I had resisted the temptation of commenting on the dangerous trending of the Biafra discuss, currently clogging the social media and newspaper articles. It will be immortal for me to ignore or not to sound a note of caution in what could end up in a calamitous misadventure. But please Iet me crave your indulgence to just give my perspective of 21st Century Nation building and the lack of critical thinking that has been propelling some of our brothers who are agitating for Biafra. I have all the while resisted the temptation of getting dragged into an all comers posts and emotional discussions, of most commentators who never witness the civil war. The consequence of some Igbo’s unilateral declaration of Biafra, would certainly lead to serious crises, that no one can predict the magnitude and duration.
Yes, there is severe injustice in the land, Yes, we have been given bad cards and bad hand, yes, the Nigerian state has placed a premium on mediocrity at the expense of meritocracy. The list of the evil wrought on Ndigbo and the other ethnic groups that make up Nigeria is very long. Recall that MKO, a Yoruba scion, who won a free a fair election in 1993 was denied his mandate. But is secession the answer?
No. Except, in all honesty they are just grandstanding, to hue out a Presidential compensation a la, the Yoruba June 12 which gave rise to OBJ and the Niger Delta agitation which resulted in Jonathan. If that’s the end game, then, good luck. In Biafra 1, with all the failures of peace talks, including Aburi, I don’t understand, if waging a war on the Nigerian economy that Ndigbo were major stakeholders , and the predominance of Igbo officers in the military ( at least the officer cadre) and the Civil service that Ndigbo were beginning to hold sway at the upper echelon was very wise and strategic . We lost millions of souls on both sides of the war. Some were made widows, orphans, while some lost either a parent, parents, siblings and other family members. The song writer wrote “ who feels it knows it all”. We were set back years economically and the scars of the war are still sore, that we cannot contemplate going that route in a hurry. Biafra 1, which happened over 50 years ago, was in the era of analog technology, therefore, could survive relatively without electricity. There were no need for credit cards to transact day to day payments, no cell phones, internet, social media, airline tickets etc As all essential logistics were analog, everything was done manually. Now, let us imagine that a war ensues, as a result of our lack of critical thinking, and not exploring every possible avenue for a peaceful resolution of our legitimate cry of marginalization.
Biafra 2, would be in a digital age, driven essentially by ICT and electricity. With all of the Electricity generation Power plants in Nigeria located outside Igbo land, as the major plants are hydro driven, located in places like Kainji, Shiroro, Jebba and Egbin. The gas plants, Afam, Geregu, Omotosho, Olorunsogo, Sapele, Etc are also outside the proposed Biafra enclave. Two state Governors, Peter Odili and later completed by Amaechi built Rivers IPP and Victor Attah did same in Ibom Power and was completed by Akpabio. But what did we gave in the South East States? Successive five thieving Governors built nothing. Today, the Enugu DisCo has one of the worst power distribution networks in the country. Now, to build a National Grid, in the proposed Biafra, even with cash down payment, which is not there, will take at least 2-5 years minimum. Then you talk about funding and the source of gas supply and development of gas infrastructure. Rule of thumb 100MW of power costs about $1Billion.
I do not think that those pushing the Biafran idea have thought the whole idea through.
In the early 1970s, Gowon, Kerekou, Eyadema and the President of Niger Republic, under the umbrella of Ecowas, signed an international protocol that saw Nigeria supplying these countries with electric power, via Kaniji dam, so that Niger, would not need to dam the source of water flow to Nigeria from around Futta Jalon ( the source). Because if they built their own dam, then the water flow through to Rivers Niger and Benue would not be forceful enough to power our Generation Companies. Therefore these our neighboring countries are beholden and grateful to “big brother” Nigeria. So Biafra would be struggling with power which is the life line of any people and economy. Further, Biafra, shall be surrounded by unfriendly countries and our cousins in the Niger Delta may not want to be dragged into any crisis.
If war ever ensues, God forbid, you don’t know the alliances that would emerge. Some of those goading the Biafra proponents now and singing Hosannah, shall be the ones who would sing crucify. You do not go to war, on the basis of sentiments and emotion, hoping on the support and assumption that others would follow you. Once bitten, twice shy. Please, I do not want to be misunderstood, for I have often canvassed for a reconstructed and restructured Federation or confederation. If it is feasible to cause a referendum, just like the Brexit,. Yes, let the major stake holders come to a consensus. , I do not subscribe to the present lack of fiscal federation and the way some things have turn out for quite some years in Nigeria. We are yet to hid our God’s ordained destiny of the leadership of the African continent.
The masses of Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa and the other ethnic stock are suffering the same fate. When it comes to sharing oil blocks and our commonwealth, there are no ethnic or religious differences. The Nigeria elites are all united in their eagerness to share the national cake. A closer investigation on the ownership of major oil Blocks in the country, will reveal the unity of purpose of the elite which cuts across ethnic divide. Well, let us leave that discussion for another day. Remember the article written about the recent wedding in Minna, attended by those described as the “landlords of Nigeria”, Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa; whereas, the Nigerian masses described as “tenants” were no where to be found.
We do not need any war in Igbo land, nay, in Nigeria. War is senseless, unreasonable and unwinable. At the end of the day, most wars are settled at the round table. Imagine for a moment, that the proposed Biafran side losses the 2nd War. What would be the consequences? I leave that to your conjecture .
Go and watch the video of Phillip Effiong’s surrender after the civil war in January 1970. It was simply humiliating. Let us hid the words of JFK- “let us never fear to negotiate but let us never negotiate out of fear.
The Nigerian common man had been short changed for a long time. But nation building is a long term process. So let us seek to heal our past hurt and neglect and give peace a chance. And hope and work towards an egalitarian Nigerian society, “where no man is oppressed. And so with peace and plenty, Nigeria may be blessed.”
– Mr Iroche can be reached through: email@example.com