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The agitation for Biafra


BiafraA FACT of Nigeria’s democratic experience in the last 16 years is that every new political administration springs forth a new uprising from disenchanted interest groups. Such seems to be the case of the Muhammadu Buhari administration and the recent series of protests by youths of South eastern extraction seeking secession from Nigeria and demanding the unconditional release of Nnamdi Kalu, the detained director of the pirate Radio Biafra.

But contrary to the position of some informed commentaries denouncing the ongoing agitation for secession or self-determination as a rally of miscreants, the obviously expanding Biafran factions are gradually crystallising into a global clamour for the actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra. Whatever the motives of this agitation, it must not be taken lightly.

Whilst, at face value, the wave of protests dotting south eastern cities and Port Harcourt, Rivers State, may be construed as another activity of unscrupulous, business-minded men exploiting gullible youths, the motivations for such uprising rest on the skewed nature of the Nigerian society.

For many years, successive administrations have maintained a portentous imbalance and inequitable structure that disfavours meritocracy. They have glossed over the continuous capitulation of the political class in a progressive fashion to a point of disaffection. And by so doing they have fostered a forced unanimity.

With this groundswell of protests, the unity of Nigeria, for want of a suitable metaphor, seems to be held at gunpoint. Perhaps, this agitation points to issues that have not been resolved. It is noteworthy that while these protests persist, a section of the Igbo elite have either only dismissed the agitation in the fashion of President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo, or continually recycled the narratives of Nigeria’s skewed political economic structuring. What they should do instead is that, they, with well-meaning Nigerians, should find a midway and a basis for which the nation’s diversity can be respected, and a sense of belonging maintained. Standards have to be respected and established constitutional rights must be protected without making others feel any loss of their identities.

While the unity of Nigeria should be discussed, the agitators must be strongly cautioned to channel their grievances without perpetrating acts that could be interpreted as an attempt to enthrone instability and dismember the country.

Concerning the substance of the agitation, the veracity of a unified Biafran agenda is already being called to question by the absence of a clear-cut philosophy or any articulated strategy of effective social mobilisation; the result of which is the emergence of various factions in the Biafra cause. Following allegations of sabotage, intimidation, pecuniary conflicts, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) is said to have broken into Biafra Zionist Movement (BZM), led by one Benjamin Onwuka, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), led by Nnamdi Kanu, and the United Eastern Congress led by Sam Ike, all of which work at cross-purposes.

The disorganised manner of this agitation, the indecorous, offensive, and irreverent verbiage coming from their spokespersons make a mockery of any claim they may lay to a legitimate cause. It should be borne in mind also that every part of the country has one thing or another to agitate for. If every aggrieved company were to carry on the way these aspiring Biafrans are going, the chaos the nation would face can only be imagined. This is a bad signal to the dissatisfied others. It is for this reason the secessionist tendencies of the leader of MASSOB, Ralph Uwazuruike, who is set to present an alleged 2016 budget “to actualise Biafra and liberate the people of former Eastern region,” is condemnable.

Those in the streets, whose only political education comes from misguided verbiage of clannish role models, should be cautious not to become cannon fodders for mischief-making. Whilst it is part of democracy that people should air their views, however jaundiced, they should, all the same, not translate grievances into violence and bloodshed.

Just as it is true for the agitating pro-Biafra demonstrators, the army should not be provoked into violence-inciting utterances as the response of the Deputy-Director, Army Public Realtions, 82 Division, Enugu, Col. Hamza Gambo, portrayed the other day. It is not the business of the army to tell Nigerians what to say or what not to say in a democracy. The role of advising the presidency on when to use force in its reaction to the Biafran protests rests on the National Assembly.

Notwithstanding, it is simplistic to view the agitation for Biafra as an event orchestrated by disgruntled elements reliving a frightful reverie from the Civil War, or some business experiment. Although it may seem like exuberant Igbo youths excitedly seeking avenues to vent, the deeper import of the Biafra agitation transcends its narrow-minded Igbo agenda. It is as one commentator suggested, a living philosophy of justice that appears wherever and whenever oppression, impunity, injustice and structural violence rear their heads. What is going on is symbolic of the discontent experienced by many ethno-political interests for whom the Nigeria question remains unanswered. Nigeria tends to be living a lie. It wants to be a prosperous and politically stable country, yet it is holding down this potential for prosperity and stability by maintaining a supercilious unitary government, whilst paying lip service to federalism.

In the event, any government carrying on this way should not feel that all is well with the national political configuration. For too long, successive governments have undermined the essential differences in the various interests of the Nigerian people; and so unresolved matters about the aspirations of Nigeria’s heterogeneous interests have become an ongoing concern. To assume that these do not exist, or to gloss over them even when we are aware of them, is to play the ostrich.

So, rather than shout down at agitators and wish them away with a wave of the hand, this government should find answers to the thorny issues that created this monstrosity in the first place. Fortunately, the answers to many of these problems are contained in the report of the National Conference. It was with patient expectation of good fortunes that Nigerians committed themselves to the National Conference convened by former President Goodluck Jonathan. True to Nigerians’ expectations, the report of the Conference made recommendations that should augur well for this country’s future.

The Muhammadu Buhari government should look into the report if it is to make any headway in addressing the renewed agitations across the nation. Nigerians must press for the implementation of the National Conference Report as an answer to the renewed agitation for Biafra.

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  • “For many years, successive administrations have maintained a portentous imbalance and inequitable structure that disfavours meritocracy. They have glossed over the continuous capitulation of the political class in a progressive fashion to a point of disaffection. And by so doing they have fostered a forced unanimity”

    “What is going on is symbolic of the discontent experienced by many ethno-political interests for whom the Nigeria question remains unanswered. Nigeria tends to be living a lie. It wants to be a prosperous and politically stable country, yet it is holding down this potential for prosperity and stability by maintaining a supercilious unitary government, whilst paying lip service to federalism”.

    The Guardian, Conscience nurtured by truth. Your editorial said it all. Thank you.

  • africanchina

    Well written.

    Rather than calling the Biafran agitators names, it is important to look at the underlying causes of the protests across the country. Any country that cares about its future must address not only its past but the present. Today its IPOB, tomorrow it might be Odudwa, Niger Delta, Middle Belt or even Arewa. Let us imagine the possibility of two or three of this to deal with at the same time while Boko Haram terror rages.

    Does anyone care to pay attention?

  • ryhope1

    A potentially great article ruined by impenetrable wordiness.

  • 2mmmmmm1nnnnnn


  • AriseNigeria

    I have said it before and I will say it again, A Nigerian leader that can impact positively on the nation as a whole, must be Incorruptible, Nationalistic, and Visionary leader. Buhari has only one going for him “Incorruptible” and without the other two he too has failed. Johnathan was “Nationalistic and Visionary” but failed in the aspect of corruption, and he too failed by the way side. Maybe, we need to pray for the resurrection of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe so we can have a leader that has the three element and qualities of Nigeria need as a leader, but that is the question for the center, if the center will ever hold. Marriage that is held by force, coercion, or threats do not last, because when the victim finds an opportunity to escape she will rUn without EVER looking back, Nobody in Nigeria is happy with Nigeria. When Obasanjo and Jonathan were Presidents of Nigeria, the Northern Muslims revolted against them, and that came in the form of Boko Haram. Biafran agitators have seen the appointments made so far by Buhari, his public statements that he Presidency has no agenda for Igbos but to further marginalized them, it is therefore natural for the people to rise in opposition to his planned genocide against them. There are strong anti-Igbo sentiments in Yoruba controlled States, it is also a fact that Yoruba are not Hausa friends and neither does Hausas cares for Yorubas or Igbos, what we have today rather an alliance of mutual interest between Hausa and Yorubas, obcourse to the detriments of others, and that have been their nature. So, when you look at Nigeria, you can’t say we have a nation. What we have is a congregation of groups of people whose interest comes into conflicts. No one is interested in building a nation, but rather to dominate others economically, socially and religiously, and to many peace only means for the victims to accept their poor conditions unconditionally, but nature teaches us that REVOLUTION COMES WHEN PEOPLE SEES DEATH BETTER THAN SLAVERY, AND WHEN IT STARTS THE OUTCOME IS BOTH UNPREDICTABLE BUT CAN SURELY BE CATASTROPHIC. THE MIGHT OF ARMS CANNOT DEFEAT THE WILL OF THOSE WHO ARE WILLING TO DIE, WHO WILL GO TO ANY EXTENT TO GAIN FREEDOM. UNFORTUNATELY THERE IS NO HOPE FOR NIGERIA, IT IS ALREADY TOO LATE IN THE GAME. BUT WE CAN SEPARATE IN PEACE, LIVING TOGETHER AS ONE NIGERIA HAS BECOME A DEATH DREAM FOR MANY.

  • Darlington

    Guardian, you are more than this baseless editorial. This is revolution in the offing, anyone still living in the past will be swept off his carpet of naivety and sectionalism. Nigeria has never worked and will not work! Peaceful separation via REFFERENDUM is the answer! On Biafra we stand! No amount of media propaganda can stop a cause whose time has come! Long Peoples Republic of Biafra!

  • KWOY

    This is a good piece. This is an acknowledgement that people not only know the truth, but can also summon the courage to say it. This is a departure from the culture of lying & speaking needless grammar over the handicap & fate of a people who have bled since 1966. It is a departure from a useless threat of war on a people who have little to lose anyway. It is This truth that is the way forward

  • kingjayzy

    All this senseless monkeys and baboons in the zoo called Nigeria for your information Radio Biafra started braodcasting in the year 2009 and their agitation was not because of Buhari or anyone but simply to restore the their nation which existed even before the so called Nigeria which was forcefully created by Britian for their selfish reasons. The only thing Nigerians have in common is corruption. Would there be anything like one Nigeria if this oil is from the Northern zoo called Nigeria.

  • igboham

    Unfortunately you igbonized your editorial which is a lie. You have joined the ostrich. Biafra is not about Igbo.

  • Andy Peter Andy

    what a stupid write up,a waste of time reading from uninformed brown envelope journalist.

  • Nazerine

    What we ask for is Biafra. Nigeria is beyond redemption. The next stage of this agitation would be to politely ask oil workers( both local and foreign) to leave Biafraland failing which they will have themselves to blame.

    • kuli

      Oil workers are not in Biafran land. They are in SS land

      • Chibuzo

        You are deluded! SS/SE are Biafra land. Why not conduct a referendum and see what will play out. The protest in Rivers, Delta and Bayalsa should reveal a lot to you.


    All we need
    is Biafra/freedom not the implementation of any National Conference Report

  • Arockey Bombay

    In the spirit of true democracy and self-determination, Nigeria should let the Biafra go as long as the igbos realize that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. The minorities of South-South do not belong to Biafra. They should be left also as a separate nation. It is time to call the bluff of separationists and let them leave as a land-locked space-less nation whose clans will soon be fighting each other in the absence of the land they have access to across the bigger federation called Nigeria. For my Igbo friends with properties all over Lagos, Kano, Abuja and the rest of the metropolitan areas, they should first invent the technology to lift up their real estate holdings for transfer to their ancestral land in East-Central Nigeria. There must be no incidences of abandoned properties this time around. Enough is enough of this bragging! Let the Igbos go!!!

  • Ibeh Ilodi

    I don’t understand why all these panics and fuss about Abiafra?Does it mean that the Igbos are much important in Nigeria ,if so,why the hatred? Why the deliberate marginalization and exclusion? people should know, it,s natural right of man to pursue happines , decide where he wants to,self determination is not a crime .

  • chibuzor

    Stupid journalist. The question is do we as Biafran have right to secede? Are we one before the coming of Britain? is Nigeria not an expired country by 2014. Why is yoruba and Hausa too afraid to allow Biafrans to go. It is high time you gutter journalist begins to tell the truth the better for everybody because when the war you people are indirectly supporting burst out there will be no hiding place for both the poor and the rich. We are determined and nothing will stop us from restoring Biafran or everybody in Nigeria will be killed by the crises they will witness.