On The Passing Of Professor Chinua Achebe (1930-2013)
We mourn, as our duty, the passing of our beloved Chinua; but this is certainly overtaken by the compelling celebration of an exemplary life that has positively touched every corner and every culture of this planet and all peoples of the world. Through his literary works, Achebe speaks to us convincingly about Life being really large, while Living itself is really local—an intense personal dynamic relationship with forces and things locally linked, yet building out a web that will eventually not be constrained by any dimensions—there is no contradiction.
Like all great men and all great lives, Achebe refused to move on until that “one last thing” that had to be done was accomplished: the unfinished business of Biafra. “THERE WAS A COUNTRY. A PERSONAL HISTORY OF BIAFRA” (The Penguin Press, New York, 2012), tells the true story of Biafra, truly; as only Achebe can. There are many ways the world may choose to remember this star, and deservedly so; but Chinua Achebe, an Igboman, an African, a World-man, is telling us, through his last work, that he chooses as his lasting legacy, Biafra. Let the world take note of that: especially, the Biafrans. Achebe lives; Biafra lives.
Prof. Emmanuel Enekwechi
On behalf of:
Biafra Government in Exile (BGIE)
Biafra Liberation in Exile (BILIE)
Biafra Foundation (BF)
Submitted by Oguchi Nkwocha, MD
A Biafran Citizen
Hardly anyone remembers this headline on BBC News of Tuesday, 8 December 2009:
“Nigerian hospital ‘overwhelmed by corpses from police’”, reported by Caroline Duffield, BBC News, Lagos. That hospital is the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu.
The short story most likely did not even register:
“A Nigerian hospital has told the BBC it is overwhelmed by the number of corpses being brought to them by police” …The Chief Medical Director at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu says his staff are being forced to carry out mass burials of between 70 and 80 bodies some weeks ago…and that another mass burial is planned to take place soon.
In investigating the story, “the BBC has visited the morgue and taken photographs. The images are disturbing…They show piles of young men, lying on top of one another and strewn about on tables and floors…In places the corpses are stacked four or five deep…Records show 75 corpses were delivered to the morgue by police between June and 26 November this year.”
“Inside the mortuary in the south-eastern city of Enugu, two rooms are set aside for the remains of the young men…In the first room, they are stacked, naked, one on top of the other. In places the piles are four or five deep. Faces peer out amongst a forest of legs. Heads loll into groins. Limbs are flung around torsos. Some almost seem to embrace. The smell - and the flies - make it impossible to get close. It is a scene beyond belief.”
“The BBC has established that at least seven people were last seen alive in police custody, accused of kidnapping…” but, “Enugu State Police Commissioner Mohamed Zarewa told the BBC he was too busy to talk about their case…he was unaware of the number of young men lying dead in the morgue…that his officers are forced to engage armed robbers in gunfights and that many police officers are also killed…insists that his police force operate within the law.”
The report consoled with the announcement that: “Amnesty international is presenting the results of a three-year investigation on Wednesday, in which they will describe the level of police killings as shocking.“
The fact that BBC news carried this report, and that it was repeated in various national news media and international organizations, brought neither swift nor meaningful response—any response at all. A FedEx letter recounting the report with the pictures sent to the office of the Vice President of the USA by a concerned private group weeks later yielded nothing by way of tangible results.
That was 2009. If only we acted then, or remembered, we would have prevented the recent mass murders of another group of Igbo / Biafran youth whose bodies were thrown into the Ezu River in Anambra, making shocking news today. We would have prevented the unreported ongoing murders in smaller numbers of Igbo and other Biafran youths taking place all over Igboland / Biafraland, ALL THE TIME, at the hands of different branches of Nigeria’s armed forces including especially the Police.
But, let’s not kid ourselves. Killing the Igbo and other Biafrans is Nigeria’s favorite pastime, since 1940’s. It happens all the time, and nothing is done about it. Being in denial about such a genocidal crime against the Igbo and Biafrans is Nigeria’s preferred collective state of mind, especially since 1966. It does not help that so-called Igbo leaders and elite have joined in such a denial, like the case of Governor Okorocha and one Lotanna Ojukwu who claim that the Igbo were never targeted as a group by Boko Haram. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2m5q4DG0f7U&feature=share&list=UL2m5q4DG0f7U ) Or the case of Peter Obi who, on June 20 2006, as the Governor of Anambra, actually gave “Shoot on Sight” orders to crazed and trigger-happy Nigeria’s security operatives, giving them cover to continue with relish the murdering of innocent Igbo and Biafran youth in cold blood, resulting in the unnecessary deaths of many MASSOB members. It was a heartless, criminal turkey-shoot of an exercise now accepted by the sanitizing phrase, “extrajudicial killing” which has not abated since then, leaving Igbo and Biafran youth corpses and unmarked mass graves in its bloody wake.
That Chris Ngige has gotten the Nigerian Senate to form a committee to look into this matter should not be a source of consolation to anyone—that is, anyone who has a memory. Since when did any government-initiated or government-backed investigation produce and or publish its results, and even if so, have the recommendations be acted upon? The masses will be soothed by the mere sight of such a committee, somehow mesmerized into forgetting to demand results.
The Igbo and other Biafrans will have to learn to stop living in denial. They have to stop pretending that they are not being hurt daily by Nigeria; they have to stop deceiving themselves by thinking that Nigeria has the will, desire, capacity or plan to stop acting to injure the Igbo and other Biafrans and their life-essential interests. The moth can claim and act out its attraction to the flame and pretend that it is a mutual love-affair, but the result of their encounter or embrace could never be pretended away. How many times, in how many places, and by how many ways and means do the Igbo and Biafrans die at the hands of Nigeria? Can the life of the Igbo and Biafran be that worthless or meaningless that they would still continue to stay in a relationship which allows Nigeria to continue to kill them?
When targeted by race and or religion and or economic/social profiling and violently attacked in other parts of Nigeria, the Igbo have received conflicting counsel—stay put and die in the defense of Nigerian patriotism, or relocate and live in Igboland and Biafraland or any other part of the world for that matter. Those who stay put continue to be victimized and live in constant fear. Yet, those who relocate to Igboland and Biafraland are also being killed by the same Nigerian forces and influences, in Igboland / Biafraland. Thus, Nigeria daily screams to the Igbo and other Biafrans anywhere: “die, die, die”!
“What is life?” we ask the Igbo and other Biafrans. What does it really mean when the collective life of a people is constantly being bled away by the ongoing killing off of the individual members of that group by a systematic and determined machinery? Do these murderous deaths really touch the heart of the Igbo and other Biafrans—really, really—or do they merely produce sham emotions? If there is no life, what else is there? Where there is no life, what can be there?
The Igbo and other Biafrans need to show courage; or at least show a willingness to prove to themselves, to Nigeria and to the world that their life has value and is not cheap. Self Determination allows them to wrest control of their collective destiny from Nigeria and become master of their own collective fate. Only then can these killings be stopped for good, because an independent Biafra and her people could not conceive, condone, tolerate or allow such heinousness. Salvation for the Igbo and Biafra comes through Self Determination and the exercise of their right thereof. It has to happen. Now.
The Igbo have a saying thus: “The insoluble has a solution.” It is high time for a people who own and know and practice this wisdom to step up to the stage and show us.
Nigeria is a place where facts mean nothing. Regarding Professor Achebe's not-as-yet-released book, "There Was A Country", pre-release excerpts have caused an already rumbling active volcano re-cocking for eruption to explode prematurely. At the center? Chief Awolowo's role in Nigeria's genocidal war against the Igbo / Biafra during the Nigeria-Biafra War. What are the facts?
Here is an authoritative link to a report of an interview conducted with Chief Awolowo where, in his own words, he stated what he did during the war. And, why he did it. It appears in "Punch" of October 8 2012:
After reading through this Punch article, it will do everyone a good service if somebody was to step up and say, "this report is a forgery"; "this interview never happened;" "the publication is a fraud"—or something to that effect. That will probably not happen, because the supporters and defenders of Chief Awolowo are using or republishing the same document and variations thereof in their unprecedented lash-out at Professor Achebe for writing that Chief Awolowo was the architect of Nigeria's starvation policy against Igbo-Biafra during the war, and that Chief Awolowo provided intellectual backing for the Nigerian military government of that time. Well, what facts boil out of this document relevant to these specific assertions?
1. Twenty Pounds Policy:
In the matter of the "twenty pounds" policy, whose effect was to cheat the Igbo, post-war, out of their pre-war savings in Nigeria's banks, Chief Awolowo says that it was he who laid down the principle; he says that although he was not part of the panel raised to work out and decide the specifics, he did approve the panel's recommendations. Yes, of course, he gave his reasons.
2. Starvation Policy:
In the matter of the starvation policy, whose mantra was that starvation is a legitimate weapon of war, in defense of Nigeria's genocidal blockade of Igbo / Biafraland, resulting in some of the horrific experiences Chief Awolowo says he witnessed himself when he encountered Kwashiorkor victims in Biafraland / Igboland, Chief Awolowo also says that he masterminded and carried out the policy. He also gives his reason.
Question: Is it a fact that Chief Awolowo was the architect of Nigeria's starvation policy against the Igbo / Biafra during that war?
Answer: Yes. Chief Awolowo himself says so.
3. Reasons for the Starvation (and other anti-Igbo / Biafra) policies:
In the matter of the source of the reasons and rationalization for these policies, their articulations and principles; their sustenance and enforcement, and the approvals necessary to carry out and sustain these policies, Chief Awolowo says that he is the one responsible and he shows off the lucidity of his thinking in these policies. He gives at least one example of how this worked in the section about the Nigeria Currency Change policy. He leaves no doubt as to whose reasoning subtends these policies.
Question: Is it a fact that Chief Awolowo provided intellectual backing for the Nigerian military government waging a war of aggression against Igbo / Biafra?
Answer: Yes. Chief Awolowo himself explained how that worked.
Chief Awolowo, without equivocation, in his own words, says he did these things. These are the facts. Why would anyone be arguing about whether he did it or not? He says he did! What should, however, generate controversy and fierce challenge are the reasons he gave for his deadly policies and for his role in Nigeria's military government / war cabinet. With a certain coolness and lucidity, Chief Awolowo rationalizes his acts; with similar calculated coldness and single-mindedness, even a hint of pride in his work, Chief Awolowo affirms that he is indeed the architect of these policies.
As such, all those lambasting Professor Achebe need to re-examine their motive. It is not mere assertion that Chief Awolowo was the architect of the Starvation Policy; it is a fact issuing from Chief Awolowo's own mouth. It is not mere conjecture that Chief Awolowo lent intellectual legitimacy to the Nigerian military government aggressing against Biafra; Chief Awolowo himself affirms it in talking about his policies and gives us examples how, making it a fact.
The real victims of Chief Awolowo's policies do, and should, have a right to question his rationalization, and to advance their own reasons why a person (who says he sees himself as a friend of the Igbo and who says that the Igbo are his friends) can so deliberately and so thoroughly hurt his victims and be so proud of doing so. Why shouldn't an Igbo, a Biafran, and a victim himself like Professor Achebe challenge Chief Awolowo?
Chief Awolowo at least deserves credit for admitting to what he did (thereby shaming all those who would today deny that, ostensibly to protect him). No one can say the same for the other Nigerians (and their international friends) who prosecuted the genocidal war against Biafra, including, but especially, Gowon. They are in denial, or pretend to not know what they did.
Which brings up the context of this horrible drama... Nigeria is a place where facts mean exactly nothing. It is only in Nigeria that people are numb, or pretend to be insensitive to obvious grievous wrongs perpetrated against others and against humanity. It is only Nigerians that refuse to accept the fact that ethnic cleansing is genocide—good luck! if you expect that they would acknowledge and accept the fact of the occurrence of ethnic cleansing itself at all. It is only Nigerians that refuse to acknowledge that completely blockading a race of people for the purpose of maliciously and deliberately starving them to submission and death is genocide, a crime against God and against humanity. Check out Chief Awolowo's rationalization for his life-sapping starvation policy directed against the Igbo and Biafra—after he actually saw Kwashiorkor-ridden Igbo and Biafran children? Did you actually, really, really read and understand it? Yes, he was so moved, he tells us, by that ungodly, inhumane and haunting sight—a parent with children of his own—that he decided that the best course of action was to go for total starvation, and by his own words and in his own calculations, many more of such Igbo / Biafran children would die so horribly, "but the [most important thing to him was that Biafran] soldiers will suffer the most." Go back and re-read Chief Awolowo, "in his own words".
Of course, not every single Nigerian is completely desensitized to pricks of conscience. Chief Enahoro was one of Chief Awolowo's disciples during the war, travelling the world over to sell Chief Awolowo's Nigeria's starve-Biafra-to-death policy; he, Chief Enahoro, must have at one time shared the same rationalization with his mentor. But, one day, well after the war, Chief Enahoro officially apologized to the Igbo for his role in propagating such a genocidal policy, at last, showing remorse. That's a human being for you! And even now, here and there, above the din of sheeple falling over themselves to defend the indefensible are a few cases of Nigerian commentators breaking ranks to essentially state that Chief Awolowo's Starvation of the Igbo / Biafrans policy was wrong, is Genocide, and that an apology is the correct response at this time. Amen!
In the final analysis, it all comes down to what is wrong with Nigeria, and why Nigeria can never rise from its comatose position but must in fact eventually dissolve. As we speak, forceful defenders of Chief Awolowo proffer the document above as proof that Chief Awolowo's war legacy makes him a hero to Nigeria and a benevolent to the Igbo and Biafrans; a functionary whose war actions must not be challenged. After all, in Chief Awolowo's mind, by this document and his account, he was a friend of the Igbo who executed a "quick kill" of the Igbo using his starvation policy in the Biafra war, thereby sparing the Igbo an agonizing death, so as to deserve being hailed "the savior of the Igbo"? And, at the same time, the Igbo / Biafrans, on their part, are not expected to or supposed to protest, else, all Hell will be brought down on them—again. This is friendship?! How can such completely antagonist, mutually exclusive collective views exist in a relationship called one country, if not by force and by cynical pretense? Such a feat defies even Schizophrenia.
What is happening in response to Professor Achebe's new book here is only a variation and just one instance of what is common all over Nigeria: different cultures with starkly different senses of what is wrong and what is right, what is acceptable and what is not, what is a good relationship or what is not, what is fair or what is not; different value-systems, different world views, and for that matter, different concepts of what the other's human life is worth—if at all another's life is worth anything to some cultures. In short, these cultures do not agree and will never agree on what is humanity and what constitutes a human being. These cultures are constantly grinding on one another and pounding one another with their respective alien pestles, in a hideous mortar called one-Nigeria, now completely devoid of goodwill, the more aggressive the culture, the more successful and domineering they are at it. These cultures have no business being thrown and forced together as one country.
Professor Achebe's book is not quite in public circulation yet. The excerpt about Chief Awolowo contains facts which Chief Awolowo himself established as facts in the areas noted above. The typical Nigerian tradition of fighting against obvious facts is heating up the polity at this time, when moral humanity demands a recognition of hideous wrong done and a healing apology be tendered to Humanity. Chief Enahoro did just that. Yet, all this will add nothing if Professor Achebe's conclusion in his book is that Nigeria should remain one, as he has been wont to state in the past. Facts—yes, facts—do not support one-Nigeria. The root of all evil and wickedness in Nigeria is one-Nigeria. The ultimate source and enabling medium of genocide and ethnic cleansing in Nigeria is one-Nigeria. The destroyer of the peoples living in Nigeria and the squanderer of their resources is one-Nigeria. There is a sense that in fact, "There Was A Country" is not the epitaph for Biafra that Professor Achebe implies in the title of his new book. "there was a country" is most apt as a description of Nigeria: a system which so thoroughly corrupts and wastes the peoples and their aspirations should not be allowed to exist. It will not.
As you recall, on March 10, 2012 BILIE filed a case against Nigeria in the ICC regarding Nigeria’s ongoing genocide against the Igbo. Alarmed by the ICC prosecutor, Mrs. Fatou Bensouda’s recent statement reported on July 4 2012 that Nigeria was not under investigations for crimes against humanity, BILIE’s attorney sent another communication to ICC on July 7, 2012.
This is to report that we received on August 22, 2012 an acknowledgement of our filing by ICC; quoted here is an excerpt from that response which is dated “June 26 2012”:
“The Office [of ICC] is analyzing the situation identified in your communication with the assistance of other related communications and other available information. Under Article 53 of the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor must consider whether there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court have been committed, the gravity of the crimes, whether national systems are investigating and prosecuting the relevant crimes, and the interests of justice.”
This is encouraging and a step in the right direction, and we trust, though we cannot guarantee, that ICC will rule and accept the case that crimes worthy of trial have indeed been committed by Nigeria as rightly charged in our original claims filed on March 10, 2012 (http://www.bilie.org/ICCComplaint.pdf), the gist of which we reproduce below:
“BILIE has filed two urgent communications with the International Criminal Court Prosecutor this year alleging state sponsored genocide against the Igbo people.
The claims which are supported by confidential witness statements request immediate intervention by the International Criminal Court Prosecutor to prevent and prosecute crimes against humanity on the following grounds:
1. The ongoing Boko Haram massacres target Igbo and other Easterners as part of an ongoing government policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide.
2. The government admits it is infiltrated by Boko Haram but denies there are any crimes against humanity being committed.
3. So-called government commissions and inquiries do nothing to prevent the crimes aside from creating a smoke screen for further crimes against the Igbo.”
The federal government of Nigeria however has repeatedly denied that genocide is occurring and has protected Boko Haram from international intervention.
The most recent example of this unholy alliance between Abuja and Boko Haram is the federal government’s pleading with US secretary of State Hillary Clinton not to name Boko Haram as a terrorist organization.
BILIE not only urges the classification of Boko Haram as a terrorist organization but also the designation of Nigeria as a state sponsor of terrorism and the imposition of immediate sanctions and seizure of the foreign bank accounts used to fund Boko Haram.
Last year, “…at a press briefing at the UN headquarters in New York by the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Francis Deng, and Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protect, Edward Luck, [sic] the world body also said it would be "important not to drag or flash the word genocide" when talking about Jos crisis.” (Reported on January 21 2011 by AllAfrica.com) ( http://allafrica.com/stories/201101210801.html ) The full article suggests that even the UN has been trying to protect Nigeria while our people are being killed by Nigeria in a real case of genocide.
BILIE supports the total Independence of Biafra as the only practical, meaningful and lasting way to protect the Igbo and other peoples of Biafra from Nigeria. BILIE calls for the prosecution of those in the Nigerian government who support, enable, or fail to prevent the crimes against humanity being committed by Boko Haram.
Biafra Liberation in Exile (BILIE)
August 30, 2012
Nigeria’s performance (or lack thereof) at the recently concluded London Olympics provides not just another sentinel event (since sentinels warn of approaching danger) but rather, a confirmation and affirmation of an already failed and self-destructing state. Leave it at that and move on to other unimaginable woes, without comment and without noticing, as the hapless masses suffering in Nigeria are wont to. But the hypocritical, sycophantic and empty cries are filling the media space: leadership failure, this; lack of patriotism, that; runaway corruption, this; incredible incompetence, that. After all, Nigeria is the “giant of Africa”—self-styled and all. Part of their knee-jerk reflexive call: Nigeria’s President has to sack this or that responsible functionary; he may yet (in typical Nigerian action-tradition and response) oblige them; though, keep in mind that from some quarters, the call is also for the President to sack his own self!
How many times have these same “ideas” been floated, bandied around, preached about and harped on, as the magical medicine for Nigeria’s ills? Such empty noise and sham ululation! Supposing for one moment anyone would really take these ideas seriously and work them to their logical conclusion. At the bottom of it all is what the peoples languishing in Nigeria already know: the structure which attempts to (is supposed to) sustain Nigeria is flawed; it did not, does not and will not work. No one needs analysis to arrive at that really obvious conclusion. These peoples are afraid to change that structure and correct the problems, but are seemingly content to hear shouts about the difficulties arising from such an unworkable structure, pretending that somehow, magically, such behavior would change their lot and situation.
Take the Olympics, for example. This is a collection of sporting events built around individual effort with regards to strength, strategy, endurance, determination, performance and skill, in all out competition. The Olympics seeks and rewards the best in these games. Countries which are successful in the Olympics seek out, support and reward the best successful competitors to represent them. By observation and experience, some sports picked by the Olympics naturally favor the Black race, and some the White race; yet others favor pure skill over genes. Successful countries, if they have a diversified population, will field the best athletes in the particular event, even if means an all-Black or all-White group of eligible contestants, to represent the country. Countries lacking such diversity will focus on sporting areas where their genes make them favorites; and all strive to make a showing where skill alone determines the outcome.
In the end, the Olympiads see themselves as vying with and for the best that Humanity has produced, the only Race in question being that on the proving fields, the only Race represented being the Human Race, their support coming from the world’s humanity and especially from their individual human families aggregated as nations and countries, whom they are proud to represent. They fly not genetically determined colors, but the colors of their countries’ flags. As it should be…
Athletes and contestants alone are almost, but not quite, the entire story. The Olympics demands (not just requires) excellent managers in the role of coaches. Successful countries or Olympic clubs find and retain the best coaches available. Coaches do not have to have the litheness of the athletes to do this job well; they have to be motivators at the very least. However, trainers, another group playing an important role here, need to be able to keep up with the athletes and keep them in competition-shape: they need to know the particular sports extremely well and should have successfully participated in it to be able to act as effective trainers. There are of course other significant factors in the Olympics, such as opportunity and sponsorship, which will not be dealt with much in this obviously neither definitive nor exhaustive write-up on the subject.
How does Nigeria fare in these areas? Nigeria’s Olympics process deliberately and almost completely works against the above. Nigeria does not seek the best athletes in their respective fields because, often, that naturally favors particular ethnic groups in Nigeria. If such endowed groups are not the “right” ethnicity, then, the athletes they produce, best in their class, will have a hard time making it into Nigeria’s Olympics team. These slots not competitively filled are available for favoritism and nepotism practices and then, to the highest bidder.
It is the same bedeviling process for and in Nigeria when it comes to the selection of coaches and managers and trainers. In Nigeria, it starts with the so-called “Minister of Youth and Sports” or some such appellation. It is not competence, not performance and certainly not qualification, that determines who fills this and other administrative or managerial positions. First and foremost, Ministries in Nigeria have been classified according to what is considered important for power, prestige and dominion by the ethnic groups / region which has ruled and still rules Nigeria. If this ethnic hegemony decides that the Ministry of Youth and Sports is important to it in this scheme, then, only it can hold and fill that ministry. If the ministry is classified as “not important” by this all-powerful group, then any one can fill it, exciting a scramble among the other and lesser ethnicities to fill a non-important ministry with their own man or woman. The selection of coaches generally follows the same pattern; in the rare instance when an “outside” coach is hired, it is only at the pleasure and mercy of, and meddling by, a Nigerian official picked in the manner described above.
The Olympics recognizes and rewards individual youth effort and achievement; it provides opportunity for aspiring youths on the world-stage. Most countries in the world recognize and embrace that. Nigeria, on the other hand, cannot bring itself to do what is right here, because most of the best athletes will come from a particular region or ethnicity; unfortunately for these talented youth, they belong to the “wrong” ethnicity or region, even if their region produces the so-called wealth of Nigeria. They cannot possibly expect to be beneficiaries of Nigeria’s Olympics support and largesse, or expect deserved opportunities where the ruling / preferred ethnicities / region are outclassed. Even designated funds coming from the World Olympics organization for Nigeria’s athletes’ training and development reportedly disappear as soon such funds cross the money-borders into Nigeria.
So, how could any sensible person expect more from or for Nigeria in the Olympics? How can any honest or serious person expect better from Nigeria in anything? The Olympics just served as another reminder that Nigeria is dying of its own ills. What is killing Nigeria Nigerians do not want to address. They pretend it is not fundamentally about ethnicity and yet all their decisions are based on the same ethnic calculations, only in a sickening, negative, nepotistic and racist manner. Such pretense has become nauseating.
No one practices such pretense better than the hypocritical and shameless (mis)leaders and ex-leaders of Nigeria: the Obasanjo’s, Babangida’s, Buhari’s, Danjuma’s, Gowon’s and their ilk, persons corrupt with money and power, liars and criminals to whom the word and concept of HONOR or HONESTY mean exactly nothing. Jonathan has recently been trying so hard to join their pretense-club.
Hear Jonathan explain why he pretends that already divided Nigeria is “indivisible”. To him, since Nigerians own property in other parts of Nigeria outside their own particular enclave, everything must be pointing towards unity. So uninformed! What proportion of Nigerians actually own property outside their own village, anyway? For those who do, the Igbo rank highest. Where are the Igbo today? For owning property and dispersing themselves into and among other parts of Nigeria right from the start, did they not get murdered in the “Mother of all ethnic cleansing exercises”—the 1966 crime against humanity mostly by Northern Nigerians, later, joined by the rest of Nigeria? Is that the mark of unity? Nigeria will not even admit its own crime here, never mind show remorse. What is the story of “Abandoned Properties”? Is that not the reward of the Igbo owning property outside of Igboland, or even within Igboland forcibly taken away by Nigeria from the Igbo—obviously another reminder of “unity of Nigeria” by President Jonathan? Today, the foolish Igbo who, it appears, never learn, are running away from all those other places where they own property, especially in Northern Nigeria. They have been forced to sell off their property at desperate give-away prices, or abandon it altogether, as they run for their lives, specifically targeted for destruction by their “fellow” “united” Nigerians. This is unity at work, Nigeria-style? Owning property in Nigeria outside of one’s area is not a proof of unity of Nigeria; it is proof of idiocy and expensive pretense, because one-Nigeria has only guaranteed that such property will be destroyed or dispossessed, and the owner will lose his or her life defending it, else abandon it and run for dear life. Let the President continue to pretend.
In this connection, how convenient it is to state that the Biafra war was fought to keep Nigeria one, especially by President Jonathan who, after studying the mayhem in the North with the usual victims and “the usual suspects” earlier had pointed out correctly what actually caused the war and why Biafra seceded and fought back. Facts will show that Gowon, who never believed in the unity of Nigeria because he knew it was not possible—“no basis…”—and had already stated so publicly, leading Northern Nigerian Military putschists whose operation was named “Araba” (secession of the North from Nigeria), supported by the British government (against the protest of the British people) whose only interest as clearly articulated in declassified UK documents was, not the unity of Nigeria, but solely the economic interest of Britain, waged war against Biafra in 1967 to punish, subjugate, degrade and debase the Igbo. It was not “to keep Nigeria one.” If, as President Jonathan and his fellow pretenders believe—with pride and satisfaction, as it were—that they fought the war to keep Nigeria one, how is it that Nigeria is even more divided today than it was before the war, and they still pretend that it is one?
Nigeria could not win any Olympics medals or honor by pretending and by wishful thinking; pundits, mired in the same pretense, may now do their usual song-and-dance, but it is not going to help anyone, especially the youth who have lost out again. Nigeria cannot win anything of value any time because it is an unsound arrangement wherein the peoples are being forced to stay away from addressing the fundamental problem with Nigeria.
There are of course Olympic–class athletes here, but they cannot shine while under Nigeria wherein they are guaranteed nothing but pretense and subjugation. This is the same metaphor for the rest of life; there are decent and aspiring normal peoples with potential for ordinary and even spectacular success who are presently dispossessed and smothered under Nigeria. They perish under Nigeria. They can shine—they will shine, but—only once out of Nigeria.
The fundamental problem with Nigeria is “one Nigeria”. Nothing else. The solution is obvious.
How fortuitous! How prescient! As I was putting finishing touches to this article, Dr. Reuben Abati’s “Jonathan And The London Olympics By Reuben Abati” was published.
I can only say, “I rest my case!” Pretenders continue to defend pretenders in a culture of pretense. No fundamental problem, even when well-understood, will ever be solved until we face the solution which we all know well.
OHANAEZE Draft Submission to NASS Committee on Nigerian Constitution Review –
A Response from BIAFRA FOUNDATION
on behalf of Igbo People
We have studied the “OHANAEZE Draft Submission to NASS Committee on Nigerian Constitution Review” (supposedly on behalf of “Igbo-speaking People of Nigeria”) of July 2, 2012
and respectfully submit as follows:
July 18 2012
It is unthinkable that the government of Nigeria should order youth to report for civil “service” in areas in Northern Nigeria wracked by perpetual violence when in fact the government and public both experience and recognize the danger; and the government has admitted publicly that it is unable to curtail, let alone eradicate such violence.
It is extremely cruel and cynical for the government of Nigeria and its agencies to claim a constitutional prerogative in this matter citing the section of what passes for Nigeria’s constitution-of-the-day, when in fact the same document clearly states and implies that the first responsibility of the government is to provide adequate security for the people. It is a responsibility which the government has woefully failed in, and has made no denials about such failure, where in fact it is quite obvious to the world and to the people that this government has not only failed in this duty, but has no way, plans and or will, to do better.
It is especially hypocritical for the Nigerian government or any person to think that the original goal of the NYSC military decree—a decree which was ported into the Nigeria’s subsequent constitutions—was achieved at any time, or would ever be achieved. Such a goal of “national integration” merely served to move masses of youth graduating from universities to serve for slave-labor wherein the areas producing the most graduates suffered most because, by that decree, their graduates could not serve them. When they spent their stipends at their posting area, that, too, amounted to an economic boon for the locality; money obviously denied their own particular areas of origin which had borne the financial brunt of their education. Right from the start, rather than the unachievable goal of national integration for a “country” where it was already known and understood that “there is no basis for unity”, the NYSC edict forced Southern graduates to provide cheap labor for the North, without any parallel benefit for the South, there being comparatively fewer (in orders of magnitude) Northern graduates. The NYSC scheme thus also resulted in the preferential spending of the bulk of the allocated government funds for the program in the North, intended or not. As such, the NYSC was not and is not about national integration.
This was made clear by the well-publicized specific targeting of NYSC members for death and destruction by Muslim Northern youth incited by and rooting for Buhari in Northern Nigeria during the last election, an action which Buhari shows no substantive remorse for, based on the preponderance of his later statements and acts, for which he received the support of his fellow Northerners. Predictably, the same government of Nigeria, now ordering the posting of Southerners NYSC members back to the same areas, has done nothing meaningful and corrective about the killing, maiming and terrorization of the NYSC victims.
We therefore unequivocally condemn the posting, in the face of obvious danger, of Southern youth to the North by the government of Nigeria in the NYSC scheme. In this matter, we accuse the government of Nigeria (and we hope the world and responsible organizations join us in this) of crimes against humanity and of terrorism against the people.
We call on our people to stand up for their rights of survival and right to security against this type of naked insensitivity and wanton cruelty of the government of Nigeria which acts with pernicious impunity against the people. We call on the people to reject all posting to the North and demand and obtain the final and permanent dissolution of the NYSC project: it does not serve the purpose for which it was purportedly rigged up. To this end, we call on the people to prevent the NYSC posting forthwith.
It is up to the people to extract full accountability, responsibility and responsivity from the government; after all, Nigeria claims that it is a government of the people by the people: now is the time to test this claim.
July 15, 2012
August 3 1966: “there is no basis for Nigerian unity, which has been so badly rocked, not only once but several times.” –Lt Col Yakubu Gowon
Having said the facts and publicly stated the truth of the matter, Gowon proceeded to act contrary to this living reality of Nigeria. He would drag the peoples to a war which took millions of lives and wrecked his Nigeria forever. Not content and obviously no wiser, Gowon would claim victory and continue to preach one Nigeria today, even as the war he started still rages on in all spheres of human existence, which for the peoples living in Nigeria, is a truly terrifying, misery-filled, bloody and charred Hell of an existence. And Nigeria and Gowon are still so eager to continue to blame the victims for that war: if he defeated the victims as he and Nigeria roundly claim, then, why is Nigeria still in flames today, forty-some years later, with the same pre-war issues fuelling the fire? Simple: it is the attempt to keep Nigeria one—in defiance of the truth—which is causing all the ills of Nigeria. “One Nigeria” is the problem with Nigeria; until it is defeated, Nigeria will know no peace and no salvation; the war goes on, in one deadlier form or another. There is no basis for one-Nigeria.
Gowon tells us that he was inspired on “one Nigeria” because his people turned G-O-W-O-N into “Go On With One Nigeria.” Like all superstitious fools and those who rationalize an evil act, he could not see how the omission of just a few characters from an expression could falsely proclaim Heaven when in fact it is Hell. How about “Go On WithOut Nigeria”?—“Go On WITHOUT One Nigeria”? Does that not specifically and truthfully fit the picture of Gowon’s most important epiphany, that there is no basis for unity in Nigeria?
BEFORE ABURI: the conveniently forgotten “National Conference”
By January 1967, political and social conditions in Nigeria were continuing to deteriorate rapidly, the only certainty being the Northern-led and dominated Nigerian Military and their full and total control of Nigeria. The ABURI meeting that month of the regional military leaders of Nigeria graciously hosted by General Ankara in Ghana and its decisions brought a rare but genuine beam of hope for Nigeria. But, it was Gowon who destroyed this Hope by reneging on the agreements, all but dismissing them as a frivolous exercise wherein he and other Northern leaders merely humored Ojukwu by “giving Ojukwu everything he [Ojukwu] asked for.” If it is assumed, as often ignorantly bandied around, that ABURI was solely Ojukwu’s imprint, how about “the Lagos Peace Conference” four months before ABURI?
On September 5 1966, well before Aburi, in response to ongoing and deepening social and political upheaval and continuing bloody ethnic cleansing exercise directed against Easterners residing in Northern Nigeria (mostly; but also, generally in the rest of Nigeria), Gowon’s Nigerian Military Government “initiated” a “National Conference” with Lagos as the venue. Each of the four Regions (East, West, Mid-West and North) would send three high-ranking representatives “to decide Nigeria’s political future.” A national Referendum would come out of such a meeting assuming there was agreement. So it was that on September 11 1966, a month after Gowon’s earlier quoted statement, 26 prominent Nigerians met to decide on whether there was any basis for Nigeria’s unity.
Skipping the reported hourly-daily deliberations and maneuvering as a topic for another day, here’s the tone of the reports for the outcome of the conference, as of September 17 1966: “Conference leans towards confederation” and Nigeria heads for a breakup into four virtually autonomous states bound only by a loose confederation.
So, in fact, Nigeria’s first National Conference compelled by the indolent lethal crisis had recommended complete Regional Autonomy. It was a verdict of “no basis for Nigeria’s unity.” This was in September 1966. This recommendation thus had preceded by 4 months ABURI which essentially prescribed the same solution. Parenthetically, this conference then also predates the variously named contemporary configurations and permutations of a putative Sovereign National Conference by 40 years or so. It, along with ABURI, should serve as an education and lesson for those today who think to fix beforehand the outcome of such a conference by assuming as a given the preservation of one-Nigeria: there is really no basis for unity of Nigeria.
But, as with Aburi, this (Lagos National Conference outcome) was not to be. Enter Gowon. The headline of the New York Times newspaper of Saturday, September 17, 1966 screams: “Gowon Opposes Confederation and Derails Conference”. Further read: “Under pressure from Gowon and his top aides, the civilians who make up the Northern delegation were reported to have backed away from confederation…Above all, the Northern militants in the army are said to be determined to thwart any move to split the army into four regional forces. These officers want a single army under tight national control.” (Recall that it is the same Northern officers who are by now still rampaging and still fishing out any remaining Igbo Military officers for instant execution!)
DIVISION RUNS DEEP: How the British saw it, what they knew and did
It is such a pity that the different peoples forced together as Nigeria refuse to acknowledge the depth of their differences, and want so much to pretend that such differences are not there, are not important, or can be ignored. All over the world, different peoples are living side by side; but nowhere are they forced to live together against their will in a forced union that reveals every single day that it does not work. Forced, troubled and troublesome sociopolitical arrangements of sovereign import just do not happen anymore. Except under Slavery and or Colonialism. Or Nigeria.
Steeped in such a pretense and denial, some Nigerians like to borrow from successful nations by talking wistfully of Nigeria’s “Our founding fathers”. The fact is that those ”our founding fathers” being referred to never wanted one-Nigeria and had made consistently strong positional pronouncements on the matter as such. Is anyone listening? For that matter, facts, yes, evident facts reveal that Nigeria’s so called “our founding fathers” are no more than colonial British, with contemporary Britain acting like a successor.
An Irish author published this in his 1961 book about the colonial British impressions and attitudes towards the peoples whom they would force into their impossible and macabre social experiment to be called Nigeria / one-Nigeria:
“The majority of the Fulani and Hausa of the North dislike the Southerners fundamentally. Historically the Northerners have always despised them, enslaved them and treated them cruelly, and above all regard them as inferiors. This was true particularly of the Ibos whom they considered savages. The memory of all this still lingers and is making the British policy of creating one Nigeria nation out of the three main Regions difficult enough. But the average British administrator in the North also feels much the same and cannot speak too critically of the Ibos and the Yorubas.”
Robert Collis (1900-1975) in “AFRICAN ENCOUNTER: A DOCTOR IN NIGERIA”, pp. 120-121. (Publisher: Scribner; First Edition (1961))Quoted from the book, “Biafra War Revisited”, chapter 2 “THE BRITISH LEGACIES” p.12 by Egbebelu Ugobelu Second Edition (revised) 1994; Published by Obiesili Publishing Co, Spartanburg, SC 29306
This sums up the real situation and picture of Nigeria, right from the beginning, as it was seen and known by the British. Incidentally, it is only recently that the “Middle-Belt Northerners” have begun to realize that they, too, are in fact “Southerners”, in the eyes of the Hausa-Fulani. The entire picture indicts the British for their policy to force-create one-Nigeria from disparate peoples between whom one-national unity was, not just another “difficult enough” task but, downright impossible. And the British knew it then. They still know it now.
What, according to the same author (and taken from the same source), did the colonial British (and do the British) think of the North? Well, here…
“Here proud emirs, lordly princes, rule over vast areas, and the poor are very poor, and quite illiterate. But both still are part of a tradition which stretches back into history. It was, and is a way of life, a civilization utterly alien to ours, so different, in fact, that it has always been possible for Western gentlemen to live on easy terns with these Northern peoples, each respecting the others high qualities of honour and good manners. In this relationship there is no vulgar familiarity, no crossing the bar into the other's private life, but a mutual respect and honour.”
Robert Collis. AFRICAN ENCOUNTER P.195 (Publisher: Scribner; First Edition (1961))
Today, most Northern elite are mounting a strong public relation effort (and seem to be winning another [pyrrhic] victory at it) to misdirect the peoples of Nigeria and the stakeholders to think that the problem of Boko Haram is due to poverty, which poverty they would like the world to believe is somehow related to Southerners withholding what is due the North (if any sane person can even imagine that and how that might be possible, given who have aggressively controlled Nigeria thus far). But here above is the social and political landscape of Northern Nigeria as it appeared even before Nigeria became Nigeria; it is a landscape recorded by the British, a party which is friendly and sympathetic to the North, by the way; even though belonging to a civilization “utterly alien”, thus inadvertently justifying the branding of the British civilization as Boko Haram by the Boko Haram group.
What these Northern elite should stop pretending about is the fact that the North and the South are vastly and unbridgeably different, and it is not just a matter of who is poorer, where poverty as we know it is defined almost in purely Western Civilization terms and by Western Civilization standards, which Western Civilization is embraced by the South, and is so fundamentally alien to the North that Boko Haram would label it what it really is to them: anathema—a veritable sin, to be forbidden in the North! There is in fact no compelling reason why Western Civilization should not offend the North: the worldviews and life-views are so dramatically and drastically different; more so when it is forced upon the North through the forced vehicle of a forced union of aliens and incompatibles called Nigeria. There has never been, and should never be a basis for the unity of Nigeria: that’s what Boko Haram seeks to remind everyone of, including and especially pretenders who are busily doing their pretend-spin dance. For that matter, the Northern elite should draw no comfort in the British crediting the Northern system with “high qualities of honour and good manners”; it is hardly a compliment by Western Civilization standards to a system which generates and embraces this level of poverty described by the same British, and which the same Northern elite now use as rationalization for the despicable destructive reactionary acts of Boko Haram today. The Northern system was already that way before Nigeria was created.
How did the British with their cultural antithesis to the North remain friendly and sympathetic to the same North? Well, the British left the North to the North’s own ways: they, the British, would not attempt to change the North, nor would they for one moment accept the North’s ways. It is a matter of their respecting the ways and traditions of the North, without entertaining any thoughts of ever adopting the ways of the North themselves: stay in your own space and we stay in ours, while we do ugly business (of Nigeria / Southern domination) on terms; no basis for uniting, assimilating or mixing as it were, and no reason to; but respect for the other’s ways and stance. That’s how the British did it. Yet, the same British would force on a structure called Nigeria wherein such different sociocultural and political entities are not retained in their own respective different spaces and there is no respect as such, let alone, “mutual”. Thus, with malicious deliberation and intent, the British created Nigeria—“this relationship” in which there is now to be allowed “…vulgar familiarity,” and “…crossing the bar into the other's private life,” with neither “…mutual respect” nor “…honour”, to borrow the British’s own terms in the negative, as quoted above.
Such irony that in Britain today, Scotland, one of four nations making up UK, nations which already have substantial autonomy (called “Devolution” over there), is getting ready for a Referendum for complete Independence. Even if the British do not want or like that, the Scots have a right to it, and no one will contest such right or the exercise of such a right. Whether the referendum passes or not is not the issue; even if it does not pass, it is predicted that the Scots will try again within 5 to 10 years, and yet this is not the issue. The point—the issue—is that British peoples, even with so much more in common among them, including a shared heritage, worldview and values, can still exercise the right to separation and political independence; but the same British somehow do not see how the smothered peoples, different in every way, forced together into Nigeria—by the same British—can exercise the same right. What does that say about African peoples vis-à-vis their colonial masters? It is clear that, to borrow a British saying, “what is good for the goose should be good for the gander” does not and cannot apply when the British are dealing with Africans. What a colossal shame!
For the woes and
calamities befalling Nigeria, a failed and genocidal State smothering the peoples, there is little time to ascribe villainy to any group, although it is obvious that Gowon and the colonial British and its successor policy-augmenters vie for that noxious prize. These parties know the fact and the Truth, but they push in the opposite direction, rooting for Darkness. What needs to be done is for the peoples to accept the rather obvious about Nigeria: there is in fact no basis for unity—never was, not now, and never will be. Having accepted that, with civility, the peoples need each to retrieve their own respective sovereignties and rescue each their humanity. Then, they may live side by side in mutual respect for one another’s ways, and one another’s space. Where and when they choose in mutuality, consent and respect to cooperate, let them agree and by such abide. Otherwise, and in all cases, let them remain each her own sovereign nation.
May 30 1967, Tuesday: Biafra is declared
Nigeria went to war in 1967 thinking and pretending that its fight was against Biafra and against secession. Nigeria defeated Biafra in the battlefield and celebrates victory, but remains and acts brain-damaged since then not because of wounds inflicted on it by Biafra, but because of ongoing battering by the real enemy—one-Nigeria. There is no basis for unity of Nigeria: that’s the truth and that’s the known fact; acting otherwise is to knock oneself out, which is precisely what Nigeria has done to itself. Biafra was right. Biafra is right. Biafra will always be right: peoples who are starkly different and especially who cannot get along should and will go their own different ways; no force can keep them together forever. It is a natural survival and existential imperative. Self Determination, the new reality of our times, in fact takes this a step further: you don’t even have to not get along; it is the inalienable and unconditional right of every ethnic group to take full control and charge of its own national destiny, period. That’s what Scottish people of Britain are demonstrating today. The peoples of Nigeria should copy and follow. Biafra has.
May 30: Biafra Day, Self Determination Day, everyday
No one solves a problem by trying to kill the solution to the problem. Nigeria, in waging war against Biafra, merely makes war against the solution to the problem called Nigeria. At the end of such a warring day where efforts have been directed against the wrong target, the problem remains, and stays on for the remainder of days. At the same time, the solution also lives on, undefeated (there is no way to defeat the solution of an extant problem!), waiting for the day of the inevitable, the day of its acceptance, signifying finally the end of the problem. Then, the peoples can be liberated, free at last.
Oguchi Nkwocha, MD
A Biafran Citizen
Exodus 4:21 says: And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.
In the end, the people were let go. The hithertofore enslaved and oppressed nation of Israel left Pharaoh’s Egypt. The Israelites took back their own collective destiny and have been working out their own nation-building since then.
And Egypt? Egypt still stands today, working out its own destiny, working nation-building, the relentless necessary burden of every nation—only without Israelites as slaves. Oh yes, Pharaoh and Egypt paid the price alright for their wickedness against the Israelites. But neither the people of Egypt nor Egypt itself were permanently destroyed; nor was that the intent. Even the Pharaoh was allowed to live.
Today, while the pundits and pious, religionists and philosophers, some of them claiming to speak for God, argue about how and why and if in fact God would / could “harden Pharaoh’s heart”, only thus to set him up for the calamities that befell him and Egypt, the main lessons are lost:
And today, in Nigeria, for Nigeria, there is hardening of the heart. Make no mistake: the outcome is not changed; the peoples of Nigeria will be let go. The different ethnic nations sharing not much in common except for now a forced and perilous “Egypt-like” relationship, will eventually go each its own respective different way. Each will rediscover its own national destiny and take it over to do with it what each pleases. And, each will afterwards face its own task of nation-building, an arduous task at that; but face it it will and must. That’s the inevitable.
It’s all part of hardening of the heart when Nigerians and Nigeria fail to accept the obvious: that Nigeria has failed as “one”, that it’s really time for the peoples to go their own different ways. It’s part of hardening of the heart when Boko Haram bombs and shoots the peoples relentlessly, and no one can stop them, yet the same terrorized victims (which means the entire “country”) refuse to say, “Enough”! and refuse to follow through with the action of getting as far away from association with Nigeria as possible. Instead, they cling, they cling—to the source and cause of their pain and torment, “one-Nigeria”, Pharaohic Egypt. There is no person living or dying in Nigeria who does not have an ancestral homeland. There is no ancestral homeland which is not imbued naturally with sovereignty by the fact of indigenity of its people and its physical geographic rooting. Given the mutilating injury suffered by the peoples which “Nigeria” provides the toxic environment for, the only healing option left for the peoples is to each manifest and express their sovereignty and manage their collective destiny. The people must go.
Planning and jockeying for political advantage for 2015 Nigeria’s presidency is an example of hardening of the heart. Nigeria is barely breathing as we speak; next week is not a certainty. To leapfrog to 2015 is to say that the suffering and anguish of the peoples today does not mean anything. For that matter, it in fact does not mean anything to those busybodies. They are not interested in solving anything today (or in 2015 either). And they are the rulers and makers—the movers and shakers and determinants—of Nigeria. They demonstrate hardening of the heart.
Pretending that the trouble of the day for Nigeria is due to poverty in Northern Nigeria is another example of hardening of the heart. Spending huge sums of money (by a people claiming dire poverty) lobbying foreign government-stakeholders to toe the same deceitful line is hardening of the heart. Everyone knows that Boko Haram fundamentally rejects Western civilization which is the ticket to poverty alleviation in this and many regions of the world and in this dispensation. Refusing to acknowledge the real publicly stated demand, intent and goal of Boko Haram—not just Sharia in Muslim Northern states, but Sharia in entire Nigeria, in complete rejection of anything else—is hardening of the heart. One Northern elite-author in a recent article even states boldly that if Jonathan were to make a public statement declaring that he would not run as president in 2015, thereby to allow a Muslim president of Nigeria in 2015, that Boko Haram would stop terrorizing Nigeria. This one goes beyond hardening of the heart to delusions or sheer disingenuousness.
Praying and fasting incessantly as the Christians in Nigeria are wont to do, for Nigeria to be made “one”, results from hardening of the heart. Especially when Boko Haram bombs Christian churches on Christmas and schedules another bombing on Easter successfully, while the Christians fail to see that it is only in the context and on the platform of “one-Nigeria” that this can happen. To insist on doing on the knees that which should be done with the feet is hardening of the heart: Leave—use your feet and move away from danger—let the people go; enough of the praying already. Praying and fasting for peace and security in Nigeria as Christians are called upon to do, while forgetting that the supplicant must take steps, even if difficult, to leave a dangerous and injurious relationship called Nigeria, is a form of hardening of the heart. For that, these Christians endure incessant bombing of their churches by Boko Haram with mounting casualties, a situation made possible by failing to challenge, and continuing to clinging to, one-Nigeria. Same goes for the misguided activities of the groups whose goal is “one-Nigeria” at all costs; their heart is hardened so they cannot acknowledge reality and the un-tenability and destructiveness of such a position or the arrangement it calls for.
As Pharaoh and Egypt found out, there is a heavy price to pay for insisting on unworkable conditions and relationships. As the peoples living in Nigeria are finding out, there is a hefty price to pay for refusing to learn from history, to learn from common experience, and to learn from common sense—and act accordingly. Today, Boko Haram has practically shut down the Nigerian Press and Media, save for the usual perennial drivel about EFCC, corruption and NASS. Sympathizers of Boko Haram are in control of foreign stakeholders’ opinion on the matter through expensive lobbying, though the UN institutions and these foreign establishments have already been victimized or at imminent risk. Northern elite and leaders are intimidated by Boko Haram into not just silence, but also, now spinning the situation to avoid blaming Boko Haram in any way. With the sympathy of the indigenes aligned with Boko Haram in its areas of operation, the Nigerian government’s armed forces and security agents are powerless to defeat Boko Haram any time soon or even at all. (Even that same government has admittedly been infiltrated by Boko Haram sympathizers and sponsors.) As for the non-indigenes, their reliance on same-Nigerian citizenship to protect them, and their genuine or contrived show of patriotism for malevolent Nigeria, no matter what (a hardening of the heart), has proven empty and wanting: they are finally leaving the Boko Haram areas of their wanton destruction, with nothing but their blood and corpses to show for it: the Nigerian government could not and cannot protect them.
As long as there continues this hardening of the heart, there are more “plagues” afoot, in case one thinks it could not get any worse. Just wait until Boko Haram solidifies its relationship with international terrorism. Then, they will lock down the whole of Nigeria and can and will strike any part of Nigeria at will: the entire Nigeria will become their operational platform and administrative base. And of course, they will install their own hand-picked Muslim as Nigeria’s president: the Buhari’s are always available and have declared their availability! Then, Somalia, in comparison, will be Heaven. Hence, Nigeria, in spite of Hell thus far, hasn’t quite seen “plagues”—not quite yet.
There is an alternative. “Let the people go”, now. Nigeria and the peoples can accept a multi-nation / multi-state solution now, wherein and whereby ethnic nations pursue each its own respective independent sovereignty and national course, building inter-national relationships only when and where mutual, consenting and beneficial.
Multi-state solution: That’s inevitable; not prophecy. “More plagues” is optional. There is a Divine example and precedent, for those looking for Divine guidance, Divine direction and Divine solution.
Let the people go. They will.
Oguchi Nkwocha, MD
A Biafran Citizen
The caption of the article appearing in ThisDayLive on May 6 2012 (http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/gowon-we-did-everything-to-avert-civil-war/115368/) proclaims: “Gowon: We Did Everything to Avert Civil War”. So in fact, Gowon is now claiming that he and whoever else included in “we”, actually tried “everything” to avoid a civil war? The only reason why Gowon, who now leads his self-proclaimed “Nigeria Prays” foreign money-attractant and self-publicity outfit, can publicly lie and lie so badly is that Nigeria and those who run it, acting time and again as if they have no memory, senses or sense, still provide the platform to reward murderers like Gowon.
How else could one explain the occasion where Gowon came to show us how well “he prays” and preach to us how pious he is, and how correct he was in prosecuting a war which he won but which is still going on today? According to the article, it was at “the sixth edition” of the so-called “Silverbird Man of the Year” event; and he was being honored with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” along with Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and Gen. Theophilus Danjuma. Pray, tell us: what has any of this trio achieved that is of benefit to the collective suffering and dying in Nigeria today, especially since the peoples are in a dire condition resulting from the actions and activities of these same men? Where is justification—what criteria—talk less of the morality, for handing honors out to these men who have contributed very directly and also indirectly to the human waste and bloody toll which form the terminal cancer afflicting Nigeria? It is a shame that in Nigeria events like this can still be conceived and displayed—events that senselessly honor those whose only contribution is the raising of the Human Misery Index.
Perhaps, in a technical but warped sense, Gowon and his co-war-prosecutors wanted to “avert” a war only of the “civil war” type: any other kind of war was fair game to start and wage by them. Yes, Gowon’s Police Action driving the Igbo and other Biafrans into the swallowing ocean waves of the Bight of Biafra would have been perfectly okay in his and his friends’ eyes. A war of extermination and extirpation which Gowon and his co-murderers were already waging against the Igbo and other Biafrans both in Gowon-led Nigeria Military and in the streets of Nigeria aided by Gowon’s government was quite okay with them: it couldn’t be defined as a “civil” war. Well-documented and incontrovertible Ethnic Cleansing practiced with precision by Northern Nigerians and later by the rest of Nigeria against the Igbo and other Biafrans was especially welcome by Gowon and his group: a war indeed, but not the “civil” war. Avert anything termed a “civil war”: any other type of war is okay with Gowon. Is this what Gowon meant by his statement? What a shame!
The recent death of Biafra’s Odumegwu Ojukwu brought a rare moment of honesty and candor from most Nigerians (except, not surprisingly, from Gowon and Obasanjo): the solution proposed by Ojukwu, discussed and agreed to in Aburi, Ghana in early January 1967, under the moderation of Ghanaian General Ankrah, to be known historically as the “Aburi Accord”, was correct then and would have averted not just the civil war but the current predicament of Nigeria. For that matter, according to them, that solution is still applicable today, where there is nothing else other than complete chaotic and bloody schism facing Nigeria. But, in the referenced article, here is how Gowon saw Aburi:
“Referring to …the 'Aburi Accord', Gowon disclosed that a decision was reached to give Ojukwu everything he wanted, “including giving up my own power””
That was Gowon’s take on that important historic event. What a cruel joke and a lie. And even if Gowon believed his version, it is on record that Gowon still reneged on what he himself at least admitted was a decision that was reached and he was party to. But, today, Gowon would want us to believe that he did everything he could to avoid a civil war.
Two months later, when it was clear that Gowon had no intentions of honoring the Aburi decisions and agreements, with the situation deteriorating and boiling over, Gowon and his Northern clique having complete power over anything and everything in Nigeria then and showing no interest in providing security for the then Easterners later to become Biafra, Ojukwu called the attention of Nigeria and the world to what was going on.
There are half-baked opinions out there which claim that in response to the above, Gowon relented and Ojukwu got everything he wanted for the then Eastern Region. However, a relevant report in New York Times (not particularly known for sympathy towards Biafra) of Friday, March 17, 1967 reads:
“Nigerian Government Decrees some Regional Autonomy
The Nigerian Federal Military Government today issued a comprehensive constitutional decree restoring considerable autonomy to the country's four Regions. However, the Military Government retained the right to declare a state of emergency in any Region and take control of its government. The Eastern Region, which has advocated the trimming down of nearly all federal powers over Regional affairs, is likely to oppose this clause because in the previous government headed by Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, a state of emergency was used as a political weapon in the Western Region to oust the opposition Action Group from power. The East fears these same emergency powers could be applied by northern led federal government as a pretext for crushing Lieut. Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Eastern governor, who has feuded bitterly with Colonel Gowon.
The amorphous and vague basis for the emergency take over was contained in the decree. The basis includes times of "public emergency," or any occasion when democratic institutions were deemed to be "threatened by subversion." (New York Times)” (Taken from “The Untold Story of the Biafra Nigeria War” by Dr. Luke Nnaemeka Aneke, Triumph Publishing New York 2007)
Gowon and his friends had unilaterally inserted a non-negotiable poison-pill to, and adopted their own version of, the original Aburi Accord. The Aburi Accord had not assigned such a role or function to the putative central government. In any case, this would have allowed Gowon and his clique to achieve their malevolent intent against Biafrans, smothering them without resistance: perhaps, this would have qualified as Gowon’s aversion of “civil war.”
Another lie by Gowon: “My heart bleeds to see …those kwashiorkor-stricken children. God knows how much effort I made to send food to those children, but it was sabotaged by propaganda that the federal troops had poisoned the food”. Wasn’t it the same Gowon whose Nigerian government policy and military policy is that “Starvation is a legitimate instrument of war” during the Nigeria Biafra war? Didn’t he send out emissaries, including late Enahoro (who later personally apologized for that role—the only person from the Nigerian government who did) to the countries of the world to press and sell that policy? Can it really be that Gowon is too dense to understand the connection between the total blockade of Biafra which he succeeded in, with the help of his allies, the starvation that would result from that, and the victimization of the most vulnerable—children, pregnant women, old men and old people? He does not get it—even now? Gowon is either a sick man or a sick liar.
For that matter, well documented accounts show that Gowon resisted every reasonable effort made by reputable neutral world charity-bodies to send in relief to Biafran children. It became so bad that out of conscience, humanitarian duty and morality, such relief organizations said that they would defy those real Nigerian government / military threats and opposition to their flying in relief material into Biafra. And, indeed, they defied those threats, and Gowon’s Nigeria followed through and its Military shot down some planes, while forcing others to take risky evasive maneuvers which also resulted in unnecessary casualties victimizing those whose only crime in Nigeria’s eyes was to prevent the starvation of Biafran children. And today, Gowon would have us believe that his “heart bleeds” for these children. What heart? Can stone bleed?
What about the situation at the end of the war when Gowon and his government refused world aid to Biafrans, although such relief that would obviously go through Nigeria and to Nigeria for distribution? Yes, after the war—after – the – war!—Gowon and his government banned relief aid donated to Biafrans from certain well-endowed countries, countries Gowon considered sympathetic to the Biafran cause. Gowon even refused aid that would be transported into Nigeria using capacity cargo planes, even from those countries which helped Nigeria wage the genocidal war. Surely, Gowon was thinking about the welfare of those starved Biafran children as he made these wicked decisions, like he wants us to believe today? Not quite finished, Gowon and his government actually delayed the transportation and distribution of the aid material into post war Biafra. It is not a secret that many interested parties have estimated that a large proportion of starvation victims of this war died in the weeks following the cessation of hostilities because of Gowon and the Nigerian government’s punitive dragging of feet: Gowon succeeded in using the withholding of charity and aid donated by caring and concerned countries and world-bodies as another weapon of war—but the war had already ended! Yet, Gowon today tells us that his heart is bleeding. Shame!
Do you know that on January 15 1970, after the end of the war, Gowon and his Nigerian government actually denounced the Vatican? Oh yes; and according to the reports, the Gowon-led Nigerian government formally and specifically “denounced the Vatican’s role in relief efforts” to Biafra. It is the same Gowon who now pretends to have felt the plight of starving Biafran children, the same children who benefitted most from such relief.
Gowon’s lies are many, even in such a short article; his hypocrisy disturbing. His lack of sensitivity is pitiable. For example, he claims that “They [the Biafran children, post-war] sang songs of welcome and acknowledged us as their fathers and leaders. It drew tears from my eyes.” Crocodile tears, indeed. What Gowon does not say is that he only heard the songs and thought only what he wanted the songs to say. He never looked into any of the little faces or into any of their innocent eyes that must necessarily and hauntingly be searching for the answer to the question why he, Gowon, murdered their siblings, friends and family, and gave them Kwashiorkor; why he, Gowon, destroyed their homes and their lives. And when Gowon lies again by claiming that Ojukwu wanted to rule Nigeria, he also reveals his confusion and draws mocking laughter: he must be talking of Zik (Nnamdi Azikiwe) whom he, Gowon, lured away from Biafra, most likely with promises of making him ruler of Nigeria; of which we all know how that ended.
Dismiss Gowon’s lies and hypocrisy, but the one area that surely continues to impact those alive today is Gowon’s continuing insistence on one-Nigeria. An untenable position from day one starting sometime in 1904, and unsustainable proposition dating back then and proven every day now, one-Nigeria is “a bridge too far” which makes Gowon’s 1970 victory over Biafra only a truly pyrrhic outcome in every sense of the term. Therefore, nothing can be more alarming and tragic than Gowon’s disconnected present-day preachment for a solution, his recommended way out:
“is for us to love Nigeria and believe in Nigeria; good or bad, right or wrong. In the name of God, stop the excesses and imbibe the love of your country. Bring all your grievances to the table for discussion. Let us get together truly and sincerely and find a solution to our differences.”
To which we respond:
Gowon, we have seen what you have done “in the name of God”, you who also once denounced the Vatican for sending relief to dying children of Biafra. We have experienced what your Nigeria can do and is doing in the name of God. We know exactly what you did after we once brought our grievances to the table for discussion—after we arrived at a decision and had an agreement. We have witnessed what you did to those who love Nigeria more than you can ever understand. We know what you are doing to those who really believe in Nigeria more than you can fathom. A true and sincere solution is not difficult to find, provided we refuse, contrary to your morally-deficient advice, to “love Nigeria and believe in Nigeria, good or bad, right or wrong.” We know you mean this, because you killed millions to make that point, and you still show neither understanding nor remorse today, though you failed and Nigeria fails. You are once again willing to see the casualty figures climb into the millions just because you want to see your Nigeria one. There is such a thing as Evil—Nigeria is it. There is Wrong, and it is Nigeria. There is Bad, Nigeria amply demonstrates it. If you truly understood these things (and every utterance of yours raises doubts about this), you will know that they—Evil, Wrong, Bad or by any other names—are not acceptable. What does the Bible which you yourself tote, say about Evil: love it, no matter what? Believe in it at all costs? No, and no.
Resist Evil. Abandon Evil. Do not accept Evil. Do not stay in Evil. Do not negotiate with Evil. Leave Evil. Leave. The peoples must leave the Evil and curse called Nigeria. That is the solution. Or, we shall all perish in Evil.
Oguchi Nkwocha, MD
A Biafran Citizen