It has become necessary to clear some miscommunication and misconceptions about what the Biafra movement is about.
BIAFRA IS NOT WAR! It simply means political, economic and socio-cultural freedom from a feudalist State.
The old Eastern Nigeria was not “created by legislation in 1967.” The old Eastern Nigeria was created by mandate in 1939/40, and restored by plebiscite at the London Constitutional Conferences 1953, 57 and 58. It was established by an Act of Parliament in the 1963 constitution, and broken by decree without mandate in 1967. If the current agitators for Biafra want, they can make that claim that Eastern Nigeria continues to exist, given that every other government that has existed following 1967, exists illegally from the unmandated abrogation of the 1963 constitution of the republic upon which Nigeria was founded as a modern state free of the British commonwealth. They can argue in international law that they are a movement for the restoration of the common constitution, and that all must return to status quo ante, for any legitimate claim to be made of status within nation. Thereafter a referendum can take place, and any group which wishes to remain in Nigeria, or any successor nation, or be part of Biafra, or any ancillary state therefrom, may do so. – Obi Nwakamma
In ths words of Uju Nwokorobia is a political and national policy affairs expert, Here are 9 key facts about the NEW BIAFRA that everyone should know:
(1) Biafran agitation has nothing to do with hydrocarbon crude oil deposits in Niger Delta. Imo, Abia, Anambra are currently oil producing states in Nigeria, with huge natural gas reserves not forgetting the enormous untapped coal deposits in Enugu.
(2) Biafra is not land-locked. It has numerous access to the sea, including through the River Niger.
(3) Biafra entire population is about 35 million people which is greater than the population many advanced countries in Western Europe, including Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland, Austria….etc
(4) Biafra does not or in any form signify war, violence, armed struggle or any sort of physical confrontation. BIAFRA IS NOT WAR! It simply means political, economic and socio-cultural freedom from a feudalist State ruled by terrorists and Jihadists.
(5) Biafra is not a call for massive exodus to Igbo land. Put differently, every Igbo or Biafran must not live in Biafra land. Those who wish could still maintain their residency wherever they are as well as own properties anywhere in the world, including Lagos, Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Abeokuta…etc.
(6) Independent and sovereign Biafra will never translate to loss or forfeiture of landed properties of her citizens in Lagos, Abuja or anywhere in Nigeria. There are many domestic and international treaties, conventions and laws that protects Assets of non-citizens everywhere in the World, that will apply appropriately.
(7) The NEW BIAFRA shall be a coalition of desirous and willing ethnic nationalities in defunct Eastern Nigeria and would never be a forceful annexation of any unwilling ethnic nationality within its current geo-political definition. Ijaws, Ogonis, Ibibio, Anangs, Efiks, Ogojas, and host of other ethnic minorities shall possess the privilege to decide whether to tango politically with their Igbo brethren or go their own separate ways or remain part of current structural deficient Nigeria.
(8) Biafra is a train of peace and liberty. A desire for liberation from institutionalised stumbling blocks like quota system and federal character principles in Nigeria’s quasi-unitary society. It is a movement against internal colonialism, tribal gang-ups, economic marginalisation and political subjugation of Igbo and ethnic minority neighbours.
(9) It has nothing to do with hate, bigotry or ethnic chauvinism. Just a desire to live in a healthy society where your tribe, tongue, religion or creed does not define who you are or how far you would go in your career.
A foremost historian and anthropologist, Obi Nwakamma wrote:
Anthropologically, Igbo land extends to what is now Cross Rivers state, as far down as the Cameroon, Eastwards; and northwards beyond the Agbaja areas of what is now Kogi state to Ogidi in Niger state, and westwards to the Igbo-Ora areas of what is now Oyo state. But territoriality changes, and I understand this, and the fact that that the Igbo cannot legitimately claim these places from their current occupants ought also to alert everyone that what we call the map of Nigeria may either expand or contract, given the dynamic of events as we shape them.
I suggest to some in the SE-SS opposed to Biafra; you are powerless before these events. You certainly have a voice, but it is only one in a vast sea of voices either calling for or arguing against the rebirth of Biafra, even in Cross Rivers state.
I will say to those who wish to argue against Biafra; it is important to make rational arguments against it, because thus far, the Biafran position has not been contradicted: the current Biafra movement is positioning itself as a pacifist, on-violent movement determined to assert self-determination based on international laws.
It is a movement based on the perception of historical injustice; including the selective liquidation of the Igbo especially in a nation which has serially proven incapable of protecting and guaranteeing their safety and material well-being as Nigerian citizens, and therefore has serially broken the contract of the governed; the fact that the agreements of 1970 have been reneged upon and that there has been no rehabilitation and reconstruction of the East and that full reconciliation has never taken place given the gerrymandering of the Nigerian constitution that has turned the Igbo, a majority group, into a national minority.
The East has benefited nothing from a return to Nigeria. oil in their land has been exploited, and they have nothing to show for it. The pollution of the Niger Delta, which has its most direct impact on Igbo land has been treated as if the Igbo areas are not part of these ecological damages.
The key sources of life in Igbo land – the Igbo rivers Orashi, Njaba, Imo, Otamiri, and Omambala, that form the great network of the Niger delta, have been damaged, polluted and silted, and this is causing massive ecological damage to these places, and leading to erosion, and potential earth quake that is certain to happen not long from now given the lateral and horizontal use of exploration techniques. the fracking method, which has been in use in these areas for a long time. There has been in the policy of the federal government, deliberate and massive economic divestment from the Igbo areas since 1970.
Igbo land receives by a very, very long extent, the least amount of direct federal investments, and direct monetary allocation of all areas of Nigeria. It is a dramatic slide from the 1950s, 60s, and even 70s. In fact, old Kano state alone, which had the same number of local governments with old Imo state as at 1983, now accounts for more local governments than the entire South East of Nigeria, and thus has more money given to it directly from the center, than the entire South East zone of Nigeria. Yet school enrollment between Imo state alone and Kano is at a calculated average of 20-1.
These areas which also account for the highest number of highly trained and skilled labour equally accounts for the highest level of graduate and youth unemployment. In fact 87% of Igbo people, whether from the South East or parts of the South-South have never been gainfully employed after university or polytechnic training since 1990. Those who get employed see their peers rising above them, while their own careers are stultified by official forms of discrimination.
They saw Yar Adua and Jonathan easing these questions but only slightly, and they have seen in the body language of the current president, a move not only to roll back any slight hope, but to continue old policies of economic and political isolation of the East.
The truth however is that the current movement is an intriguing, and inevitable emergence of an alliance of the youth of these areas in the old East, seeing what they see as injustice beyond the artificial and unenforceable boundaries of 1967, and coming together to press for justice and greater access the resource of nation, which they see as mostly only possible in a new nation of Biafra. And there is nothing you or I can do about it.
Personally, I only wish that they could see beyond the narrow regional and separatist idea to see real common grounds, and begin to network with their peers North and South, and make this rather than a secessionist movement, but a new nationalist movement for the real rebuilding and rebirth of a possible nation defined by justice for individual citizens. If they can reframe that message, I think this movement will grow very rapidly, because other young Nigerians feel equally frustrated. But I think it is difficult because these young people have also felt deep hatred and alienation from much of Nigeria which has thrived on their own misfortune in the last generation.
Perhaps they need now to begin a working program; a new message to bring together the youth of the land, that is those between 19 and 35 to the same table, and see that the future of that land lies in their ability and willingness to work together, to defy the current order that exploits the nation against their interests, and begin to build compacts of equality and mutual cooperation as Azikiwe’s failed movement preached. That is the most productive way. But if you continue to argue based on a terrible misjudgment of this movement, then you will be sure that Biafra will happen, and it will cover from Igbo-Akiri (Igbanke) beyond Ndealiche to Ikom, and there is nothing you’d be able to do about it. You will either choose exile or live with it because the Peoples Republic of Biafra has its clear boundaries, and that includes what you now call Cross Rivers State. Okoi, the wind of rebellion is already abroad, even right in your own home, and there is nothing you can do about it.
Writing in the same vein. Collin Ezebuihe stated:
In addition, like Nd’Igbo, our South-south cousins have equal right to Biafra too –because Bight of Biafra covered all of the SESS states, before Ojukwu and Akpan took up that name to form the nation of Biafra. That’s just as “Arewa” covers most of NE-NW, while Oduah covers Yorubas and some population around there and Kogi state.
Biafra doesn’t mean that Igbos want to run Cross River state, for instance; nor should the same Cross River expect an Ijaw to be governor of that state. The states will also be held intact.
By the way, if General Ojukwu had nmexited humanity in the course of the Biafran war and General Akpan took over –as is customary– would the Hausa/Fulani, British, and Tinubu Yorubas still be ascribing the idea of Biafra solely to Nd’Igbo, in order to divide the old East? Would Nd’Igbo have abandoned Jonathan or David Duke or Sylva, etc? Have Nd’Igbo abandoned Jonathan –even as he is no longer president?
By the way, too, dividing the old East is no longer an easy sale for the British, Fulani/Hausa, Australia, “Arab Union,” and Tinubu Yorubas. The East is now much astute in every sphere of life than in the 1960s. We realize that there is strenght in numbers, but we also know that there is also chaos, insecurity, rampant killings and destruction in a huge population that also boasts of groups with ethnic supremacy laced with Islamic purity and chauvinism. We in the East are simply peace loving folks, who want to pull our resources together for our long term interests. The door of inclusion is also open to Yorubas, when its larger population bows to its more progressive population –which correctly sees Biafra as a win win bid.
Given all of the above, I must state most of the problems we may have had during the first Biafra, were because Biafra came as a survival run –not as a result of constitutional enactment. What that means is that any past bickering or perceived problems, are issues that can now be addressed through detailed consultations, well-written sets of constitutions, and general law enforcement.
Nd’Igbo, Nd’Ijaw, Nd’Ibibio/Efik, Yorubas, Bini, etc, I plead With You all: let us change our destiny, the overall destiny of Africa for good; and achieve a speedy progress and peace –by letting Nigeria go the way of the Soviet Union. Nigeria won’t fly, or at best, its successful flight chance is as good as that of an Elephant.
Ironically, a flying Elephant was the symbol of the defunct Nigerian Airways –as if intended as a sneak preview of Nigeria’s future! How prophetic!!
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