Re: Ojukwu and the Tabloid

Mr. Temple must be too young to know the facts. Ojukwu did not “decide to declare Biafra.” He was mandated by the Oha—the Nation and people of Biafra, then—to declare Biafra; that’s why Biafrans went en masse to fight for Biafra and for ourselves, not for Ojukwu, even though we revered him very much as our leader. It was not “Ojukwu’s” war alone; it was the Biafra War, our war.

Re: Ojukwu and the Tabloid by “Oguchi Nkwocha, MD.”  

“…Ojukwu never wanted the Igbo secession from Nigeria from the onset, it was when Gowon, the Sokoto Caliphate and the Hausa/Fulani oligarchy refused to implement that agreement reached and signed at Aburi, which should have doused ethnic tension and hatred, that Ojukwu, as the Igbo leaders, decided to declare Biafra free from Nigeria’s strangulating grips, in order to save his people from further death and humiliation. On whether he achieved the goals, is another point for another day. It’s the responsibility of a good father to protect his family and children from harm…” —Temple Chima Ubochi

Mr. Temple must be too young to know the facts. Ojukwu did not “decide to declare Biafra.” He was mandated by the Oha—the Nation and people of Biafra, then—to declare Biafra; that’s why Biafrans went en masse to fight for Biafra and for ourselves, not for Ojukwu, even though we revered him very much as our leader. It was not “Ojukwu’s” war alone; it was the Biafra War, our war. 

We did not declare Biafra because Gowon (who today boasts his “Born again” Christian credentials and piety—pity!) shamelessly reneged on the Aburi agreements. We fought the war in self-defense; because of ethnic cleansing directed against us in and by other parts of Nigeria; and then, the hot pursuit of our bloodied people into our own enclave, Biafra, by Nigeria armed with a murderous, genocidal intent. That’s why “Jos” today has made unbelievers begin to see the wisdom of the secession of Biafra: when the State makes a deliberate effort to make your life insecure, and your humanity has no value to the State, it’s time to find your own space so you can survive and do the business of living. Yet, “Jos” is not even a millionth of “Biafra.” 

Perhaps, Ojukwu, in his personal heart, really wanted to stay in one-Nigeria in some form, even if an Aburi-type confederation, as the writer above implies. The fact is that Biafrans wanted Biafra then (and now), not Nigeria. In any case, Nigerians continue to demonstrate to Ojukwu and other Biafrans who are still clinging to one-Nigeria today, that they are not wanted in Nigeria, only as slaves and subhuman, class-less non-citizens. Today, our people want Biafra more than ever, not Aburi-configuration Nigeria, not one-Nigeria. Biafra, only Biafra! 

Of course, Gaddafi is perfectly correct. It is only a fool who does not want to accept the fact that Nigeria will never stand. It is even a bigger fool who wants one-Nigeria in any configuration who is Igbo or Biafran. Why shouldn’t the Igbo listen to Gaddafi when Ojukwu is too busy claiming that he is the “Father” or “Leader” of the Igbo—a Nation that by tradition has no disposition for such patronizing ranks, no matter who makes the claim—even as he, Ojukwu, continues to insist that  the Igbo stay in one-Nigeria? We want Biafra; our people want Biafra, and we hail Gaddafi for his honest statement and will work with him if he is willing to back his truthful words in this specific area. It would be a miscalculation to miss where our people would go, should the choices be posed to the Igbo and other Biafrans today as: Gaddafi + Biafra VERSUS Ojukwu + one-Nigeria. It won’t be a difficult choice: there will be no contest at all. 

The Igbo need to open their eyes, and study history if they cannot be true to their own experience of that history. The Igbo need to be true to their nature. We are not “children” to be protected by any one man with a “father”-attribute: no matter how you look at it, that’s not Igbo. We do not need protection; we need to be what we are and who we are. We are not going to spend our collective national and individual existence trying to fit into one-Nigeria even if someone thinks that that affords us protection from assault by Nigeria—someone who chooses to ignore the fact that such an assault by Nigeria is ongoing, and worsens by the day, anyway. The Igbo need and deserve our own sovereign and independent Nation outside of Nigeria; that, we shall get. And, we will do what we must to get there. 

I believe that if Ojukwu goes to sleep at night with the burden of Biafra’s war loss on his own shoulder, he has misunderstood and has underrated the Igbo and other Biafrans.  We fought, suffered and died for what we believed in; no one should try to take that away from us, least of all, to concentrate all that on any one person alone. What we did was not by any one man, nor was it for any one man. Liberty and freedom are always at a cost: you can’t get there if you are “protected” or if it’s left to any one man. In any case, if in fact Nigeria won that war, then it was only a pyrrhic victory, because Nigeria’s irredeemable failure and hopelessness today can be traced to that war and its aftermath. 

In the final analysis, Nigeria holds nothing good for the Igbo and other Biafrans. If other ethnic nations would be true to themselves, they would come to the same conclusion and could make the same statement regarding Nigeria and their own respective ethnic nations, and such a statement would stand true. In that respect, Gaddafi is quite right. It’s up to Ojukwu if he wants one-Nigeria today or not, but we have chosen Biafra, and Biafra it is. 

Oguchi Nkwocha, MD.

Nwa Biafra

A Biafran Citizen  

Subject: OJUKWU AND THE TABLOID by Temple Chima Ubochi

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bonn, Germany 

The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow (Ayn Rand)

Indifference may not wreck a man’s life at any one turn, but it will destroy him with a kind of dry-rot in the long run. (William Bliss Carman)

There are some men formed with feelings so blunt that they can hardly be said to be awake during the whole course of their lives. (Edmund Burke)

When one becomes indifferent to women, to children, and young people, he may know that he is superannuated, and has withdrawn from whatsoever is sweetest and purest in human existence. (Amos Bronson Alcott)

any journalists are always courting Ojukwu; trying to get his viewpoints on issues because they know that anything he (Ojukwu) says, becomes a sensation and helps them sell their newspapers. Any Newspaper House experiencing dwindling newspaper sales, starts looking for Ojukwu’s interview in order to boost its sales. When Ojukwu sneezes, the newspapers get frenzied and try to misquote or misrepresent his viewpoints, because, many Nigerians, for good or bad, see Ojukwu’s opinion, on any issue, as a must-read. So money is the bottom line why journalist would never allow Ojukwu to enjoy all the beauties of his old age in tranquillity; they’re always looking for him, for one interview or the other, in order to publish it for a good sales. Alvan Ewuzie, writing for Sun Newspapers, interviewed Ojukwu recently, but, for whatever reasons, decided to misrepresent what Ojukwu told him. The Paper’s edition of Wednesday, April 7, 2010 which published the said interview, misquoted Ojukwu as having said that: “IBB should return to power and should run for president in 2011”.

I’m not Ojukwu’s mouthpiece; it’s not my prerogative to defend what he did not say or what he said, but, I will not stand and watch from the sideline while people insult the Igbo leader based on misconstruction of his opinions by the tabloid. The interviewer started the publication by rabble rousing; he refused to be objective, he delved into some personal issues which had nothing to do with the rules of the game. In short, the publication was at its best jaundiced.

We’re not here to review the whole publication, let’s concentrate on some portions only. On IBB and his tall dreams of ruling Nigeria again, Ojukwu said: “I don’t know that he wants to come back. But Babangida happens to be the one I know a little bit about. If for nothing else I like his sense of humour and I believe that a man endowed with such openness might have something to offer. About whether he thinks that “if he (IBB) wants to come back, he is welcome”, Ojukwu said: “Oh yes why not. In fact any body who wants to have a shot at the Presidency is welcome, provided they go the right way. Don’t come back to office through the wrong way such as a coup d’état then I will tell you that you are cheating. But if you are going to go through the elections, campaigns, and get people to vote for you and they say you are the man, then that’s ok by me”. When reminded that IBB ruled for 8 years before, Ojukwu said. “I would even go further to say that if 16 years were possible, provided the man is healthy and his senses are still intact and his coordination is still alright, then he should offer himself for the job and if the people want him, so be it.”

Looking at the above excerpts, nothing suggests that Ojukwu ever said that IBB should return to power and should run for president in 2011 as the Sun Newspapers wrote in its caption of the interview. That was a misrepresentation of Ojukwu’s viewpoints. I will try to decipher what Ojukwu meant here. Ojukwu spoke hyperbolically, if you like, term it “in parables”; Ojukwu’s a leader, he’s a democrat, he has contested elections before, so there was no way he can prevent anybody, who wants, from going for elections as long as things are done the right ways. It would have amounted to dishonesty for him to suggest that IBB should not contest if he wants, afterall; we’re living in a supposedly free society where everybody’s free to say or do whatever he or she wants, as long as such is within the ambit of the law and so far the person has the wherewithal. Ojukwu cannot be contesting elections since 1983 and then turns around to wish something else for any other person.

Ojukwu saying that IBB has “sense of humour” has many meanings. IBB is ludicrous and humorous (indiscipline), if he still thinks he has something different to offer now, after ruling for eight years, and offering nothing to Nigeria and Nigerians other than corruption and hardship. I don’t know much about Fulani culture in this respect, but, I do know that in Alaigbo, when somebody looses the spouse, commonsense or love/respect for the deceased demands that such a person should at least wait out a year after the death (mourning period), before talking about whether he/she would contest an election. With “tears” still in his eyes, IBB has started planning how to rule Nigeria again. That’s humorous.

Ojukwu also envisaged that IBB will be facing a daunting task he will not be able to surmount, by saying “But if you are going to go through the elections, campaigns, and get people to vote for you and they say, you are the man, then that’s ok by me”. Ojukwu knows that majority of Nigerians will never vote for IBB in a free and fair election, Ojukwu sees IBB’s chance of contesting, talk more of winning the presidency as non-existent. IBB can not cancel the best election ever held in Nigeria, betrayed his friend who won the election through that act which also led to his (Abiola´s) death, and still had the audacity to declare his intention to run in 2011, for the first time this year, during an engagement in Abeokuta, the hometown of Abiola, who died trying to recover his mandate. That was an insult and a humour of the worst order.

Ojukwu went further to say that IBB, if he wants, can rule for 16 years or even die there (the emphasis is mine), since he’s not satisfied with the havoc his 8 years rule wrecked in Nigeria and on its people. Ojukwu still maintained that it can only be possible if the people want it to be so. I just want to add that IBB can try everything he wants or can, he will never “smell” the presidency again. Today is 2010 and not 1985; the emancipation of Nigeria for Nigerians will either start this year (40 years after the genocide) or it will be “to your tents, oh Nigerians”, there’s no two ways about it and IBB has no place in a new Nigeria about to appear in the horizon, if the nation is destined to continue existing on the map. Those fronting for IBB’s comeback should grid their loins for a battle that will end in defeat for them. The United States and the other western powers supporting IBB’s bid (assuming the allegations are true), will be in for a big disappointment. The Tribune once wrote that “Britain, the United States, France, Germany and now China, have of late conducted different surveys on the personality of General Babangida, with a view to testing his popularity ahead of the 2011 elections. The surveys, it was learnt, were conducted among political parties, National Assembly members, civil society groups and women organisations, said to have been considered as critical to the next elections in Nigeria. Apart from speaking to Babangida directly through their respective envoys in Nigeria, the countries were said to be keen on getting responses from Nigerian groups and individuals on a possible Babangida presidency in 2011, purposely to design a constructive programme meant to guide the intervention of the international community on the future politics in Nigeria”. Let me make it very clear that foreign powers testing the Nigerian political waters is one thing and the plan getting actualized is another. IBB’s going no way, Ojukwu knows that, I know that and majority of Nigerians also know that.

The annoying part of the whole thing is IBB’s recalcitrance to that effect. The so called foreign endorsements seem to be getting into his head, but, let them not forget that “man proposes, but, God disposes”. This is an excerpt from the Peoples Daily with the caption “2011: Nothing can stop me, says IBB, Aide says 16 governors endorse former military leader’s presidential bid”:

“Former President, Genera Ibrahim Babangida has vowed that the antics of his critics would not prevent or discourage him from testing his popularity by running for President in the 2011 elections. He made this known while reacting to several media reports allegedly aimed at discrediting his person. In a statement by his media spokesman, Prince Kassim Afegbua, General Babangida said he knows the character of those who are currently mushrooming as social activists and human rights defenders and their chief sponsors”.

We learnt that IBB is buoyed by the recent endorsement of his presidential ambition by some key figures of the PDP, which included the chairman of the party’s Board of Trustees, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, as well as the international support being extended to his presidential ambition. It was further reported that his campaign is being coordinated by Senate President David Mark and Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu. Mark is to mobilise support for Babangida amongst PDP members of the National Assembly while Governor Aliyu is to rally support for IBB among state governors.

Back to Ojukwu’s Sun Newspapers’ interview: This is the most important part of the interview, as my upcoming article on Gaddafi will take a “dressing” from it. When compared with Gaddafi, Ojukwu said “If I had said what Ghadafi said, I would stand by it but I did not. And we have not reached a stage where we hire Ghaddaffi to come and be our advocate. He has his own problems. Please Ghaddaffi don’t mix your problems with ours and if you feel that you have to talk come and talk to me. I am the leader of Ndigbo. The name Ghaddaffi does not appear in our lexicography”. Ojukwu was right here, while Gaddafi advocated the splitting of Nigeria into so many countries with the regions as the basis, Ojukwu advocated at Aburi in 1967, that Nigeria should revert to the regional system of government, with regional police, courts, national army with regional headquarters etc. In other words, Ojukwu wanted strong regions and a weak centre as the panacea for peace and development in the country. Gaddafi saw reasons in what Ojukwu said in 1967 only 40 years after, but, overshot by asking for outright splitting. Ojukwu never wanted the Igbo secession from Nigeria from the onset, it was when Gowon, the Sokoto Caliphate and the Hausa/Fulani oligarchy refused to implement that agreement reached and signed at Aburi, which should have doused ethnic tension and hatred, that Ojukwu, as the Igbo leaders, decided to declare Biafra free from Nigeria’s strangulating grips, in order to save his people from further death and humiliation. On whether he achieved the goals, is another point for another day. It’s the responsibility of a good father to protect his family and children from harm.

When reminded that the senate President described Gaddafi as a mad man, Ojukwu said: “No, I would not go as far as calling him a mad man. He is a leader of his people and I respect that fact. If you look through my entire career you would find that even with a country as close to us as Ghana, at no point have I suggested what type of government they should have because it is not my business. Having said that, it is clear that whatever Ghaddafi thinks, he has every right to his thoughts. But as a political leader he should note that he has no right to decide for Nigeria what Nigeria should do. So I say to him, my friend Ghaddafi please shut up”. It’s understandable that Ojukwu ended it this way.

On the issues that led to his defence of his people, Ojukwu said: “I hesitate to answer that question because I don’t like to be boxed into a corner. Quite a lot of the issues have been raised over the years. But whether they have abated, I would say yes to a certain extent. However, that we are today still talking about the safety of our citizens is really sad. What are our leaders doing and why is our society so fragile. By now Nigeria should have grown beyond all these sectarian crisis and insecurity which now makes people scared of travelling to or going to live in some parts of the country. I feel we should have gone far beyond that. But, more than anything, I want to make this very clear, namely, that it is for this kind of things that we have leaders. I call upon the leaders to guarantee the safety of our people. I hope I have made myself clear. Let me add that here I also speak as a General”.

The reporter took Ojukwu down the memory lane by asking him how he feels, after reminding him that Biafrans refined oil during the war and thus had fuel that they used, but, that 40 years after, Nigeria is importing fuel. Ojukwu said “It makes me feel awful and there are many things that make me feel awful. I don’t expect every problem to be solved at the same time but there are many things we could do better than we are doing now. These things were done but the people who did them should come out and be counted. I have become notorious for waving the ethnic flag but I am always proud of the opportunity because what I am after is equity for all the citizens of the block I serve”.

To add here: some Biafran military arsenal, which was produced by Biafran engineers locally, were still intact and in good condition, 40 years after they were manufactured. But, they were destroyed recently. Please open this link and read:

The salient points in the report are worth noting.

The leading official of the Federal Government de-mining consulting firm, who happens to be a bomb expert, Dr. Bala Yakubu, made some statements. These are excerpts from the report: “He also stated that his group within the period of their operation found the largest stockpile of locally manufactured weapons and stressed that if Nigeria (Biafra) could manufacture such weapons in the late sixties, then the country would have by now be competing with favourably with some of the countries she buys its defence needs from.

Yakubu therefore called on Abbe to work closely with the government of Imo state so that the manufacturers of the weapons could be traced and provided with enabling environment to continue with their researches in conjunction with the defence industries and other such industries in the country”.

The Biafran ingenuity should have revolutionized Nigeria industrially, if the country is one that tells itself the truth. Gowon allowed all the Biafran engineers who achieved all these feats then, to waste for nothing, instead of tapping into their extra-ordinary intelligence for Nigeria’s industrial and economic development. Most of those men have died and their inventive skills died with them, without them passing them over to the next generation. Somebody wrote that there will never be a day that does not require dedication, focus, discipline, good judgment, integrity, physical vitality, and the opportunity for improvement; but, this quote is meaningless to Nigerian leaders.

Ike Agbor summed it up. “Biafra’s entire weaponry was not completely used during the war, and for the people that believe that Biafra was defeated at the war front, this remains a testament to that. The fighting men and women in Biafra were disbanded and asked to go home and that was why bands of Nigeria’s soldiers continued to raid villages after the war looking for the elusive Biafran soldiers to kill. The young men had been asked to go home by their commanders, and some of us with families that participated in the war can tell you that they were asked to just go home. Achuzia himself confirmed that recently. If their commanders had told them to stay and fight, no one could have left. So yes Gowon was daft when he let the brains that fought the British, the Russians and the rest of the evil coalition go home without harnessing their ingenuity and forty years and counting, Nigeria cannot refine petroleum that Biafra among other things could do with ease. And the march to a failed state continues…”