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Biafra 50 years after: Igbo leaders lament continued marginalisation

By Emeka Mamah, Anayo Okoli and Chinonso Alozie

UMUAHIA—FIFTY years after the declaration of Biafra the issues that led Ndigbo to make the declaration cannot be said to have abated rather the issues, have patently become worse. Though at the end of the resultant 30 months war, it was declared a no-victor-no-vanquish situation but the reality on ground have always indicated that Ndigbo has always been regarded and treated as a conquered people.

In aspects of the Nigerian polity, economy, politics, Ndigbo has been openly marginalized rubbishing the no victor no vanquish declaration. This is in addition to the pogrom they suffered.

Instead of the Federal Government to harness some good things from the Biafran side such as the innovative ingenuity of Ndigbo they threw away the bath together with child and no doubt, Nigeria is worse off it. The continued marginalization and discarding of the genuine ideas from the Ndigbo is among the reasons for the continuous agfitation of Biafra, 50 years later.

According to the leader of Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, Uchenna Madu, “the existence and sojourn of the people of Biafra can be likened to the affirmation of Jesus Christ himself when he compared the Hebrew children to the salt of the earth noting that the earth, would be worthless without its salt”.

•Agitators of new Biafra during a rally

Speaking further, Madu said “Just as the children of light is the salt of the earth, so are the Igbos the salt of Nigeria.

Political scene

Without the Igbo, Nigeria will lose its taste and Nigeria will be no more. In all ramifications, men of goodwill and uprightness know that this assertion is true”.

According to, “J.P Clarke had once referred to the Igbo as soldier ants that came relatively late to the Nigerian political scene but as soon as they emerged they seized the floor and dictated the pace of nationalism”.

Quoting another author, the MASSOB leader, Arthur Nwankwo, he noted that “Ndigbo are the only group in Nigeria that has the capacity to make a comfortable and productive home anywhere outside their homeland. They are industrious and determined and they do not easily give up. They are very clever and hardworking. When it comes to business, the Igbos have the humility, patience”. So with these attributes and having not been considered important in the comity called Nigeria, the Igbos felt the need to be on their own and develop their God given talent.

“This attempt at establishing an independent state of Biafra was dependent upon the premeditated genocidal pogrom against the Igbo and other people of eastern region of Nigeria then outside of their homeland. This choreographed genocide was followed by the coup of 29 July 1966, during which Nigerian troops of Northern origin systematically killed many southern officers and men, of whom at least three quarters were easterners.

“It is apt to say that the involvement of military officers of Northern extraction in these massacres effectively destroyed the Nigerian army as an effective agent of Nigerian unity.

“The subsequent massacre of citizens of the Eastern region in the north, starting again in September 1966 and the mass migration back to the east that ensued widened the rupture in national unity. It was at this point that issues such as problems of refugees, economic support of displaced persons and intensified fears of citizens of the Eastern region for their personal safety combined to escalate the tension between the Eastern region and central government.”

Harsh economic policies

Nobody could have blamed Ojukwu for declaring Biafra, which was brutally resisted by the Nigerian state but today the situation has not changed. What Ndigbo suffer today seems to be more. Harsh economic policies aimed at reducing the capacity of the Igbo.

Uchenna Madu lamented that “these policies of marginalization were efficiently and effectively carried out through the various military dictatorships that dominated Nigerian politics for the greater proportion of its post-war history, which spanned 1970 to 1999.

“Interestingly, the current democratic dispensation has also coincided with the emergence of a post-war Igbo generation who do not accept the obvious marginalization of the Igbos in Nigeria. The manifestation of this resentment is seen in the number of Biafran groups and movements that have emerged to demand for the re-establishment of an independent Biafran state as a panacea to the alienation of the Igbos in the Nigerian polity.

“This new Igbo nationalism like any other nationalism is anchored on a shared vision among our people that we are better off as an independent state than being an integral part of the Nigeria State. The golden jubilee celebration of Biafra declaration anniversary will be golden and superlative. It will be a moment of sober reflection among the Biafra agitators.

“The commemoration of the anniversary celebration will bring more unifying forces of non violence for speedy actualization and restoration of Biafra with different activities of all pro Biafra groups that will recharge the consciousness of Biafra. We the people of Biafra will never relent in promoting, projecting and upholding all the legacies of General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the supreme leader and Commander of Biafra Nation”.

Among other Igbo leaders lamenting over the marginalisation of Ndigbo include the President General of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, the National Secretary of Igbo Leaders of Thought, ILT, Prof Elochukwu Amucheazi, the Deputy Leader of the Eastern Consultative Assembly, ECA, Chief (Mrs) Marie Okwor and the Founder of the Igbo Youths Movement, Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu- Uko among others.

They passed a vote of no confidence on Buhari’s government which they said had exacerbated their sufferings in the Nigerian union, even as the administration celebrates its second year anniversary.

Furthermore, the Igbo leaders expressed worry over the defection of top politicians from the area to the APC despite the poor treatment meted out to the South East geopolitical zone by the Federal Government.

According to them, those defecting to the APC were like slave merchants who sold their brothers to the Europeans as slaves during the slave trade era.

Orchestrated marginalisation

President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nwodo who spoke about the orchestrated marginalisation of Ndigbo in the scheme of things at a recent news conference in Enugu expressed worry that many top Igbo politicians were defecting to the ruling party, without reaching any agreement with the APC leaders on how to get their own share of the national cake from the Federal Government.

Nwodo blamed the prolonged agitations for Biafra by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Movement for the Actualisation the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, and other Igbo youths on the marginalisation of Ndigbo in all ramifications.

The Founder of Igbo Youth Movement, IYM, Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, said that there was not much to say as the situation was “too grim.”

He said that the yardstick for measuring the development of any society was through the youths, adding, “You need no other barometer to  feel the pulse of the people judging from their feelings of despair. The youths are so despondent that they are now asking to be allowed to opt out of the country. I do not need to say anything further.

“We are a country and but not a nation. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Biafra, we remember the time we were invaded; we remember the killing of over three million Igbo and we also remember how we managed to survive. We are asking for self- determination.”

Adding his voice to the development, the President of the Igbo National Council, INC, Comrade Chilos Godsent, said that the economic policies of Nigeria, have not been in the favour of the Igbo.

He argued that the Igbo would continue to find it difficult as far as the constitution of Nigeria has not been “liberalized”, adding that the marginalization of Igbo people was “deliberate.”

He said: “I can tell you authoritatively that those issues before and after the Nigeria/Biafra civil war have not been addressed. The issue of lopsidedness of political structure of the Nigerian state is still there.

“The deliberate marginalization of the Igbo, the conspiracy of the Arewa and Oduduwa bloc against the Igbo nation is still very strong. Let me tell you that these issues led to the fear of uncertainty and made the Igbo feel so unwanted in the Nigeria federation.

“That was what started self determination, which they eventually called the Biafra Republic. The struggle is ongoing but what we are concerned about is the tactical approach and the existing frame work on the modus operandi of all the organisations that are struggling for the sovereign state of Biafra.”

It was his view that, “We need to change strategy and we need to understand the link of the international conspiracy and the super powers. We also need to understand the link of the international multi-nationals and external interests.

“First, we need to conquer the region politically and economically. In other words, that can be possible to seek for functional self determination.”


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