Today, we go down memory lane of our beloved country. We relive the horrors and wars of our brethrens. A country once flowing with milk and honey became a land of war and brutality. A place of unrest, rebellion and disaster.
History gives account of the Nigerian Civil war, the war between Biafra and Nigeria which lasted from July 1967 to 15 January 1970. The Nigerian side was headed by the then head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon and the seceding state by Lt Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu.
The patent question still remains, Why the War? The country had just gained her independence in the year 1960, free from external control or not entirely, but this new found autonomy should be a course for celebration not an invitation for bloodshed.
“Nigeria we hail thee
Our own dear native land
Though tribes and tongue may differ
In brotherhood we stand
Nigerians all, are proud to serve
Our sovereign Motherland”.
The above excerpt is a stanza of the first national anthem adopted in Nigeria in the year 1960. The anthem admits our differences; different tribes and languages but goes further to affirm that we stand in brotherhood. Such deep rooted words, recited but with no feelings or regard because six (6) years later the Sovereign Motherland shall know no peace.
Trouble came crawling with the attacks by northern Muslims against the Christian Igbo’s residing in northern part of the country. The meaning of brotherhood had no place in these gruesome killings. At this rate, what do you have them do, they ran, they ran back to their kinsmen for survival, since Nigeria was no longer safe. No longer a home for all.
After witnessing such damage, the intuition to protect oneself is natural.
Previously, before the creation of states, Nigeria was divided under two protectorates by Lord Lugard. The Northern protectorate had the numbers and the South the resources and according to Thomas Hobbes a philosopher, man in the state of nature is brutish and short.
Subsequently, what birthed the civil war included ethnic brutality and religious violence, Igbo massacres in Northern Nigeria, a military upset, a counter-overthrow and abuse of Igbo living in Northern Nigeria. Another reason was for authority over the worthwhile oil creation in the Niger Delta. This assumed an indispensable part.
Prior to the war, a coup was executed on the then existing democratic government on grounds of corruption and the Northern elite supremacy and imposition on the entire country. Wait for it, the coup plotters were majorly igbos. The deaths recorded on that day were about twenty two (22) mostly powerful and top northern leaders. In addition, after the coup, power was handed over to an igbo man, General Aguiyi Ironsi.
This aggravated the northern and their retaliation was a deadlier response. They killed more. During this period, Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi was assassinated and power given to Gen. Yakubu Gowon.
On the 30th of May, 1967, Lieutenant Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu and other non-Igbo delegates set up the Republic of Biafra, made up of some states in Nigeria. The war was designed to be a breaking point for the indigenous people of Biafra. ‘Si vis pacem, para bellum’ therefore let him who desires peace prepare for war. Biafrans desired peace but could not sustain the war.
Nigeria could not stand the progression of Biafra, and hence, war was declared on this upcoming country and a full blown war occurred.
Memories of these events are bloody. Many millennials, generation Z and alpha generations do not understand the intricacy of war. I bet if war was mentioned to our grandparents and even parents, the horrors still linger in their expressions.
There were sad tales of women being killed, children being starved to death, youngsters becoming soldiers. No place to call home. Children separated from their parents, massive rapes and captivity. This event has forever affected history and our present.
Eventually, On January 11, 1970, Nigerian powers caught capital of Owerri, a part of the last Biafran fortifications, and Ojukwu had to escape to the Ivory Coast. After four days, Biafra gave up to Nigeria.
Families where wiped off, generations went out of existence and a lot of financial and economic loss.
All for what? Tribalism and corruption. Is Nigeria heading for another war? For the foundations of the civil war still lingers. Which Way Nigeria?