It is now more than ever before speedily dawning on many Nigerians that the small fire ignited on May 30, 1967 and christened Republic of Biafra has become a raging and raving inferno that no fire brigade in Nigeria or anywhere can extinguish. The quest for Biafra has incidentally become foreclosed as the only wise alternative to the lingering political, social and economic problems of Nigeria since 1960. This does not imply that the agitation for Biafra has remained the problem of the country. Rather, it reveals the insensitive reactions and responses by successive governments of Nigeria in relating with the Igbo people in Nigeria. If anyone says the demand for Biafra is the cause of the trouble with Nigeria, the person must have forgotten the historical origin of Nigeria or has completely lost sense of truth and reality to premeditated plan by the north to overwhelm and possibly exterminate Ndigbo in Nigeria. Either way, it is quite unfortunate.
The available history that the north is bent on not allowing emerging generations of Nigerians to know records that Ndigbo have always been at the forefront of support for a strong united Nigeria. This they proved by moving out far and wide into all nooks and cranny of Nigeria away from their native land in the east of the Niger. It has even become a myth that it is only in confirmed evil lands that you may not find Ndigbo. Another saying holds that if you go to a place and you do not find Ndibo, then you better stylishly move away from that place and look for another place where there are Ndigbo. The spread of Ndigbo in this large number was for their economic and social good just as it was also for the good of their hosts. Ndigbo were never on any form of evil occupation of the lands of their hosts either in the north, the west or anywhere else. Ndigbo believe in hard work. Frivolous and superfluous lifestyles were not part of their psyche as a people. How they will carry out their trade business or work, earn income, educate their children and repatriate part of it home in the east to contribute to the development of their country homes were uppermost in their minds.
This impression of law abiding citizens who carry love of neighbour was and has remained the patented trade mark of Ndigbo as is always testified to by hosts of Ndibo everywhere. Incidentally, this very positive image and nature was seemingly misinterpreted by some of the host communities of Ndigbo, particularly those in the northern region. Envy and jealousy over the magic wand of Ndigbo in turning nothing into something lucrative soon emerged and began to grow into the lingering monster of hatred and malice against Ndigbo. Some of their neighbours envisioned and dreamed of being like Ndigbo. But instead of being clever and smart in patiently keying into astuteness and shrewdness of Ndigbo in commerce and industry, they resorted to envy and jealousy. This evil heart was held against Ndigbo until the 1966 coup led by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Neogwu provided the northerners ample reason to vent their pent up anger and vexation upon innocent Ndibo, killing them in many thousands in cold blood. Somebody recently said it was vengeance for the killing of Ahmadu Bello by an “Igbo” named Nzeogwu from Midwestern region that the north was avenging in killing so many thousands of Ndigbo.
This sudden turn of event shocked Ndigbo to near sudden death. This is because as has been established Ndigbo never held a meeting and encouraged Nzeogwu and his gang of coup plotters to assassinate Ahmadu Bello or anybody for that matter. That coup indeed had no real Igbo soldier among the planners and implementers. The list showed that the coup plotters were from all of the four regions of north, east, west and Midwest. But there was no real Igbo soldier among them. Ironically, It took the ebullient resistance by Major General Aguiyi Ironsi and Lt. Col. Chukwuemeka Oduegu Ojukwu, two senior military officers that were real Ndigbo to foil the rampaging coup plotters thatwanted to take over the government of Nigeria from Tafawa Balewa. That is why the assessment zeroed in to envy and jealousy of Ndigbo by Hausas and Yorubas as the remote case of the massacre of Ndigbo in the north by northern soldiers and civilians. Then came the very avoidable Nigeria-Biafra civil war that was sparked off by the same bent of the jealous and envious northerners to push Ndigbo into very tight unfavourable corner of Nigeria. That was their biggest mistake!
While the open display of hatred and malice against Ndigbo raged on after the Nzeogwu coup theough the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, apparently Ndigbo like the Israelites in their Egyptian bondage were groaning under the burden of bondage they were subject to in Nigeria by Nigerian government. However, they went about doing what they know how best to do, trading and working very hard. The consequence was a baffling kind of prosperity in spite of the set back by the war that the north could not fathom. This poured fuel upon the fire of northern envy and jealousy, hatred and malice against Ndigbo. But a time comes when the oppressed amasses so much favour from God and goodwill from man to tell the oppressor, “Enough is enough!” That time came since the turn of the 21st Century in the year 2000. Ndigbo through the exploits of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) that was led by Ralph Uwazurike cried out against the evil oppression of Ndigbo in Nigeria. After some time the Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) led by Nnamdi Kanu took the “Enough is enough!” efforts of Uwazurike and his MASSOB group to another higher level. And Kanu’s efforts have caught the eyes and ears, heart and mind of the international community, leaving real impression that the Republic of Biafra is indeed very much around the corner.
Having got to this stage it appears the Nigerian government steered with domineering power has lost all options to placating Ndigbo that was available to them before the renewed agitation for Biafra this past 17 years or thereabout. So many people are now recommending restructuring but Ndigbo have been begging for restructuring since 1967. Remember Aburi Accord was centred on Ojukwu’s demand for restructuring and devolution of powers back to the regions! Remember that the 2014 National Conference produced what wwas largely applauded as a far reaching recommendations that will douse the tension in the country. But the north swore that the conference recommendations can only be implemented over their dead bodies! Some are recommending allowing Ndigbo to produce the president of Nigeria. But let us not forget in a hurry that between 1999 and 2003 or thereabout, Dr. Alex Ekwueme was shunned and denied the opportunity to become Nigeria’s president. In short, it is incontrovertible that at one time or another, whatever anybody now sees as a likely solution to the quest for Biafra has been recommended and even demanded by Ndigbo but they were rebuffed by the slave masters from the north. All that is now left is the demand for an independent country called Republic of Biafra.
Probably, that is what the apparently more discerning northern youths have calculated to join in recommending that Biafra be freed from Nigeria. They must have seen that whatever else is done without granting independence to Biafra will only amount to postponement of doomsday because the agitation for Biafra will keep on recurring and troubling Nigeria. That is why Ndigbo have tacitly accepted the recommendations of the Arewa Youths who have since confessed that they have the backing of their elders and leaders. Indeed, freedom for Biafra has turned the only available alternative to solving the political, social and economic quagmire in Nigeria.