| by Osita Ebiem
( March 2, 2014, New York City, Sri Lanka Guardian) After 100 years of the cohabitation of the geo-space called Nigeria by the various ethnic peoples as members of the Nigerian union it has become very apparent that the country is simply not working as the citizens would have wished. It is in the effort to find solution to why Nigeria has remained in a state of permanent dysfunction that has led the country to think of organizing a national dialog. It is dubbed Nigeria National Conference; a forum where it is expected that all the stakeholders in the Nigerian union will meet to discuss on how to fix the country. From all indications it appears to be a step in the right direction, at least at its face value. It shows that the country’s leaders are conscious of and have finally acknowledged that there is a problem with the social and political framework of a Nigerian union as left behind by colonial Britain which created it. Unlike in the past now it seems that Nigerian leaders have accepted that Nigeria was actually created by human beings and not by any divine decree or for any divine purpose. By extension the conference is the acceptance of the fact that the problems Nigeria is passing through do not need any divine intervention as being touted by some deceitful leaders. The truth is that the problems are manmade and can, and should be fixed by the human inhabitants of the geo-space.
At the end of the Biafra-Nigeria war of 1967 to 1970 Biafrans were defeated and forced back into the union membership of one Nigeria. Fighting the war was the only choice that Biafrans had. For about 12 months Biafrans were murdered by the Nigerian government and Nigerian citizens in their tens of thousands in the Northern, Western and Midwestern Regions of Nigeria. For a period of one year Nigeria and Nigerians conclusively demonstrated that Igbo people and the other people of Eastern Region were no longer wanted in the Nigerian union. They were rejected, killed and driven out of Nigeria, permanently. For this period Nigeria and its citizens committed the heinous tripartite crimes of pogrom, genocide and ethnic/religious cleansing against the Igbo and the rest people that collectively would later be called Biafrans.
It is a war that was forced on the Biafrans but a war that they are very proud to have fought. The war was fought in self-defense and for self-determination, and independence. The Biafran war of secession from the Nigerian union remains for Biafrans a just war. Before and during the war (1966 to 1970) 3.1 million Biafrans were murdered. These people died defending the freedom and independence of Biafrans and Biafra land.
For nearly fifty year they seem to have had little or no opportunity as is being offered by the Nigerian government this time to the citizens of the country in this national conference. The Igbo and other Biafrans must go there armed with the injustices of Biafra and insist that the crimes be revisited. In plain language they should go to the conference to ask why they were killed in cold blood by the Nigerian government and the people who were supposed to be their fellow citizens. Then they must demand for justice to be done in the memory of their people who died. The only justice that will befit and adequately compensate for those deaths is to demand for a free and independent homeland because that is the reason why the people died. On the 30th of May, 1967 Biafrans under the leadership of Emeka Ojukwu, declared secession and independence from Nigeria and on that day Biafrans ceased from being Nigerians citizens forever.
As a people Biafra remains the most traumatic part of the Igbo and the other Southeast and South-South people’s modern history. The more than 3.1 million indigenes of Biafra that were killed represented a quarter of the human population of the area. It is sobering to ruminate on the magnitude of that figure. For comparative reasons the readers will note that there are so many countries in the world today whose populations are less than that figure. Given the past events and the atrocities still being visited on the same people in Nigeria without the government demonstrating any willingness or capacity to assure them, the Igbo and the rest of the people that made up what used to be called the Republic of Biafra, must leave the Nigerian union now. Without meaning to sound like the alarmist because it is clearly obvious, we will try and show the extent of the danger that Igbo people and other Biafrans face by remaining part of the Nigerian union.
In the face of the enormous and present danger facing the Igbo and other Biafrans in Nigeria, pressing by every means necessary to leave Nigeria right away makes all the sense in the world. Staying away from danger is not always a sign of weakness. Apart from the physical and material harm that the people are faced with in Nigeria the other important question that should help Igbo leaders and other Biafrans in making up their mind is; as a people what do the Igbo and others in the region want to achieve for themselves and the generations of their children. To answer that question is to have a clear and comprehensive definition of the collective goals and aspirations of the people. Defining these goals should not be too hard to do. And once that is done then the next task will be to honestly define the most suitable territory within which to achieve these aims. It does not matter what sociopolitical goals the leaders in this region will come up with, but common sense tells every honest and sincere analyst of the Nigerian union that it is out of the question that any member of the union can contemplate achieving any meaningful goal and making any worthwhile progress within the Nigerian country. It does not matter whether they are Igbo, Ibibio, Hausa, Fulani or Yoruba; the Nigerian union was not designed nor does it exist in the best interest of any of the indigenous peoples. No doubt, the Igbo and their brothers and sisters in the South-South got the shortest end of the stick in a united Nigeria but just like in the proverbial saying, the person holding the other on the ground cannot move forward themselves. So, truly every member of one Nigeria has suffered unnecessarily and the national conference should be to end the pain by dividing Nigeria.
Nigeria is a dysfunctional society and every part and aspect of the whole is in a permanent state of continuous discontinuity and it will remain so as long as one Nigeria continues to exist. And for any sociopolitical plan to take shape and be achieved in any society there must exist a considerable level of security and continuity. This enabling level of security, predictability and continuity can only exist through a unified and clearly defined set of enforceable rules which is how an ordered society is established. But it is true that one Nigeria is a discordant society due to the non-unified, even in most cases, mutually antagonistic aspirations of the different ethnic peoples within the country then the people act with impunity against all rules and order. It is mainly because the goals and aspirations of the different peoples within Nigeria are not unified that the peoples continue in a continuous state of a do-or-die pursuit of communal offices and positions. All available creative time and energy are wasted engaging in intrigues and planning on mere survival strategies and how to outwit the next ethnic group. This precious time and energy can be channeled towards some creative endeavors. This enormous reservoir of human resources can be put into better uses such as into finding ways to invent and find local and indigenous solutions to the many challenges in the health, engineering, science, and social sectors of the peoples’ existence. These precious times can be used in creating wealth and prosperity since these things can only grow and flourish in an environment that is stable and runs on the fabrics of mutual trust and respect for the laws of the society.
The dangers apart, perhaps it is just the evolutionary path that our brain has taken that is responsible for this seemingly inability of some of us to fully grasp the colossal waste involved in the Igbo and other Biafrans insisting on maintaining membership in a united Nigeria. May be it is the result of the environment and experiences the people have been through that made the brain to become programmed to fail to recognize that in certain circumstances such as there are in Nigeria that the preferred option to acting macho is the constructive use of the intellectual endowment to process the data. The Igbo and other Biafrans insisting on remaining part of the Nigerian union is equivalent to the confrontational or “push-me-I-push-you” primitive approach to challenges. Fighting the city hall syndrome, where it is believed that if only we can grow more fangs and put on more weight we will eventually move this mountain. The typical approach by the less sophisticated who believes that every challenge is a material thing which can always be physically tackled.
After these many years have elapsed since the end of the war and with the terrible experiences of torture and deprivation that Igbo people and other Biafrans have been put through in a united Nigeria, during this national conference they must do away with the debilitating and pathetic malaise of the so-called Stockholm syndrome. They have shown enough love and affection to their persecutors and source of pain. So at this point, nearly fifty years after Biafra war every Igbo and other Biafran on the street agrees that enough time has elapsed to enable their leaders to finally look Nigeria and Nigerians in the face and speak truth to them about the injustice of Biafra. Though Nigeria and Nigerians would want to deny and actually do deny that Biafra never happened (this is not surprising because studies have proven that denial by perpetrators and supporters is one vital indicator to prove that genocide has indeed taken place) but should those who went through the crucibles do the same thing.
After nearly fifty years that the war ended Biafra should have been taught in all levels of learning in Nigerian schools but Nigerian authority would not even let the word Biafra be mentioned in any school textbook in Nigeria. This is a deliberate manipulation and sinister attempt to obliteration the history of a people. Ohaneze Ndigbo and all other interest groups that will represent the region in the national conference must get this one right. The people’s struggle for freedom and self-determination is a matter of life and death and the people who they represent and who are depending on them expect them to get this conference right. The people expect Ohaneze and others to tell Jonathan and his Nigeria that Igbo people and other Biafrans having suffered so many genocides in the hands of Nigeria and Nigerians are no longer interested in remaining a part of a united Nigeria. This job of the people’s representatives is simple enough. Once they realize that they are mere messengers who are sent by the people then it becomes easy to deliver the message just the way the people want it. They do not have to believe in the message as individuals if they don’t want to.
For further reading on why Nigeria should be divided please see the author’s forthcoming book; “Nigeria, Biafra and Boko Haram: Ending the Genocides through Multistate Solution.” Published by Page Publishing, Inc. New York. Available this March, 2014 wherever books are sold. You can also get it either digitally or in print from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, Google Play, etc.