One of the greatest enduring myths
in Nigeria is the lie that Yakubu
Gowon fought the Nigeria-Biafra war
to keep Nigeria united, whereas in
reality not only did Yakubu Gowon
whose Northern region had originally
intended to secede (Araba) after the
July 1966 counter-coup cause the
unnecessary war through his failure
of leadership, his aim for fighting the
war was never in the least a genuine
desire to keep Nigeria united but
purely because of Northern
economic interests. The economic
interests of the hitherto secessionist
North became the principal reason
for the volte face from secession to
“one Nigeria” after the British
government advised the Northern
leadership of the economic
disadvantages of secession. Thus
unlike most civil wars where there is
a genuine desire to keep the nation
united for patriotic reasons, the
Nigeria-Biafra war was an
opportunistic war instigated by
Yakubu Gowon and the North; not out
of a genuine desire for a united
Nigeria but for the selfish aims of
British imperialism and Northern
economic interests which remains the
reason and reality of their presence
in Nigeria to date.
Every conflict is dogged by lies and
propaganda, but history always waits
out the intrigues of war in the
knowledge, that the truth; no matter
how suppressed and how long it
waits, will eventually prevail. In the
midst of the historical lies and
propaganda that trailed the conflict
the long suppressed truth is beginning
to find life. One emerging fact is the
true causes/ intentions of the conflict
and the fact that the conflict has by
all accounts been considered a
needless war. It is already deemed by
some to be the most avoidable war of
the 20th
century. Unlike many unavoidable
conflicts, there were many
opportunities to avoid the Nigeria-
Biafra war which needlessly
consumed the lives of some 3 million
people, entrenched an un-healing
generational bitterness and caused
severe social, political and economic
dislocation from which the nation is
yet to recover. Wars carry with them
the worst of human tragedies and
scars that endure for all time. It is an
evil that must be avoided except it is
absolutely necessary.
In the case of Nigeria-Biafra; there
was nothing that made the war in the
least necessary. Nigeria as a
nation never existed until the British
colonialists patched up the
contraption of disparate ethnic and
religious groups into an unworkable
nation to service her imperial
interests. From the onset it was
obvious Nigeria would be inhibited by
her contradictions and consequently
doomed to failure. Thus when the
pogrom/genocide of 1966-67
demonstrated beyond all reasonable
doubts the impossibility of Nigeria,
the legal route under international
law as enshrined in the United
Nations charter was to hold a
plebiscite or referendum to
determine by democratic means the
choice of the majority as it concerns
self determination for Biafra.
That route would have solved the
problem in a legal and civilised
manner as “no war no matter how
desirable for the purpose of keeping a
nation together is justifiable.” It
defies all logic and natural justice to
kill people in other to keep them in a
nation. It is like killing a woman’s
children in order to forcefully keep
her in a marriage from which she
seeks to exit. Freedom and self
determination are inalienable God
given rights and nations must be
constructed and preserved through
democratic consent and not through
the barrel of a gun. Any act
otherwise, to forcefully create or
preserve a nation without the
democratic consent of the indigenous
peoples is an act of colonialism. Every
ethnic group within the Nigerian
geographical expression ordinarily
retains the same right for which we
struggled for independence from the
British colonial government. It is thus
a usurpation of the right to self
determination and independence for
any group or groups within Nigeria to
wage war or forcefully coerce another
into the nation against their will. To
that extent the war against Biafra
must be understood for what it really
was; a war of aggression and
Thus for the purposes of history and
for generations yet unborn, I have
decided to put on record for all time;
the truth and injustice of the
needless war of colonialism Yakubu
Gowon and his allies instigated
against Biafra on the lie of a war of
Historical Antecedents:
Eastern Leadership And The Historical
Championing of One Nigeria
One of the ironies of the Nigeria-
Biafra war is how the East and her
leadership under Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe
who relentlessly championed the
very idea of a united Nigeria as
against the Northern leadership that
harboured deep anti-Nigeria
sentiments were forced by
circumstances resulting from the
pogrom/genocide to exercise the
fundamental right of self
preservation and opt for secession.
When in 1957 the British colonial
authorities offered independence
individually to the regions provided
two out of the three regions accepted
the offer, the Northern region
declared they were not ready for that
level of political and economic
independence, the Western region
declared their readiness for
independence, the East became the
tie to make or break Nigeria; Dr
Nnamidi Azikiwe in a historic move,
rejected the offer by declaring that
“although the Eastern region was
ready to assume the responsibilities of
regional independence, its
attainment without the North would
lead to the balkanization of the
Nigerian nation and conceivably a
break-up of the country. The Eastern
region would rather suppress its
appetite for independence and the
obvious gains it would entail until the
Northern region was ready.” By this
momentous and in my own opinion
mistaken decision, Dr Nnamidi
Azikiwe prevented the break-up of
Nigeria as offered by the then colonial
authorities in 1957. He also stridently
opposed the Northern proposal for a
right of self determination in the
constitution in subsequent
constitutional conferences.
These feats alongside the emergence
of a Northerner “Mallam Umaru
Altine” as the first mayor of Enugu in
1956, amongst so many other
sacrifices made by Dr Azikiwe and
other Eastern leaders in the course of
the evolution of the nation to
accommodate the historically
“secessionist” North underscores the
role the East played in being the
biggest champions of a united
Nigeria. Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe was not
only an advocate of Nigerian unity;
he was also highly invested in Pan-
Africanism and the campaign for a
United States of Africa. It is also
noteworthy that in spite of the fact
that crude oil was discovered in the
then Eastern region in 1956 which
gave overwhelming advantages to the
East, not a single Eastern leader ever
mentioned crude oil in any of their
political narratives or sought to take
undue advantage of it. Indeed Dr
Nnamidi Azikiwe and even the
short-lived military administration of
General Aguiyi Ironsi demonstrated
a diehard commitment to a united
Nigeria for which the later
ironically paid with his life; killed by
the same Northern hypocrites who
after accusing him of introducing the
unitary system (which he did in his
genuine desire to unify the country)
ended up consolidating, sustaining
and defending to date, the same
unitary system for which they killed
General Aguiyi Ironsi.
Historical Northern Rejection Of Nigeria
Historically, the North and her
leadership were the greatest
opponents of the very idea of Nigeria
and Nigerian unity. Northern leaders
such as Ahmadu Bello, Alhaji
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa amongst
others never hid their disdain for
Nigeria. The rejection of Nigerian
unity at a point became the political
ideology of Northern leaders which
they variously expressed in public
declarations and in the exclusionist
policies formulated in the Northern
region. In 1948 while addressing the
legislative council, Abubakar Tafawa
Balewa declared that “Since 1914
the British Government has been
trying to make Nigeria into one
country, but the Nigerian people
themselves are historically different
in their backgrounds, in their
religious beliefs and customs and do
not show themselves any sign of
willingness to unite. Nigerian unity is
only a British intention for the
country.” Undisguised disdain and
rejection of the very idea of Nigerian
unity is aptly demonstrated by this
speech as presented by Tafawa
The foremost Northern leader, Sir
Ahmadu Bello was even more
resentful of Nigeria. In his book and
autobiography “My Life” published a
year after independence in 1961, he
famously castigated the amalgamation
of Northern and Southern Nigeria as
“the mistake of 1914.” Being the
premier of the Northern region
Ahmadu Bello further demonstrated
his opposition to Nigeria by using his
administrative powers to create an
“Apartheid Northernization policy”
which decreed that all available jobs
in the North must go to a Northerner
and in the event that there is no
qualified Northerner should go to
Europeans/ Arabs rather than
Nigerians from the South. Nothing
better demonstrates Ahmadu Bello’s
hatred and rejection of Nigeria than
his Apartheid Northenization policy
that gave preference to Europeans,
Arabs and other foreigners than to
fellow Nigerians from the South.
Segregation of southerners into areas
known as “Sabon gari” was also a
segregationist policy of Ahmadu Bello
designed to keep Northerners
separate from Southerners that
endures to this day. The whole strata
of the North and her leadership was
thus never historically interested or
invested in the idea of a United
Nigeria from the dawn of colonial
The hostility and rejection of Nigeria
by the North is also noted in the first
riots directed at southerners in Jos in
1945 and subsequently in 1953 in
Kano when an anti-independence riot
was sponsored by the Northern
leadership against Southerners living
in Kano. Both of these riots resulted
in the deaths of hundreds of
Southerners and set the precedent for
future riots that later became routine.
Most importantly, the riots
underscore the historical context of
the hostility of the North to the very
idea of Nigeria.
Post Independence Crisis:
Perhaps; because the duo of Tafawa
Balewa and Ahmadu Bello harboured
so much disdain for Nigeria, they had
no incentive to invest in nation
building or to make the necessary
sacrifices to consolidate the fledgling
republic in her most critical
foundational years. They
demonstrably advanced only narrow
regional and sectional interests at the
expense of the rule of law and good
governance, thus by 1962 there was
already a crisis of rigged census
results and infighting in the West
that led to the declaration of a state
of emergency in the Western region.
By 1963, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was
arrested and convicted for alleged
coup plotting. By 1964, a coalition
between Ladoke Akintola the premier
of the Western region and Tafawa
Balewa resulted in massively rigged
elections in the Western region which
sparked off violent riots and
disturbances (wetie).
In the Tiv Division riots had also
been violently put down by Tafawa
Balewa’s government using the
military, however in the Western
region the violence continued
unabated until 1966 when the
military reacting to the corruption,
election rigging, thuggery, tribalism
and the sustained violence in the
Western region unfortunately struck
at dawn in January 1966.
The Pogroms/Genocide And Yakubu
Gowon’s Inaction/ Complicity:
A leader must be judged and held
accountable for what happens under
his watch. Following the injection of
tribalism into the January 1966 coup,
the North staged a secessionist
counter (revenge) coup in July 1966 in
which the then Head of state General
Aguiyi Ironsi, Colonel Fajuyi the
military governor of the Western
region and some three hundred
Eastern officers were assassinated.
Yakubu Gowon who had been the
chief of army staff consequently
emerged head of state. “The most
important constitutional duty of a
head of state all over the world is the
protection of life and property of the
citizenry under all circumstances.”
Yakubu Gowon abdicated his most
fundamental constitutional
responsibility to protect lives and
property when he did absolutely
nothing while officers and men of the
Nigerian army and police who were
supposed to protect life and property
crossed over from their coup to
attack and massacre thousands of
Eastern civilians including women
and children in the premeditated
genocide in the North.
As the mass killings of innocent
civilians went on by cowardly
Soldiers who crossed over from a
political coup to target and kill
defenceless civilians, Yakubu Gowon
did nothing. He didn’t send in troops
or the police to try to calm the
situation, he neither imposed a state
of emergency nor a dusk to dawn
curfew, he also never set-up any
investigative panel to probe the
killings. To make matters worse, even
though the officers and men who were
carrying out such heinous crimes
against humanity were well known,
Yakubu Gowon never reprimanded,
arrested, court marshalled or
punished any of them, rather the
officers were all promoted. It became
obvious by his inaction and
promotion of the implicated officers
that Yakubu Gowon was complicit in
both the coup and genocide.
There is no circumstance that can
justify the mass murder of innocent
civilians while Yakubu Gowon who
has a duty to protect life and property
under all circumstances refused to
act. It is unthinkable to imagine that
at the height of the provocation of the
9/11 terrorist attacks that killed more
than 3000 Americans by Islamic
terrorists; President George Bush
would allow the massacre of innocent
Muslims in the US. An estimated
50,000 innocent civilians were
brutally murdered while Yakubu
Gowon as head of state did nothing
and indeed tacitly supported the mass
killings. It is exactly for those types of
crimes that the international criminal
court in the Hague and Geneva
Convention were established to bring
to justice those who commit acts of
genocide and other human rights
violations. The killings only stopped
when there was no one left to kill.
Yakubu Gowon failed in his most
fundamental duty to protect life and
property and this failing created the
self preservation scenario that
necessitated self determination and
consequently Biafra by the East. Since
Yakubu Gowon as head of state could
do nothing while thousands of
innocent civilians were being hacked
to death by Soldiers and Police
officers who were supposed to protect
life and property, the very idea of
Nigeria died from that point and the
East like any group had no choice but
to undertake the natural right of self
preservation and thus self
(Araba): Intent Of Northern Secession
And the British Government Advice That
Changed the equation
The propaganda of Nigerian unity for
which Yakubu Gowon and his goons
premised their war was patently
false for the simple reason that the
Northern counter-coup christened
“Araba” which means separation in
Hausa language was a secessionist
coup originally intended to finally
break the North from Nigeria. Indeed
the flag of the new republic had
already been hoisted preparatory to
the announcement of secession by the
North. Yakubu Gowon informed the
then British high commissioner Sir
Cumming Bruce of the intention of
the North to secede and it was the
British in line with their imperialist
interests that advised against
Northern secession and made strident
efforts to dissuade the North from
In his book “The Biafran War”
Micheal Gould p.43 stated: “Cumming
–Bruce was able to persuade the
Emirs that secession would be an
economic disaster”. As the British
high commissioner Sir Cumming
Bruce himself testified p.43 “it wasn’t
on the face of it easy to get them (the
North) to change, but I managed to do
it overnight. I drafted letters to the
British Prime Minister, to send to
Gowon as Nigerian Head of State, and
for my Secretary of State (Micheal
Stewart) to send letters to each of the
Emirs. I wrote an accompanying letter
to each of them because I knew them
personally. I drafted all these and
they all came back to me duly
authorised to push at once. The whole
thing was done overnight and it did
the trick of stopping them (the North)
dividing Nigeria up.” From the
testimony of the then British high
commissioner Sir Cumming Bruce in
regards to the effort he made to
persuade the North not to secede, the
deceit, propaganda and opportunism
of Yakubu Gowon and his crowd as
they lied through their teeth in their
false claim of fighting for Nigerian
unity when in reality they had
originally intended to secede and
only changed their mind on the
prompting of the British government
becomes self evident.
For all the false propaganda spewed
to prosecute the needless war and the
consequent tragic bloodletting, the
British high commissioner’s testimony
proves that Yakubu Gowon and the
North were never genuine or
interested in Nigerian unity. They
were only opportunists who turned
around to claim one Nigeria because
of economic interests linked to crude
oil which remains the reality of their
presence in Nigeria to date. Had
Yakubu Gowon and the North spared
us the lie and kept their original plan
to secede, the nation would have
been better for it as more
manageable homogenous units
would have emerged and the nation
would have been spared the needless
conflict that was fought on the great
lie of Nigerian unity.
Yakubu Gowon Reneges On Aburi
“My word is my bond” is a famous
phrase that underlines the importance
of honesty. For a leader the most
important test of character is
standing by his word. Yakubu Gowon
failed this important test of character
when he reneged on an agreement he
personally participated in reaching in
Aburi. On the 4th and 5th of January
1967 a genuine and final opportunity
presented itself to resolve the
simmering crisis through a
conference in Aburi Ghana at the
instance of General Ankrah. Notably
Aburi was chosen because following
the events of 1966 and the practical
disintegration of the army, the
security of Odimegwu Ojukwu and
other Eastern dignitaries could not be
guaranteed anywhere in Nigeria.
Yakubu Gowon, together with his
advisers, secretaries and the military
governors of the North, Midwest and
Western regions were in attendance
while Colonel Odimegwu Ojukwu
being military governor of the East
together with his aides also attended.
Given the dire situation at that time,
the meeting deliberated exhaustively
on the structure of Nigeria. The next
day the meeting continued and
affirmed a final agreement known as
the “Aburi Accord.” Thus for two
days, Yakubu Gowon and his aides
together with all the regional
governors constituted the supreme
military council which incidentally is
the highest ruling body and reached
agreement on all the critical issues,
but as soon as Yakubu Gowon
arrived in Nigeria he began the
process of dilly dallying and reneging
on an agreement freely negotiated
and entered into in Aburi Ghana.
The question of building good faith
and confidence was just as important
as the conference itself as a bridge
building measure given recent events.
Unfortunately Yakubu Gowon almost
immediately truncated the
opportunity of building good faith by
not respecting one of the
agreements reached in Aburi
concerning the temporary payment
of salaries and recovery of properties
of Eastern civil servants who had
been forced to leave their jobs
through no fault of theirs. Decree No.
8; later issued in May, a
considerably long time for a
conference held on the 4th and 5th
January, which to a large extent is
evidence of Yakubu Gowon’s dilly
dallying and subterfuge, went further
by ignoring the security sensitivities
of the times, particularly for the
Easterners by reneging on the most
basic fundamental of Aburi accord
which requires concurrence of all 4
military governors in all matters
affecting the country when he
sneaked in the powers to declare a
state of emergency in the country
with concurrence from only 3 out of
the 4 military governors. The
implication of this breach means
that Yakubu Gowon and his cabinet
could suddenly with concurrence
from the other 3 military governors
declare a state of emergency in the
East and subject the region to
military invasion.
Given the context of the time with a
mutinous and dysfunctional Nigerian
army whose officers and men
instigated and actively participated
in the genocide that killed officers
and civilians including women and
children of Eastern origin and while
none of the officers or men in the
Nigerian army or Police who
committed such atrocities were either
arrested, prosecuted or removed from
the army or Police, it was natural
that the Governor of the East needed
enough safeguards and guarantees
even if temporarily through
collective concurrence of all four
military governors on issues of
national importance as agreed in
Aburi to avoid suddenly becoming a
victim of a state of emergency and
other such insidious plots by the mass
killers that still abounded in the
Nigerian army/ Police until at least
such a time that security and
confidence is adequately restored.
It is ironical that the powers to
declare a state of emergency which
Yakubu Gowon never exercised when
it was most necessary during the
genocide to stop the mass killings
which would have prevented the
crisis in the first place was suddenly
sneaked into Decree No. 8 with
consent of only 3 out of the 4 military
governors required in breach of the
Aburi accord that recommended
consent of all 4 military governors in
such matters. Except Yakubu Gowon
and his advisers had some ulterior
motive as was suspected in the East,
there is no reason why concurrence of
all 4 military governors as agreed in
Aburi for the declaration of a state of
emergency in situations of riots or
strife should be a problem for a
temporary period until trust,
confidence and a measure of
reconciliation is achieved.
Indeed, reneging on the Aburi
accord over the state of emergency
issue by Yakubu Gowon was
unnecessary as being a military
regime, he still ultimately retained
the powers under the “doctrine of
necessity” in exceptional
circumstances to issue an emergency
decree that enables the declaration of
a state of emergency in the extreme
and very unlikely situation where he
is unable to get consent of all 4
military Governors for the
declaration of a state of emergency.
There was thus no practical or logical
reason for Yakubu Gowon to renege
on the most sensitive and
fundamental aspect of Aburi accord
that was designed to be a temporary
safeguard given the genocide,
disintegration of the army and lack of
trust until security and confidence is
By disregarding the morbid fear and
trauma which the pogroms/genocide
had incited in the East thus reneging
on the most fundamental aspect of
the Aburi accord which would have
given the necessary safeguards and
created the environment for
reconciliation and a permanent
resolution of the crisis Yakubu
Gowon proved incapable or unwilling
to make any temporary sacrifices for
peace. As a leader he failed to keep
an agreement which he himself had
personally participated in negotiating
in Aburi Ghana. This failure of
leadership and bad faith finally set
the nation on the part of an
unnecessary war and bloodletting. As
a further demonstration of bad faith
and insincerity, it is also important to
note Yakubu Gowon’s unusual delay
from January to May before he issued
the diluted version of Aburi accord.
This five month delay more than
anything else serves as an undeniable
indication of Yakubu Gowon’s
insincerity in resolving the crisis and
his preference for war.
Colonialism And The Right
To Self Determination
Colonialism is generally regarded as
the total or partial loss of autonomy
of indigenous peoples to the coercive
or forceful establishment of
exploitative/oppressive governing
authorities on unequal terms by a
people, group or colonial power not
ordinarily or historically linked
culturally, geographically or
linguistically to the colonised. Any
group that therefore forcefully
subjects another to their authority
without democratic consent of the
indigenous peoples through a
plebiscite or referendum is an act of
colonialism. There was nothing like
Nigeria until the British in trying to
consolidate the commercial interests
of Taubman Goldie a British trader
whose forays brought him to the
region put together a people who
mostly never had any cultural,
geographic, linguistic or ethnic links
with each other. It was from the
onset an impossible nation created
not for the harmonious existence or
interests of the unfortunate subjects
who made up the strange and
unworkable contraption but for the
servicing of British trading interests.
Following strident agitations and the
increasing enforcement of the right to
self determination as enshrined in the
United Nations charter, Nigeria
gained independence in 1960 but the
subjects within the Nigerian space
who had no hitherto cultural,
geographic or linguistic links faced
their own colonialism within the
“geographical expression known as
Nigeria” for the many tribes and
cultures within Nigeria where just as
alien to each other as the British were
to them. The manifest injustice of
colonialism led to the adoption of the
right to self determination in the
United Nations Atlantic Charter in
1941 and further consolidated in
1945. It established the right under
international law for all indigenous
peoples to seek independence through
democratic means.
The Nigerian crisis and pogrom/
genocide of 1966/67 established
beyond all reasonable doubts the
incompatibility of Nigeria and opened
the opportunity for the application of
international law to peacefully
determine the status of Biafra through
a plebiscite or referendum
administered by the United Nations.
Nigeria being a nation of alien tribes,
Biafra reserved the same right of
independence with which Nigeria
won independence from Britain on
the basis of colonialism. But Yakubu
Gowon refused to allow a referendum
in line with the dictates of
international law as established in
the United Nations charter which
would have resolved the impasse
through a legitimate democratic
method that respects the inalienable
rights of indigenous peoples to self
determination and freedom from
internal or external colonialism.
To the extent that the people of Biafra
were never allowed to freely and
democratically express their choice
and right to self determination
through a plebiscite, Yakubu Gowon’s
war against Biafra and consequent
coercive subjugation of the people to
the governing authorities of Nigeria
was and remains for all practical
purposes an act of colonialism.
The Conduct And Aftermath Of War
Reveals The Lie Of War Of Unity
On the 7th of July 1967, the Nigerian
army attacked Biafra and began the
onslaught on an aggrieved and
beleaguered people who had in
exercising their legitimate and
natural right to self defence/
preservation opted for self
determination in the aftermath of the
genocide against innocent Eastern
civilians while the head of state
refused to act. In prosecuting the war
Yakubu Gowon proved his complicity
in the genocide by fielding the likes
of Murtala Muhammed, Shehu
Yar’Adua, Theophilus Danjuma,
Mohammed Shuwa and others who
ironically are the same cowardly
officers who perpetrated the genocide
against civilians that created the
crisis in the first place. These officers
were not just mass murderers they
were also rapists who serially
committed crimes against humanity
in the course of the conflict.
To decipher the true motive for the
conflict, certain fundamental
questions must be asked; If Yakubu
Gowon was genuine about Nigerian
unity as the true reason for his war
why the North was originally intent
on secession until the British
authorities advised them not to
because of economic interests / crude
oil? Why did Gowon as head of state
abdicate his constitutional
responsibility and stood by when
thousands of innocent Eastern
civilians were being massacred? Why
was Gowon so unwilling to make any
sacrifices for the interest of peace and
why did he renege on an accord he
agreed in Aburi? Why did it take him
so long from January to May to issue
a decree on the diluted version of
Aburi accord? Why was the Nigerian
army so invested in massacres, rape
and arson as they did in Benin,
Asaba, the apostolic church Onitsha
and practically all theatres of the
war? Why were officers and men of
the Nigerian army like Benjamin
Adekunle and others making
inflammatory statements of their
intent on genocide in a supposed war
of unity? Why was the notorious
radio Kaduna making atrocious
statements that urged rape and
genocide in a supposed war of unity?
Why did balkanisation of Igboland,
abandoned property, divide and rule
and the seeds of division instead of
reconciliation become the policy of
Yakubu Gowon’s government before
and after the war? Why did
Apartheid policies of marginalisation/
exclusion become federal government
policy after the war if it was
genuinely a war of unity as Yakubu
Gowon repeatedly lied?
In nations that went through a civil
war, driven by a genuine patriotic
desire for unity, the end of such
conflicts is not followed by policies of
balkanisation, abandoned properties,
exclusion and marginalisation as has
been the case in Nigeria but swift and
total reconciliation, reconstruction
and re-integration. Vietnam, Angola
and post-genocide Rwanda are just
some examples of nations that
achieved total reconciliation and re-
integration in the aftermath of
conflict because of a genuine desire
for unity.
In the case of Nigeria, the events
before, during and after the war in
itself provides sufficient evidence for
the true intentions of the conflict as a
war not borne out of patriotism and a
genuine desire for Nigerian unity/
nation building but of economic
interests, subjugation and colonialism.
On his own part, Yakubu Gowon by
not following through with the
original intent of the North to secede,
by his repeated bad faith, by
abdicating his most fundamental
constitutional responsibility to protect
the lives and property of citizens thus
allowing and even enabling mass
killings of genocidal proportions
under his watch, by reneging on an
agreement he personally participated
in negotiating in Aburi and by
usurping a people’s inalienable
right to self determination through
democratic means (plebiscite or
referendum) as enshrined in the
United Nations charter amongst other
excesses personally and deliberately
caused the avoidable and
unnecessary Nigeria-Biafra war and
the attendant tragedies associated
with the conflict just seven years
after independence.
Not only did Nigeria by the events
before and during the war pioneer
genocide in Africa, the first images of
starving children which has now
become a permanent fixture of Africa
also began from Nigeria. The pogrom
and the war more than anything else
have come to define Nigeria as a land
of monumental injustice and
impunity. The war itself was an
illegal war and a violation of
international law which established
since 1945 the right of self
determination in Chapter 1, Article 1,
part 2 which states that the purpose of
the UN Charter is: “To develop
friendly relations among nations
based on respect for the principle of
equal rights and self-determination of
peoples, and to take other appropriate
measures to strengthen universal
peace.” As each successive generation
discovers the truth and injustice of
that needless conflict, the bitterness
is sure to remain Nigeria’s deepest
enduring divide.
Nigeria continues to suffer severe
social, economic and psychological
dislocations as a result of the needless
conflict. The nation has since become
a disharmonious, dysfunctional and
strife torn chaotic failed state Nigeria.
Courtesy of Yakubu Gowon, crude oil
that was hitherto not an issue during
the time of Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe is
now an obsessive object of national
importance and the only mainstay of
the economy. Gowon took away all
aspects of federalism and
consolidated the unproductive
parasitic unitary system together with
the creation of unviable states/local
governments (without plebiscites) that
are dependent only on crude oil
allocations at the expense of
industrialisation and other productive
initiatives, which has in turn
encouraged corruption and led to the
collapse of the economy.
As the truth of the conflict continues
to emerge and as the nationwide
campaign for a sovereign national
conference gathers steam in a nation
that has been awakened to the lie of
Nigerian unity, Emeka Ojukwu has
been vindicated by Nigeria’s
increasing strife, failure and
impossibility as a nation. Yakubu
Gowon was ultimately an
unprincipled, incompetent, bigoted
and opportunistic leader whose
failure of leadership unleashed the
pogroms and unnecessary war that
spilled enough blood to fill the bowels
of the Niger River. He and his cabinet
members who so callously plunged the
nation into an atrocious bloodletting
will have to live and die with their
conscience haunted by the millions of
lives they took on the premise of a
great lie. Their successive generations
will also not be spared.
Lawrence Chinedu Nwobu