By Douglas Anele
Continuing from last week’s discussion, the proximate causes of the emergence of Republic of Biafra in 1967 were the terrible pogroms against Ndigbo which reached epidemic proportions in May 1966 and continued for several months, together with Lt. Col. Gowon’s refusal to implement the Aburi Accord.
Therefore, Biafra was a child of necessity, a natural and morally justified response to the maltreatment and hideous atrocities committed mostly against Ndigbo living in the defunct northern region. Given his limited intellectual sagacity, temperamental weaknesses and inexperience in statecraft, Gowon could not handle the deteriorating relationship between his military regime and the eastern region headed by Lt. Col. Ojukwu.
Gowon also bungled the last ditch effort to save the situation at Aburi in January 1967. But, inasmuch as Gowon and high-ranking federal civil servants mostly from the old midwestern and northern regions are largely to blame for the failure to implement the Aburi agreement, it is difficult to understand why Ojukwu and other leaders of the eastern region, when they realised that Gowon will not implement the Accord and before announcing the independent state of Biafra, did not approach the United Nations (UN) with the surfeit of incontrovertible evidence of pogrom and other atrocities committed by the federal military government against Ndigbo and make a compelling case for self-determination through referendum that would be supervised by the world body.
After all, as indicated earlier, the right to self-determination has always been in the Charter drafted by the UN after WWII in 1945. And assuming the strategy fails, (perhaps because members of the British elite disliked the “uppity Igbo” and would do anything to thwart their quest for an independent country free from the suffocating apron-strings of the colonial master), it would be on record that the world refused to do the right thing to resolve the Nigerian crisis amicably.
A possible explanation is that Ojukwu and his advisers underrated Fulani caliphate colonialists led by Gowon and underestimated the extent they were prepared to go to sustain and dominate the country. The recurrent costly error by southern elite of regarding northerners as uneducated, backward and unsophisticated prevents them from recognising the dangers posed to the quest for a unified Nigeria governed on the basis of egalitarian democratic principles by the Islamic ideology of conquer-and-dominate which inform the political praxis of leading Fulani caliphate colonialists.
So, when Gowon and war-mongers like Murtala Mohammed and Hassan Usman Katsina felt that the final solution to the “Igbo problem” was armed confrontation with the recalcitrant eastern region, Ojukwu and the new country he created were not prepared. And by taking concrete actions to pull his region out of the rest of Nigeria without adequate military preparations and cover from a world power, Ojukwu played into the hands of northern conquist adores who had been looking for excuse to apply the hideous Hitlerian final solution to the Igbo.
The Biafran war ended more than fifty-one years ago. But the major factors that caused it, namely, megalomania or born-to-rule mentality by the dominant faction of the northern (or Fulani) military-civilian establishment and persistent injustice against Ndigbo in particular, have not been properly addressed by successive administrations, both military and civilian.
In fact, the problem worsened over the years especially during the military dictatorships of Murtala Mohammed, Ibrahim Babangida, and Sani Abacha when Nigeria was deliberately configured politically such that no matter the civilian government in power the most critical determinants of governance at the federal level would be in the hands of northerners to protect the bulimic interests of the northern elite.
In a previous essay, I have noted, for example, how rigged census figures, state creation, delineation of federal constituencies and, most crucially, the constitution were weaponised by northern military dictators and their civilian clones to entrench undeserved political and economic advantage to northern Nigeria.
Systemic injustice to the middle-belt and the south due to strangulating political domination by a parasitic clique from the “core north”which contributes little to the economy was the principal reason Maj. Gideon Orkar and his colleagues announced the temporary excision of the old Sokoto, Borno, Katsina, Kano and Bauchi states from Nigeria during the failed military coup of April 22, 1990 to topple the military government of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
Certainly had the coup succeeded by achieving its principal objective of stopping, as Orkar claimed in his broadcast, “domination and internal colonisation of Nigeria by some privileged few,” the history of Nigeria would have been quite different from what it is today.
The emergence of retired Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as president after three unsuccessful attempts marked a watershed in northern (Fulani) megalomania for internal colonisation of Nigeria. Before the election that brought Buhari from the blizzard of political oblivion and obscurity back to the pinnacle of power in 2015, I raised suspicion concerning his desperation for power to the extent of trying again for the fourth time despite losing three times consecutively and tearfully stating after the third unsuccessful attempt that he would never contest for the presidency again.
As I argued then, in all the relevant parameters for leadership of the country Buhari was not qualified for the office of president. More than six years since he assumed power, it is clear to every honest observer of the state of Nigeria that the country has retrogressed. In other words Muhammadu Buhari is a huge disappointment.
At present and for obvious reasons millions of Nigerians consider Buhari to be the worst Nigerian leader ever, and are beginning to feel nostalgic towards the much-inveighed administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. More significantly, it now appears that the northern ruling cabal, assisted by naïve and greedy political carpet baggers from the south, wanted power so desperately and repackaged Buhari who they believe can move to “the next level” the sinister muslim Fulani agenda of subjugating other parts of Nigeria so starkly formulated by Tafawa Balewa and Ahmadu Bello in 1947 and 1960 respectively.
Sycophants and bootlickers of the president can distort reality and parade alternative facts, half-truths and outright falsehood from now till eternity in order to sustain their gluttonous stomach Infrastructure. Still Buhari, by his obsessive favouritism towards the “core north” and misguided disdain for Igbo people in particular is responsible for rising disunity amongst Nigerians at this time which oxygenates and legitimises agitations for self-determination in the south.
Put differently, President Buhari lacks the intellectual, emotional and spiritual qualities necessary for leading efficiently a multiply plural and fractious country like Nigeria. But he is not alone in damaging the fragile or tenuous unity amongst different ethnic nationalities in the country. Like Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Benito Musolini and others before him who ruined their countries by ruling based on primitive nativist political ideologies, Buhari has a motley crowd of useful idiots from different parts of the country cheering him on.
Hypocritical flippant critics of the federal government from the north merely criticise Buhari in public to create the false impression of objectivity and patriotic desire for a better Nigeria. But in their minds they genuinely prefer retention of the present grotesque political arrangement that favours the parasitic northern aristocracy to the most viable option for the future of the country, which is confederation.
Northerners irrespective of their political party affiliations are united in the belief that Nigeria must remain one country and that retaining the country the way Britain created it with the north in control of most critical loci of federal power is the best way to avoid dismemberment.
TO BE CONCLUDED