Manual Truth: The Genesis of it all

Obinwannem News Historically, Nigeria got her independence on October 1, 1960, with Tafawa Balewa as the Prime Minister and Nnamdi Azikiwe as the "ceremonial president".

Suffice it to say that before the end of colonial rule, the government of British Nigeria relied on merit, rather than ‘quota system’ or ‘federal character’ towards appointing and/or electing citizens into office. As a result of this policy, the proficient, certified, and well-educated Igbos were able to head several government agencies; the civil service, educational system, transport system, e.t.c

At the same time, they controlled the East, completed to an extent with the Yorubas in the West while in the North, they also competed favorably against the mostly illiterate masses that were still wary of western education.

The fear of Biafran domination was an existential threat to the country and culminated in the Saudauna of Sokoto and then premier of the North, during his address to the Northern legislative council making an infamous hate speech against the Biafrans that would make that of Hitler against the Jews seem like a recommendation.

During this period, through Nnamdi Azikiwe, were the most vocal proponents of a one and indivisible Nigeria while the North, scared of competition with the more illustrious South were keen on having their country through the then familiar chants of Araba! As classified documents and interviews granted by some of the British personnel involved than would later reveal.

The British before independence was able to convince Ahmadu Bello that the North, through a manipulated census, favorable landmass, a fair number of seats in the parliament and dominance of the army, would still be able to control Nigeria politically; even with their obvious shortcomings.

Fast-forward to 1966, the West was in crisis, during the operation were and wild-wild West fame with riots, curfews, and political killings commonplace. A biased government was supporting Akintola, premier of the West against the popular choice of Awolowo.

Then emerged a young Major, Kaduna Nzeogwu, a Delta-Igbo man from the Midwest but was born and resided in Kaduna City, in the present-day Kaduna State. Nzeogwu had ideas of a utopian Nigeria devoid of corruption and other ills.

Then to actualize this, he planned alongside Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna, Major Adewale Ademoyega and several others that included ethnic Tivs, Ijaws, Hausa/Fulani, Urhobo, Yorubas, Igbos, etc while those that were assassinated included Tafawa Balewa (the Prime Minister), Ahmadu Bello (Premier of the North), Samuel Akintola (Premier of the West), Festus Okotie Eboh (Minister of Finance), Brigadier Maimalari,Col Arthur Unegbe (he was in charge of armory) and about seven others that were murdered in cold blood. Incidentally, the Premiers of the East and Midwest, both of whom were Igbos escaped unhurt.

This was probably why it was called an Igbo coup even though the roll call of the perpetrators was a pan-Nigeria list. Six months later, there was a counter-coup and Aguiyi Ironsi, was assassinated and in quick succession, hundreds of Biafrans in the army were massacred in the military across the country which was followed by a pogrom that resulted in the death of about thirty thousand (Biafrans) Igbo civilians in the North.

If the counter-coup plotters led by Theophilus Danjuma had stopped with the assassination of Ironsi and most top Igbo officers in the army, they would have been justified in their vendetta mission; but when they extended it through omission or commission to mass murder of Biafrans in the military and tens of thousands of Biafra civilians living in the North, it transformed into a mission on ethnic cleansing, comparable to the Holocaust in terms of its magnitude and horror.

For the first time in the history of Nigeria, Biafrans demanded secession against a state that couldn’t protect them, not because they preferred having their country but merely because they had no choice. After much politics between Ojukwu and Gowon bothering on the latter’s refusal to implement Aburi accord and the creation of twelve states to break Ojukwu’s grip on the Eastern region.

In response, Ojukwu declared Biafra and a thirty-month ‘civil war’ ensued that resulted in the death of an estimated three million Biafrans, including men, women, and children. If such a large number of people had died during combat, it would be better understood, but they died in one of the world’s worst known siege or blockade, regarding geographic reach and casualties.

It was worse than both the Nazi German siege of Leningrad (former St Petersburg) during the second world war that resulted in the death of about 670,000 people and the Serb attack of Sarajevo during the Bosnian war that led to the death of about 150,000 people.

The majority of those that died on the Biafran side were as a result of starvation and Egyptian airstrikes! Battered on all the parties, Biafra surrendered, and Gowon promised a 3R policy of Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction which later turned into cheap rhetoric that was never kept despite the oil boom of the 1970s.

The Igbo novelist, and professor of Linguistics, Chinua Achebe once said, “what united other Nigerians was their consensual hate directed upon the people of ‘Biafrans,'” and every political regime seemed to sustain this assertion.

In 1976, during the military government of Olusegun Obasanjo, Justice Mamman Nasir boundary commission was formed and with it came more punishment for the Igbos, Oil-bearing and Igbo speaking communities were blatantly carved out (Egbema and Ndoki areas) of East central state and ceded to Rivers state without recourse to their kit and kin.

This Nigerian form of a apart-held system against Biafrans continued till the time of Goodluck Jonathan who tried to reverse some of these obnoxious policies.

After the Biafra-Nigeria civil war, however, the Biafran people have, in one way or the other, been brutalized, maimed by either the security agents or the terrorists ‘bred’ by the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari. Biafrans have continuously faced all inhumane, degrading treatments, tortures and other human rights violations.

The leader of the Indigenous People Of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and other freedom fighters were arrested and detained for years; the same depicts the despotic mannerism of the Buhari-led government. Despite various court orders to release them, the ‘pedophile’ Buhari breached the orders, therefore determined to continually detain any opposition. The plights of Biafrans are simple and must be accepted; else the rest will become history.

Written By Nwada Ugochinyere Onyechere Obinwannem News

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