|Sunday, September 19, 2021|
Pontifical Urban University, Vatican City (Rome)
n his landmark, parting book entitled, "There Was A Country", Chinua Achebe makes a compelling case for the Biafra struggle in the Nigerian State. Achebe posits the question of the struggle for survival of a people, an indigenous ethnic-community facing threats of extermination as the major reason why the International body such as the United Nations and its Security Council should intervene now in the Biafran quest for self-determination. This is to avoid a repeat of the yet-to-be acknowledged genocide committed against the Igbo Biafrans by the Nigerian State during the First Nigeria-Biafra War (1967-1970):
It is now over fifty years since the supposedly end of the Nigeria-Biafra War that lasted three years (1967-1970). Yet, those conditions that caused the war are still there, unaddressed. This is the most painful aspect of it all, when we remember that, 'almost thirty years after Rwanda and Darfur, over 3.5 million people - mothers, children, babies, civilians - lost their lives as a result of the blatantly callous and unnecessary policies enacted by the leaders of the federal government of Nigeria.'
As a human being, with conscience and respect for human life, that is fundamentally important, indeed essential to our humanity, I believe it is high time the International Community, especially, the United Nations (U.N.) and its Security Council, do the needful. That is, heed the cry of the Biafran people and community for survival and self-determination by organizing a referendum in Nigeria to help them achieve that. That is the only major way to save lives of the people in Igboland and other indigenous ethnic-nationalities of Nigeria, from the raging state-sponsored Fulani-occupying federal government's herdsmen terrorism, bloodbaths, military and police brutality and recklessness.
Today, more than ever, fifty years after the war, the killings of Igbo Biafrans by the security forces of the Nigerian State at any least provocation, instead of decreasing, has continued to be on the increase. Indeed, it has reached an unbearable proportion, and there are no signs it is going to stop soon unless something urgent is done.
Today, it is as if the lives of the Igbo Biafrans do not worth anything, anymore in Nigeria. Igbos are killed on daily basis like fowls by the Nigerian security forces and Fulani-killer herdsmen. In Nigeria, Igbos are on daily basis, physically and psychologically tortured, humiliated by state and non-state sponsored agents of the Nigerian government and nobody seems to be worried about it at all. Yet, the Igbos are expected not to complain or protest? Quo Vadis?
This implies that the present agitation for Biafra as the one before it, is about the struggle for life, for continued human existence - indeed, the survival of a people facing a constant threat of extermination because of their ethnicity, culture, value systems and Judeo-Christian religion in Nigeria. That is, in a country, where they are hated by most of the other ethnic-groups, and yet are refused to go their separate way to form their own independent sovereign state of Biafra, to save their race, community and land. Igbo-hate and blood is what is still keeping Nigeria one as a "united", post-colonial 'failed African nation state.'
Although subtle, often suppressed and not publicly talked about, Igbo resentment and hate in Nigeria is the bane of the Nigerian State. The only way to cure it, methinks, is for the U.N to organize a referendum for self-determination and independence for the Biafran people and any other ethnic-nationality that may wish to opt out of the Nigerian State and form its own separate independent State. Otherwise, the ethnic-cleansings of the Indigenous Ethnic-groups and Christians, especially, the Igbos, in the name of 'Keeping Nigeria One', will continue unabated in the country.
Therefore, the most pressing issue facing the indigenous ethnic-communities and peoples of Nigeria today is that of the survival of human existence - security of lives and property of the diverse peoples of the indigenous ethnic-nationalities in the Southern and Middle Belt regions of the country and the minorities in the North. That is, preservation and saving of human lives, in a country where human lives of the Igbos and peoples of other indigenous ethnic-communities are no longer considered sacred by the ruling class and their armed forces, police and other security operatives.
It is a pity that the Nigerian State, 60 years after political Independence and about 106 years after Amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates by the British colonial masters has not been able to cater for the basic needs of its citizens. The country has continued to soak itself with the blood of the innocent - shedding of innocent blood of its own citizen on daily basis because of ethnic-hate and lust for power. The Nigerian State has continued to mess up with the lives of its own citizens. Nigeria has failed woefully, in the areas of security of lives and property, which are the basic functions of any nation-state worth its name.
In particular, the continued shedding of the blood of the Igbo, extra-judicially, at any least provocation, is seem by the gatekeepers of this British contraption, called Nigeria, as that which must be maintained at all cost. In their estimation, it is the only way, 'Nigeria could continue to stay together as one nation-state.' A country, soaked with the blood of the innocent! What a pity?
Was it not for this reason that the successive Nigerian governments, supported by the British, have been kicking against Biafrans' clamor for a referendum for self-determination and independence? It is also one of the reasons, why they do not want the Igbo Biafrans to be fully, integrated into the mainstream of the Nigerian society - the political and economic structure and system of the country?
Therefore, the issue today is no longer about how to 'Keep Nigeria One.' It is not also about 'Igbo-Presidency or 'Restructuring.' None of these will change anything on what is on the ground today in Nigeria. None of them will change the long years of culture of bloodbaths and ethnic-cleansings that have become like a second nature for the Nigerian State. None of them will stop Fulani terrorism, lust for domination, Islamization and Fulanization agenda of Nigeria. The only thing can put an end to all these, is for the U.N., as a matter of urgency, to organize a referendum for self-determination for the Biafran people, and for any other ethnic-group in the country that may wish to opt out and form its own independent sovereign state.
The challenge today more than ever, is how to save lives and the land of the indigenous communities - inhabitants of Nigeria, those indigenous ethnic-groups and Christians facing constant threats of extermination as a people from the gatekeepers of the Nigerian State. Only referendum for self-determination for the independence of the oppressed indigenous ethnic-nationalities such as the Biafran people can stop the bloodbath and carnage happening today in Nigeria.
This is the trust of our argument in the present article. It is the reason why we are calling on the United Nations and its Security Council, to do the needful, to intervene in the Biafran case before it is too late.
The Most Pressing Issue in Nigeria Today
The problem with Nigeria - the struggle for human survival, community and the land; in fact, the struggle for the continued existence of communities of the oppressed indigenous ethnic-groups in the country, has passed the stage of the usual debate of how to 'Keep Nigeria One.' Because Nigeria has never been 'one' and will never be 'one.' Nigeria is a forced 'marriage' of people of diverse ethnic, religious and cultural identities, with conflicting value systems and philosophy of life, merged together as 'one nation-state' through a colonial fiat by the British. Nigeria is an 'artificial' country of British colonial construct in West Africa.
The Nigerian State benefits only those who are at the corridors of power and their cronies. Majority of Nigerian masses do not feel any emotional link with the Nigerian State and government. This is because, the citizens are not counted as such, as anything in the country by those at the corridors of power.
Moreover, since 1970, when the open combatant (military battle) between Nigerian forces and the Biafrans was said to have ended, Nigerian military, police and other security forces and paramilitary posted to Igboland, started behaving like an occupying-army in Igboland (Biafra). The government erected military, police, customs and civil defense paramilitary roadblocks all across the high and inland roads throughout the region, where security personnel do nothing else but extort money from the bus and bike drivers - commuters and other ordinary people, in the open, along the roads.
Again, since President Buhari came to power in 2015, Fulani killer-herdsmen have been behaving like 'foot-soldiers' of the regime's Islamization and Fulanization agenda, like those sent to complement the already known impunity of the Fulani-controlled security forces, military and police in the region. The Fulani herdsmen have been invading the villages, farmlands and forests in the entire Igboland in particular, and other parts of Biafra. They not only use their cows to destroy farmlands and villages, but also roam around with AK-47, with which they slaughter the villagers, rape women and are engaged in the criminal act of kidnapping for ransom.
The killer-herdsmen are like 'sacred cow' for Buhari regime. None of the Fulani killer-herdsmen, in spite of all their atrocities - terrorist attacks and killings of innocent citizens, has ever, been arrested, prosecuted or imprisoned by this regime!
This situation prompted Nnamdi kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB to launch the Vigilante outfit, codenamed, Eastern Security Network (ESN), December last year. This was because the Southeast governors had failed to do the needful - something tangible in that area of providing security of lives and property for their citizens. Many innocent souls and people are been killed on daily basis by Fulani killer-herdsmen and nobody at the corridors of power of the Nigerian State wanted to do something to stop it. Nnamdi Kanu filled the gap.
ESN was formed by the IPOB leader as a Vigilante outfit, the aim of which is to guard the forests and farmlands, and to help provide security and protect the villagers from the incessant attacks and killings perpetrated against them by the Fulani killer-herdsmen in the region.
U.N and the Problem with Nigeria
Again, Nigeria became a nation-state following the merging-together of diverse ethnic-nationalities with conflicting value systems, cultures, religions, languages and philosophy of life, by the British in 1914. Nigerian State was never created by British to succeed. But rather, to continue to serve the economic interest of the British and the political hegemonic domination of their local spinoffs, the Fulani Muslim ruling-Oligarchy of Northern Nigeria. This is why the foreign powers appeared to be careless about the ongoing Fulani herdsmen terrorism and ethnic-cleansings of people of the indigenous ethnic-groups and Christians in the country, taking place on daily basis under the watch of President Muhammudu Buhari, a Fulani, Sunni Muslim.
It is because of their foreign interests - the neo-colonial agenda of the former colonial masters and the lust for power of their local spinoffs - the Fulani ruling-Oligarchy, that all these atrocities have continued to be committed in the country and the U.N. and the International Community, are looking elsewhere. It is because of the foreign interests in Nigeria's Petroleum and Gas from Biafraland (Southeast and Southsouth zones), that the U.N., the Western powers and their Asian Giants allies, are keeping silence over the atrocities being committed against the indigenous ethnic-communities and Christians by the Fulani-occupying federal government of Nigeria. This is the crux of the matter!
But who says that when Biafra gets its independence, British, the West and other world powers won't continue with their monopoly of Petroleum and Gas exploitation in the coastal areas of Biafraland? It is an unfounded fear. In fact, British, and the other Western countries and their allies will benefit more from the exploitation of natural and mineral resources in Biafraland than any other country when Biafra comes. Because they will be making more profits from Biafraland than what they are making presently under the terrorist-ridden Nigerian State. This is because the British and those other foreign countries will be doing their business with the Biafran State to emerge, under a better condition, in a calm and decent atmosphere, and with modern way of doing international trade among friendly nation states.
It would be a trade between two friendly states, Biafra and Great Britain, for example; two countries and peoples that have long history of relating with each other. Il will be an international intra-states trade among friendly countries, devoid of any type of suspicion or kidnapping of Oil workers, as is the case today in the Niger Delta, where foreigners working for the Multi-National Oil Companies, have continued to experience kidnapping at the hands of militants on daily basis.
The people of Biafra are demanding for justice and freedom as a people, by asking for self-determination and independence through the legal means of referendum. They are not asking for the U.N. usual humanitarian aid handouts. The U.N. humanitarian aid handouts, which usual comes after a genocide might have been committed. That is, after their criminal silence as was the case when the First Biafran War took place in the 60s'. The U.N. humanitarian aid handouts, in the African case, is nothing else, but 'medicine after death.' This is why the World Body should use this second opportunity of Biafra agitation for self-determination and independence, to redeem its image before the Biafran people and the world.
What people are expecting from the U.N. and the International Community today, on Biafra issue (and in similar cases in Africa, such as the Southern Cameroun), is for the World Body to look into the case of the Indigenous African people's clamor for Self-Determination and Independence. Let the U.N. organize a referendum for Biafra and the other marginalized indigenous ethnic-nationalities in the country facing similar threats of extermination from the domineering ethnic-groups and foreign backers.
Therefore, the most pressing issue today in Nigeria, in my estimation, is how to save lives of people of those indigenous ethnic-groups and Christians in the country who are facing constant threats of extermination at the hands of state-sponsored terrorism. This is why the United Nations and its Security Council should not continue to keep silence, waiting for another large scale of genocide against the Igbo Biafran Christians or any other indigenous ethnic-group, to happen, before they could intervene.
The Biafran people are not asking for war. No. The Biafran War had already been fought. That war lasted for almost three years, 1967-1970, and an estimated 3.5 million Biafrans, mostly Igbos, lost their lives in that brutal war of genocide of Nigeria and British and their Russian and Egyptian allies against Biafra.
Therefore, what is remaining, is granting the Biafran people that very thing, for which they went to war with Nigeria between 1967 and 1970, namely, an Independent Sovereign State of Republic of Biafra, through a referendum to be organized by the U.N. What Biafran people are requesting is nothing else, but a referendum for self-determination, as guaranteed by the U.N. Conventions on Human and Peoples' Rights.