Biafra and finding the Nigerian black box

June 6, 2017 Africa , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS


AFP photo



Prince Charles Dickson


The land of the rising sun…Biafrans, Igbos, the South, Federating units, restructuring…revenue formula are some of the words that are trending, there are hate speeches from all sides, the Jewish Rabbi Nnamdi Kanu having also been in the mix. And if I say that all this is the usual noise, I may only be naive, and if I say it is a serious matter, I would still need to be proved right or else I would been seen as naive.

But the divide, the hatred, angst, the “we versus them, they and us” are signs that are in the air.

Arguments and debates surrounding the Yorubas are ready, or we will not allow them to go, and some say let them go radiate the horizon. However let me thread this path to reinforce an earlier thought pattern, and my belief that really very little has changed.

A year thereabout ago the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) retained lawyer Prof. Dr. Göran Sluiter to file a criminal complaint against Nigerian President Buhari before the International Criminal Court (ICC) on account of crimes against humanity.

In that period very little has changed, it is still the same difference; in the mainstream media, interestingly everyday keeps providing fresh news items, either on Biafra as a subject or affiliates, a case of those for and those against, interestingly and naturally a divide amongst the Igbos themselves, and a few who are asking that we all tread with caution.

The recent sit-at-home in most states of the southeast was successful, the agitations continue, whether forced or willingly, grudgingly one must agree there seems to be a huge increase in followership for the “cause”.

Just a quick glide into history would show that what many think started out as occasional security clashes between a group of idle minds may soon, if not handled with tact and diplomacy, become another BH, and for many a student of political history it is so easy to see the trend in comparison to the Niger Delta militants, but this may turn out worse in that weapons may not be REALLY used.

The Biafra ‘struggle’ needs to handled, and trust me, it cannot be suppressed in the manner it is being handled, it cannot be waved off by the hands, current strong arm tactics will not work. Denying that there is no followership only reminds one of the first handful of members of Mohammed Yusuf. And thinking that the entire drama is symptom of an episodic ailment called marginalization may be wrong.

In the past I have looked at the Biafran renaissance as partly the story of the youth today and the challenges as mirrored by Maduabuchi Dukor, philosophically speaking, “we recognize that the southeast or Ndigbo is an emerging society, developing society in search of identity in a multi-racial Nigeria state and in the world. This “identity” question is not only omnibus but also a logical challenge because you are an Igbo or you are not an Igbo. In this case it is difficult for an Igbo to deny that he or she is an Igbo because doing so would amount to a contradiction. Identity does not brook any contradiction in the logical sense of the concept”.

What is the identity of today’s Biafra I dare ask?

“Again the fact that it is existential and encompasses a whole personality presupposes that it is defined by the history, culture, economics, politics and education of the people which again logically entails that the challenges of youth empowerment among Ndigbo are the challenges of history, culture, economics, politics, leadership and education.”

In the above regard, has the Biafra question been answered…who are the Biafrans, where is Biafra…it is a challenge of history, culture, economics, politics, leadership and education.

Maduabuchi Dukor, speaking further, states “The youth question, since after the defunct Biafran and Nigerian war, is an unfortunate historically necessitated experience that has left Ndigbo rudderless both in Nigeria, Africa and the world. The traumas, alienation, economic subjugation, discrimination, political marginalization and the consequent psychological dislocation of Ndigbo by successive Nigerian governments until the dawn of the second republic is worse than color dissemination in United States now and before.”

In what Professor Mercy Anagbogu of the Department of Guidance and Counseling, Nnamdi Azikwe University, Awka, Nigeria, captured in the metaphor of zero empowerment, the Igbo youth is in “a black box”, a state of mental, psychological tabula-rasa and moral, religious, educational economic degeneration and alienation

The historical phenomenon of “black box”, state of doldrums and darkness is still with Ndigbo youth in this regime and dispensation. The youth at zero empowerment has no place in the political, economic and educational calculation and space in Nigeria.

This scenario has brought a kind of flux where nothing holds and somewhat a state of nature where wickedness, jealousies, confusion, disrespect and loss of Igbo and family values become the order of the day. The consequences or indicative factors again are negative disposition, ritual moneymaking, individualism and lack of corporate business, which are not conducive to the corporate, cultural and political existence of Ndigbo. Unfortunately, the inability of Ndigbo leaders to confront and address the historical, existential, cultural, educational, political and economic challenges led to the dispersal of Igbo youth, in search of means of livelihood in Diaspora…and one of the many reasons why defining Biafra is really difficult.

Today’s Biafra certainly cannot be a land of erosions, land of the likes of Rochas the don of double speak, and land that elects a governor while he is in Kirikiri Maximum Prison; the land where everyone is a leader, yet no leadership and direction, envied by many, yet not sure of itself.

A land where its greatest enemy is itself, a land where its sons and daughters on one hand are marginalized yet are in every nook, cranny and corner of Nigeria doing very well; a people whose sons continue to do well in Lagos, but won’t go and develop ‘alaigbo’…but will whine “marginalization”.

So the land needs men of goodwill, leadership that needs to get its path right and stop playing third and fourth fiddle, leadership that is ready to write and teach their children their true history, teach their wards the dialect, culture and values, and not continue to engage in revisionist tendencies.

While it remains true that Nigeria needs true federalism to thrive, the federating units equally need leadership to get it right, and are sons and daughters of Ndi-Igbo ready to take up the challenge—Only time will tell.





Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.


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