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Biafra By Any Other Name Is Beyond Nnamdi Kanu and President Buhari

Biafra By Any Other Name Is Beyond Nnamdi Kanu and President Buhari



Posted by: The Editorial Desk - Abuja, Nigeria
Posted on: Sunday, September 17th, 2017 - 6:33 pm

BY DAVID OKAFOR.
The wind of protests of marginalized people around the world is stirring up attention and consequences of different dimensions. There is currently, the Catalonian agitation in Spain, a brewing uprising in Kenya, and in Nigeria, the new Biafra revolution, embodied in the persona of one man, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leading voice of the agitation. In the case of Nigeria, it seems like the message of the revolution is being lost because of the entanglements of the personality of Nnamdi Kanu, his detractors, and principles of the Nigerian government of Mohamadu Buhari. However, it does not matter if you hate or love the messenger of the Biafra agitation, the fact still remains that the basis exist to warrant the agitation of Biafra, and has existed for long, even before the birth of Nnamdi Kanu.

Trace the roots of the problems of Biafra to the colonial entities that hatched up the master plan for the country known today as “Nigeria”. Biafra has always been a nightmare to Britain ever since the British Colonial Governor Fredrick Lugard amalgamated the Northern and Southern protectorates of Nigeria in January 1914, because of the Igbos, the largest group in the “Biafra nation”. Britain knew all along that if it failed to stop Biafra from becoming independent, the result would be a better world order for Africa with a dominant republic of Biafra, shaping a new dawn for the continent. Dreading this, Britain decided to do everything in her power to prevent that nightmare from ever becoming a reality. .

The British understood that the Igbos are intelligent, brilliant, resilient, and hardworking. The Igbos are present in every nook and corner of the world, and after a brief time of learning about their surroundings, they begin to contribute meaningfully there. What they learn from their experience, they tend to bring it back home to their people, to help them. To counter this influence in Nigeria, Britain stood with the Fulani / Yoruba alliance to minimize the impact of the Igbos because they feared that Igbo-Biafrans were quite capable of creating a reliable, respectable, inventive and powerful nation that will cripple British influences in Africa. .

Chinua Achebe, the author of “There Was A Country” had this to say, “Let me give one more dimension of what we were hoping to do in Biafra, and what this freedom and independence was supposed to be like. We were told for instance, that technologically we would have to rely for a long time on the British and the West for everything. The European oil companies insisted that oil–industry technology was so complex, that we would never ever in the next five hundred years be able to figure it out. We knew that wasn’t true. In fact, we learned to refine our own oil during the two and a half years of the (Biafra) struggle because we were blockaded. We were able to demonstrate that it was possible for African people, entirely on their own, to refine oil… We were able to show Africans could pilot their own planes” .

During the 1967-70 Nigerian civil war Biafran scientists were able to invent a lot of things. They built their own weapons, cars, rockets, bombs and telecommunications gadgets. They also devised many ingenious strategies to refine their own oil. All those things were accomplished in less than two and half years. This is something the Nigerian government has not been able to do for over 50 years now. During the Nigerian civil war, even though the Nigerian army was well equipped and had the full support of the British, American, and Russian governments, the inventions and weapons of Biafra, created a lot of fear. What the Biafran scientists achieved during the civil war mesmerized the British government so much that it has taken actions to never give Biafra the freedom to prove their capabilities to the world. .

Can anyone imagine if Biafra had won the civil war? The strong conviction is that the whole of Africa would have been liberated from continuing to depend on the outside world for her existence. If Biafra had been allowed to exist, there would not have been any darkness in Africa like it is today. There would have been light instead. Africa would not have depended so much on Europe or the USA for technology, innovations and inventions. Africans are quite capable people and would have been able to do many things by themselves. That has been the nightmare that caused Britain to implement the marginalization of the Igbos and Biafra using the puppet governments of subsequent Nigerian rulers. Britain has resolved not to allow the dreams of a Republic of Biafra to become a reality by giving Nigeria’s northern ruling oligarchy every support to destroy that hope and dream. Britain still stands accused of siding with Nigeria when they massacred over 3.5 million Biafrans, mostly children and women, by starvation during the Nigeria / Biafra war. .

Going beyond Nigeria’s civil war with Biafra, here is what history has taught us about the Igbos and the origin of this “Biafra” legacy.


“During the trans Atlantic slave trade, most of the slaves that passed through the delta towns were from the Igbo region on the eastern side of the Niger. Igbo land itself was a large territory without any central authority to prevent the seizure and sale of slaves. The trade here was very considerable, this being the principal part of the entire Guinea coast for slaves. In its flourishing state, there were above 20,000 Negroes exported yearly from this and the neighboring places to several European plantations.” This is an excerpt from an account of West African History by Robert O. Collins. .

When the British imperialists first arrived in Africa, they met Biafrans and they were addressed as such. The slaves shipped from that area were categorized as coming from the Bight of Biafra. Biafra then covered all of what is known today as South East / South South in Nigeria, except Benin. The British had difficulties colonizing Biafrans. Many attempts to impose British rule in the region were resisted fiercely by the Igbos, Ijaws, Urhobos and Itshekiris. This resistance was championed by the likes of King Jaja of Opobo, Oba Ovwieramen of the ancient Benin Kingdom, King Pepple of Bonny, and the grandfather of Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu.


(Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu was the first champion of the Biafra cause that sparked Nigeria’s civil war from 1967 to 1970).

Even beyond that point, it was clear to the British that the people of the South were not going to accept their forced government over them, especially in view of the larger scheme of the things they (the British) sought to take away from the southern part. As such, the region was marked, to be kept down at all times. .

Eventually, Biafra was conquered and subsequently made a British protectorate on 30 June 1849. The British succeeded in conquering Benin and made it a British protectorate on February 1, 1852. Biafra and Benin protectorates were amalgamated on August 6, 1861, same day that Lagos and its neighborhood were annexed by the British. You can imagine how humiliated the British felt that people, who they saw as black monkeys and slaves, rejected their superiority. They therefore, saw the Hausa/Fulani as willing tools to be used as house slaves against the field slaves. At this time crude oil had not been discovered in Nigeria, and the interests of the British was not about that. .

It is on record that the north had planned to secede with their “Araba” but the British incited them from secession to war. The evidence of this, can be found in Michael Gould’s “The Biafran War”, where it was stated that British High Commissioner Sir Cumming –Bruce was able to persuade the Emirs that secession would be an economic disaster”. As Cumming Bruce himself testified, “It wasn’t on the face of it easy to get them (the North) to change, but I managed to do it overnight. I drafted letters to the British Prime Minister to send to Gowon as Nigeria’s Head of State, and for my Secretary of state (Michael Stewart) to send letters to each of the emirs. I wrote an accompanying letter to each of them because I knew them personally. I drafted all these and they all came back to me duly authorized to push at once. The whole thing was done overnight and it did the trick of stopping them (the North) from dividing Nigeria up.” .

To understand British treachery from the effort they put to talk the north out of secession, does it look like the British had nothing to gain? If you think they really liked the north, is the north not worse today than it was then? Can anyone name one good thing the British has ever done for the north? You might say that they help them to rule, and organize coups, and launder money in Britain. Remember though that Lord Fredrick Luggard described black Africans like this: “He loves the display of power, but fails to realize its responsibility.” Can you now see how they are deceiving Hausa /Fulani with power based on Luggard’s description above? .

It is very clear that the British incited the Hausa/Fulani to wage Nigeria’s civil war. The evidence is in the role of the BBC then, and even now. BBC avoided mentioning Biafra, but preferred calling it a secessionist state. It is the same position they have today. How come the British who knows the history of Biafra, suddenly feigned ignorance and pretend that Biafra never existed before they came? You may have noticed that, based on the perception that Biafra generated a kind of aura that no other issue in Nigeria generates. Why? .

This agitation for Biafra is continuing because despite all attempts by these marginalized people to assert some influence for self-determination, the present structure of governance in Nigeria, makes it harshly impossible for them. For example, Biafrans are excluded from being appointed to any important government positions in Nigeria. It is true that some prominent Biafrans who should have been really vocal in favor of Biafra, have succumbed to the divide and rule tactics that the British introduced in order to subdue the whole Nigerian region. These complicit Biafrans have joined Nigeria’s political elite, causing them to turn a blind eye to the sufferings of the majority of their kinsmen. In fact, that has been the reason why all the struggles for the emancipation of Biafra have never succeeded, giving way to a more radical voice in Nnamdi Kanu and the multitude of Biafran youths who are tired of their dire conditions. .

The Biafra question is a British making and nothing more. People under true democratic governments should be free to agitate and have their situations examined, and considered. After all, there is nothing wrong with secession. It is happening in Spain now, and it has happened in Britain with Brexit. So why is the Biafra question different? Some people may argue that instead of secession why don’t they restructure Nigeria? Let us ask ourselves, which agitation have we not seen since the civil war? Which one did they agree to address? Why can’t Nigeria start with limited autonomy, like Scotland in the UK?


 
 

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