A Wicked Old Generation and their FOOLISH CHANTS OF WAR
A Wicked Old Generation and their FOOLISH CHANTS OF WAR
Fifty Seven years ago Ikemba Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu declared the Republic of Biafra. I will paint a picture of war for you, and then you will evaluate and decide if you will opt for it. If war is declared, there will be a few days for people on both sides to return to their regions. Before that many of us would have traveled back to our regions or left the country. Hostilities would begin, even those making the journey across the battle lines would be subjected to inhumane conditions as they try to cross proposed borders. If you want to imagine what travelling across enemy territory to your “country” in time of war would be like, read this novel, “Survive the Peace” by Cyprian Ekwensi, a tragedy and gory tale in which James, a broadcaster traveled from Lagos to Biafra and in the chaos of the war, he survived but was killed after hostilities ended. He survived the war but didn’t survive the peace.
The first novel I read about Biafra was Frederick Forsyth’s “The Biafra Story”. I stumbled on the book in my father’s room; my father is a book enthusiast and a veteran of the Nigeria-Biafra War. They were over 5 books on the war in his room. There was also “Emeka” by Forsyth. Reading that book at a very young age when I was less than 18 made me very bitter about the “contraception” called Nigeria. In fact, my grandfather prided himself as a Biafran before he died. Although he was a Zikist nationalist –one of the two categories of Igbo nationhood philosophy, the other is Ojukwu Separatistism- he as a true Igbo man, well travelled, fought on the British side during WWII and till his death, kept the relic of his rifle in his room, sent my father to go and fight. With the blessing of my grandmother who told my father that he would go and come back, that her prayers would protect him. My grandfather even though he loved Zik and would have preferred a united Nigeria, changed his perspective of Nigeria after it slaughtered over three million Biafran souls. He would often times tell me about the war and would let me know that he is happy to die a Biafran, that Nigeria is not worth his patriotism.
As I stumbled upon those books in my father’s room, reading them and reconciling the atrocities committed by Nigeria against the Igbos built up this bitterness and anger and a righteous indignation to claim my Igbo identity. No wonder, often times I will question the philosophy of Zik of Africa, a pan-Africanist, a man whose vision was to position Africa to compete with the West. As at the time many were struggling with basic education, Zik was a renowned journalist arguing with Western intellectuals and inventing his own words. I respect and admire Zik whose philosophy would get a better part of me as I matured as a young man. Growing up I had to choose between Zik and Ojukwu, I chose Ojukwu. A fascinating man whose spoken English still sounds mesmerizing till date. Listen to his speeches in the 60s and during the war, Ojukwu was a brilliant soldier who stood up for his people. No wonder I have been a supporter of the Biafra cause since the days of MASSOB.
However, I am also an ardent believer in breaking jinxes. I have this belief that as long as Igbos remain in Nigeria, we should aspire like any other ethnic group to the presidency. It infuriates me when I hear people from the north, state categorically that Igbos cannot be president of Nigeria, I would even be given more to fighting a war for an Igbo man to become president than fighting for Biafra. Where I live in Lagos, less than 2KM is a jetty where ships berth to offload petroleum products. That lagoon is not as wide as the River Niger and because it was well dredged, ships could sail. Now it would take a believer in the enterprising nature of Ndi Igbo, an unbiased and fair Nigerian devoid of ethnic jingoism, bigotry and irredentism to realise that the true commercial hub of Nigeria isn’t the South West city of Lagos but Onitsha. Dredging the River Niger needs a political will or one of our own to seat down in Aso Rock to commission such projects and allocate adequate funds to it. Elevating Enugu airport to international standards needs such determination and the best bet is to have an Igbo president.
Why I still support the Biafran agitation despite my stance for Igbo presidency, the rationale is simple. Nigeria has been modeled in a way that pressure is required to seize power even through democratic process. The agitations in the Niger Delta was one of the reasons besides providence that smiled upon Goodluck Jonathan that ensured part of the north supported his presidency in 2011. Buhari’s stronghold in the north was cemented by the Boko Haram agitation which united northerners to the point they mischievously accused Christians of masterminding the deadly suicide bombings so they could draw religious and ethnic sentiments for Buhari. So I believe IPOB’s agitation can put pressure on the power brokers and other ethnic groups to consider appeasing the Igbos to continue to stay in Nigeria. In the absence of Buhari, most northerners would be willing to negotiate and if Igbo presidency in 2019 or 2023 can appease us, they would most likely to be willing.
Now to the foolish old men that are chanting war, history tells us that the most wicked soul in Nigeria, General Yakubu Gowon would have averted disaster if had kept the terms of the Aburi Accord which mainly stipulated a confederacy to end the hostilities in its first few months. Confederacy is equivalent to the restructuring that many are canvassing for today, which implied each of the regions in Nigeria then controlling their resources. After 57 years we are back to the original model these old men that mortgaged the future of the present generation rejected and refuse to acknowledge in their journey of nation building. The generation of Nigerians that handled our affairs from 1970–2007 failed woefully and they are the same people that will scream war, without stopping to query themselves, what did they achieve with the deaths of over three million people in the war which they fought. Every one of them advocating war because Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB are agitating should ask their consciences, are the deaths of over three million innocent souls from 1967–1970 justified by the progress Nigeria has made over the past 57 years. We know that genocide cannot be justified but in their wickedness and stupidity they are advocating another war that will claim over 10 million lives.
It is the youth, you and I that will fight any war, not these foolish old men. Would you rather Nigeria divides or Igbos appeased or fight a war? You and I would be at the war front. I will be fighting on the side of Biafra should the war break out (God forbid) and given the advancement in modern warfare and the fact that each side can garner enough international support as it won’t be like the 60s when almost the whole world supported Nigeria, because it was a young experimental country, with Igbos spread all over the world, the war will be different and catastrophic. We would lose over 10 million people on all sides. Think about that.
Now any war would lead to the dismantling and balkanization of Nigeria because the Niger Delta would quickly seize the opportunity to declare their own country, while Oduduwa people will also follow suit, therefore, the dynamics of any civil war in these times will be a different ball game. So anytime any old man screams and chants of war, ask the foolish old man, if he would pick up a gun and fight. If not, he should keep his dirty mouth shut. The referendum Kanu demands is not equivalent to war. Igbos should be appeased if they want Kanu’s agitation to stop and then every Nigerian youth that is in support of any war should be ready to fight and should be aware that war is not jamboree or merry making. And in this age, it will be deadly. Virtually everyone will lose more than one nuclear or extended family member. So be guided, sue for peace, equity and fairness and ask those recalcitrant old fools to stop canvassing for war. The youths want good governance, fairness and federal character, restructuring and good education not WAR!