Even though the Bight of Biafra has now been renamed and is off the map of the world ostensibly to remove the memory of Nigeria’s Civil War from the map of Nigeria, Biafra that was once a country will ever remain in history records. I was once a proud Biafran. We had a Civil War. That cannot be removed from the records. I was a student then in London. We had a meeting place – Battersea Town Hall. While we did not take part in the actual war, we contributed money to the war efforts. Even when I was working for the Tanzanian government that had recognised Biafra we still did our bit. I still look back to those years with nostalgia – what might have been. It is said that more than two million human beings were killed. May their souls rest in peace.
In hind sight one asks what sort of country Biafra would have been. We have been witnesses to what has been happening with the creation of five states in Igbo land. Each state sends away Igbo civil servants from other Igbo states. Fierce statism is the result. If Biafra had survived what would we have had – a war of attrition over who controls what – a forerunner to South Sudan? The Civil War removed the normal Igbo hierarchy, enthroning fierce individualism for survival, no respect for order, anything goes, with money the ultimate ambition.
Now young Igbo boys most of whom were not born before the end of the war are putting their lives on the line under MASSOB, IPOB and so on, carrying out demonstrations in the name of fighting for Biafra independence. They are being killed. Nobody has told us who the twenty bodies found floating on the Ezu River a few years ago were. They have been forgotten. Who knows how many are being wiped out without trial and being buried in unmarked graves? How many are being held in prison. What carnage! What a waste!
I am not against the right of these youth to protest peacefully. I am not against their yearning for Biafra. I am sure they have the sympathy of older Igbos provided they protest peacefully without disturbing the right of the majority of other Igbo people to go about their normal business especially in this particularly difficult time when most Ndigbo are finding existence difficult. Scotland had been part of Britain for seven hundred years. Many of the Scots are no longer comfortable with the set up. They had a referendum for independence recently and those who wanted an independent Scotland lost narrowly. They may regroup and try again in future. Nobody was killed. Businesses were not disrupted. After the loss they are going about their business normally. The Basque region of Spain has been agitating for independence for many years. Even though the majority have voted for independence the central government is fighting them constitutionally. All must be within the laws of an existing sovereign state. MASSOB having an embassy in this state that is still part of Spain should not be seen as a major achievement.
My sympathy goes to those families losing members to this unequal struggle of MASSOB, IPOB, with a heavily armed security force of a sovereign country. Under the present scenario and under the United Nations stance of no interference in the affairs of a sovereign nation, this fight is a futile one. Yes, Ndigbo are a disadvantaged component in the present Nigerian arrangement, especially since the Civil War. It is worse under the present dispensation where Ndigbo put all their eggs in the Jonathan basket and lost out heavily in this winner-take-all country.
The pity of all this is that MASSOB, IPOB, have not made efforts to win over, or endear themselves to, the majority of Ndigbo. They have not taken a leaf from OPC who are virtually the same sort of movement – they are the military wing of Afenifere. The OPC is invited to crucial meetings of Afenifere. It is respected. It looks after Yoruba interest. You see OPC active and providing security in most parts of Lagos and Yoruba land. When will Ndigbo learn? Must everything be by force? Must everything be achieved overnight? Can MASSOB and IPOB not change tactics even at this late hour? Must a generation of Igbo youth be eliminated before we come to our senses? Most Nigerians are aware that Nigeria needs to be urgently restructured, decentralised. The status quo cannot hold for long. MASSOB, IPOB, must be tactful, apply wisdom and patience to their quest.
The greater pity is that our elders have lost their respect. Our governors and Ohaneze are `fiddling’ while Igbo land burns. Okenye no ma ewu amuo na ogbili! This is an Igbo adage that laments the presence of elders who do nothing to help a tethered goat in the agony of delivery, in particular, by simply untying it. Oh Biafra – how sad! .

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