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Biafran Spring: struggle for justice, equality on behalf of oppressed

For the first time in Nigeria’s post-war history there is an unprecedented  uprising against the very idea of Nigeria, by thousands of protesters  not only in the streets of some south east, south south states and Abuja but also globally. Occasioned, by decades of marginalisation, inequality, injustice, misrule and oppression. It was always obvious that this day would come as the ethno-religious fault lines neglected by successive leaders who in most part exploited the situation continued to widen.  

Indeed Rear admiral Ndubuisi Kanu had several years back warned that if Nigeria is not restructured, a generation would come that will not accept what the earlier generation did. Alas, it seems that generation is already here with us. A generation that has chosen to reject the institutionalised injustices, apartheid and misrule that characterise the post war Nigerian state. Nigeria has had more than four decades to heal the wounds and close the page on the needless civil war. 

A war of self defence that was after all necessitated by Yakubu Gowon’s failure of leadership—when as head of state, he failed in his most fundamental constitutional responsibility to protect the lives and property of the citizenry under all circumstances by refusing to act as tens of thousands of innocent Eastern civilians were being massacred in the North and elsewhere in what was Africa’s first mass killing of genocidal proportion.  

This flagrant human rights violations under the watch of a head of state whose refusal to act indicated that he was either part of the conspiracy to commit mass murder or was supportive of it created the inalienable self defence necessity that led to the creation of Biafra as a sanctuary from genocide. Any people subjected to such heinous assault would reserve the right to defend themselves and that was exactly what Biafra was about. 

Yet, decades later, it is obvious no lesson was learnt from such a needless war. It seemed that in addition to the pogrom that caused the war and carnage that ensued in the course of the war, Yakubu Gowon and successive leaders had no intention of ending the siege on the Igbo and other Easterners who were consigned to 2nd class citizenship and subjected to periodic acts of ethno-religious violence in the North with no consequence for the perpetrators.  

Everywhere, glass ceilings were erected above which they could never aspire. Marginalisation was rife, apartheid levels of discrimination and inequality was gradually institutionalised and national integration was forbidden.

Except Nigeria is restructured and justice/equality is

enthroned as the defining basis of nationhood, something

will have to give and Nigeria might be history. This

generation as demonstrated by the protests is already

saying enough is enough. We ignore them at our own peril

Overtime, the injustices and excesses of these leaders who assumed a divine “born to rule” right to lord it over others increasingly became targeted at the whole of Southern Nigeria. It is therefore no surprise that Nigeria is once again at a cross roads and as  predicted by Admiral Kanu, a new generation has risen that is saying “NO” to those who have imposed themselves as the internal  colonisers of Nigeria:

– those who have erected  glass ceilings that they don’t intend other Nigerians to breach, 

– those who have made themselves first class citizens while consigning others to 2nd class citizenship,

– those who have designated themselves masters while others are slaves,

– those who have  arrogated to themselves  the birthright to rule while  others are  outcasts,  

– those who have created a fake nation premised not on the love of the indigenous peoples who inhabit  the land but  only on sharing  oil allocations and looting the state,

– those who have institutionalised inequality, exclusion, nepotism and other discriminatory policies, 

– those who unjustly destroy alcohol by traders sold in their domain on account  of 

– unconstitutional Sharia laws but collect VAT from alcohol sold in other parts of the country, 

– those who since 1945 have made ethno-religious riots and the regular killing of Southerners and Christians resident in their domains  a normal ritual without any consequence, 

– those who have made Nigeria a jungle of injustice/Apartheid,

– those who will gain admission to federal unity schools with a cut-off mark  of 2 while his or her counterpart from the Southern parts of the country with a score of 138  cannot gain admission,

– those who killed Abiola only because of where he comes from, 

– those who destroyed the Niger-Delta environment and unjustly executed Ken Saro Wiwa and the Ogoni nine for speaking out, 

– those who made Nigeria a fake nation where you are a foreigner outside your state of origin and can be deported in your own country,

– those who have refused every initiative to restructure the country along the lines of true federalism, equity and justice, 

– those who preach and thrive on hate, prejudice and stereotypes rather than foster love and brotherhood amongst the various ethnic groups,

– those who introduced Sharia laws in violation of Nigeria’s secular constitution leading to the needless deaths of more than 20, 000 people in ensuing riots, 

– those who have made Nigeria unworkable because they promote sectionalism,  divisions and hate above nation building, 

– those who prefer to hold Nigeria by force and sustain the prevailing injustices rather than create a negotiated nation based on mutual  consent, justice and equality,

– those who have made looting the only purpose of governance.

It is for these reasons and many more that the present generation in massive street protests is saying enough is enough. While some sections of the public who have allowed emotions trump reason has  tried to limit the Biafran spring to an ethnic issue thereby pretending as if all is well with Nigeria, the undisputable fact remains that  the rising is a legitimate response to decades of inequality and injustice in Nigeria. 

All men are born equal with a natural yearning for freedom/equality and no people on the face of this earth will indefinitely continue to accept a denial of this most fundamental right. The Biafran spring simply represents a rejection of the status quo and thus a struggle for justice, equality, true federalism and good governance for all oppressed peoples in this land of inequality and injustice. 

It is worth noting that Nigerian nationalists struggled for independence from the British colonial government because we needed to create a nation where there will be justice and equality for all citizens. Under the British colonial government, Nigerians were regional premiers and held every other position except that of Governor General. 

In addition British colonialism was generally progressive as schools, roads, hospitals, rail way lines and other critical infrastructure and social amenities were being provided across the country. We could as well have chosen to remain under British colonialism considering how progressive it was and considering that at a stage only the post of Governor General was off limit to Nigerians, yet because of the ideal and a desire for total  equality that limits no citizen to any position, the likes of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and other eminent nationalists, motivated more than anything else by the single ideal for justice and total equality led the drive for independence which was finally attained on the 1st of October 1960. 

Decades after independence, sections of Nigeria now paradoxically suffer more inequality and oppression than was ever possible under British colonial rule. If we didn’t accept inequality or 2nd class citizenship under a more progressive British colonial rule why should we accept it under supposed co-nationals? It is a question whose answer is non-negotiable. 

Except Nigeria is restructured and justice/equality is enthroned as the defining basis of nationhood, something will have to give and Nigeria might be history. This generation as demonstrated by the protests is already saying enough is enough. We ignore them at our own peril.  

Email: lawrencenwobu@gmail.com

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