IPOB Mourns Chief (Col) Joe Achuzia |The Republican News



Aloysius Attah, Onitsha

The leadership of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) worldwide, on Tuesday, joined the rest of the world to mourn the passage of  the Nigeria Civil war veteran, Chief (Col.) Joe Achuzie,  who died on  Monday, February 26,  2018, in his hometown of Asaba, Delta State, after a brief illness.

In a statement signed by the IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, the IPOB described Achuzia as ‘an extraordinary and exceptional charismatic personality’ and finest battle-field commander of towering repute even as IPOB pledged to peacefully continue from where he left off until Biafra is fully restored the same way he restored Biafran dignity in the battlefield against all the odds.

The Pro-Biafran group said the late Col. Achuzia and his wartime colleague, Timothy Onwuatuegwu, most represented the spirit of bravery and patriotism which characterised the military campaign that prevented the annihilation and Islamisation of the Biafran race.

The statement recalled that Achuzia it was that led the gallant Biafran soldiers to inflict a heavy defeat on the enemy at Abagana and also masterminded the recapture of Owerri the then capital of Biafra from a better equipped British backed Russian armed Nigerian Army.

“Col. Joe Achuzia will be remembered by history as one of the finest and bravest soldiers the world had ever seen. Though his exploits were in a quickly forgotten war in black Africa, the magnitude of his accomplishments put in context ranks amongst the greatest military feats of the modern era.

“From his heroics in the famous  Abagana Sector victory over Murtala Mohammed to his recapture of Owerri, Col. Achuzia left an indelible mark that will be acknowledged by every generation of Biafrans until the end of time. He is our icon and all-time hero.

“Chief (Col.) Joe Achuzia marched his footsteps on the hallowed soil of Biafra during his youthful days for the liberation and betterment of Biafra. He left a legacy this generation will forever be grateful to him for our hero Achuzia came, saw, fought and overcame our enemies.

“We his children IPOB family members worldwide, owe it to him and posterity to continue this great fight he fought for all his life until the liberation of Biafraland, from the vicious grip of the oppressors, is irreversibly accomplished to his memory and glory of God,” Powerful Stated.   (The Sun)

Continue reading


BREAKING NEWS: Biafran Military Hero Col. Joe Achuzie Has Died |The Republican News



Chief Joe Achuzie


Reports reaching our news desk has it that the Biafran wartime hero, the man who held various military positions during the Biafran-Nigerian civil war, Chief Joe Achuzie (Air Raid) has died.

Chief Achuzie hails from Asaba in Delta state and has been steadfast for his support for recent Biafra agitation and IPOB.

He granted several interviews during the recent wave of agitations and kept his unflinching support for Biafra.


In one of his interviews, during the recent agitation for Biafra, he reportedly said that Biafra never surrendered to Nigeria, and asked if anyone claims so that person should produce the document.

He was at some point during the war, the director of operations for Biafra.

He was a dogged Biafran, who died a Biafran in every definition of it. May his soul rest in peace.

Details later……

Continue reading


Biafra: The Great Men Of Ideas And Inventions From Igbo West Of The Niger

By Mr. Emma Okocha

“From time immemorial, the people that are called Igbanke today were known and called Igbo-Akiri. It was in 1967 when Ogbemudia became the military governor of the Midwest State that he changed the name of the town from Igbo-Akiri to Igbanke…

It would have been unthinkable at that time to reveal that an Ibo man or an Ibo town produced the military governor of the Midwest State…. Ogbemudia, including the prominent Evangelist Rev. Isaac Idahosa are all Ibo and they hail originally from Igbo Akiri.”

(See Blood On The Niger, Gomslam Books 2012 pages 33, 216)

Captain Fred Anuku, the Commander of the Biafran Navy was the first Nigerian naval graduate from Dartmouth. While his fellow Ika-Ibo Brigadier Samuel Ogbemudia joined the Federal troops, Fred, who was married to a Caribbean, fled Lagos during the 1966 Igbo pogrom and was offered the command of the fledging young Navy by the Biafran high command.

At the same time, Major Nzeogwu’s involvement in the January 15, 1966 Revolution brought suspicion and calamity to his own people of Asaba, Okpanam and environs. As we prepare to organise a programme for the Anioma and Asaba 50th Year Genocide Anniversary, we shall today mention some of the top actors, commanders from the western Ibo nation of both forces whose roles led to the genocide in Asaba, Isheagu, Ogwashi, Igbodo, Ubulu Kingdom, Ibusa and Ndi Oshimili.

These prominent Commanders include Major Kaduna Nzeogwu, Col. Conrad Nwawo, Col. Joe Achuzia, and Captain Fred Anuku on the Biafran side. On the Nigerian side, we shall record the memorable activities of Brigadier Samuel Ogbemudia, General Godwin Alabi Isama, General Cyril Iweze and Commander O.Z. Chiazor, the first black man to be commissioned by the Queen in the Royal Canadian Navy.

Significantly, at this time, charismatic Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu had been released from the Calabar prison. He had disagreed with Ojukwu’s war aims and military strategy, and obviously discountenanced the declaration of Biafra. He advised that the East should resist for, at least, four months, cultivate foreign and local support and then prepare and get into the position with more arms and training to resist a total war.

He opposed any frontal engagements against the superior-armed federal troops at that initial stage of the war. At the 1967 Abakiliki military exercise, Nzeogwu demonstrated his extraordinary military acumen and proved beyond doubt that he was the Rommel of the Nigerian Army. A commander’s dream, endowed with a peculiar knowledge of the sub-savannah battlefield terrain, he exuded a rare combat capability and commanded the battle simulation with such confidence and precision that he drew tears of adulation from the awed subalterns.

He inspired most of the officers with his unmitigated improvisations. To most of the top brass of the Biafran Army, who were seeing the dawn of real combat action for the first time, this fighting leatherneck was a military institution all by himself, a study in combat readiness and tactics.

After his release from Calabar, Nzeogwu managed to reach his boys still in the Nigerian Army in the Midwest and in the West. The plan to enter the Midwest was originally his and that was his own way of setting a stage for the cessation of hostilities, an end to the war, and the restoration of the ideals of the January 15 Revolution.

To this end, he was disappointed by his friend, Major Olusegun Obasanjo whom he had not heard from and whom he learnt had gone back to Kaduna. On the other hand, he was confident in, and had some respect for Major Samuel Ogbemudia, his colleague at the Nigeria Military Training College (NMTC), Kaduna.

Furthermore, Wole Soyinka revealed that the Westerners had agreed on the opposition against the North but also disagreed with Ojukwu on the declaration of Biafra, and for that matter, the declaration of Benin Republic. Declaration of Biafra, the Revolutionaries reasoned would isolate the Easterners and put the West and the Midwest in a bad position whereby sympathies from the West and the Midwest would end up being restrained.

They would do better fighting as Nigerians. Whatever was the final consensus, Ogbemudia turned tail. He was next heard of leading the triumphant entry of the Federal Forces into Benin.

Few days after the war, the Biafra Research and Production Bureau made two secret and instant contacts with the high command of the Nigerian Army. Willy Achukwu, the Onitsha-born multi-talented improvising scientist, led one team to the Commander of the 82 Division, Enugu. Before the meeting, a team of Biafran Scientists were directed to put down sketches of the scientific equipment, designs, take measurements of the weapons, guns.

A special house with good illumination was erected to keep safely all the Biafran designs and prototypes. They also produced a new Ajuala flying Ogbunigwe to supplement the ones produced at Awo Idemili. Research at this time resumed on what I might term the first world “Smart Bomb” was redesigned as the much needed facilities and spare parts, lacking with the exigency of the war were becoming available after the war. (Pse., see Biafra, a Legacy Lost TELL Magazine Special Report No. 14 April 8, 2002. Page 37)

While Willy Achukwu led one group to the Commander 82 Division Enugu, Professor Ezekwe and Professor Nwosu went to Benin and handed over their Biafran scientific designs to Governor S.O. Ogbemudia. Ogbemudia raced to Lagos and desperately tried everything to convince General Gowon to seize the opportunity and convert that Biafran scientific ingenuity and like the Americans absorbed the German-Jewish war scientific breakthrough; and transform Nigeria to a modern powerful black nation. Gowon shillyshallied and meanwhile the Willy Achukwu group were lucky to escape the gallows.

General Bissala the Commander of the 82 Division before their tearful eyes, poured gasoline over the designs and materials, brought out a box of matches and set the huge collection of scientific fabric of Black civilisation on fire!

Ogbemudia’s shock and depression on learning of the outcome of the meeting with the GOC and the burning of the Biafran war prototypes and designs was enough to transform him from Saul to Paul.

For the third time, the Brigadier deflected and returned to his original base and more than any other post war governor was very prominent in the rehabilitation projects to return the war-weary Igbo to Jerusalem. He offered grants to poor students, donated buses to the University of Nigeria and rehabilitated the former Biafran Army officers, returning home to Bendel.

All the same, he cannot run away from the serious war crime charges of changing the name of a whole community, the heritage of his people Igbo Akiri to Igbanke. To this day, the people of this community yearn to return to their kith and kin in the Ika province of Delta State.

On his triumphant entry into Benin, in company with the Butcher of Asaba, General Muritala Mohammed, can he absolve himself and other officers and men of the Federal Second Division, of complicity in the wanton killing of Igbo in Benin that started in September 21, 1967 to the end of that war.

The Republican News

Continue reading


Biafran Secession: Ojukwu Had No Choice – Mobolaji Aluko |The Republican News


Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu

Ojukwu was ambitious. He admitted this fact in an interview held in Umuahia on 4 November 1968. This is no news. The lack of ambition is not a virtue. Suffice it to say that in 1967 the question of ambition is secondary to what had happened to easterners and what was happening to them. To date, there has been no conclusive evidence suggesting that Ojukwu was bent on creating Biafra in order to satisfy some inordinate ambition. Available evidence points otherwise. After the initial phase of the pogroms in the north in July-August 1966, Ojukwu urged eastern survivors to return to the north after conferring with his friend, Ado Bayero (the Emir of Kano). (Ojukwu had just appointed this man the Chancellor of the UNN, as a replacement to Zik.) The easterners who heeded Ojukwu’s call met more massacres. There is no need to revisit the pogroms of 1966 here. It is sufficient to say, a vast majority of easterners were disenchanted with a Nigeria that did not guarantee them freedom of life and property.

An estimated thirty thousand had been murdered in other parts of Nigeria. Their relatives were not happy. Millions had returned empty-handed as refugees from other parts of Nigeria. Easterners’ property had been “abandoned” for looting in other parts of Nigeria. Millions were looking up to Ojukwu to provide the kind of leadership that would lead to the fair resolution of this problem. On 19 October 1966, Gowon imposed a food blockade on Eastern Nigeria. On 31 October, Ojukwu wrote the other military governors inviting them to a meeting either in Port Harcourt or Calabar. The idea was to discuss the problems of course. Meanwhile, he also sent delegates for talks with representatives of other regions. These delegates were talking until the eastern participants felt unsafe to continue, or so they said. But tell me why I should not believe them. On 4 October, Gowon turned down the eastern proposal for confederation. UNN students began to protest chanting that “the push is complete.” In effect, they were reminding Ojukwu of his earlier caveat that the east would not secede unless “pushed out”.

These demonstrations continued all around the region. On new Years’ eve 1967, Ojukwu warned that time was “running out while the ship of state is drifting.” These were the circumstances that foreshadowed Aburi. At Aburi, Ojukwu pressed his case. He did so successfully because he had one, not necessarily, as Kirk-Greene put it, that Ojukwu was “the cleverest” or had “skillful histrionics and superior intellectual adroitness.” Indeed, this characterization of Ojukwu vis a vis the other actors is true. (In fact, Brigadier Adekunle said that it was because Gowon was indolent.) But I cannot see what Ojukwu could have done if he had no case. Ojukwu went to Aburi as the sole representative of a people struggling for survival. He successfully negotiated self-determination for them. On the other hand, Gowon had ascended the highest throne in the land. He was beginning to feel comfortable in that post. The majrity of non-eastern elites were also comfortable. The fleeing easterners had abandoned property, civil and military positions which people from other parts of the country were quick to fill. While his colleagues of the SMC were wishing away the past, Ojukwu was serious consolidating his argument on that past. Ojukwu’s success at Aburi owed more to the logic of immediate circumstances than to his political brinksmanship.

Back in the east, this success shored up Ojukwu’s popularity. Rather than offset this popularity, Gowon’s unilateral repudiation of the agreements fueled it. The crisis deepened because the interests of the two sides were diametrically opposed, in part, arising from the meddling of external interests. As easterners clamoured “On Aburi We Stand,” the rest of the country clamoured for its repudiation. Ojukwu warned in a broadcast that, if by 31 March 1967, the federal side had not implemented Aburi, he would take “whatever measures may be necessary to give effect to those agreements.” Ojukwu started to issue the “Survival Edicts” aimed at countering the federal blockade.

The federal government declared a state of emergency in the Eastern Region and announced the creation of 12 states on 26 May 1967. In response, Ojukwu presented three options for the consideration of the Joint Secession of the Council of Chiefs and Elders. These were: (1) accepting the terms of the North and Gowon and, therefore, submitting to the domination of the North; (2) continuing the stalemate and to drift; and (3) to ensure the survival of the people of Eastern Nigeria by asserting their autonomy. It is now history that the assemblymen and chiefs chose the third option. On 30 May 1967, Ojukwu proclaimed the independent state of Biafra. If one accepts the ambition thesis, then the Joint Session had given legitimacy to Ojukwu’s inordinate desires.

But one cannot successfully condemn Ojukwu’s action in presenting these options without suggesting [viable] alternatives that Ojukwu may have left out in his submission to the Joint Session. Could Ojukwu have postponed secession? In view of the federal government measures, such a postponement would have been unwarranted. For instance, the creation of states was unilateral and designed to undermine the geographical basis of Eastern Nigeria. Apart, from secession, the only option left to Ojukwu was to step down. This would have been dishonorable at a time when Easterners’ grievances had not been addressed. In these circumstances, the real option open to Ojukwu was resignation. But this was dishonourable. People who never wished the easterners to live may continue to vent their frustration on Ojukwu for fulfilling a responsibility. This is how Nigerians come across when they scapegoat Ojukwu for leading their war of survival. No one can in good faith single Ojukwu out as a “former rebel,” except if we accept that such a person is a crass ignoramus. One does not have to be Igbo or easterner, or their friends to see this fact.

The unpreparedness of Biafra to withstand the rigours of independence at that time was widely known, even by Ojukwu himself. He took time to warn the Joint Session of the grave consequences of secession. (Don’t mind that he would tell the world a few days later that no power in “Black Africa” could beat Biafra in war.) Most people in Eastern Nigeria realized that it was better to try and die fighting than just wait to be annihilated. The dangers were real. They were not merely “perceived”, as i read often on Naijanet.

Ojukwu realized that the people were not looking for a wimp. A good number of capable officers could have filled the void, had Ojukwu created one. Some of these were the surviving executioners of the January 1966 coup such as Emmanuel Ifeajuna, Chukwuma Nzeogwu, Tim Onwuatuegwu and Ben Gbulie. There were also their Yoruba counterparts who had taken refuge in the east. These were Major Ademoyega, Col. Banjo, Lt. Olafemihon and Lt. Oyewole. All these January officers had no jobs or commands in the army parlance. (To give them commands to Nzeogwu & co. would be to give them power. Their remaining idle was not good as well.) I am sure that the saying, which my elementary school teacher later thought me, “an idle man is a devil’s workshop,” was already in vogue at the time. The January officers played cards and chequers. Nobody, including Ojukwu, was at ease with these men’s presence. They had done it before and could well do it again. Actually, Major General Alex Madiebo, who later became the Biafran Army Commander, grumbles in his book that Ojukwu gave these men a lot of amenities in order to placate them. Proper attention has not been given to the implications the presence of these men may have had on the declaration of Biafra. (AllAfricannews)

(First published on Wed, 19 April 1995)

Continue reading


Northern Group Asks Nigerians For Fairness, Equity To Support Igbo Presidency In 2023


…Call on South East to queue behind Kalu, Okorocha

From: Godwin Tsa, Abuja

A Northern political group has called on other regions in the country to support the emergency of an Igbo president come 2023 in the interest of equity, fairness and justice.

The group has, however, called on the people of the South East not to play politics of exclusion, but pull themselves together and queue behind a former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Kalu ,and Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, in order to actualise the Igbo Presidency by 2023.

The group, Northern Front for Justice and Equity (NFJE), lamented that 47 years after former Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd) declared ‘No victor, No vanquished’ and proclaimed the 3Rs of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation after the civil war, the people of the south east region are yet to produce a president. Gowon’s 3Rs were targeted at healing the wounds of the ill-fated war.

Chairman of NFJE, Yunusa Sule, noted that the people of the south east still felt short-changed in the rulership equation of the country as they are yet to produce a president of Nigeria, which he said was indeed a long time and honestly over due.

Besides, Sule equally called on past leaders including  Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Chief Obasanjo, Gen. David Ejoor, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, Chief Alfred Diette-Spiff, Gen. Alani Akirinade, President Muhammadu Buhari, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar and other great heroes in the country, to facilitate the emergency of an Igbo president.

The group, in a statement, in Abuja, on Tuesday, spoke on the need for “Ndigbo to put their acts together and foster unity among themselves in order to forge a common front and collaborate with other parts of the country to actualise their dream of an Igbo presidency.

“It is in this regard that notable Igbo leaders like Owelle Rochas Okorocha and Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu have always called on  Ndigbo not to play politics of exclusion.

 “These two leaders have shown great patriotism as they rejected any attempt to divide this country.

Owelle Rochas Okorocha  who is regarded as a political Nostradamus has always been a leading light ready to take Ndigbo to the promised land.

He has displayed wide vision by building bridges of love peace and understanding across the country History is replete with the fact that God has always picked whomever he pleases to lead a people to a destination

“Ndigbo must support  these  men of sterling qualities  and  stop the ‘pull him down’ syndrome that has characterised their political life.

Democracy  is a game of the majority, therefore the ceaseless attack on the north and a president of Northern extraction cannot help the cause of Ndigbo.

 For the sake of peace equity, and fairness the north sacrificed its political advantage by embracing the rotational presidency, the north should therefore be commended and not vilified.

We are therefore calling on the rest of the country to extend to the south East what was done for the south west in 1999 when the rest of the country including the south east stood down to produce Chief Olu Falae and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as the two leading presidential candidates. Head or tail, a Yoruba man emerged in the person of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. This was done to assuage the injustice felt by the south west with the annulment of the election won by Late Chief M.K.O Abiola.

“It is a gesture that we believe should be extended to the south east in the interest of equity, fairness and justice.

“The South West, South South and the North had taken their turns as presidents of Nigeria at various times since the end of the civil war. Only the South East has not been given the opportunity to produce a president despite being one of the three major ethic groups in the country.

“When Gen. Yakubu Gowon, a former Head of State of Nigeria declared ‘No victor, No vanquished’ and proclaimed the 3Rs of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation   and Reconciliation after the civil war, it was targeted at healing the wounds of the ill-fated war. But 47 years after, the people of the south east still feel short changed in the rulership equation of this country as they are yet to produce a president of Nigeria. It is indeed a long time and honestly over due.”   (The Sun)

Continue reading


MUST READ: We Were Brought Up As One Nigeria Army, British Left One Commanding Officer – Ojukwu


Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu

“On the whole, you spent 10 years with the Nigerian army. What was it like and how did you end up in Kano?

The Nigerian army, I say this not to denigrate anyone, is the remnant of a force that had grown steadily from the West African Frontier Force, until it became, with independence, the Nigerian army. When I was there, it was a force with five battalions, and we were sort of inching our way to the sixth battalion. And every officer knew brother officers; because of my peculiar type of education when I came into the army after my training I was selected to be either an instructor, or a staff officer. But my calling was for infantry; and if you remember a lot of British officers had a tried approach and really I was looked upon as that officer that you could leave with minimal supervision. In fact, at one stage my annual report had these words that I was one officer ‘‘who never served under anybody but we all served under him.’’ Naturally, I was a senior officer my number was 29, and I moved up every year since my commission, and I had created quite a bit of jealous enmity by my rapid promotion, and that sort of alienated me from my military colleagues. And if one was not within range, I was a friend. The army for effectiveness was very good ceremonially, we were also good for internal security actions, but I would not vouch for its war efficiency, which you found during the war, that the army proved itself. It was the biggest and most effective defoliant agent, they would shoot through any amount of leaves, and miss out the enemy. And for propaganda sake people were given so much reputation, reputation for what? And they go about prancing about: ‘we did this, we did that,’ no. We have this latent problem, because we have been given this bullshit about their efficiency, they began to believe it. When I say this, I am also recognising the limitation of my own training as an officer. By Nigerian standards I was some good, but I cannot go into modern war with other people, better trained. I was alright as an infantry officer, I was alright as a small formation officer. But I do not think that internationally at the power points that I would go beyond the command of a brigade. That is me, so when you see pipsqueaks prancing around as divisional commander, core commanders, I just laugh.

The army today is blamed for the instability in the political system. When, in your opinion, do you think the army began to eye a role in the political system?

The army lost discipline with the appointment of Yakubu Gowon. It was Gowon that rooted indiscipline into the Nigerian army. This is the basis of my disagreement with the Nigerian army officers’’ corp, nothing more than that. In a way, it is the politicisation of the officer corp; I have always been committed to the professional army. We argued the appointment of Ironsi as the major-general, who would take over from Maj-General Wilbe Everad, the last British commanding officer, I maintained the position that for the army to remain we have to follow the natural chain of command of the hierarchy. Despite the disruptions of the Ifeajuna coup, we still held together as an army. Later it became a question of how to handle the disruption of the demise of Ironsi. If you remember, I had been posted to Enugu, so I was not in Lagos to argue this. But I kept on the telephone arguing the point, that Ogundipe should take over; no problem then because there was a chance of resolving the issues. Nigeria was let down by Ogundipe, because his action tended to give more strength to people who believe that anybody could be the head, at any time; I say no to that kind of thinking. Those who designed the military structure knew what they where doing; when I finally learnt that Ogundipe had fled, I did not stop. I then proposed Adebayo, he should take over by seniority. Then, of course, Gowon proclaimed himself commander over and above so many senior officers. It is true that people acquiesced but that was when discipline broke down. So I was not in Lagos, but I did what I could, but Gowon became head of the army. The danger was that some of those who acquiesced did not have the guts to move across to Gowon, they remained under command, here in the East. That confused the whole thing, but basically that was what the whole war was about. The question is :Do we have an army or don’’t we? Some people chose to have an army of war lords, anywhere you are, if you look outside the window and you command more rifles you become the boss. No, you should have a superior loyalty; loyalty to the institution, not so much to the men. If I had been in Lagos we might have saved the situation; but I had won two arguments the one that made Ironsi the general and the one that made him Supreme commander. I gave him the direction the army should go, but because I was in Enugu I was not as effective to prevent the aberration of Gowon being placed at the head of the army, at the time he did.

At the time of the coup against Ironsi it was obvious that Ogundipe did not enjoy the support of the officers and men and had to go?

When you use the word obvious, you tempt into the obvious question? How do you know, give me proof? How did it become obvious if it had not been fed into you. I was in the army I did not see anything obvious, so tell me how?

Nigerians are not interested in my thoughts it is you they want to hear?

No the point is that a lot of these things you people take and digest, and once you are confronted with the true situation you are so reluctant to shift, why? When Ironsi became head was there a military council vote? He was appointed, he took over and you saw the result. Ogundipe should have taken over, why did he not. Or that he ran away, who threatened him? And they threatened him he ran away from being in command, but ran into the arms of Nigeria and became an ambassador. I am glad we are talking about this, because this is part of the half -baked beliefs of many Nigerians, and it is significant they accept these things on matters they are not experts in. That the NCO’s were not taking orders from Ogundipe, who are these Non-commissioned officers. ? What rank? I am being deliberately mischievous to make a point. Forgive me, why should you know! It is my profession and I wish that you would be a little hesitant with these statements that come from Nigeria propaganda to legitimatise Gowon. It is just like the propaganda that says you have to be very careful in the North, the North does not like Ojukwu, and you journalists you continue saying it, when in fact even the northerners in ANPP, and quite a number in PDP, say if Ojukwu stood for election side by side with Buhari we do not know who would win. Because we are very popular with the North of today, but the eastern journalist of today say, no, no the North will not do this, or do that. And it becomes the truth of our misguided era. No, the only way we would have known what the reaction would have been was for Ogundipe to take up his position, and then we would know. Even today, wherever I go to talk, even at the war college they recognise the commanding presence of their superior officer, and that is it.

One of the reasons adduced by observers for the July coup , is that it was a revenge coup since the January 15 attempt was inspired by mostly Igbo officers (interrupts)

And Ogundipe was Igbo?

That is not the point…
That is the main point. That it was an Igbo coup did not make it a Yoruba coup.

Between January 15 and July 29, do you think that Ironsi had taken steps to put back some discipline in the army, as a way of correcting the breakdown of order the January coup caused?

I would be very honest with you, and I would ignore certain Nigerian propaganda. You see we were brought up as one Nigerian army, when the British were pulling out they left one commanding officer, we found ourselves being pulled by ethno-centric forces, we found ourselves being pulled apart. The idea that Ironsi after serving the world as Major-general, force commander in the Congo, should come back to Nigeria and be relieved of his rank sharpened the ethnic divide of the army. Even when I moved and argued that the important issue was the chain of command and the military hierarchy, the institution we inherited we should keep it inviolate. It was easy for many people to say, you Ojukwu, would say that after all, you are an Igbo man. The mere fact that when he took over, the Nigerian army remained and he went round and spoke to so many people, it is possible he could have done more. But I do not think that he saw the danger, so he dealt with it at the level he understood it. Ironsi, a good soldier perhaps. I never saw him in war, but I saw in the Congo, and the way he was appreciated showed he had very good military instincts. I think he did enough to reassure everybody ,the brotherhood of the officer corp. Enough? I saw him doing it when he went round. But my own personal feeling was that he did one of the things I blame Igbo leaders, because they always think the answer is to cry mea culpa, mea culpa. You can do it without accepting guilt, but he lent over backwards accepting guilt. For example, the appointments he made were in accordance with our own rules, he believed in Nigeria. Even before his death, I told him that I did not like the congregation of northern officers in Benin, he said no, no ; “they are my boys”. I said yes, but it would be better because of what has been going on that he should try and mix them up even those around him, but he did not. It was the same thing, when I said there is danger these meetings being held in Nasarawa, Kano, our good friend JS Tarka gave me a tape to listen to, and I gave it to him to listen and he listened and he was quite upset. He called Kam Salem, he gave him the recorder and the tapes “to go and listen to what your brothers are planning for me.” To reassure me of his solidarity with the North, right there he dialed to speak with Sultan Abubakar, and he spoke to him in fluent Hausa, and all that was to convince me that Tarka was wrong and that he was on very close personal contact with the Sultan, what could be better. So he did what he could within his understanding of the best he could.

Those who planned the coup against Ironsi, said their grouse was decree 34 that created the unitary system and the second was that Ironsi was reluctant to punish the January coup plotters?

What was said that those who plotted the coup would be investigated, I was there at the Supreme military council(SMC). General Ironsi said that those who were involved would be investigated and would, if found guilty, be charged accordingly. But who was in charge of investigating this matter, it was Gowon. That he did not do it was wrong, that they then took action after how many months, four or five months is odd. Blaming Ironsi for a promise unfulfilled after four months only; you know that all of these are mere rationalisations for their actions that they had taken. It was because of what happened on January 15th 1966, that we started having difficulties, and Ironsi decided to go round. If you notice, in his moving round it was so anti-east that Enugu was not even on the list for Ironsi to visit, which was wrong. The decree 34 that you talked about, what actually is in that decree? The point is that I was in the SMC, and I do not think that there was any decree that Ironsi issued , which we in the SMC did not sit round and we all discussed. I know that there was a move for the creation of a unitary government at the SMC, but it had not being written, at all. Nigeria was not unified that was why I remained military governor in the east; if it had been I would not have remained governor in the east. The other person they hated was FC Nwokedi; but if you remember what the SMC told Nwokedi and the nation was that he should go round and discuss, and come back and report; but the rationalisation you find is that he had gone and reported and it was clear a decree was going to be promulgated, not that it had actually been promulgated. Ironsi did not do anything to the contrary, the government was not unified, rather it was the civil service. How does one command areas that he actually had no jurisdiction over? And if they say that is the reason for killing Ironsi, and killing Nigeria, why is that since they have taken over they still retained the system of appointing governors. What the decree did was to unify the civil service under a military system.

At the time you were in touch with Ogundipe, you knew Ironsi had died?

No, not officially. I had the rumour that he had been assassinated, so I began making contacts because I wanted to force them out in the open so that we could start dealing with the real situation.

It was said that you told him that if he makes radio announcement that you would follow from the East giving your support, was that what you said?

It is a long time now, but I can tell you that to establish Ironsi, was a question of something like please, do not keep the nation waiting. Whatever it is, now that the rump of Tafawa Balewa government had vested authority, you speak to the nation and get to work. That if that happens, I would from the north lend some support, and the various commanding officers would also show support. We managed it and stabilised the situation. But this second one, I told him I did not like the crowd around him in Benin, the officers were from a particular grouping; it is possible because of the seniority he did not identify the tendencies. I was a Lieutenant colonel, so I was closer and I knew their tendencies . When the upheaval then took place, I began first to talk to Murtala Mohammed, who was in Ikeja, we understood each other, and what he said to me was very straight forward and simple: ” I do not want to stay with Nigeria. I just want us to separate the north from Nigeria, which would mean that we would move the northerners of a certain standing to the north”. I said to him, if that is the case okay, go ahead with it. But as I later on understood some western diplomats, the British- Americans and some permanent secretaries told them not to break up Nigeria. I learnt they told them everything they wanted they now have so why leave the country. But I said no, if we have to do it togther we must return to the chain of command, the hierarchy of the military. Then I started to get in touch with Ogundipe, it was difficult at that time, but with my own Yoruba connections, I found him.

Apart from Ogundipe, Adebayo, who else might it have fallen upon to lead the army?

Ogundipe was then a full colonel. After him, it would have fallen probably to Bassey, who was senior to all of us, the only person he was junior to was probably Ironsi.

When Gowon made his national broadcast, you followed up with your own broadcast. Was that when you made up your mind to secede?

I told you early that the whole question was that we return to hierarchy as we had it in the army. Gowon was in Lagos and he took over, he spoke to me and I told him no, that he can’t take over. I made it clear that it was not his right.

By accepting to negotiate with him at Aburi, was that not a recognition of a fait accompli?

I do not know what you call a fait accompli. When you suddenly caught a robber that invaded your house and carried your belongings, what do you do? You start talking with him, is that a fait accompli? If it were a fait accompli there would have been nothing to discuss. This thing got accomplished at the end of the war.

There is been the suggestion of the rivalry between you and Gowon being a factor(interrupts)?

I will not let you finish, because you are feeding ideas into my mind. Please if you have to use a little courtesy, to respect me, and let me know what you are talking about.

You were administratively senior to Gowon, even though he joined the army two years before you did, and it is suggested that provoked some rivalry having him assume command?

It did not, you are the one reading that into it. Where did you find that, there are many people who were in the army long before me, that I was ahead of eventually. Do you honestly think having been to University and gotten two degrees that would not even have given me an advantage? It did. There were many people who joined the army before Gowon, it did not provoke rivalry. What I am opposed to is to encapsulate a national tragedy and reduce it to a mundane level. For instance, Col Hilary Njoku might even argue that he was senior to me, and I might disagree, but technically he would be right because even though I became a lieutenant colonel before him, by virtue of his military seniority, he was senior to me and once he became a lieutenant colonel, he assumed seniority. But Gowon’s case was a little bit different. Like you said he joined the army two years before me, but at my commission I had caught up with him anyway; because I got the advantage due to my university training. So that he was in the army two years before me by this time did not come into thought. I hope I have explained myself well.

It was suggested that Decree 8 suspending the constitution and putting into effect some of the understanding that was reached at Aburi was promulgated but you did not accept it, do you still remember some of the aspects that offended you?

If you put the decree on the table I will look at it and tell you. As I said to you, I did not agree with the actions taken, we quarreled and eventually we went to war. There must be so many things that we could not agree on.

But it is said that some senior officers of the army thought you should accept this decree, even EU Apkan, the then Secretary of Eastern Region?

I would like to see their affirmation that they asked me to accept Decree 8 and I refused, certainly EU Apkan can not say that I worked very closely with him through out. I do not know the other senior officers, I would be very keen to know; if they told you anything I would like to know so that I can know what answer to give. We went to Aburi , the whole of the East, more especially the army in the East were hopeful on the agreement. But we did find a reneging of the agreement, and you want us to find accommodation not in line with the agreement signed.

The National reconciliation committee led by Awo was constituted, but you rejected it why?

We did not accept it because the East was not consulted. We were a federation, that we had a dispute did not confer the right on anyone to act arbitrarily. They cannot just promulgate that, or this without the East. Remember at that time it was the North, East, West and the Mid-west, so do I allow the East to be sealed up before acting, or do I say if you go and do this you are wrong? Do I say let’s go back to Aburi, let’s do this or that because it is the right of the people we are trampling on? And whilst we are on this, because I believe journalists have done a terrible service to Nigeria, forgive me, but the problem is your backed legalisms. During that period, I was legitimate having been duly appointed, by a duly appointed head of state to look after the East. The quarrel to a large extent was that nobody of any legitimacy appointed Gowon. So Gowon should be arguing and explaining, what you are asking me to explain; there was nothing illegitimate about my appointment even Gowon knows because Ironsi appointed me.

You met Awo on May 4th 1967, and as part of your conversation he asked you about your attitude of southeast leaders to question of the North, it was said that you responded that: ” on the specific question of whether there is a possibility of contact with the North, the answer is at the battle field”?

This is what I have been arguing all morning, I mean this is another Nigerian propaganda, that is okay. This quotation is all wrong, I do not even speak that way. If I am going to waste my time the least that you can do is to play me the tape. If people are putting out their own account, I will write my own. But if you, on my 70th birthday are going to ask me questions, first you are not going to be given my memoirs. Secondly, you are not going to have the extracts of the book; I am going to do what I agreed to do with you which is to talk to you generally. If you then come with matters that I consider false, then before I start I would demand for the authenticity of the claims you are making because I am very much aware of the burden of history. I am the final Biafran truth, and that is why I would not be irresponsibly dragged into areas to justify Nigerian propaganda. Do you also know that I released Chief Awolowo from prison? Do you also know that I also maintained contact with Awo that when I had problem with Nigeria that he came to see me in exile? Do you know that there is nowhere in the written annals of Nigerian history where you would see a harsh word from me against Chief Awolowo. If you take all these into consideration you would find why some of your questions are provocative. And incidentally at the time you were talking, who was Chief Awolowo? On the Nigerian side, who has just been released from prison, that Gowon sent on a mission. He did not come to impose the federal might, otherwise he would not have crossed the Niger bridge.

Before the war broke out, Gowon talked about creating the COR state ( Cross Rivers, Ogoja and Rivers state), as a way of reducing your area of influence. But did you anticipate that if you went ahead that you would still have the support of the people of those areas?

That is a good question, but in any case as the head of state of Biafra, what you expect me to do is to sit beside the radio to listen to what Gowon had to say. No. We were running a republic of our own. On the creation of states he had no powers over us; remember that technically at that time Gowon was a rebel.

In your book ‘‘ Because I am involved’’ you said of Gowon, ” An aspect of him which I found often disconcerting, was his ability, when pushed to the wall in any discussion, to close off his mind, to close his door, as it were, to all logic.” At Aburi did you push him to the wall?

Aburi presented immense opportunity to present our case before the international community , I went there as a leader of eastern regional faction, and it was not a question of pushing him to the wall. Should I tell you what I did? You judge from what you heard… Aburi, you have the complete transcription of what happened. You have the record of all the discussions, you can read with objectivity. And you sit here after many years and ask whether I pushed him to wall; you want to reduce everything to personal dispute, I resent that, I must tell you.

You and Zik never agreed?

Me and Zik never agreed? How can? Who am I, no. He carried me on his laps when he came back from America and visited my father. All my life I referred to him as Pa, my mate was his son Chukwuma. We were not contemporaries, he might have disagreed with my father if ever; but remember at the Foster Sutton, it was my father that bailed him out. So at least he and my father were quite close, if you feel that you are not getting all the facts no problem, but that is the fact. I found him amiable, and in Biafra I gave him maximum protection, and he even led some delegations abroad; when he found the rings around the enclave had become tighter he took a step when I sent on a delegation he decided to flee to Nigeria, so where did you get this information about me not agreeing with him?

You removed him as Vice-chancellor of University of Nigeria?

I removed him as Vice-chancellor for certain reasons, but the bigger reason was that it was the only place available to me in an emergency; I brought in Ado Bayero as the chancellor, it was in the midst of the crisis and I decided that the Emir should come here to show the positive attitude of our people.

What particular reason do you have for removing him?

Has he got glue to his buttocks, he had done a good job up to that point , but the issue as I pointed out earlier is that it became very necessary to relieve him of that position.

Given the way the war ended would you have fought it differently?

Well, as I look back, I would say yes. I would have for those battles I lost; but for the ones I won, I would not change anything. One of the things that I would like to do since I came back from exile is that I would like to hold a plebiscite, not that it would have changed much, but that it would have shown it was the wish of the entire people of the southeast.

When you went into exile there are those who thought that you would have organised resistence to save Biafra(interrupts)
Even today there are those in Nigeria who still think that I am organising some resistence.

But you did not do that why?

Because I did not think that it was necessary. My dear young man, when you fight a war you do what you must do to define your war aims very clearly, and that is what you fight for. Well, some times, having achieved it, you might be tempted to raise it further, but in this case my war aim was to ensure the survival of the Biafran people from the former threat of genocide. In the end, many pronouncements have shown that we succeeded.

At the beginning of hostilities, you had said that no power in black Africa could stop Biafra, did you really mean it?

I am terrible sorry I will not reduce myself to that level of discussion: ‘‘ No power in black Africa did you really mean it?’’ There are ways of talking; at that time with the temper of the moment, that was it. And in any case I proved it, not borrowed power from Europe, I am talking about power from Black Africa. That I had a battalion of weapons? Everybody knew what I had , I said even the grass would fight. Did I mean that every blade grass would put on a uniform and start fighting?

When you came back people expected you to play the oracle, but you said you would not; the present crisis of leadership in Igbo land has been traced to that fact, do you agree?

There is no doubt that some people want me to play the oracle, but I do not look like an oracle. I remember telling the people that I am not a politician, but it is there well-being in the North, West and elsewhere that forces me into their defense, but if they want me to stop they should withdraw and come to the East; and not every time you would shout and complain that you’’ve been massacred, that their shops have been destroyed and looted you look for me. So, for as long as they are out there they need protection from here, that was what I said. And then finally, I enjoy talking to you, I really do; but I wish that you did a lot more reading. But tell me actually, what leader in history had gone into exile, and returned with certain youthfulness and then became an oracle? When you say something you should be able to say like x, or z, tell me?

Do you realise that whenever you try to take certain stage in Igbo politics you evoke passion not only amongst other Nigerians, but even within Igboland?

So I should commit suicide, give me a suggestion. God created me that way or what do I do, cut off my tongue? Go to a cosmetic surgeon to change my face; that is a question you should pose to the almighty God, and ask him why he created me. But clearly I intend to use every ounce of energy to nudge Nigeria into the right way.

When APGA was being formed your were not central to it, at what point did you then develop interest?

As an idea, I found it very fascinating; I would normally take interest in any existing party. But in this case, I took passionate interest watching, and evaluating APGA until after it received INEC certification; but don’’t forget I was the person Ohanaeze entrusted with the task of ensuring a closer interaction between it and the party, so I got the opportunity, and later I found it was the right way.

Why then was it difficult for Ohanaeze to adopt APGA?

They must have their reason, and I felt personally insulted that Ohanaeze should even consider some else too. I know what effort I have made to protect their interest and integrity; now for Ohanaeze to even look in the direction of a man who had the chance of fighting alongside Ndigbo, but decided to fight along side the North during that war was too much. I said, no. I can take most things but not that one. So these are the problems with Ohanaeze, they are not clear where they are going, and I am the one that said Ohanaeze is dead. Maybe now, they are trying to find life, I wish them luck.

You were reported to have proscribed Ohanaeze, a statement many have wondered what gave you the right to say so?

It is a God given right, and I would say what I think it is appropriate in a democracy. And we are talking about a political situation, and we are facing an election, and I say that Ohanaeze is dead and you say who gave me the right? It is a God given right, that is my opinion. So because it is an umbrella organisation, there are certain things you are not allowed to say, come off it. It is my right and your job is to prove me wrong, and not to say that it is not right.

Your forming Igbo National Assembly (INA) is seen by many people as not helping in forging a common front lacking in Igbo land, what do you say?

Ohanaeze is an organisation born out of strife, I can understand the reason why they decided to be socio-cultural organisation. With that, we were able to function under a military government. But as we evolve such there are greater freedoms, we have reached a stage where I think that Ndigbo needs a political organisation. We have a party which is national, it needs INA charged with the mobilisation of Ndigbo. Nobody quarrels with Ohanaeze, if they continue with being socio-cultural, no problem. If I am invited to an mmanwu festival, I will be there. But remember that Ohanaeze and its leaders over the years have been a group pregnant with politics, but very cowardly they could not express it, actually they are jealous of political initiatives. I cannot dismiss the organisation totally, even despite the question of conflict, but the problem with Ndigbo today is particularly political. Nobody under the pay of the state or federal government should be an executive of Ohanaeze, this is simple and requires nothing more than commonsense. Nobody aspiring for federal appointment should be in position in Ohanaeze. In INA, I hope we would be able to do what Nigeria needs Ndigbo to do constructively, which is critical opposition.

Are you aware Ohanaeze is being restructured?

Yes I am aware, we are watching them, but I am not satisfied because I do not think they have got to the bottom of their problem. They first thing they have to do is to separate the politics from the socio-cultural, and there are so many things to be done. The other is organisational, I do not think they can command a lot of fellowship amongst Ndigbo. One of the reasons is that the leadership does not inspire the confidence of Ndigbo, there are so many factors that at my age and position it would be almost irresponsible of me to go into details.

There is the observation that you do not get along with many Igbo leaders?

Since the end of the civil war, you would find people from the North, from the army barracks and everywhere tell you these are the leaders of Ndigbo, and people go trudging after them, they are our leaders. Emeka Offor is your leader and they go after him, he is our leader. They are told Chris Uba is your leader, they go after him ,he is our leader. Come of it; soon or later we should be able to say no. These people are not our leaders, and that is what a political organisation should be able to do. Now they have ended up telling us somebody who was on the Nigerian side during the civil war is our leader and they say yes sir, he is our leader. That cannot go on.

Can you confirm that you said in Owerri that you handed over the baton of leadership of Ndigbo to Chekwas Okorie?

Wishful thinking, I did not say that. I said I would hand over to the likes of Chekwas Okorie. And the other thing I want you to know is that I have no intention of dying yet.

In your book, you said that Nigeria is crippled by four fears: fear of change, fear of truth, fear of unity and fear of man. Have you discovered more fears?

The worst fear is actually the fear of unity, at every step. As I reflect about Nigeria, I find that one thing we all agree on is the fear of unity. That is why I said that the beginning of wisdom of Nigeria must be a national conference, let us come together around the table. Let no subject be made a taboo, and design a Nigeria that can accommodate all of us. Nigeria should be restructured. You see, when I say a national conference I never like going into details, because I would prefer everything to be discussed. And for everybody to understand me, I would say if the people of this area want a Biafra, why not? And if some other people want an Oduduwa republic, why should it not be discussed; to try then to spoon feed a constitution to the Nigerian people is wrong. And the people who want this are the military, who are the least qualified of the lot to do so. And whilst we are on it, do not tell me that every time we are changing the document the point is that the constituion is made for the people, not the people for the constitution. If we have to change the constitution every year, why not? Provided we are easing the situation for our people, there is nothing wrong with that.

From your book, you said about the surrender of Biafra: ” when the news of the capitulation of Biafran forces under Effiong reached me, first it was anger: anger that perhaps I had been tricked into going out on a fruitless and futile mission.” Did you mean to stay back?

My intention was to stay back, but whether I would have stayed is another thing. We like to beat our chest and be the great baboon, pillars of courage; but I do not know what I would have done. The intention was to stay.

You described Obasanjo in our book this way: ‘‘Here was a man who without being a great statesman in his time grew to become the greatest elder statesman of his time, what is your view of this statement now?’’

I repudiate it. I think I do so unabashedly, because in my latest statement I said Obasanjo is a fraud, and I think that captures him better than anything else I have said. He is not that which he presents himself to be. He is not a civilian; he is not a democrat; he is not a Nigerian. He is not a Yoruba as such.

You wrote in your book, that: ‘‘ we treat electoral opponents as malicious enemies instead of as persons with opposing view points.’’ Do you today feel vindicated?

Yes, I do feel vindicated. Election opponents in Enugu here are being hunted by assassins. In Anambra, it is not much better. In Abia, it is not better.

Do you think that the civilians have re-imposed order over the army?

Not so long ago, when I said to you that Obasanjo is a fraud, I indicated that he says he is a civilian, but he is not. When you say whether the civilians have control over the army, I say to you that it has not been tested. The Obasanjo regime, in my view, is not totally civilian. All his massacres are military, he clearly gave orders to some people and they carried them out. So it is difficult for me to say right now that they are under civilian control. But once we get to the constitutional conference, procedure would be established for better control of the armed forces.

Do you have some ideas that you may like to share with us?

In the constitutional conference, it would be a passionate interest of mine to serve in the group that would try to cage that beast called the army. You see the army came out of the barracks in 1966, it would be duty of all patriotic Nigerians to see that the army is caged back to their barracks again. They have to be made professional again, what you have today are an officer corps of land lords. No efficient army can run with land lords in command, and at the end of each month they had to go back to the town to collect their rents. The army in Nigeria is a heavy burden to the national economy, and this is so because of black mail. I have argued for years that the army can be made productive, but people do not believe me, they prefer we continue the colonial all-consuming army. And this does not fit well into the economy of a third world country. They should be divested of their obvious intimidatory role. For instance, a soldier can only be in uniform whenever he is on duty, and if he is moving from barracks to duty other arrangements could be made. But one thing I will not support is an army in uniform on the roads, and on foot carrying weapons it is intimidating, and when they are hungry, to extort, and when they feel randy, to rape. I am saying this not as an accusation, because whatever I say about the army affects me. But I am saying this to point these loopholes out to the new commanders of today. A lot of privileges you can grant the army, you do so because you look at them not as super humans. The Nigerian army has to be drastically restructured. When we were being trained, we were told that as soon as you have taken part in a coup, the entire force is disbanded, and then you build a new army whether it is a battalion, a brigade. What has happened is that in Nigeria they have tried to cover up treason. What right has Theophilus Danjuma, to butcher his general officer commanding in Ibadan, what right? What right has Gowon to benefit from such a crime, what right? The things they did led us to a grotesque situation where for six months Nigeria was being ruled from a grave. Murtala Mohammed was effective dead and buried in the grave, while an inscription was in every wall as part of Murtala- Obasanjo regime; Obasanjo did not have the courage to repudiate it, it was grotesque, but we had it.

On this Danjuma’s role there is the view that says killing Ironsi was not part of the plot, but at Ibadan the NCOs pushed him aside and then took Ironsi and killed him?

My answer is that you are either a commander or your are not. And I loathe this situation where those who committed crime remain faceless. Is there any book where you have been told which NCOs pushed (him) aside, and he went on to benefit from that act. And would you tell me which NCO reinstated him?

What message do you have for Nigerians at your 70th birthday?

I want to thank every Nigerian for one thing or the other, contributing to making my day a success. The situation in Nigeria is very bad, but I want to assure them that it is not a situation that is irreparable, it can be repaired. It requires wisdom and wit. Whereas some people say we are one nation, I want to tell my country men and women that we are not. We are an agglomeration of people seeking to become one nation, the search for one nation has become very valid. We have not arrived there and the only way we can get there is through a sovereign national conference. We need and should design and re-design a polity that accommodates not one group but everybody. My fellow country men and women, I have a strong belief that we can make it. What has transpired in the past is an aberration; the concept that, might is right, is an aberration. It is only through a national conference that we can create a Nigerian of ourselves, instead of patching it up . My beloved people I believe that together we can make it.

When is Ikemba going to retire?

I will retire a few months after my death.”

Continue reading


Origin Of The Name ‘Biafra’, The Failure Of The Struggle Then And The Need For S’East, S’South To Unite |The Republican News


By Russell Bluejack

I write as an Ijaw son from Bonny and Nkoro in Rivers State. Ijaw is my tribe, but Biafra remains my national consciousness. I have noticed an inexplicable and unnecessary division in the South-East and South-South in analogy to the reinvigorated quest to restore the Sovereign States of Biafra. I think our people in these sister regions should reflect on these political and divisive ascriptions and rediscover themselves. We are neither South-South nor South-East. We are the people of the Eastern Region, a people politically and economically impugned by our enemy in their bid to break our solid SOLIDARITY. We were too formidable for our enemies. Some of our people think Biafra is an Igbo thing because they are ignorant of the origin of the name. Let me do justice to the origin of Biafra.


Biafra is not aboriginal to Biafrans since it was birthed out of the need to work together and escape the pogromists, rapists, land invaders, and religious fundamentalists called Fulani. The leader of the Eastern Region, Dim Ojukwu, an educated military officer, assembled stakeholders from Ijaw, Ibibio, Efik, and other tribes that constituted the region in his bid to come up with a name that would reflect the heterogeneous ambience of the region. Chief Frank Opigo, an Ijaw traditional ruler that hails from today’s Bayelsa, suggested BIAFRA, and this went down well with everyone in attendance, for it referred to the water body that covers the entire region. What Ojukwu sought after was a name that would not be exclusionary to any of the tribes (Ijaw, Ibibio, Itsekiri, Urhobo, Anioma etc) in the region. Biafra became the baby of that quest.

Biafra, having come from a non-Igbo stakeholder, became the national consciousness of both the Igbo and non-Igbo constituents of the Eastern Region. Thenceforth, the need to actualise the nation of their dreams, the Land of the Rising Sun, became the aspiration of every easterner. The failure of Nigeria to heed the Aburi Accord reached in Ghana for restructuring stoked the fire of the agitation for freedom. The Sovereign States of Biafra was declared, but it was short-lived because of avoidable internal wranglings that spiralled into the loss of the Civil War. The incongruity in the Eastern Region was the result of the feud between Ojukwu and Dr Kenule Benson Saro-Wiwa, an illustrious Ogoni son and Ojukwu’s military mentality and disposition.

Popular perception has it that the struggle for emancipation from perceived and obvious oppression by Nigeria was scuttled by the Civil War. That is part of the truth, not the whole. Biafra was rocked by internal wranglings. Two prominent figures in the region, Ojukwu and Saro-Wiwa, became estranged friends over an issue that should have remained personal. In one of our serious meetings, I was made to understand this side of the story. Legborsi, Emmanuel, a very prominent Ogoni son who doubles as a formidable member of my team, THE SOUTH-EAST/SOUTH-SOUTH COALITION FOR BIAFRA, opened up the Pandora Box concerning the real cause of their feud. Ojukwu and Saro-Wiwa were caught in a love triangle, with Princess Amina, the daughter of the then Sultan as the magnetic force. As scions (sons of very wealthy parents), they had the needed charisma to steer the imagination of the Sultan. Gowon, a senior military officer, joined the fray, but found himself as an underdog, financially and academically, for the duo of Ojukwu and Saro-Wiwa were of both fabulous financial and transformative academic standing.

Ojukwu and Saro-Wiwa, once friends, now rivals, had to slug it out. The laurel at stake was Amina’s affection. Saro-Wiwa dishonestly struck a cord in Amina’s emotion and carried the day. The Sultan, according to the veracious story, could not find his daughter and had the innocent Gowon, the suitor he abhorred, to blame for it. A triangle of hate became the result of this misdeed by Saro-Wiwa: Gowon hated both Ojukwu and Saro-Wiwa; Ojukwu hated Saro-Wiwa for edging him out in the most dishonest manner, and Saro-Wiwa burned in annoyance over the contest. An Ikwerre elder, nonagenarian, corroborated this story when I met him. He told me that the struggle hit the rock then because of two reasons:
(1) the feud between Ojukwu and Saro-Wiwa
(2) the militarised mentality of Ojukwu’s.

The elder thinks that if Ojukwu, though well educated and exposed, were a civilian, he would have appreciated the need to dialogue with other stakeholders before going to war. If the stakeholders had been told what each constituent would benefit from the emerging nation, the leaders would have had what to say to their people to excite them to take the struggle seriously. Ojukwu, on the other hand, wanted these stakeholders to convince their people to fight first and discuss later. This did not go down well with them. Some, however, saw the need to fight. The festering relationship between Ojukwu and Saro-Wiwa led to a huge sabotage. The bottom line of the accounts of Legborsi and the elder is that our people were not united. Our disunity caused by personal grouse and lack of tact cost us that war. It is incontrovertible that we would have won the war had our house not been in disarray.


Several years have gone by, yet the socio-economic and political inconcinnities that gave rise to the agitation then still stare us in the face. As a matter of fact, there is no gainsaying that if our fathers had reasons to fight then, there are more reasons to fight now. The situation today is worse than it was then. Oppression, socio-economic exclusion, and glaring prejudice meted out to the South-South and South-East, the real economic mainstay of this contraption called Nigeria, have reached unbelievable and unimaginable proportions. Even Ojukwu could not have conceived the precarious level of hate shown to us by the sons and daughters of Uthman Dan Fodio. The unfair treatment we are shown should make our unity imperative. Our personality issues and lack of tact gave them the happenstance to divide us and make us conquerable. We, the South-East and South-South people, are the victims of their jihadist rituals. Our women get raped, our lands invaded, our crops killed, and our men butchered.

The Igbo, Ijaw, Urhobo, Itsekiri, Anioma, Ibibio, Efik etc have always lived together in love and conviviality. A critical observation of our values and culture reveals our common ancestry. We dress alike, eat alike, behave alike, and worship alike. How different are we, brothers and sisters? Let us come together and fight this monster. They have sent their soldiers to occupy our two regions out of fear of our imminent reunion. Exasperated by their inability to stop us from uniting, they have taken to poisoning our children under the pretence of immunization devoid of the viva of the health departments. In their bid to hold on to power at all cost, they flouted the constitutional proviso concerning the absence of the President. Their hatred for us led to the embargo placed on our Igbo brothers and sisters, which makes it difficult for any of them to become President of Nigeria. We and our Igbo brothers and sisters are the real victims here. We have to come together, sit together, discuss together, reach a documented agreement, and escape together.

Our unity is the only leeway out of this fortress called Nigeria. Is it not shameful that whereas we have all the resources the Gambari are the ones exercising power over them all? Our Igbo brothers and sisters own both oil and the business environment that sustain this oppressive dungeon called Nigeria, but travel to the East and you will weep. They killed the Bill seeking the relocation of company headquarters to regions where the raw material is fetched. They killed the Bill seeking compensation to developing the Eastern Region. Whatever comes from the South-East and South-South dies on arrival. If bills that seek better welfare packages for our regions always die, who is that mad person that is telling you that we can restructure this dangerous citadel that they claim belongs to them? Was it not the failure of Nigeria to heed restructuring agreement that sparked off the Civil War? The only way out of this quagmire is the unity of South-East and South-South. Let us unite and live in peace and harmony. Our sister regions need a respite from rape, massacre, genocide, pogrom, alienation, discrimination, and prejudice. Let us keep our unreal differences aside and face the enemy together. They will continue to defeat us as long as we remain divided. Our division is their strength, but our unity is their weakness. Jasper Adaka Boro, Dr Ken Saro-Wiwa, and Sen. (Dr.) Obi Wali is some of the great men this fake nation has killed gruesomely. We have not found Mazi Nnamdi Kanu even as I write. Do you see how they hate us? The python that danced in the East has become a crocodile smiling in the South-South.

Brothers and sisters, Saro-Wiwa was guillotined by Nigeria after a kangaroo judgment. Boro was used and shot. Obi Wali was butchered like a condemned chicken. Our beloved leader of IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is nowhere to be found because of his liberating activities. Nigeria is a place where it is a heinous crime to speak up against oppression and neo-slavery. Nigeria has become too dangerous for Christians. Nigeria has become too stuffy for anything that breathes. We have to go, brothers and sisters. We have overstayed in this prison. We do not even know who signed the 1914 amalgamation since all our nationalists were either adolescents, toddlers, or unborn at the time. Nigeria is the property of Britain’s under the management of the Fulani. Let the South-South and South-East come together and rebirth Biafra. They hate us and we hate ourselves. Let love and understanding lead the way this time. Let us dialogue and end our differences once and for all. The enemy has become vicious. We should become more tactical now. May God bless us all as we heed this clarion call. May God bless the entire constituents of the Old Eastern Region.

(Russell Idatoru Bluejack is a thinker, revolutionary writer, university tutor, and socio-economic and political analyst that writes from the creeks in the coastal part of Biafra.)

Continue reading