…Don’t Buy Into BIAFRA Republic Agitation
To the present champion of the Republic of Biafra, emancipation from Nigeria, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the republic of his dream is the whole of the defunct Eastern region. That may prove to be an impregnable task as most people in the region, who are not Igbo, from all indications, are not enthusiastic about the revival of the dead republic. The foot dragging of Igbo people’s neighbours of perhaps their outright rejection of Biafra Republic is not unconnected with alienation of the minority ethnic groups in the past by the Igbo, who are the majority ethnic group in Eastern region.
Despite the optimism of Kanu, who is facing a number of charges over his ambition, the minority of charges over his ambition, the minority groups are not impressed by the dogged efforts of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (POB) who is in the State Security Service (SSS) detention facility. The centrifugal forces that were unleashed by what the minority groups regarded as the high-handedness of the Igbo that had no consideration for the interests of other people induced suspicion of minority groups to be wary of going into one republic state where Igbo are in the majority.
They recalled that the first and perhaps the last ceremonial president of Nigeria, the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, encouraged and supported the calving out of the Middle West from the defunct Western region, but was vehemently opposed to the same measure happening in the Eastern region. A case of what is good for the greese in not good for the gander.
At independence in 1960 in the tripod structure of Nigeria, the Northern region had Hausa-Fulani as majority ethnic group, the Western region had Yoruba as majority group, while Eastern region had the Igbo.
The amity among the Igbo and the Ibibio-Efik was shattered when the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe failed in his bid to become the maiden premier of the defunct Western region and returned to the East to displace Prof. Eta Iyo from Calabar, who was already the premier of the Eastern region. This did not go down well with Ibibio people, who regarded Dr. Azikiwe’s action as taking undue advantage of Igbo majority in the Eastern region to remove a non-Igbo man from power. Thus, the fabric of unity among Eastern region ethnic groups was turned into bitter enmity and suspicion. Hence, people of the region no longer regarded themselves as one people. It was like a shout of Olsrel, to thy tent! No wonder the Ibibio people started cooperating with people of other regions instead of their Igbo neigbours.
Before the Biafra Republic rebellion broke out, the Ijaw people under the leadership of the late Major Isaac Boro had declared Niger Delta Republic. It lasted for 100 days. Nigeria, then was under the Jackboots of a military government led by the late Major General Ironsi. Regarded as an effrontery, the head of state, General Ironsi ordered the then military governor of the defunct Eastern region, Lt. Col Ojukwu to crux the rebellion. More than 1,000 Ijaw youths who were the core foundational troops of the Niger Delta Republic were killed. Isaac Boro was arrested, charged with insurrection and convicted to death. All this took place in 1966. Boro was sent to detention to await his execution in September of the year.
Be that as it was, a Northern soldiers led coup came in July 1966, about six months after Ironsi became the Head of State, he was killed. Thus aborting the conviction of Isaac Boro, who, of course, was still in detention. When eventually, the Nigerian civil war broke out to stop Ojukwu-led rebellion, the then Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon, who had become the Head of State after the death of Ironsi, released Isaac Daka Boro from detention to fight Ojukwu’s rebellion. For emphasis, Major Isaac Daka Boro was killed in action during the war.
At the end of the war, the smouldering ember of suspicion and outright hostility between the Igbo people and the non-Igbo in River State could not be extinguished by the Federal Military Government Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation policy to reunite Nigerians afresh. That, perhaps, is why abandoned properties still litter the face of Port Harcourt. The houses that were abandoned by Igbo people who ran home to defend Biafra have not been released to their rightful owners who are Igbo.
Besides, there was a grapevine suggestion that the bid for Biafra Republic would have succeeded if Ojukwu had declared a Federal Republic that non-Igbo people believed would run a unitary system of government instead of a federal system that would have given the minority ethnic groups in the region that sense of freedom that a unitary system would deny them.
– Tajudeen Adigun
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