is, we were actually doing fine under the English. Whatever made the likes of Nnamdi Azikiwe to push for independence is purely political because the Nigeria of then ran smoother than the Nigeria of now. If you think I’m spewing manure ask an elder about the way of the Nigerian citizen under the rule of the Queen. There was sanity. There weren’t any religious madness like we have today. There was peace. Infrastructural development was at its peak (They’re the English for crying out loud). And if even there had been any looting, it wasn’t as pronounced nor did it have any significance. So there you have it, Peace. Religious tranquility and excellent infrastructure, all ingredients for smooth governance. So can someone please explain why in James Hardley Chase’s potbelly, did we need independence? Some people are quick to explain the perks of independence but it all boils down to the fact that we just wanted to run things our own way. The same way children want to start making their own decisions at 16. In the end what happened? An African version of Lord of The Flies. But that’s a controversy for another day.
With the English gone, Nigerians began to realize that we’d not just made a ginormous mistake, we’d shot ourselves in the balls while at it. We realized that our problem wasn’t that the English were ruling us. Our problem was that our people were too deep into tribalism to make any forward push on its own. With the English in power, the symptoms weren’t quite visible but with their exit, shit hit the fan really. If you want to argue, take a look at the three dominant parties of that time. The Nigerian People’s Congress (NPC) which really should have been called the Mallams Club. The National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) which might as well have been The Spare-parts Convention and finally, the Action Group (AG) A.K.A, we’re Yorubas, deal with it. The political scenery of Nigeria was already divided before the British left. Talk less, the ethnic scene. Now with this information, let’s now move forward to where the Biafran crack began.
Post-Independence and the Igbo Superman Complex
First off, let me say this, it’s wonderful to be opportunistic and all but everyone in class hates that one kid who reminds the teacher that he hasn’t collected homework.
That’s exactly the Igbo man’s nature. To be at the peak, to be the best. Excellence!
Accepted, this type of behavioral trait can come in handy, but not when the other tribes of the nation think you’re trying to overthrow their influence. And worst of all, the Igbos didn’t do anything to quell that misinterpretation.
So how did the Igbo man make himself the hated whiz-kid of the class?
The first real political power of the newly independent Nigeria was an Igbo man. Jaja Wachuku was the First Nigerian Speaker of the Nigerian Parliament – also called the “House of Representatives.” Jaja Wachuku replaced Sir Frederick Metcalfe of Britain. Notably, as First Speaker of the House, Wachuku received Nigeria’s Instrument of Independence – also known as Freedom Charter – on 1 October 1960, from Princess Alexandra of Kent, The Queen’s representative at the Nigerian independence ceremonies.
Granted, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, a Hausa man, was Nigeria’s first Prime Minister. But we were practicing a democracy, not a monarchy. In October 1963 Nigeria proclaimed itself the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and former Governor General Nnamdi Azikiwe became the country’s first President.
From the onset, Nigeria had been riddled with not just tribalistic differences, but political greed. And the innocent Igbos who were just trying to become pacesetters, unconsciously began to build up hate for itself.
The so called geeks, the Yoruba’s, probably kicked off the first event that marked the beginning of the civil war. In 1962, a faction arose within the AG under the leadership of Ladoke Akintola who had been selected as premier of the West. The Akintola faction argued that the Yoruba peoples were losing their pre-eminent position in business in Nigeria to people of the Igbo tribe because the Igbo-dominated NCNC was part of the governing coalition and the AG was not. The federal government Prime Minister, Balewa agreed with the Akintola faction and sought to have the AG join the government. The party leadership under Awolowo disagreed and replaced Akintola as premier of the West with one of their own supporters. However, when Western Region parliament met to approve this change, Akintola supporters in the parliament started a riot in the chambers of the parliament. Fighting between the members broke out. Chairs were thrown and one member grabbed the parliamentary Mace and wielded it like a weapon to attack the Speaker and other members. Eventually, the police with tear gas were required to quell the riot. In subsequent attempts to reconvene the Western parliament, similar disturbances broke out. Federal Government Prime Minister Balewa declared martial law in the Western Region and arrested Awolowo and other members of his faction charged them with treason. Akintola was appointed to head a coalition government in the Western Region. Thus, the AG was reduced to an opposition role in their own stronghold.
The AG was maneuvered out of control of the Western Region by the Federal Government and a new pro-government Yoruba party, the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), took over. Shortly afterward the AG opposition leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was imprisoned to be without foundation. The 1965 national election produced a major realignment of politics and a disputed result that set the country on the path to civil war. The dominant northern NPC went into a conservative alliance with the new Yoruba NNDP, leaving the Igbo NCNC to coalesce with the remnants of the AG in a progressive alliance. In the vote, widespread electoral fraud was alleged and riots erupted in the Yoruba West where heartlands of the AG discovered they had apparently elected pro-government NNDP representatives.
On 15 January 1966 a group of army officers (the Young Majors) mostly south-eastern Igbos, overthrew the NPC-NNDP government and assassinated the prime minister and the premiers of the northern and western regions.
The truth is that Nigeria really needed a military coup. The awful situation of things in the political sphere of the country was crying out for hero and the military was exactly what the doctor prescribed. When reports of a military coup filtered through the streets, there were celebrations. People threw parties for no reason and the nation was rejoicing……until everybody realized that the coup was engineered easterners including Chukwuma Nzeogwu, a no nonsense anti-corruption crusader who most importantly was, AN IGBO MAN. Despite the fact that Nzeogwu was an Igbo man and he’d spent half of his lifetime in the North and spoke fluent Hausa, all reasoning was thrown into the bin and shit hit the fan, literally.
The main icons of the coup, Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna and Chukwuma Nzeogwu, officially became the first dumbasses that sparked what will eventually become the Biafran Movement.
Strike Three. The rest is history. Anguiyi Ironsi, another Igbo man, will try to bring back balance with a countercoup and a unity crusade but will eventually be killed off in another military coup by Murtala Muhammed. Numerous Igbo people will be murdered in different parts of the nation, forcing the biggest ethnic exodus in Nigerian history.
Ojukwu and An Accord that was called Aburi.
I will say this, and I will continue to until the day that I die. Odumegwu Ojukwu didn’t do the Igbo nation any good with the decision to break out of Nigeria. Accepted, it was a last ditch effort to quell the mistakes of the first coup but there had to have been other ways. A lot of people say that the Aburi Accord should have solved everything and yes that is true. But let’s be frank, the Nigerian nation has always hated the Igbo man’s guts and with the first coup, they finally found an excuse to take out their anger. The massacre of Igbo people in the North is an example of the height of hatred being harbored against the easterners but threatening to cut yourself out of the country with more than half of its mineral resources is just plain impossible. Yakubu Gowon’s inability to fix the ravaging problems of the nation is criminal to be frank and the resolution to ignore the Aburi Accord forced the hand of Ojukwu but still, he should have known that Biafra was a pipe dream. Instead of seeking further solutions, he decided to declare war on the Republic. Worst idea ever. Either ways, he still remains a hero. Unlike the idiots we have today.
Why the concept of Biafra should be terminated with extreme prejudice
The mistake of Biafra-Nigeria war was sparked by the stupidity of junior officers, the misjudgement of the intentions of an innocent people, a negligent Yakubu Gowon and the childish decision of Ojukwu. But that was the 90s. This is the 21st Century Nigeria. A place where opportunities abound for all, regardless of your tribe. Accepted, tribalism is still strong, but it doesn’t go past the occasional Tweets and comments on Linda Ikeji or the unnecessary cry of negligence when political appointments are doled out.
So what the hell are the likes of Nnamdi Kanu and his MASSOB pals fighting for? How many Igbo people are being murdered in the North? Asides, the Boko Haram and Herdsmen (Who’ll kill you for reasons ranging from your religion to the fact that looked at their cows the wrong way), the North can be called a peaceful oasis for every tribe or religion. So what exactly is the Biafran Movement? What are its goals and what will be the vision? Who are you fighting for? The Igbo man in the streets of Lagos or any other state in Nigeria hustling? Or the wealthy Igbo man who owns a shipping conglomerate in Abuja? Please, I need to understand exactly what the fight is for? Odumegwu Ojukwu would be satisfied with the current state of the nation as far as the Igbo man is concerned. There are no hate killings. There are no Igbo refugees trooping to Owerri and Enugu and the Igbo man is allowed to occupy any position of power. So what exactly is the mission of the new Biafra Movement? All that is being sold is hateful propaganda. You’re siccing an innocent people into fighting for something that doesn’t need to happen and that will never happen. In short, whoever sells the idea of Biafra is ill-advised and stupid and is a threat to the safety of the Nigerian State.
In conclusion, let’s play pretend.
Assuming the Biafra Movement succeeds, let’s examine what will happen next. The number of businesses, homes and properties of numerous Igbo people spread across the nation is ginormous and all of them will be lost with the declaration of Biafra. The logistics of resettlement would be a nightmare and that’s just the surface of problems to come.
Biafra would be blessed with enough crude oil to make other nations go green in an attempt to avoid the unbeatable competition. Oil, as we all know, brings out the worst in people and this will be the same for Biafra. In a bid to share the national cake, a political system will need to be set up. The likes of Nnamdi Kanu will have their own parties and with political parties comes interests. There will be elections and with elections, grievances. With grievances, there will be political challenges and with political challenges, ethnic and tribal sentiments will arise. The minority, Efik and Urobos will claim negligence and will want full representation in whatever they call their Senate.
Long story cut short, Biafra is just going to end up as Nigeria 2.0
So I ask, why are we still dwelling on this issue?
Why haven’t we moved on?
Why are some people dragging the ghost of Biafra?
Why won’t they let things go?
The answer can only be selfishness and greed. The main reason why Radio Biafra sells its dark propaganda can only be ascribed to selfishness. Nnamdi Kanu cannot say he has the interest of his people at hand when his people are too busy trying to survive to even listen to him. Anybody subscribing to the concept of Biafra is a fraud who hasn’t thought through the consequences of what their mission will bring Nigeria to.
Biafra needs to be killed off. We need to leave this malignant baggage of tribalism behind because it is inhibiting our progress. How can we move forward when some people are busy dragging us backwards? I say enough of this stupidity.
I end this piece with one more sentence: Is Biafra the cry of a people……or its masters?