BIAFRA: SECESSION AND SELF-DETERMINATION
On the 30th of May 1967 the peoples of the Eastern Region decided to secede from Nigeria to form their Republic of Biafra in keeping with their natural right to self-determination. The new republic existed for the next three years before it collapsed under the heavy weight of the combined forces of Nigeria, Great Britain, Soviet Union (Russia) and the Arab League spearheaded by Egypt. These allied forces were determined to wipe out an entire people because they felt that they needed the oil and gas deposits in the lands and waters that the Biafran people occupy.
The Republic of Biafra emerged as a result of necessity. The people were faced with a very real and imminent danger to their continued existence on Earth as a people. Since Nigeria and its allies were poised to exterminate all the peoples of Biafran extraction from the surface of the Earth. It was natural that Biafrans would not surrender to the aggressors without a fight so they chose to defend and save themselves, their human dignity and their national boundaries in the face of all odds. It was that choice that gave birth to the independent and sovereign state of the Republic of Biafra. So, Biafra began because a people wanted to survive.
Though the new republic was subdued in early January of 1970, the people of the old Biafra still claim that they never actually surrendered their Biafran citizenship or national sovereignty on that 13th day of January 1970. To them it was only a temporary truce because the people still have this firm belief that on the 30th of May 1967 all Biafrans everywhere relinquished their Nigerian citizenship forever.
So it is not surprising that today the same people have once again dusted up the task of restoring their independence and national sovereignty. Currently millions of Biafrans all over the world have organized themselves into various groups geared towards bringing about again their Republic of Biafra and their human dignity. And to prove how determined they are in this their business of freedom and independence, they have both armed and violent groups and, those who believe in using peaceful means to achieve this goal of theirs. (In real life no one can honestly condemn any person or persons who would use any means necessary and available to him in the defense of themselves and the restoration of their self-respect as a people). They believe that after they have lost 3.1 million of their people to Nigeria and its allies in the 1960s genocide that no cost would be too much for them to pay today to be free again.
It must be recalled that the events that led up to the declaration of May 30, 1967 started in about the middle of the previous year. Beginning from the month of July 1966 there was what seemed like a “spontaneous” explosion of unprovoked murderous violence against all peoples of Southeastern region by the rest of the peoples of Nigeria. From July of that year till that day of Biafra’s independence and freedom the following year, Yoruba people, Hausa people, Fulani people, Ebira people, Birom people, Idoma people, Tiv people, Gwari people, Nupe people, Kanuri people and the rest ethnic groups of Nigeria turned on the Igbo and the other Biafrans with every imaginable murderous weapon. Killing the Biafrans everywhere in Nigeria became a pastime fun for Nigerians who were previously next-door neighbors to these people. As for the Nigerian government it was a state organized and sponsored program that they felt must be done with an uncanny thoroughness.
For the first and no doubt only time since its inception, the Nigerian state was able to execute a thorough and successful program without letting graft and official corruption ruin it. Nigeria’s army, navy, air force, police, secret service, all paramilitary forces and their civilian populace hunted down these people. Neighbors had no qualms in pointing out and handing over to be killed, their neighbors with whom they had lived together for years. People like Chinua Achebe the author of the book, Things Fall Apart who was then living in Lagos and working in Nigeria’s state radio station only escaped death by a hair’s breadth when some soldiers came to the studio to kill him. They said they wanted to carry out a test between their gun and Achebe’s pen which was more lethal.
Achebe was lucky but not the other half a million others of his people. The unlucky ones including unborn babies were beheaded, lynched on the streets, set ablaze in their homes, children were taken from their schools and killed with machetes, and girls were taken from their schools to leprous persons and other people with incurable diseases to be raped before being beheaded. Pregnant women were clubbed to death and their unborn babies taken out of their stomach and killed too. Men and children of all ages were thrown into water wells. Their screaming and crying to be spared alive meant nothing to Nigeria, Nigerians and the rest of the world. Their fading voices only echoed back on the deaf ears of these Nigerian citizens and the British government as they used them to fill up holes of thirty to forty foot deep before covering them with heavy stones. Some others were forced to eat feces and drink urines.
These atrocities went on for about one full year while the then Governor of the Eastern region Emeka Ojukwu and the rest of the people pleaded with the Nigerian government to stop this state sponsored genocidal terror on a defenseless people. But those calls and pleas would not be heeded; Nigeria, its people and the British government had gone completely mad.
So it was out of frustration and desperation that the Easterners now declared that if the Nigerian government could no longer offer to them protection that they would have to secede from Nigeria into a nation where their lives and property could be safe. This was a natural reaction as shuld be expected in response to such an aggressive oppression. The people of the East wanted to survive. Their ethnic groups were being actively cleansed of every nook and corner of Nigeria by both the state and its peoples.
And because it looked like the Easterners’ blood they were spilling served as an intoxicant; the Nigerian state and its people would not stop the killing for a whole twelve months. Therefore, when Biafra was declared as a state with sovereignty and national boundaries it was to give shelter and hope to those who escaped from the Nigerian pogrom and the others who were in their original homes in the East.
It should also be remembered that other peaceful solutions were extended to Nigeria by Biafra before the May 30, 1967 declaration. One of such was the Aburi Ghana Accord which was quickly broken by Nigeria at the insinuation of Britain. So, within the first week of the independence declaration, Nigeria went, armed by the British, to fight the Biafrans in their own Homeland. It would be a long drawn out war that lasted for three years. When the war started, Biafra had no arms and ammunition because they were never preparing for any war. They did not see any reason why. In retrospect there was every reason why because Nigeria the aggressor was being actively prepared for battle by Britain who was joined by the Soviet Union (Russia), the Arab nations under the umbrella of the Arab League with Egypt supplying combatants.
Someone maybe asking what was so important about Biafra, her people and Land that made these forces to ally themselves on the side of Nigeria and commit the worst kind of genocide and war crimes that had never been witnessed on the African continent. They did not make a secret of their intentions; Nigeria and Nigerians were uncomfortable with a people with a different cultural norm and wanted them exterminated out of their sight. The Western powers wanted the oil in Biafra. The Arab world wanted to expand their Islamic jihad and terrorism into the area and show solidarity with their Nigerian Muslim brothers. In the process they combined forces and murdered 3.1 million Biafran children, women and men like they were mere inconsequential things.
In the end they forced Biafra and Biafrans back into Nigeria and ever since have continued the murdering and looting of the people’s lives and properties unabated. Since the end of the war the Nigerian state has forced on the Biafrans all kinds of obnoxious decrees that deny them their natural right to their lands and waters. In 1969 there was the Petroleum Decree No. 5, then the Land Use Decree of 1978 and the National and Inland Waterways Decree of 1997. All these illegal decrees fabricated by Nigeria with the active participation of the British government and the rest of the Western oil companies were designed to violently defraud Biafrans and all the peoples of the East the right to their lands, waters and resources thereof.
Having known about all these it becomes important to alert all consumers of the so-called “Nigeria’s oil” to always realize that every drop of it is actually mixed literally with the blood of these 3.1 million people who were murdered to extract it. Moreover, the murders are ongoing. We shall mention among several others, just in this month of December 2010, Nigerian government and the oil companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, Afren, British Petroleum, ExxonMobil and the British government sent troop with war planes, mortars, grenades and other firearms to kill the people of Ayakoromor and destroy their place of abode. Ayakoromor is an oil producing community in Burutu Local Council in the Niger Delta.
Nigeria and the oil companies claimed they were trying to kill John Togo and his fellow freedom fighters who they said were in the area. It must be noted that at the conclusion of the murdering of the defenseless civilians not a single person among the freedom fighters was killed or wounded since they were not even near the area of this genocidal attack. But about 150 civilian children, women and men were murdered in order to keep the oil and gas flowing. Today, the entire community is sacked and all their means of livelihood destroyed.
It is in recognition that the people of Biafra’s lives and homes are not mere expendable objects that can be wiped off at will in order to make enough room to pump more oil from their Lands and Waters that the people have decided to put a permanent stop to this warrantless and wanton carnage. The people now feel that there must be a thorough, sensible and permanent solution to this situation.
The people contend that Nigeria as it is constituted today is an unrealistic arrangement which cannot be maintained with the continuous spilling of the blood of the innocent people of Biafra. And in the view of the fact that these fraudulent decrees were made in dishonesty and with the intention of depriving the people of their rightful ownership then remedial measures must be taken to execute justice on the people’s behalf by the world community. Among the core solutions that the people have proposed as the way forward are as listed below:
1) The British government must henceforth stop supporting the extension of the Biafran Genocide by Nigeria, even as the moral stain resulting from their original support and enforcement of the first Genocide against Biafra has not faded.
2) The rest of the Western powers, especially the United States government and citizens must begin to see the trade in “Nigeria’s oil” as illicit, indeed as “Blood oil” which actually it is.
3) The “neutrality” of the United States, or acquiescence in the face of gross injustice, in regard with the ongoing British government’s brutal misadventures and disastrous interference in Nigeria, is tantamount to U. S. support of a murderous policy, just like they did during the Biafra War of the 1960s.
4) The Biafran people view what is going on now as a colonization of the Niger Delta and Biafra Land by the State of Nigeria and such must be ended.
5) The victim-nations of Biafra/Niger Delta have now begun to apply their Nature’s given right to Self-Determination and are ready to make whatever sacrifice is necessary to claim their Right even when it amounts to violent actions, they will not shy away from it.
6) The interested parties such as the British government, United States of America, China, India and all the oil companies must decide to operate in the area in the light of the true realities. There can only be peace when justice has been done. These interested parties must go into new deals and agreements with the rightful people and nations of Biafra/Niger Delta and stop dealing with the Nigerian state in regards with the oil and gas there.
7) The United Nations of Ban Ki Moon must not pretend ignorant as the U Thant’s U. N. did. The situation is simmering and he Ban must choose to do the right thing now by getting proactively involved and support a referendum that will let the people to decide if they would remain in Nigeria or secede.
8) The United States of Barack Obama must redeem herself in this ongoing situation by making up for their past mistake during the Biafran Genocide of the 1960s. They must support a referendum now to enable the people of Biafra/Niger Delta decide if they still want to remain as part of the Nigerian state or not.
It is interesting to note here in conclusion that the United States has just taken a bold step in this direction when on the 16th of December 2010 their President Barack Obama decided, though belatedly, to officially endorse the 2007 United Nations General Assembly declaration of Indigenous Peoples Right to Self-Determination. This is right because throughout the ages of man on Earth it has been proved again and again that justice and the freedom of the people to choose have always preceded a lasting solution to any conflict situations. The Biafran/Niger Delta situation cannot be any different and every responsible member of the world community must take action with that in mind to end the killings and destructions going on today in Biafra/Niger Delta.