The Would Have Been ‘Republic of Biafra’: Is it still worth it? -By Jude Udeozor

Filed under: Democracy & Governance |

Starved Biafra children

 

Recently, many Nigerians celebrated the 50-year anniversary of the start of the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran war; A war which lasted less than 3 years, yet its scars and pains transcends decades. Though youths my age were fortunate not to have experienced the tragedy of the Biafra war, some of us can relate with the misfortunes of the war.

My Dad was in his early 20’s during the war, married with a child and another on its way. For his age and as one who had lost his dad as a teenager, my Dad was quite successful and had things to be grateful for. When the war began, several youths including my Dad were conscripted. For the next two years during the war, his life came to an unsolicited halt along with the fears and uncertainties. Finally, the worst nightmare of any father or husband happened.

On a fateful day during the war, at a time when Igbo’s were being starved as a war strategy, my Dad, a responsible and compassionate father, went out to his farm in search of food for his wife and child who have been in hiding. While in the farmland not too far away from home, a bomb was dropped. He blanked out momentarily. Upon recovery, he ran back home to his family, but unfortunately, to his worst befuddlement, what was once home was in now smoke, fire and ruins. The bomb had landed right at his home where his pregnant wife, kid and another family member were hiding. They were all gone ―Dead! My Dad would have been in the ruins that day as well. That defining moment of his life stole EVERYTHING from him. His family, savings, relative and life as he once knew it. He went from having ‘a lot’ to having NOTHING in a moment and the unfortunately incident left him with only two choices; join his dead family, or begin life all over!

My courageous Dad, who is in his 70’s now, chose the later; to begin again with nothing! The hole dug by the bomb is still in our family land in my village in Anambra State and it serves as a remembrance to our family. My parents who were not yet married during the war sometimes share their different accounts of the war. How they were forced to eat unimaginable things, including lizards and rats just to survive during the war and the ensuing severe starvation.

In recent time, under the leadership of Nnamdi Kanu, the “Indigenous People of Biafra” and a host of others have been calling for the separation of Biafra again―mostly the South-East geographical region (Igbos) ― from the rest of Nigeria. The proponents of this idea have suggested that this must happen one way or another with Nnamdi Kanu saying “It is either we get Biafra or I die fighting for Biafra…without death you cannot have life”. The political injustices, inequality, intimidation, lack of confidence in federal government, mistreatment of the Igbos, just to mention a few, are some alleged reasons for this call. Others have provided contrary arguments and insists that Nigeria remains together as one Nation.

The intent of this piece is not to argue for or against a separation. The reason for concern now is that some people are yet again suggesting and agitating for another potential war; a war that some of them might not suffer the consequences of. Nnamdi Kanu is a British-Nigerian who can easily flee Nigeria should a war begin.

Some may ask, should Igbos continue to be mistreated? Is the political injustice in Nigeria permissible? Were the inhumane actions of the Nigerian Federal Government during the Civil War okay?  The simple answer is NO! However, the bigger issue here is that war is not always and should not be the solution to any problem. No country should have to deal with the agony of a Civil War, let alone twice. Nigeria has already had its painful history of a civil war, and we must learn from that and not repeat the same mistakes. I reckon that even the Martyrs of the Civil War will caution us against another war.  We are already dealing with many serious issues as a nation; a struggling economy, threats of terrorism, religious divisions, amongst others. The last thing we want is to add a bigger problem to the issues on our hand. War is not an option; neither is it a solution.

I am an Igbo man, who would rather remain a Nigerian than have another Civil War. No country is free of challenges and Nigeria is no different. Biafra may not necessarily be the solution to our problems or make us impervious to challenges. I therefore ask all Biafra agitators to seek a more peaceful path. Be open to healthy debate and promote love rather than hatred and bitterness. If we must leave, we must do so in peace. However, I would rather much prefer that we LIVE TOGETHER IN PEACE as one nation under God. Shalom!

 

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