The Biafra War also known as the Nigerian Civil War was fought to counter the secession of Biafra from Nigeria between July 6 1967 and January 15, 1970 between the Nigerian forces and Igbo who felt they could no longer coexist with the Northern-dominated federal government. The key players involved in the Biafran war were General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu on the Biafran side and General Yakubu Jack Gowon on the Nigerian side.
Why was Biafra ever born
The agitations for Biafra self determination is a dream of a people who feel alienated and isolated by their leaders. There is nothing to suggest that if Biafra is to be granted independence that there will be no problems because it is not those on the streets that will hold the power. It is mere fantasy to expect El-dorado from the leadership of Biafra if it were to be granted freedom of self determination. It is a pity that Nigerian government gave prominence to the Biafra agitations by arresting Nnamdi Kalu who would have been allowed to express his freedom of opinion as others in a free and democratic society which Nigeria professes.
As Professor Chinua had stated many years ago, “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which is the hallmark of true leadership (and democracy)”.
Lost but not found, yet
The issue of Biafra is a dream of a people on a journey of self rediscovery. The solution lies neither in chasing the protesters around nor killing them. The solution lies in addressing the root cause of the problems which has to do with a feeling of alienation, isolation, abandonment and marginalization. Igbo leaders have capacity to restore peace in the zone, but instead, they choose to play politics with the future of Igbo race. If they do not wake up to their responsibilities everything might be lost.
A peek at the war
During the war, which lasted for 30 months over one million people lost their lives. Some died in the battle while others were lost majorly through famine, and hunger, it was reported that people starved on a daily basis. There were over 50,000 casualties of soldiers both from Biafran side and the Nigerian military. It was indeed a bloody war.
After the war, which the Biafrans conceded defeat, the Nigerian Government ordered that all Biafran currencies must be deposited into a bank account immediately or they are worthless. After everyone complied with the directive, they again ordered that every former Biafran account holder will receive only the sum of 20 pounds regardless of how much they had in their account.
This was arguably the most unjustified act of the war as heads of households were forced to rebuild their financial holdings as well as support a typically large African family with only 20 pounds.
If only the agitators of this fantasy will see that this fight holds no positive future and just face reality, maybe Nigeria will face its other problems and develop.
The past war and the grievances it caused everyone alive then would never ever be forgotten and however, should never be repeated. Even Ojukwu insinuated that the war should be dropped and let us try to make the Easterners stay and grow Nigeria.
What the war taught us
The Nigerian civil war, unlike other wars across international boundaries, was a war of unification, a war of reintegration. It was therefore a much more difficult war for the Federal field commanders to prosecute with the objectives of unification in mind than wars fought against aggressors on foreign land. The human aspect was paramount. It was a contradiction and complication not easy to resolve – how to fight causing only limited destruction, how to inflict wounds and heal at the same time, how to subdue without fatal and permanent injuries, how to feed and house civilian population without exposing our troops to danger and risk of saboteurs and infiltrators, how to achieve surrender without inflicting permanent or long lasting psychological humiliation.
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