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From the Archives: Politics of Appeasement in Nigeria

145

Chief Ralph Uwazuruike

“By Islamizing the whole ‘Core North’, the North has declared a de facto Islamic republic because no other law operates in an Islamic State” – Chief Arthur Nwankwo, Eastern Mandate Union.

“We are not interested in any conference that will stitch Nigeria together again like confederation – having loose or inactive centre and active state, we are not interested in such things again. If after self-determination of the various major tribes in Nigeria they decide to come together, they should come together as independent states, like we have ECOWAS, we have OAU, we have Commonwealth, these are associations of independent states, we have even the OIC. You don’t force people into one country, we are not one.” – Chief Ralph Uwazuruike [pictured above], Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).

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As usual the Igbo nation and the South as a whole continue in the failed attempt at the implementation of a bankrupt “Politics of Appeasement”. Since I am a member of a research organization – EKWE NCHE, it is important that I use data to buttress the above axiom.

“When the Federation of Nigeria became independent in 1960, the same policy was adopted by all its peoples. They accepted the Federal structure which had been established under the colonial system, and declared their intention to work together.

Indeed, the Southern States of the Federation – which includes Biafra – delayed their own demands for independence until the North was ready to join them. At the insistence of the North also, the original suggestion of the National Council for Nigeria and the Cameroons (the political party which had its centre in the South) that Nigeria should be broken up into many small states with a strong centre, was abandoned. The South accepted a structure which virtually allowed the more populous North to dominate the rest.”

President Julius Nyerere

“Meanwhile, the widespread nature of the attack and the ferocity of the Northern assailants had impelled many Easterners, who had made the North their home for decades, to seek refuge in the East. But the incidents of 5th June turned the stream into a torrent. Overnight the Eastern Nigerian Government found itself saddled with an unprecedented refugee problem. 

“In spite of the indescribable shock and provocation felt by Easterners everywhere they heeded the appeals of the Supreme Commander, Major-General Aguiyi-Ironsi and the Military Governor of the East, Lt.-Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, for calm while means of placating the Northern Emirs were sought. 

“In the end a Commission of Inquiry, which has not met till now, was set up to investigate the massacres while the Sultan of Sokoto and his fellow Emirs joined the Supreme Military Council in assuring fleeing Easterners of their future safety if they returned to the North to resume their normal occupations. On the basis of these assurances the Military Governor of the East staked his popularity and authority in persuading Easterners to return. 

“As he said during a banquet given by him in honor of the Emir of Kano, who some days after the massacres had been installed as Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (Eastern Nigeria), Easterners “must accept the sad events as a challenge to all who have dedicated their energies to the tasks of unity for the country”. He earnestly hoped that “the innocent blood thus shed will be accepted as the price for the solid and everlasting unity of this country”.

Nigerian Pogrom & January 15: Before And After

“On many occasions the North threatened to break away from the Federation if they were not given what they demanded. Each time they got exactly what they demanded. During the Lyttleton Constitution of 1954, the Northern House of Chiefs and the Northern House of Assembly passed an eight point resolution demanding that they be allocated 92 of the 184 seats in the Federal House of Representatives. 

“They insisted that if that was not done Nigeria will immediately transform into a confederation or customs union in which each of the three regions will enjoy almost sovereign status with the right to make their own laws without approval of the Federal Government, maintain a separate judiciary, and public service, etc. The British, West and East governments agreed and the North dropped its demand for a confederation or customs union. They blatantly rigged the federal election of 1959 and installed Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa prime minister. 

“They rigged it again in 1964 and as usual forced Zik to install Abubakar prime minister. During the constitutional conference of 1966/67 they insisted on a confederation but changed to a federation with a strong central government when they were advised by the British, to change their stand since they were already in control of the instrument of power and government. They did and had their way.”

Leadership Series – Ekwe Nche Organization

Where have all these compromises led Ndiigbo or Southerners as a whole?

What have we gotten in return?

Below is just one small reward to these people who were ready to compromise everything for a pipe dream!

“SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER MASSACRES, 1966

For a brief period it seemed that Eastern civilians would be spared this time and encouraged by the assurances of Northern rulers, several continued to return to their homes and occupations in the North. In the meantime, Lt.-Col. Gowon had assumed power in Lagos and was also assuring everyone that there would be no more killings. Easterners believed that the thirst of Northern Nigerians for blood had been satiated. Consequently, they responded by sending delegates to the Constitutional talks which had been summoned in Lagos to discuss the future form of political association that would be acceptable to all Nigerians.

But no sooner had the discussions begun than the Northerners launched another wave of murders, looting and arson against Easterners everywhere and especially against those of them who had returned to the North. From the 18th to the 24th of September, there was mayhem in the Northern towns of Makurdi, Minna, Gboko, Zaria, Gombe, Jos, Sokoto and the capital town of Kaduna. Men, women and children were surprised in their beds by combined teams of Northern soldiers and civilians and murdered; others were slaughtered at their places of work or in the market places. 

A short distance from where the Constitutional Conference was holding in Lagos, Northern soldiers pounced on Mr. Stephen Achilefu, Personnel Officer of the Nigerian Airways (an Easterner), while he was relaxing in his home soon after returning from a meeting to which he had been summoned by Lt.-Col. Gowon. They whisked him away in an Army Land Rover; and the following day his bullet-riddled body was found in a bush near Abeokuta Road.

Easterners, those who were able, took flight and all the entry routes to the East were jammed. At their heels were hordes of Northerners shooting or clubbing down straggling women and children and hunting down those in the bush. The climax to the holocaust was reached on 29th September, as the Lagos Constitutional Conference was about to adjourn. At the Kano International Airport, Easterners waiting to be airlifted home were surrounded by armed Northern soldiers and civilians and massacred. Those who took trains ran into ambushes of Northern soldiers and civilians who looted their belongings and maimed thousands.

Some of the extremes of savagery reached by our supposed Northern fellow- countrymen are so bizarre that they defy description. There were numerous cases of decapitation of living victims. A number of student- survivors from institutions of learning in Northern Nigeria were captured and all the fingers of their right hands chopped off before they were rereleased. That would help in curtailing, they were told, the educational lead of Eastern Nigeria over the North. There are several eyewitness accounts of pregnant women of Eastern Nigeria origin who were ripped open and their unborn children hacked to pieces, and accounts (most of them given by the actual victims themselves) of women, some of them pregnant, who were forcibly held down by Northern soldiers or civilians while lepers raped them. 

Also, while hundreds of Easterners found genuine refuge from their predators in police stations in the North, several others were turned upon and slaughtered by Northern policemen in the very police stations to which they had fled for protection. Until recently, there was a juvenile of about sixteen lying critically ill in a ward at the Enugu General Hospital who had been raped repeatedly by several Northern soldiers. These soldiers had thereafter proceeded to savage her genitals with a sharp object, then filled it with sand, and finally, almost completely gouged her right eye with a dagger!”

Nigerian Pogrom & January 15: Before And After

The above is a sample of the reward for appeasement!

Now let’s fast forward to 2000, after more than 30 years of marginalization.

Now we are presented with SHARIA, there was no debate!

Implementation is in full swing in some states in the North!

The discussion is now on when it will be implemented in the whole of Nigeria!

Ndiigbo, Southerners and Ohacratic Northerners when will you understand that the “Politics of Appeasement” has failed full time?

When will all ethnic groups wake up in Nigeria?

There must be a conference (call it what you may) in which every ethnic group must speak for itself, this is the only way forward.

The time for SNC is far gone; any conference now must be about the peaceful dissolution of Nigeria. TO YOUR TENTS O! NIGERIANS, it is time to divide Nigeria peacefully into sovereign states, with units that have things in common.

This is the only way forward.

Nnaemeka Onumonu-Uzoaru


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