Seeing the Igbos as defeated Biafrans in Nigeria – Obiotika Wilfred

FILE: IPOB protester

It may not be documented nor written down anywhere but it is in practice. Former president, Muhammadu Buhari made a violent statement concerning the Igbos during his tenure signifying that they are endangered and sidelined. Notwithstanding, the Igbo man could be a terrible person because you cannot compete with him. No tribe in Nigeria has been able to outwit, override or surpass an Igbo man. The fear of the Igbos has made Nigeria an animal kingdom whereby in a population of over 250 million, one person has the license for cement, flour, sugar, petrochemicals, building equipment, noodles etc. That monopoly has not only affected the macro-economic development but sparked uncontrollable inflation.

Recently, former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, visited the presidential Villa and told newsmen that he initiated the civil war and defeated. The livid emotions on his face could not extricate him from the paroxysms of hate towards the Igbos. Gowon really want to be taken as a hero of the Nigerian-Biafran war but only a divided, tribalistic country filled with bigots and fascists would accord him such respect.

Interestingly, Jacob Gowon was just a soldier when J.U.T Aguiyi Ironsi promoted him amongst his closest rank and file to which Alexander Madiebo raised a protest but was ridiculed. Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi had promoted Gowon due to the conversative Christianity at the time accepting him as a brother. In 1967, under the auspices of Joseph Arthur Ankrah, the planned Aburi Accord had come to end with both parties agreeing on a confederation.

When Gowon returned to Nigeria, the British called him queried him for such an agreement to which he called a meeting stating that the task of keeping Nigeria one must be kept. Misery, degradation, death and nothing God or Satan did not invoke could influence an unassuming life. The infernal selfishness of the Hausa-Fulani with the desires of an Igbo man turned him to a fiend. Lt. Col. Gowon and Lt. Col. Ojukwu were 32 and 33 years respectively when the civil war started in 1967.

At that time, Jeremiah Awolowo, who had committed treason was kept at the Calabar prison. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu had to release Awolowo to spite Zik and with the hope that he would initiate the republic of Oduduwa. To his chagrin, the Fulanis made Awolowo the Federal Minister of Finance, who caused the death of millions of Biafran children who died because of kwashiorkor.

Besides, Chinua Achebe, in “There was a country’ upheld that: ‘There are a number who believe that neither Gowon nor Ojukwu were the right leaders for that desperate time, because they were blinded by ego, hindered by a lack of administrative experience, and obsessed with interpersonal competition and petty rivalries”.

Nevertheless, the Biafran leadership had no choice but to give up the fight, surrendering to the federal government in January 1970. In the end, Biafra collapsed. Today, the two major players in that war have never provided a personal contribution to the reason and nature of the war. However, tribalism which breeds sectarian conflicts affecting the life of civilians is still fresh in Nigeria. The thing introduced by Obafemi Awolowo in the 1970s has held the Yorubas bound keeping Nigeria at a standstill.

Biafra embodied the aspirations of a people, who in unison, did all they could to preserve it, but lost it due to factors beyond their control. To move forward as a nation, it is crucial to confront the lingering effects of the Nigerian Civil War and embrace a narrative of reconciliation and unity. This involves acknowledging the pain and suffering experienced by all parties involved, while also recognizing the shared humanity and aspirations for a better future. By challenging outdated narratives and promoting inclusivity, Nigeria can build a more cohesive society founded on mutual respect, understanding, and collective progress.

In conclusion, Seeing the Igbos as defeated Biafrans perpetuates a harmful narrative that undermines the resilience, cultural identity, and contributions of the Igbo community to Nigeria’s history and development. It is time to challenge this myth and foster a more inclusive understanding of Nigeria’s diverse peoples. By embracing reconciliation, unity, and mutual respect, Nigeria can build a brighter future for all its citizens, transcending the divisions of the past.

Obiotika Wilfred Toochukwu

St. Patrick’s Catholic Church