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« Ogbanje in Sanskrit | Main | The Lawyer: A Platform for Regeneration »

May 17, 2006

Biafra Remains a Last, Viable, and Realisable Resort

by Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu (Dundalk, Republic of Ireland) ---

If the price of nationhood is constant bloodletting, then let us not be a nation ~~~ Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu

There is undeniable evidence, that had Biafra succeeded it would have been the most advanced black nation, giving some dignity to the battered psyche of the average Negro. In the 3 years of her existence Biafra broke the jinx regarding technological feats. white racists had consistently argued that the African is subhuman, and is incapable of achieving even the least technological competence.Biafra proved them wrong.

Biafra’s famed ingenuity has todate remained in the front burner of political debates. Given Nigeria’s continuing rumble in the jungle, and her incapability to provide the most basic of essential structures, services, and resolve the many fundamental contradictions that have dogged the nation since independence. Most erstwhile Biafrans are reinforced in their beliefs, that Biafra remains a better option, to escape the roil and rot of an “Animal farm” Nigeria.

Without any doubt an independent Biafra,would have pursued the development and standardization of the many local technologies developed during the war. And Biafra by now would have predictably reached the level of mid- level technological countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand,etc.On the political side,Biafra would have obviously been more inclusive. Whereas it is almost impossible for an Efik to be the president or even vice president in present day Nigeria, such a feat would have been more easily realisable in a smaller and more homogenous nation like Biafra.Indeed the Vice president, and last head of state of the now defunct Biafra Major General Philip Effiong is an Efik.

The current economic, social, and religious restiveness prevalent in Nigeria, would have been unimaginable in Biafra, given that Biafrans are almost 100% Christians, and the smaller population and landmass would have naturally provided for a more equitable distribution of resources and infrastructural development. Biafra has become the proverbial “Cat with nine lives” principally because Nigeria has stubbornly chosen to continue on the ignoble part of the exploitation, and enslavement of her supposed citizens.

Nigeria is bedevilled with numerous social, economic, and political malaise. The ethnic groups carry a mountain of grudges against each other, 61 years after, the killing of Southern Christians
and even Moslems which actually began in 1945 have continued in the North unpunished. There is anarchy in the land, things have fallen apart, but yet the federal Government has refused to find lasting solutions to the Nigerian Question. There still abounds a lot of incurable optimists who insist, the obvious fact notwithstanding, that Nigeria will not disintegrate. I submit that recent trends have pointed more to the reality of a possible break-up.

Just recently the Northern states declared Sharia in outright disregard of Nigeria’s constitutional secular status.10 years ago nobody could have imagined that the Niger-Delta militants would be able to take up arms and hold the federal government to ransom. The re-emergence of the agitation for Biafra, and it’s surprising mass support by the Igbos would have been thought impossible just a few years ago. In 1990 Major Gideon Orkar had organised a failed coup in which the principal objective was to expel the core Northern states from Nigeria. The implications of these scenarios is that Nigerians are moving further and further apart by the day.

Agreed that the Niger-Delta militants have not asked for seccesion,and the MASSOB is non violent. But as the unresolved injustices continue, and as the militants become bolder and more confident, it is highly predictable that the Niger-Delta militants will at some point begin to ask for secession, which I suspect is their primary objective, and splinter groups from MASSOB will most likely take up arms. It is instructive to note that those who are in the forefront of the Biafran struggle are the youths. As recent events have shown the youths have remained undeterred by the arrest, trial for treason, and extra judicial killing of many of their members by Nigerian security forces.

Nobody can accurately predict what can happen in the next few years, but it is a safe bet, that the centrifugal and centripetal forces tearing at the nations fabric will continue to intensify. Certain unforeseen circumstances like a sectional coup, or sustained sectarian violence could be a catalyst, that can unleash a chain of events to hasten Nigeria’s disintegration. The increasing seeming integration of Nigerians in major cities, and increasing inter-ethnic marriage has not in anyway dimmed the problem. If anything inter-ethnic hatred is getting worse by the day. The Ijaw and Itshekiri crisis in Warri a few years ago, rubbished the insinuation that inter-ethnic marriages serves to douse long standing hatred.

Nigeria has never made as much money, as she is making now, yet poverty continues to ravage the land. The multiplier effects of instability, corruption, and strife will continue to ensure that the average Nigerian remains poor and miserable. Volumes have been written, numerous suggestions have been made, on how to resolve the imbroglio, yet successive Nigerian governments just like the biblical “Pharaoh” have continued to turn a deaf ear.
Against this backdrop 3 likely scenarios are likely to be thrown up in Nigeria in the final equation.

(1) Ethnic Regionalism

Sustained sectarian violence, full scale insurgency by militant groups, a mass rising, or possibly a junior officers revolutionary coup amongst other unforeseen possibilities sometime in the future, could lead to a redrawing of the Nigerian plate, ushering in a return to autonomous ethnic regions. The regions would be such that the major ethnic groups and some other sizable ethnic groups would be able to form autonomous regions, while smaller ethnic groups would band together in contiguous areas to form their own autonomous regions. The regional structure would herald a very weak and unattractive centre, and give each ethnic group the opportunity to develop at their own pace, without let or hindrance.

(2) Confederate Southern Nigeria Republic

The same set of situations outlined above, but with harder uncompromising positions on both divides of the conflict, could lead the South and possibly the Middle belt to act together to seccede,on the basis of the pre-1914 status of Southern Nigeria. The negotiated structure of the new nation is likely to throw up a quasi-confederate system of autonomous regions, with each region controlling their resources and retaining the right to self determination.

(3) Biafran Republic

Based on the subsisting scenario’s, Biafra would most likely come about, when there is total chaos, and the Major ethnic groups in the South are acting independently, or when the United Nations intervenes to supervise a referendum on self rule as they did in East Timor, and are about to do in Kosovo, and Southern Sudan . Other likely and unforeseen circumstances could also lead to the eventual total disintegration of Nigeria. Biafran planners envisage a confederate structure, of wholly autonomous regions, resource control, and a perpetual right to self determination by constituent units.


There are optimists who have argued, that unlike the former Soviet Socialist Republics, and Eastern Europe, most African conflicts in i.e. Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, DRC etc have not led to disintegration. But the ignored fact is that, none of these conflicts had secession as their aim. Most African conflicts have been a struggle for power as against secession. Currently in the Ivory Coast, there is a bitter power struggle between the North and the South which has led to armed conflict, but again we note that even in this conflict, the aim is not secession, but a power struggle by the North which feels marginalized and excluded from the corridors of power. The only African countries that had secession as their stated aim was Eritrea, who achieved their aim, Southern Sudan who will be having a United Nations sponsored referendum on self rule in 6 years, and of course Biafra who failed in their first attempt, but who have resurrected the struggle.

Above all else, the question we need to ask is, what makes a group of people feel bitter enough to demand secession?. The answer is simple “Injustice”. In an inclusive system where there is social justice, continuing dialogue, and where your rights are guaranteed, no group will have the incentive to seek secession. Successive Nigerian governments, by consistently refusing genuine dialogue to resolve the Nigerian quagmire, have ironically constituted the greatest enemies to Nigerian unity.

Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu
Dundalk, Republic of Ireland

Posted by Administrator at May 17, 2006 12:00 PM


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