Friday, 29 September 2017

CIVIL WAR: Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Reconciliation, Any Lesson Learnt By Biafra Agitators?

Biafra agitators are some people from Southeastern part of Nigeria in particular. They are clamouring for their own independent country. The call for this Igbo nation started way back in the 1960s, under the name Biafra.

Late Chukwuemeka Odumegu-Ojukwu was the man who started the struggle while he was the Governor of Eastern Nigeria under the regime of Yakubu Gowon (1966-1975).

Tempers flared at that time, which led to the civil war. The war broke out in 1967 and ended in 1970. Afterwards, Biafra was forgotten and Nigeria forged ahead.

Gowon came up with the three R’s after the war. These were Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation. The idea behind the three R’s was to ensure all measures were taken to make Igbos return to the pre-civil war days of one Nigeria.

The leader of the Biafra movement then, Ojukwu went on exile after the war. The administration of president Shehu Shagari granted the Biafra warlord state pardon in 1982. This facilitated his return to the country after spending 12 years outside Nigeria.

When civil rule returned in 1999 up to the present moment, some dissenting voices among the Igbos believed Biafra should be resurrected. The first well-recognised Biafra group came into limelight. 

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This was “Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereignty State of Biafra (MASSOB).” Its founder Ralph Nwazurike, is a lawyer who had his university education overseas.

Nwazurike gave the government a little headache when MASSOB was very active. He had a large following made up of mostly young underemployed Igbo boys. However, the government of Yar’Adua/Jonathan did not allow him much breathing space.

Nnamdi Kanu, leader of IPOB

The MASSOB leader was jailed at different times before he eventually became a free man. He continued his struggle before his voice was drowned by the government.

As time went on, other groups like Biafra Independent Movement (BIM), Biafra Zionist Front (BZF) and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) came into existence.

Currently, IPOB led by defunct Radio Biafra director, Nnamdi Kanu has become the toast of all Biafra apologists.

Some schools of thought believed that Kanu was with Nwazurike before both parted ways due to personal aggrandisement. Be that as it may be, Kanu was not on the same page with the ideology of MASSOB.

The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has been trying to curtail the excesses of IPOB since its inception. The president has reiterated several times that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable. However, Kanu vehemently disagrees with this thought. The IPOB leader says, “it’s Biafra or death!”

Kanu has visited the four walls of the prison before he was released based on some stringent bail conditions which the federal government said he has flouted several times.

The bone of contention here is, are the Igbos really being marginalised? Are they the only ethnic group being sidelined in the scheme of things in Nigeria?

Some non-Igbos opined that Kanu is simply being sponsored to give Buhari a sleepless night.

On the flipside, is there any region or geopolitical zone in Nigeria that is an Eldorado? The answer is simply NO! Rather, all zones are battling with hunger, comatose education system, unemployment, nepotism, decaying value system, injustice, corruption, neglect of the electorates after election, among other plethora challenges. This therefore means, Biafra is not the solution!

Igbos are not speaking with one voice presently. They will never speak with a single voice even if they achieve Biafra, which is like the similitude of a camel passing through the eye of a needle.

No one hates the Igbos. However, the Igbos need to jettison the thought of “I Before Others (IBO)” mentality. It is this mentality that makes other regions despise them.

Every Nigerian should embrace one another. If the country breaks into fragments, everyone will suffer for it. This is a looming danger!

Let us all see each other as partners in progress. The only missing link in Nigeria is “Good Leadership and Justice.” The onus lies on all the citizens to do the needful in order to produce quality leaders. 

However, if no one shows his lack of care for the Nigerian project, whether the coming of Oduduwa, Arewa or Biafra republics, the problems bedeviling the people will still be extant.