NNAMDI AZIKIWE WARNED IGBOS ABOUT THE IGBONIZATION STRUGGLE CALLED "BIAFRA"



So many scholars of the Biafran war history, has always said that the war was instigated by the killing of Igbos in the North. Azikiwe disproved that theory and said that the Igbo massacre, Ojukwu referred to in declaring Biafra, was just a facade. He disclosed that the killing of Igbos in the North was actually instigated by Igbos who were celebrating the Major Nzeogwu's coup in the North, thereby taunting and defaming the killed Northern political ellites. He narrated thus:

In the meantime, some Ibo elements who were domiciled in Northern Nigeria taunted Northerners by defaming their leaders through the means of records or songs or pictures. They also published pamphlets and postcards which displayed a peculiar representation of certain Northerners, living or dead, in a manner likely to provoke disaffection. The natural reaction to these positive acts was the germination of a revanche movement which smouldered at first only to erupt in the May 1966 massacre of Easterners residing in the North." 1

Nnamdi Azikiwe, (1969). Origin of Nigerian Civil War. Produced by the Nigerian Printing Press, Apapa

So many historians have claimed that the 1966 coup led by Nzeogwu has no tribalistic motivation, that it was only a coincidence that many Igbo soldies were involved. But Azikiwe insinuated otherwise: He wrote that:

In January 1966, five Majors, four of whom were Ibo, decided to liquidate five Heads of Government together with certain politicians and senior military personnel. When the coup de grace was executed three Premiers, one Federal Minister and nine military leaders were assassinated. Only one of the last category was Ibo." 1_

Azikiwe even went further to blame General Aguiyi Ironsi for also playing apart in the misadventures that led to the Biafra war. He first accused him of clannishly favouring lower ranked Igbo military officer against higher ranked Niger Deltans in his choice of the military leadership of the Eastern region. This, he opined, created serious tribal divides between the Igbos and Niger Deltans of the Eastern region. Azikiwe puts it this way:


When General Aguiyi-Ironsi assumed power, he appointed a Military Governor for each region. In Eastern Nigeria, he appointed Lieutenant-Colonel C. Odumegwu Ojukwu who, at that time, was junior to six' senior military officers of Eastern Nigeria origin, among whom were Colonel W. U. Bassey [Niger Deltan]. Lt.-Col. U. O. Imo, Lt -Col. G. U. Kurubo [Niger Deltan] and Lt -Col. H. M. NJoku. This was a capital blunder because it smacked of tribalism and favouritism. Bassey is Efik, Kurubo is Ijaw, Imo and Njoku are Ibo." 1

Azikiwe also accused Ironsi of being the first to amend the Nigerian constitution without a proper constitutional conference, creating a precedence that was later followed by other military goverments. He went further by accusing Ironsi of using four of his tribesmen (that included Professor Ben Nwabueze who day, is ironically one of strongest advocate of resources control) to promulgated decree 34 which, to all intents and purposes, abrogated the country’s federal system, thereby stopping RESOURCES CONTROL by region government, and in its place, established a Unitary System. Azikiwe saw this move as tribalistic posture and betrayal of faith. He said:

 On assuming office, General Aguiyi-Ironsi promised that he would not amend the Nigerian Constitution without formally consulting the people of Nigeria. As an earnest of his good faith, he appointed a Constitutional Study Group to make recommendations. Without formally consulting the Nigerians and without waiting for the submission of the report of the Study Group, General Ironsi, acting contrary to the advice of majority members of the Supreme Military Council, together with that of the Sultan of Sokoto, and influenced by the advice of four Ibo experts, who are now the closest associates of General Ojukwu, promulgated Decree No. 34, in April 1966, abolishing the federal system of government and introducing the unitary system. This was a unilateral act which arbitrarily jettisoned the fundamental basis of the Nigerian political union ."

The concept of ONE NIGERIA was propagated during the Ironsi regime as an Igbonization agenda, just as we are perturbed by the disturbing Fulanization issues today. Ironsi and Ojujwu foiled the first secession attempt in Nigeria, by Isaac Adaka Boro, declaring the Niger Delta Republic republic. Azikiwe gave more insight to some of the Ironsi's protracted tribal candence and Igbonization agenda:

The Supreme Commander was now confronted with a political problem which neither himself nor his Ibo experts [referring to the four Ibos, including Prof. Nwabueze, who helped Ironsi to establish the unitary system] could cope with. A meeting of traditional rulers was convened to take place al Ibadan on July 29 and he planned to use the occasion to explain and expiate for his monocratic act. He was abducted and murdered by some soldiers. Leading officers of Ibo and non-Ibo origin from Eastern Nigeria were murdered also." 1

Azikiwe even revealed that it was Ojukwu who refused to recognize Gowon as head of state because he was a junior office to most of his contemporaries. AZIKIWE even referred to Ojukwu's action as a "paradox", in view of the fact that the Niger Delta officers of higher ranks that Ojukwu "leapfroged" to become the Governor of the Eastern region were still cooperating and working under him in the Eastern region. Azikiwe opined that:

in view of Ojukwu's supercession of six Easterners as Head of a Regional Government. The superceded Easterners cooperated with him. excepting Brigadier Bassey, who retired from the Army and was appointed Consul-General, now Ambassador, for Nigeria in Santa Isabel in Fenundo Po." 1

On assuming office, Lt.-Col. Gowon declared that he had no political ambition. He promised to maintain law and order throughout the country with a view to restoring civilian rule as soon as possible. In view of returning the country to civil rule, Azikiwe alleged that, right from Ojukwu's appointment by Ironsi, he, Ojukwu, had no such plan to revert back to civilian  rule. Azikiwe thus stated:

Lt-Col. Ojukwu persisted in his objection to restoration of civilian rule. He made this clear when the Aguiyi-lronsi regime sought to establish a civilian advisory council and he stoutly opposed it. As events unfolded, his political ambition emerged in bold relief." 1

Azikiwe's assertion only indicates that Ojukwu started the pursuit of his Biafra agenda right from the time he became the military governor of Eastern region. In allusion to this, Ojukwu consistently refused to co-operate with Lt.-Col. Gowon and he preemptively encouraged subversion against the federal structure. This was an antithesis to the frequent claims made by Ojukwu, giving the massacre of Easterners in the North as his reason for the declaration Biafra. Azikiwe debunked this claims, and infact laid out a precedence which showed that it was Igbos in the Eastern region that started the massacre of Northerners. That Ojukwu only used that reprisal attack of Notherner on Igbos for his secession propaganda. Azikiwe puts it this way:

Between August and September 1966, either by chance or by design, hundreds of Hausa, Fulani, Nupe and Igalla-speaking people of Northern Nigeria origin residing in Eastern Nigeria were abducted and massacred in Aba, Abakaliki, Enugu, Onitsha and Port Harcourt. Eyewitnesses gave on-the-spot accounts of corpses floating in the Imo River and River Niger. Radio Cotonou broadcast this macabre news, which was suppressed by Enugu Radio. Then Radio Kaduna relayed it and this sparked off the massacres of September-October 1966 [in the North]. When now, Easterners were slaughtered in the North, in reprisal for the slaughter of Northerners in the East, and General Gowon publicly expressed his regrets for what had happened and conveyed his condolences to the bereaved, maimed and displaced. Lt.-Col. Ojukwu seized this as an opportunity to beat the tom-tom of secession. In spite of his propagated canard of genocide this has now been universally discredited." 1

Saro Wiwa, in his book, the 'On a Darkling Plain', also gave his own account of some of Ojukwu's deceptive antics regarding the cause of the Biafra war. Saro-Wiwa concurred with Azikiwe's position that, Ojukwu predetermined the Biafra secession even before the reprisal massacre of Igbos. He stated that:

Is the conviction that Ojukwu did not make sufficient attempts to stave off war but used the attacks on Igbos in the North, harrowing though they were, to justify a secessionist course on which he was already embarked long before the massacres took place." 

5(Pg.42)* 

5. Ken Saro-Wiwa, (1989). On a Darkling Plain: An Account of the Nigerian Civil War. Published by Saros. ISBN 9782460125*

A vexed Azikiwe narrated that it was Ojukwu's selfserving greed that caused the BIAFRA war, saying that:

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu's greed blinded him to fail to realize the great concession he had won. He under-rated General Gowon and underestimated Nigerian war potential. He decided to continue a CALCULATED GAMBLE WHICH HAS LED TO THE CIVIL WAR." 1

The provisions of Decree No. 8, which Ojukwu rejected in the Aburi Accord, guaranteed regional autonomy "and safeguarded the security of persons and property of the citizens of Nigeria in each region. Even a balanced critique of the agreement of Degree No. 8, the London-based weekly, West Africa, remarked in its issue of March 25,1967, Azikiwe opined that: 

it transformed Nigeria into a PSEUDO-CONFEDERATION. It referred to some of the extra-ordinary powers conceded to the Military Governors, arming them with great authority in the federal sphere without their being restricted in their own, excepting the proviso regarding secession. It concluded that the only sanction of the Federal Government against abuse of power by the regions was that which enabled it to take over their function when necessary." 1

Ojukwu was not interested in any negotiation and after the Aburi conference, he was only buying time to actualize his grandiose dream of being the supreme leader of a tribal dominated state with no regards to life that may be expended in the process. Even Azikiwe could not agree any less when he opined that:

It is relevant at this stage to indicate that after the Aburi Conference, Lt.-Col. Ojukwu deliberately exercised regional executive authority in on illegal and unconstitutional manner, which left no doubt that he had decided to withdraw Eastern Nigeria from the Federation." 1

Ojukwu's tyrannical and dictatorial ambitions were made clear when on February 21 1967, he promulgated the Law and Order (Maintenance) Edict, No. 2 of 1967, enabling him to declare any part of Eastern region to be 

a disturbed area, if he, Ojukwu, were satisfied that there was a threat to, or that any disturbance endangered or was likely to endanger law, public order and peace in the area. Offenders were to be tried not by the civil courts but by special tribunals to be set up by warrant at the instance of the Military Government at Enugu. The verdict of such special tribunal was said to be final and no appeal against it shall be entertained by any other tribunal or court; although every decision made by it shall be subject to confirmation by Lt-Col. Qjukwu, who reserved to himself the right to vary, alter or suspend same." 1

Ojukwu was not happy with the creation of the two Niger Delta State. In reaction to this, Ojukwu declared Biafra as an independent state, on the evening of May 27, 1967. He thereafter promulgated acts to prevent Niger Delta from seeking self-determination, and to keep them under the perpetual control and dominance of the Igbo. Azikiwe agreed as much and said:

 Edict No. 2 enabled him [Ojukwu] to assume extra-legal powers which may be reasonably justified in a democratic society during a period of emergent. But this edict was devised to DEPRIVE NON-IBO PEOPLE OF THEIR RIGHT OF SELF-DETERMINATION. By promulgating Decree No.5, he established a tyranny which placed him above the law- and made the people of Biafra subservient to his whims and caprices." 1

If there was any doubt about Ojukwu intent for Niger Delta's aspirations to self determination, Decree No. 2, says it all. Azikiwe referred to it as: 

I regard this as a gross betrayal of trust of the people of Niger Delta".1

 Ojukwu tribal rhetorics against Niger Deltans became evident through his broadcast medium, Radio Biafra.  He used this medium to engender prewar tribal acrimony between the Igbos and Niger Delta. Ken Saro-Wiwa recalled that in all the flurry of prewar activities, meetings and consultations that were held by the Igbo staff and students at the University of Ibadan were he was a student, Niger Deltans of the East were excluded. As he noted that; 

 It is signal that although what they were thinking of was secession of Eastern Nigeria, when they gathered to discuss the matter, non-Ibos from Eastern Nigeria were carefully excluded. Again, this was symbolic of things to come. In the end, a memorandum went into circulation, was signed and was carried to Ojukwu." 5(Pg.35).

Six weeks later the war broke out and true to non-Igbos fear, Niger Delta suffered the brunt of Ojukwu's tyrannical plot and  atrocities. Azikiwe who was very bitter how even intellectual became a willing tool in Ojukwu's selfserving, tribalistic and grandiloquent plot, lamented further:


 *"One of the tragedies of the present civil war is the emotional involvement of many patriots, including intellectuals and university students. We seek for education to enable us to discover facts, and to be objective in analysing social situations, balancing possible factors, collating these into acceptable theses, and formulating logical premises, before arriving

at conclusions which could be regarded as fair and reasonable. In view of my political post, I have vested interest not only in the preservation of the precious lives of the men and women of all the various linguistic groups that constitute Nigeria and Biafra. but I also have a duty to my conscience and to humanity to expose evil and not condone it." 1

Azikiwe's description of Ojukwu could pass for a modern day con man who sacrificed his people for his pleasurable experiment to seek power and fame. Azikiwe said:

 General Ojukwu has deceived his people to believe that they are fighting the civil war for their survival. But he has cleverly enthroned tyranny in that unhappy land. When he bragged, three weeks ago that, the war will not end on the conference table but on the battlefield, he shut the door to any meaningful peaceful settlement of THIS CARNAGE. What strikes me is his apparent IMPERVIOUSNESS TO REASON and INSENSITIVENESS TO HUMAN SUFFERING. The death of children and helpless old people in millions would appear to mean nothing to him. I HAVE YET TO HEAR AN EXPRESSION OF SYMPATHY EMANATING FROM HIM FOR THE PLIGHT OF THESE INNOCENTS. I have hoped against hope to see a picture of him fondling with one of these skeletal children. YET HIS TWO CHILDREN ARE ROBUST AND HEALTHY; and he has had the temerity to urge the parents of the dying generation to sacrifice everything for the sustenance of THE MIRAGE OR BIAFRAN sovereignty." 1

Azikiwe referred to the Biafra analogy as a "mirage". He was also concern how easily Ojukwu deceived and indoctrinated the intellectual community with his phantom freedom he coin as "Biafra". Azikiwe further lamented, while describing Ojukwu as a crafty, shameless, double talker, he said that;

 If a person of my stature cannot hold opinion on any public issue and must only express views which conform to a regimented behaviour pattern of the Biafran Establishment, then it is evident that Biafra cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be regarded as a democratic and tolerant society. Yet many people, including university dons and students of Biafran origin, would not hesitate to condemn those who dared to hold their own opinion and refuse to conform to misdirected, misguided and mistaken popular opinion. How can I, in conscience, support a leadership which deliberately violated section 86 of the Nigerian Constitution, craftily transformed Eastern Nigeria into a Police state, SHAMELESSLY PLACED A PREMIUM ON DOUBLE-TALK, systematically metamorphosed and mesmerized Ibo and non-Ibo leaders who live in Biafra or outside its confines, into cowards who dare not oppose a tyranny which has been firmly rooted in their homeland, for fear of death, and they are so supine that they cannot protect their children from hunger and disease and death, because they, are afraid of being ostracized or detained or shot, on the order of a CONFIRMED DESPOT created by them. WHAT A CHICKEN-HEARTED GENERATION!" 1

THOSE WHO DO NOT LEARN FROM HISTORY ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT ~ GEORGE SANTAYANA

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