Seven Reasons Why Those Clamoring For Another Biafra May Wait Forever

I know those who follow my articles on Nigeria between 1966 and 1970 may wonder at the above title. Some of those who read my article BIAFRA ON MY MIND (go to thenigerianvoice.com and P.M NEWS website or just type the title into any search engine) may see me as a turncoat. But on this day, 6 JULY, the 48th anniversary of the beginning of the Nigeria-Biafra war, the truth must be said. I write as I find and no apologies, though I am open to superior logic.

1 Biafra cannot work as a solely Igbo project. The half-hearted support of the minorities during the war led to her collapse. The post- civil war Igbo have not learnt to see the minorities in their midst with fraternal eyes. No respect for their aspirations come from these latter-day Igbo promoters of secession. That historical ties link the Igbo eg. Nkwerre and the minorities eg. Bonny is beside the point. The reality on ground is that the two are distinct and to collaborate, this must be recognized and respected. Think the minorities do not see Biafra as a new effort to enslave them and take their oil? Then prove them wrong with rock-hard guarantees in the new Biafra. What are the chances of having a democratically elected Kalabari man as President of the new Biafra?

2 Sub-ethnic differences among the Igbo run deep. I pray I am wrong. But look at this example in of all places, the house of God. Not too long ago the Catholic diocese in the Mbaise axis of Imo State nearly became a war zone because an Igbo Catholic priest from Anambra State was in line to be the next Bishop. The Mbaise faithful wondered if they were bereft of sons to take up the plum position. It took meditation by non-Igbo Catholic leaders to calm things down. I asked myself then and I ask now; is the fact that the guy was from Anambra a crime? Political and ethnic sentiments in God's house? Why the primordial hate between Igbo brethren? Till date, relations between Onitsha Igbo and other Igbo groups is full of suspicion. Throw in the former's claims to a Bini ancestry and their perceived disloyalty to Biafra during the war in Azikiwe's renunciation of Biafra and Ifeajuna's coup and the truth remains: the Igbo are fractured from within. Past prejudices and perceptions have not been cured.

3 Ignorance of the road traveled will doom a new Biafra. Most of the youngsters shouting for a new Biafra have no true knowledge of the circumstances that led to Biafra and the war. How can a child seek to avenge his father's death when he does not know or understand what killed his father? The crap being spewed out by

the likes of Nnamdi Kanu and the brazen untruths of MASSOB make me wonder. How many of these latter apostles of BIafra know that our great Ojukwu never sanctioned any take-over of Idomaland for Biafra; that till circumstances pushed him beyond the pale, he was still favorably disposed to some sort of union with Nigeria; that he was no hater of other Nigerians, even those in Biafra? Yes, minus the much-maligned Banjo and Ademoyega, non-Igbo or Southern minorities, bled for Biafra? Just as Igbo officers eg. Ike Nwachukwu, fought for Nigeria.

4 I can bet my last kobo that ninety percent of
these latter day apostles of Biafra are no true democrats favorably disposed to their fellow Igbo's well being. Correct me if I am wrong but how much have they done to improve the people's well being, even in their little home communities? Ojukwu was no war-monger but when the crunch came, he sacrificed virtually all he had for Biafra. Till today, nobody in either Nigeria or the Biafran enclave has raised any solid allegation of corruption against him. May I ask how MASSOB funds are generated, managed and spent? Kanu is outside Nigeria calling for war. With whose head will the bullets be received?

5 The injustices being meted out to the citizens of the former BIafran enclave in modern Nigeria are glaring. But what concrete efforts are being made by our apostles on this? You do not reject yourself if others reject you. Till today, APGA, the party which should bear the Igbo banner is in tatters because of these so-called apostles' egomania. Let the truth be spoken: the colossus called APC began life as a pan-Yoruba AC, predated by AD. No Igbo leader is ready to put Ndi-Igbo before his interest. Being more Nigerian than the Nigerian who wrote the national anthem will do us no good. So it is in this rudderless state they will get Biafra? Tufia!

6 There is an illusion that once we break way from Nigeria, the old Eastern Nigeria will become a heaven on earth. What of the hard work involved? Yes, backbreaking political, diplomatic, economic and mental work. Have we sat down to think things out? I do not want any deception. Nigerian leaders have given us too much of that already. Compare the change offered by APC before the elections and the post-polls realities. Before these new-day apostles declare their piece of estate, not the glorious land for which the noble Igbo people and their non-Igbo brothers and sisters died, they should get a copy of the AHIARA DECLARATION and study it. That, in case they do not know, is the blueprint for Biafra if it had succeeded.

7 Do not kid yourselves, new apostles. Chances of a new Biafra emerging without bloodshed are very slim. I am not a lover of peaceful slavery but the realities are: today's situation does not inspire the average Igbo to take up arms for the Biafran cause. If the Nigerian structure becomes all-embracing in word and deed, most of us are ready to let Biafra rest in peace and flame in our hearts as a symbol of proud history. With all her shortcomings, Nigeria need not be dismembered before we take our place in the sun. On the other hand, most of us are disposed to a peaceful loosening of ties, if it has to occur. A confederacy may be the way out. We are too interlinked with the Yoruba and our other so-called 'enemies.' The new generations are too forward-looking to dwell in old hatreds. Finally, if this break-up should be anticipated, let there be a UN-supervised plebiscite or referendum. If these apostles of secession do not resort to intimidation and the Nigerian government is open, the results may unexpected.

Henry Chukwuemeka Onyema is a Lagos-based writer and historian. Email: [email protected]

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Articles by Henry Chukwuemeka Onyema