The conflict of a rising state against an existing Federal Authority

September 7, 2017 Africa , Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

AFP photo

 

By

Ogunniyi Abayomi

 

50 years ago, the tragic tune of pain, desolation, distress and devastation, likewise rejection, befell the indigenes who occupied the Eastern geo-political zone of Nigeria marching for the independent state of Biafra inspite of the turbulent atmosphere across different geo-political zonea of the country by the valiant men in green uniforms. Nigeria had not recovered from the devastating coup d’etat orchestrated on the 15th of January,1966 instating General Aguiyi Ironsi as the first military head of state while northerners were grieved over the death of the prime minister Alhaji Tafawa Balewa and Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello amongst other statesmen eliminated in this coup d’etat.

The 1966 orchestration of January and July coup in Nigeria by the valiant men in green uniforms raised an atmosphere of disparity between the northern region and their eastern counterpart, the death of General Aguiyi Ironsi and Lieutenant Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi drew more controversy between the ethnic groups occupying the northern and eastern geo-political zones within the Nigerian community. The rage began, indigenes of the eastern zone were attacked across the north, several bodies loaded into containers of goods were suddenly opened only to discover the bodies of their people as a consequence of a misinterpreted involvement of their eastern military colleague from the eastern region in the coup that led to the death of Alhaji Tafawa Balewa and Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello.

The search began, ethnic crises were raging, General Yakubu Gowon, a young military officer at this turbulent period, was instated as the military head of state, an appointment observed to be unfair and undeserving for a man who was considered at this period of his young age as inexperienced to rule a state. Indigenes of the eastern zone declined this appointment building a disparity that was hard to repair thereby seeking its independence and sovereignty which led to the convening of Igbo indigenes at Aburi, Ghana in 1967 to discuss and analyse their proposed reform and referendum in respect of the independent state for which they inquired.

Indigenes of the eastern zone marched for a new society, several delegations and groups inquired for a new confederation inspite of the political upheavals and controversy within Nigeria’s political circus, the battle between General Yakubu Gowon and Eastern region persisting, the war of words between General Ojukwu and General Yakubu Gowon spurring more controversial action. The Aburi discussion organised in Ghana on the 4th and 5th of January 1967, built ideas that gave birth to the pursuit of the independent state of Biafra with several reforms that would institute a political freedom the indigenes of the eastern region inquired.

The decision was halted by General Yakubu Gowon who announced that the constitutional reform proposed at the Aburi conference be enacted into a decree, an attempt indigenes observed as an intricate move against the proposed movement of an independent state of Biafra, the move propelling and enforcing the indigenes to return home to meet and discuss and review their plans and actions, yet it was aborted.

General Yakubu Gowon’s refusal to grant the request spurred negative reactions and disagreements between the Federal government and the indigene sof the eastern region. He froze all official communication with Lagos and the eastern regional government administration was disconnected from receiving allocations from the Federal Government, an act that began in March 1967. The Federal Government disrupted every move towards the declaration of an independent state of Biafra, indigenes of the eastern region observing each move and anticipation against the implementation of a referendum, several delegates sent to the eastern region while other ethnic regions threatened to follow suit if the plan succeed. The indigenes discarded this approach on their emphasis and assumption of rejection by the Federal government.

Betrayal was clearly evident in the assumption and reason for their quest for an independent Biafra, despite the intervention of the National Reconciliation Commission delegates assigned by the Federal government for talks and meeting with Nationalists and Elders of the eastern region. The indigenes declined these moves and anticipation to disrupt their movement towards an independent state of Biafra.

 

50 years ago, General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu called and ordered all indigenes occupying the eastern zone of the country to return home. Several meetings were held with elders ensuing General Ojukwu to enforce the declaration of a free, sovereign and independent state by the name “Republic of Biafra.” Chimezie and Chukwuemeka anticipated these movements, every indigene of the eastern region was eager yet the government pulled all the strings of action to halt and pervert the movement on 27, May, 1967.

Turmoil, siege and rage persisted, Amaka returned to Aba from Kano, depressed over the death of her brother Chukwudi killed by the youths of the northern community while ethnic crises raged bitterly against these people. The valiant men in green uniforms did not fail in their assignment invading the zone, searching for individuals supporting the movement of secession, threatening and sending them to the dust by the triggered shots of their guns.

50 years ago also, reminiscent of the holocaust events the Jews encountered in Germany under the watch of German dictator Adolf Hitler, resurfaced once more within the eastern zone of the country. The announcement and declaration of the independence of Biafra, the land of the rising Sun by Genral Ojukwu on the 30th of May 1967 triggered the civil war between the Federal government and the eastern region of Nigeria orchestrating pogroms and genocide across the east whereby lives and properties were destroyed along with great damage and a high death toll across the state.

The war began, the indigenes knew what was at stake, no home, no food, no allocation, nowhere to run and hide, they would be refugees in their own land, people missing without trace of their whereabouts yet they perceived the Federal government had neglected them over time and are no longer seen and observed as Nigerians, we want to go; this was their voice, their cry and wailing.

Memories linger, they do not fade away from the minds of the elders who witnessed the war, the anguish of missing without trace of where you have been to, the genocide and destruction of properties, their homes and abode destroyed. Living in despair among other psychological battles cannot fade easily, many died and many cannot recover from the shock of watching their loved one in despair.

 

The literary world was thrown in the eclipse of sadness over the death of a great literary figure, Christopher Ifekandu Okigbo, on the battlefield fighting for the freedom of his people leaving behind the artistic prowess that establish him as a literary figure for the battlefield and armour. The conspiracy and political maneuvers were not hidden, the secret move of Victor Banjo and and the action of General Emmanuel Ifeajuna a forgotten hero of sport likewise the first Nigerian and African to win a gold medal at the commonwealth games led to their execution. The political activist and literary icon were not left out of the scene, various writers that were arrested and the many threats brought about reactions globally.

Wole Soyinka‘s incanceration for twenty months cannot be overlooked in the reminiscence of the civil war along with the followers who were executed for their alignment and secret engagements with the federal authority were few among various perspectives in which there rages within the political atmosphere. Chief Awolowo’s contribution as the Minister of Finance under the regime of General Yakubu Gowon can simply be seen as nobody is beyond mistakes despite his reputation as an erudite lawyer and political statesman who was also vying to ensure the unity of Nigeria was not stranded.

The civil war raised many questions amidst various pogroms and genocide that dampened the people psychologically, many deciding to exchange its loyalty for the federal authority, many starved, many were kidnapped and missing without trace, yet the honesty behind the agenda was not evident when an opposition with the group work together secretly with an ally for selfish motives and agenda.

Civilians are attacked within Owerri, Aba and Enugu as major towns and villages suffered much violence, the economic regression and starvation during the war raging, Obinna cannot go the farm to plant, cultivate and harvest his crops whose soil nutrients are destroyed by bombs thrown into the farmland by the soldiers. Chimezie cannot identify his wife and child and child body among those who were massacred and violently eliminated by soldiers, Ada’s father was missing and his location unknown to his family yet there was neglect from the Federal government, yet no concern.

 

50 years ago, the Biafra war raised a great deal of psychological discomfort while attacks on innocent lives were not punishable, indigenes were demoralised when Philip Effiong and his men surrendered at Dodan Barracks, Obalende on January 1970, which proves the futile effort of embarking when the Federal government declared no Victor, no vanquish in a war that demoralised the indigenes.

Today, despite having a democratic government, the march for Biafra that began 50 years ago is still raging with the indigenous people of Biafra under the leadership of Nnamdi Kanu persisting for the independence and quest over secession, many have not recovered today. The nation today is in despair and things have suddenly crumbled within our eyes because of ethnic racism we have imbibed into our system and filthy attitudes within our political circle.

Our nation has been divided with the choice of secession and restructuring when they cannot spill the truth, Boko Haram attacks persist yet we are yet to decide on what’s best for our nation.

Many have chosen him to be a saviour, many believe he is the one sent to deliver without necessary questions towards our unity, every Nigerian should study their history ensuring we don’t repeat anything that would cost our generations grief.

We must act now.

 

 

 

 

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Ogunniyi Abayomi

Ogunniyi Abayomi was born July 11, 1991 in the city of Lagos, where he resides. A poet and essayist whose works have been published in various journals.

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