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Biafra Capitulates Ending Civil War - History

Biafra Capitulates Ending Civil War - History

Civil war in Nigeria lasted for three years. Most countries in Africa supported the central government since all feared a similar breakup in their own countries. The British, Italians and the Soviet Union supplied the central government with arms, while the French supplied limited quantities of arms to the Biafrans. The Biafrans held their own in the war, until the end of 1969, when the superior fire power of the central government overwhelmed them. On January 13th, Biafran forces surrendered.

12 January 1970

The Nigerian Civil War (also known as the Biafran War and the Nigerian-Biafran War) was a civil war in Nigeria fought between the government of Nigeria headed by General Yakubu Gowon and the secessionist state of Biafra led by Lt. Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu from 6 July 1967 to 15 January 1970. [39] Biafra represented nationalist aspirations of the Igbo people, whose leadership felt they could no longer coexist with the Northern-dominated federal government. [40] The conflict resulted from political, economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions which preceded Britain's formal decolonization of Nigeria from 1960 to 1963. Immediate causes of the war in 1966 included ethno-religious violence and anti-Igbo pogroms in Northern Nigeria, [41] a military coup, a counter-coup and persecution of Igbo living in Northern Nigeria. Control over the lucrative oil production in the Niger Delta also played a vital strategic role.

Within a year, the Federal Government troops surrounded Biafra, capturing coastal oil facilities and the city of Port Harcourt. The blockade imposed as a deliberate policy during the ensuing stalemate led to mass starvation. [42] During the two and half years of the war, there were about 100,000 overall military casualties, while between 500,000 and 2 million Biafran civilians died of starvation. [43]

In mid-1968, images of malnourished and starving Biafran children saturated the mass media of Western countries. The plight of the starving Biafrans became a cause célèbre in foreign countries, enabling a significant rise in the funding and prominence of international non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The United Kingdom and the Soviet Union were the main supporters of the Nigerian government, while France, Israel and some other countries supported Biafra.


Past event that occur in Nigeria History

Nigerian will never forget what happen in pre history of Nigeria. Notwithstanding the advent
of coming of European into Africa as a own will be forever remember neither for good or bad.
Most especially in western part of Africa (Nigeria) undergo what is called colonization, which contribute
to the under development of Nigerian.less not forget that able body men and women were force of their villages and towns to shore of Atlantic ocean where they were use as a slave in the new world (AMERICA,WEST INDIES )etc, which these contribute to the lack of human power to the productivity of the Economy,Social,Culture,Education,political aspect..etc. Meanwhile, Nigeria leader's also contribute their own part to the effect that contribute to the under development that is happening in the present day Nigeria. I wish all Nigerian people could become one..I mean one for all all for all people. I pray that one day God almighty will hear to the cry of the neglected people of Nigeria.


1861-08-06 - The British annex Lagos, Nigeria.
1885-02-26 - Congress of Berlin, gives Congo to Belgium & Nigeria to England
1900-01-01 - British protectorates of Northern & Southern Nigeria established
1901-01-01 - Nigeria becomes a British protectorate.
1914-01-01 - Northern & Southern Nigeria united in British colony of Nigeria
1948-01-18 - 1st courses begin at University of Ibadan, Nigeria
1954-10-01 - British colony of Nigeria becomes a federation
1960-05-09 - Nigeria becomes a member of British Commonwealth
1960-10-01 - Nigeria gains independence from Britain (National Day)
1963-10-01 - Nigeria becomes a republic within Commonwealth
1966-07-29 - Nigerians chief of staff Jakubu Gowon makes coup
1967-05-30 - Biafra declares independence from Nigeria
1967-07-06 - Biafran War erupts as Nigerian forces invade
1967-08-09 - Biafran offensive against Nigerian army
1967-09-19 - Nigeria begins offensive against Biafra
1967-09-20 - Benin separates from Nigeria
1968-09-04 - Nigerian troops conquer Aba Biafra
1970-01-12 - Biafran War ends, Biafra surrenders to Nigeria
1970-01-12 - Biafra capitulates, ending the Nigerian civil war.
1970-01-15 - Republic Biafra disbands/joins Nigeria
1973-01-23 - Jordan Air crash at Kano, Nigeria kills 176 Moslem pilgrims
1979-02-09 - Nigeria amends constitution
1979-10-01 - Nigeria adopts constitution, Alhaji Shagari becomes president
1983-01-17 - Nigeria expels 2 million illegal aliens, mostly Ghanaians
1983-12-31 - Nigeria's National Assembly dissolves after military coup
1984-09-04 - Nigerian singer Fela Kuti sentenced to 2 years
1991-07-11 - Nigerian DC-8 crashes near Djeddah, 261 die
1992-09-26 - Nigerian Hercules C-130 crashes at Lagos, 163 die
1992-09-27 - Military transport plane crashes in Lagos, Nigeria killing 163
1992-10-20 - Mr Johnson surrenders Monrovia Liberia & is exiled to Nigeria
1993-01-21 - Nigerian singer Fela Kuti arrested on suspicion of murder
1993-03-08 - Nigerian singer Fela Kuti arrested again on suspicion of murder
1993-08-14 - Nigerian presidential election
1993-10-25 - Airbus A310 of Air Nigeria hijacked, 1 dead
1994-06-11 - Moshood Abiola becomes pres of Nigeria
1995-11-10 - In Nigeria, playwright and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa along with eight others from the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (Mosop) are hanged by government forces.
1999-02-27 - Olusegun Obasanjo becomes Nigeria's first elected president since mid-1983.
1999-05-29 - Olusegun Obasanjo takes office as President of Nigeria, the first elected and civilian head of state in Nigeria after 16 years of military rule.
2000-07-10 - A leaking southern Nigerian petroleum pipeline explodes, killing about 250 villagers scavenging gasoline.
2002-11-22 - In Nigeria, more than 100 people are killed at an attack aimed at the contestants of the Miss World contest.
2004-05-02 - Yelwa massacre of more than 630 nomad Muslims by Christians in Nigeria.


Today in history

12 January 2021 (MIA)

1528 – Gustav I of Sweden is crowned king.

1554 – Bayinnaung, who would go on to assemble the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia, is crowned King of Burma.

1808 – John Rennie’s scheme to defend St Mary’s Church, Reculver, founded in 669, from coastal erosion was abandoned in favour of demolition, despite the church being an exemplar of Anglo-Saxon architecture and sculpture.

1848 – The Palermo rising takes place in Sicily against the Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

1866 – The Royal Aeronautical Society is formed in London.

1872 – Yohannes IV is crowned Emperor of Ethiopia in Axum, the first imperial coronation in that city in over 200 years.

1895 – The National Trust is founded in the United Kingdom.

1906 – Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman’s cabinet (which included amongst its members H. H. Asquith, David Lloyd George, and Winston Churchill) embarks on sweeping social reforms.

1908 – A long-distance radio message is sent from the Eiffel Tower for the first time.

1911 – The University of the Philippines College of Law is formally established three future Philippine presidents are among the first enrollees.

1915 – The United States House of Representatives rejects a proposal to require states to give women the right to vote.

1916 – Both Oswald Boelcke and Max Immelmann, for achieving eight aerial victories each over Allied aircraft, receive the German Empire’s highest military award, the Pour le Mérite as the first German aviators to earn it.

1918 – Finland’s “Mosaic Confessors” law goes into effect, making Finnish Jews full citizens.

1921 – Acting to restore confidence in baseball after the Black Sox Scandal, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis is elected as Major League Baseball’s first commissioner.

1926 – Original Sam ‘n’ Henry aired on Chicago radio later renamed Amos ‘n’ Andy in 1928.

1932 – Hattie Caraway becomes the first woman elected to the United States Senate.

1942 – World War II: United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt creates the National War Labor Board.

1962 – Vietnam War: Operation Chopper, the first American combat mission in the war, takes place.

1964 – Rebels in Zanzibar begin a revolt known as the Zanzibar Revolution and proclaim a republic.

1966 – Lyndon B. Johnson states that the United States should stay in South Vietnam until Communist aggression there is ended.

1967 – Dr. James Bedford becomes the first person to be cryonically preserved with intent of future resuscitation.

1969 – The New York Jets of the American Football League defeat the Baltimore Colts of the National Football League to win Super Bowl III in what is considered to be one of the greatest upsets in sports history.

1970 – Biafra capitulates, ending the Nigerian Civil War.

1971 – The Harrisburg Seven: Rev. Philip Berrigan and five other activists are indicted on charges of conspiring to kidnap Henry Kissinger and of plotting to blow up the heating tunnels of federal buildings in Washington, D.C.

1976 – The United Nations Security Council votes 11–1 to allow the Palestine Liberation Organization to participate in a Security Council debate (without voting rights).

1986 – Space Shuttle program: Congressman Bill Nelson lifts off from Kennedy Space Center aboard Columbia on mission STS-61-C as a Mission Specialist.

1991 – Persian Gulf War: An act of the U.S. Congress authorizes the use of American military force to drive Iraq out of Kuwait.

1998 – Nineteen European nations agree to forbid human cloning.

2001 – Downtown Disney opens to the public as part of the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California.

2004 – The world’s largest ocean liner, RMS Queen Mary 2, makes its maiden voyage.

2005 – Deep Impact launches from Cape Canaveral on a Delta II rocket.

2006 – A stampede during the Stoning of the Devil ritual on the last day at the Hajj in Mina, Saudi Arabia, kills at least 362 Muslim pilgrims.

2010 – An earthquake in Haiti occurs, killing over 100,000 people and destroying much of the capital Port-au-Prince.

2012 – Violent protests occur in Bucharest, Romania, as two-day-old demonstrations continue against President Traian Băsescu’s economic austerity measures. Clashes are reported in numerous Romanian cities between protesters and law enforcement officers.

2015 – Government raids kill 143 Boko Haram fighters in Kolofata, Cameroon.

2016 – Ten people are killed and 15 wounded in a bombing near the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.


Biafra: Memory, reconciliation, and peacebuilding in post-civil war southeastern Nigeria

In the discourse that follows, Godwin Onuoha of Princeton University takes a look at the post-civil war efforts of the Nigerian government to promote memory, reconciliation and peace building in the country but regrets that such efforts had been one-sided thereby compelling the people of Southeastern region to come out with counter strategies.

The Nigerian state employs the “memory power” inherent in memorials, monuments, and museums to project a form of collective meaning and nationhood.33 These have proven to be very effective tools for memory production.34 On January 15, 1985, the Nigerian state went to great lengths to launch the National War Museum project and subsequently commissioned it on September 14, 1989, designating it as the only museum that represents the (official) memories of the civil war in Nigeria. By using memory repertoires, such as pictures of wartime actors, artifacts, and other war relics, the state sought to promote one set message, among many others, and imposed a single meaning and interpretation on the Nigeria-Biafra War.

Similarly, the annual Armed Forces Remembrance Day, commemorated every January 15 for the “Unknown Soldiers,” coincides with January 15, 1970, the date the Nigeria-Biafra War officially ended. It is an event that honors all federal “fallen soldiers” who fought and died in all wars in which the country had been engaged, including the two World Wars, the Nigeria-Biafra War, peacekeeping missions, and other military engagements. This commemoration not only excludes and discredits Biafran soldiers who have been depicted as “rebels” and “traitors,” but also delegitimizes their own version of events in the war and, in fact, expunges them from recognition and entry into the official national narrative. As an interested party with a direct stake in memory projects, the Nigerian state deploys museums, memorials, and monuments to serve official interests, neutralize competing narratives opposed to official views, and legitimize a national project. This has several implications for the nation-building project: it invariably continues to suppress sectional memories and uphold official memories in the name of moving forward entrenches politicized memories in monuments, memorials, and museums that reflect skewed power relations that are capable of denying victims of war any form of justice or redress and, ultimately, eliminates the possibility of examining ongoing reverberations of fragmented and contradictory memories in society by forcing a premature “closure” to the event.

Memory, marginalization, and the failings of reconciliation

Post-war sociopolitical and economic developments fed into the construction of individual and group memories of “hurt,” “injustice,” and “marginalization” in Southeastern Nigeria. Structural and institutional mechanisms were poised to play a key role in post-war reconciliation, peacebuilding, 12 SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL | WORKING PAPERS ONUOHA | MEMORY AND PEACEBUILDING IN NIGERIA and nation building.

Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP)

The displacement of the Igbo from the “formal” sectors of the economy led to their engagement in the “informal” sector, which is characterized by informal manufacturing and long-distance trading networks relying on operations outside state structures.35 This, in Isaac Olawale Albert’s view, intensified perceptions of political and economic marginalization, fostered a sense of neglect, and exacerbated the challenges of Nigeria’s reconciliation with the Igbo.36 The introduction of the structural adjustment program (SAP) as a policy response to Nigeria’s economic crisis and the politics surrounding it complicated the contradictions and inequalities upon which the post-civil war national project was hinged. It further intensified the zero sum factional struggles for federal power, compounded the politics of resource control, and widened existing ethnic cleavages as ethno-nationalist identities became more conflictive and competitive. The breadth and implementation of the adjustment program impacted fundamentally on every area of social and political relations, and ultimately, on ethno-nationalist consciousness. This is related to the fact that, under the rubric of the adjustment package, the state retreated from most areas of private life, and ethnic conflicts borne of struggles over resources, access to power, and local autonomy were sharpened under conditions of recession, depression, scarcity, and immiseration.37 This period was marked by an unprecedented surge in the number and activities of ethnic unions in various forms, such as “development” unions, “progressive” unions, “hometown” associations, social clubs, community development associations, cultural organizations, and “migrant ethnic empires,” which emerged to meet new challenges.38 In order to broaden the sphere of development, diaspora organizations, unions, and community development associations in urban centers throughout the country resorted to “self-help” efforts. Responding to the famous axiom “What else is development other than helping your hometown?” they were able to mobilize capital to provide social services and amenities for their domestic constituencies in Southeastern Nigeria.39 The diminishing resources and opportunities attendant to the adjustment program intensified the competition for jobs, contracts, and other benefits, such that the level of ethnic consciousness and ethnic connections became the hallmark of negotiations during the period. The commercialization and privatization exercise that accompanied the adjustment package reinforced factional struggles for resources and power at the elite level in Nigeria, thereby fueling tension, mistrust, and conflict between the “winners” and “losers.” This also provided fertile ground for the resurgence of ethnicity as a mobilizing factor in the struggle for state-divested shares in government 13 SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL | WORKING PAPERS ONUOHA | MEMORY AND PEACEBUILDING IN NIGERIA enterprises.

Aware of the growing concerns about marginalization, injustice, and underdevelopment in the Southeast, and the dominance of the hegemonic group(s) that controlled federal power and oil resources, there was a push at the Igbo elite level to address the “Igbo Question” and its share of the national patrimony. Prominent Igbo groups like “Ohaneze Ndi Igbo” and “Aka Ikenga” (a Pan-Igbo sociocultural think-thank) through various fora, began to articulate the plight of the Igbo within the unfolding context and the need to accommodate the Igbo in the Nigerian project. The flawed basis upon which the post-civil war national unity project was built had implications for Igbo memory, citizenship, and belonging in Nigeria. The post-civil war reconfiguration of power around these structural and systemic imbalances subjected the Igbo ethnic group to a structure and dynamic of power relations that was inherently unfavorable. This development found expression in the manner in which the Igbo ethnic group, previously considered a major ethnic group and one vital leg in Nigeria’s regional “tripod” prior to 1967, was relegated to the margins of power. Certain post-civil war developments, as well as the perceptions of Igbo marginalization by successive military regimes in the 1980s and 1990s, have led to the redefinition of the Igbo—from being a majority to a “minority” ethnic group.40 The exclusion of the Igbo from the power equation continues to pose enormous challenges to Nigeria’s post-civil war national unity project. Though the Igbo ethnic group produced a vice-president and speaker of the federal House of Representatives nine years after the war, these achievements did little to assuage Igbo perceptions of marginalization. Apparently, in the post-civil war power configuration in Nigeria, the Igbo are perceived as junior partners, with the elites of the victorious ethnic groups occupying what Edwin Madunagu refers to as the “first circle” of power, while the Igbo elites have been relegated to the “second circle.”

The awarding of privileges to the Igbo faction of the elite has largely depended on historical circumstances and the prevailing structure of power relations in particular contexts.41 The primary implication is that this has denied the Igbo a true sense of reconciliation with regard to issues related to citizenship rights, devolution of power, true federalism, and equal access to power. Secondly, it eliminates the prospects of realizing the “Igbo Presidency Project,” which has been central to the resolution of the “Igbo Question” and a cardinal negotiating point in the Igbo quest for reinventing the national unity project in post-civil war Nigeria. The “Igbo Presidency Project” is based on the “tripod theory,” which is premised on the notion that stability can only be achieved in the 14 SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL | WORKING PAPERS ONUOHA | MEMORY AND PEACEBUILDING IN NIGERIA Nigerian federation when there is a balance of power between the three major ethnic groups.

Presently, of the six geopolitical zones in the country, the Igbo Southeast remains the only zone with five states while others have at least six each. Igbo groups have continuously agitated against the mandatory exclusion and continuing deprivation and marginalization of predominantly Igbo states (Imo and Abia) which border oil-producing areas from oil revenues. This is seen by some observers as a situation that underscores the centralist mechanisms of control and zero-sum struggles that characterize oil politics in Nigeria. These developments continue to capture the nature of Nigeria’s post-war reconciliation with the Igbo, and the dominant perception remains that the Igbo ethnic group is yet to be reintegrated into the Nigerian state forty-five years after the war.42

The “Igbo question,” resistance, and alternative spaces of memory construction

The place of the Igbo ethnic group and its perceived second-class citizenship in Nigeria has become more contentious in contemporary times. A proper articulation and understanding of the “Igbo Question” must be carried out within the context of the overarching Nigerian “National Question.” The “Igbo Question,” emanating from post-civil war memories of marginalization, hurt, and injustice, should not be treated as unique or as the only example of its kind. Rather, it should be examined within the related and comparable contexts of the failure of other state-imposed post-war peacebuilding projects in Africa. Thus, the “Igbo Question” reflects broader issues of state legitimacy, national citizenship-deficit, and the failure of the postcolonial nation-state building project. The “Igbo Question” is a subset of the broader Nigerian “National Question,” outside of which it can hardly be understood. It is symbolic of ethnic identity struggles related to self-determination, autonomy, and separatism in the Nigerian state, drawing on issues and perspectives surrounding the salience, construction, mobilization, and politicization of ethnic identity and the dynamics of its deployment and use in national politics. The “Igbo Question” has been framed by situations, policies, and actions that produce grievances and the overwhelming feeling of the deprivation of “nationhood” and Igbo belonging within the context of the political arrangement in Nigeria.

While the “Igbo Question” came to a head during the crises leading up to the Nigeria-Biafra War in 1967, it has assumed a different dimension in the post-civil war era. In the post-1999 dispensation, it has led to the emergence of neo-Biafran groups in Southeastern Nigeria and a renewed clamor for disengagement from the Nigerian 15 SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL | WORKING PAPERS ONUOHA | MEMORY AND PEACEBUILDING IN NIGERIA state. Spurred by specific memories of marginalization, hurt, and injustice, Nigeria has witnessed the proliferation of neo-Biafran separatist movements clamoring for the disengagement of the Igbo from the Nigerian project into a separate political and administrative arrangement known as the “Republic of Biafra.” On September 13, 1999, barely four months after Nigeria’s return to civil rule, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) became the first neo-Biafran group to emerge that promoted the interest of Igbo-speaking Nigerians (or Biafrans). Several neo-Biafran groups such as the Biafra Youth Congress (BYC), MASSOB International, Biafran Liberation Council (BLC), Biafra Zionist Movement (BZM), Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and the Coalition of Biafra Liberation Groups (COBLIG), which claims to be an umbrella body comprising seven Igbo liberation groups in Nigeria and two in the diaspora, have since emerged. The advent of these groups is a direct response to the perceived failure of the Nigerian state and successive governments to address the Igbo predicament since the end of the civil war, let alone resolve it. Collectively known as the neo-Biafran movement, this is an assortment of second-generation, youth-based Igbo nationalist movements.

As theorists of nationalism have argued, shared memories passed across generations are critical to forging collective identities, and as such, youth mobilization is critical to the rise of nationalist movements.43 Karl Mannheim points out that political and social occurrences configure youth culture through critical shared experiences during a child’s formative years.44 The significance of these occurrences, as Howard Schuman and Jacqueline Scott note, is that memory plays out differently in different generations, but that the period of adolescence and early adulthood, which is often linked to “youth,” is the primary period for the generational imprinting of political memories.45 Consequently, new generations define and position themselves against older generations and assume a relationship to the past that is different from that of their elders.46 The views of the neo-Biafran groups regarding the present are critical in this enterprise, since linking the past to the present requires not only “reinventing” or “reinterpreting” the past, but also redefining the present to fit with the newly reconceived shape of the past. These views are often expressed publicly and in open violation of government order by taking up parallel governmental functions, engaging in various acts of civil disobedience, and challenging the absolute authority of the Nigerian state in Southeastern Nigeria. 16 SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL | WORKING PAPERS ONUOHA | MEMORY AND PEACEBUILDING IN NIGERIA

Individual and collective memories are inextricably intertwined. Stories of individuals who experienced the Nigeria-Biafra War form an important base for both personal and social identity, and this serves as a mobilizing tool for both the eyewitnesses of the war and those born after it. This is buttressed by Jacob Climo and Iwao Ishino’s assertion that memories shared with others allow those who did not actively participate in the events to incorporate them indirectly into their own memory collection.47 Personal memories hinged on the objective conditions of the lives of many Igbo who witnessed the war, along with the shared collective memories of those who did not, converge to strengthen the nationalistic impulses of the neo-Biafran movement as it embarks on the struggle for the realization of the Biafran dream.

The testimonies and memoirs of prominent Igbo play a crucial role in mobilizing the future generation, a development that lends credence to Paul Connerton’s assertion that memoirs and autobiographies of famous citizens and political elites are worth remembering, owing to their propensity to make radical changes in society.48 MASSOB became the first movement to give life to the neo-Biafran ideology when it hoisted the Biafran flag and officially presented the “Declaration of Our Demand for a Sovereign State of Biafra from the People and Government of Nigeria” on May 22, 2000.49 Since then, the green-red-black Biafran flag has become a powerful symbol and reminder of the Biafran nation and Igbo nationalism. There have been various successful and unsuccessful attempts to hoist the flag in major roads, streets, billboards, and strategic places in the Southeastern states of Nigeria. Members of the movement carry the flag to symbolically show their allegiance and patriotism to the MASSOB’s quest for self-determination, and these events are always marked by clashes between the movement and State Security Services (SSS). MASSOB adherents have also engaged in various acts of civil disobedience, such as the sit-at-home orders in 2004 boycotts of the National Identity Card Scheme, 2006 National Census Exercise, and 2007 National and State elections and the issuing of Biafran passports and identity cards.50

On November 5, 2012, the Biafran Zionist Movement (BZM), a splinter group from MASSOB, captured the attention of the Nigerian government when it declared an independent state of Biafra and raised the Biafran flag in the Southeastern city of Enugu. At the height of its activities, on June 5, 2014, members of the movement attempted to seize the Enugu State Broadcasting Service (ESBS), where they planned to broadcast the rebirth of Biafra 17 SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL | WORKING PAPERS ONUOHA | MEMORY AND PEACEBUILDING IN NIGERIA and hoist the Biafran flag in the Enugu State Government House. Challenged by both the Nigerian police and members of the SSS, over five hundred members of the movement were arrested along with Benjamin Igwe Onwuka, the leader of the movement.51 The advent of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) represents the latest iteration in a string of post-civil war second-generation neo-Biafran movements to emerge in the Southeast. On August 30, 2015, three members of IPOB were killed and several others critically injured after the group allegedly came under attack from a combined force of Nigerian navy and police while participating in a peaceful demonstration in the commercial city of Onitsha, in Southeastern Nigeria. These tensions have been exacerbated by the recent emergence of Radio Biafra, an unlicensed station dedicated to the Biafran cause. The station has dominated the airwaves in Southeastern Nigeria and tapped into unresolved causes of the war to mobilize Igbo senses and sensibilities in the continued quest for Biafran independence. With a sharp male voice and unmistakable Igbo accent that frames the issues and minds of his listeners and audience, Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the IPOB and director of Radio Biafra, speaks to the most painful chapter of Igbo history and evokes memories of Igbo defeat in the war. This became a source of serious concern to the newly elected President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian government, and on October 17, 2015, Nnamdi Kanu was arrested in Lagos as he was about to depart for London. Since his arrest, the entire Southeast region of Nigeria has been engulfed in the “mother of all protests” as his supporters continue to ground commercial and vehicular activities in major cities in the region.52 The neo-Biafran movement contests the sovereignty of the Nigerian state over Igbo land, evokes counter-claims of sovereignty, enacts specific regimes of security, and seeks to create alternative spaces of power and influence in the Southeast. These developments have proved to negate the “absolutist” view of the Nigerian state as the main guarantor of law and order, and have led to attempts by neo-Biafran groups to initiate alternative forms of social regulation as a way to resist formal state control and sovereignty. In spite of the pacifist claims of most neo-Biafran movements, it was inevitable that there would be clashes between the movement and state security operatives in the course of their activities. In a MASSOB statement, it was claimed that between 1999 and 2008, state security personnel in various cities killed over two thousand registered members of the movement across the country.53 MASSOB published a compendium documenting the alleged massacres of its members across various cities in the Southeast and the detention of over one thousand members in Nigerian prisons.54 Var- 18 SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL | WORKING PAPERS ONUOHA | MEMORY AND PEACEBUILDING IN NIGERIA ious clashes between several neo-Biafran movements and SSS personnel have resulted in a clampdown on these groups and their members across the Southeast. With the tacit and open support of some governors in the Southeast, there have been several raids on the movement’s hideouts in the region, leading to the discovery of Biafran artifacts, Biafran army camouflage uniforms, items used by Biafran soldiers during the civil war, including a pilot car with a siren, a motorcycle outrider, and a locally fabricated explosive (rocket).55 The avowed intent of the Nigerian state to dominate post-war memory production has not been a complete success. The use of war counter-memory devices by opposing neo-Biafran groups against state-sanctioned memories is evident in ways that do not merely reflect past experiences, but serve the most important role of being orientational in their function.56 To resist the potentially dominating power of nationalist historiography or narrative, Michel Foucault formulates the idea of “counter-memory” that differs from, and often contests, dominant discourses. Foucault also remarks that the critical nature of memory makes it a very important factor in the struggle and control of a people’s memory, and translates into the control of their progress.57 Deep-seated feelings of exclusion on the part of a segment of the population was a critical source of the Nigerian state’s difficulties in entrenching its own interpretation of events, and the state’s inability to appreciate this demonstrates its fragility. The state’s failure itself becomes a metaphor for the ill that comes from a too-narrow conception of Nigerian nationhood, citizenship, and identity. Prevailing narratives of national memory have proved to be too restrictive to accommodate the vast variety of differences in memory repertoires within the state, and this has succeeded in alienating not just minority ethnic groups, but also majority ethnic groups such as the Igbo, which have different individual and collective memories of the war. As Lynn Hunt points out, (state) legitimacy, in a sense, implies a general agreement on signs and symbols, and these signs and symbols are inherent in the exercise of power, with the state relying on them to convey and reaffirm legitimacy.58 The Nigerian experience reveals the impossibility of imposing any one interpretation of history or any one definition of identity on the nation as a whole. Neo-Biafran groups have adopted images, symbols, and narratives of the past and a particular version of Igbo history as vehicles for establishing their claim to self-determination. This has involved the use of commemorations, anniversaries, flags, and Biafran artifacts to articulate alternative versions 19 SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL | WORKING PAPERS ONUOHA | MEMORY AND PEACEBUILDING IN NIGERIA of Igbo identity and to claim a unique cultural space that predates the Nigerian state.

The politics of commemoration is shaped through symbolic means and rarely involves the use of direct force, but as Diego Muro suggests, commemorations of the dead are critical in reproducing the tradition of martyrdom, engendering an image of common identity, and generating further recruitment for political resistance.59 References to Igbo genocide provide the opportunity for neo-Biafran groups to use symbolic and ideological tools to support, continue, and legitimate a particular narrative. The reinvention or recreation of political symbols aims at a reductive narrative of binary opposites and articulates the repression of Igbo memory vis-à-vis an oppressive Nigerian state, while accurately expressing the ideals, principles, and claims of the group for self-determination. Since 1999, neo-Biafran groups have outright rejected the official commemorations relating to the civil war, such as the official Armed Forces Remembrance Day and the other monuments, but instead commemorate the annual anniversary of the founding of the Igbo-Biafran nation on May 30, 1967. Commemoration, memory, and identity fuse together in a manner that reinforces contemporary neo-Biafran ideology and produces an agenda that emphasizes a collective instrument of cohesion and social cooperation. Neo-Biafran groups draw on memories of violence perpetrated against the Igbo after the Eastern Region seceded from the Nigerian federation on May 30, 1967. Since this violence was carried out on a people (the Igbo) with one identity, the public commemorations are carried out in ceremonies emphasizing the message that those sacrifices have not been in vain. These commemorations are always disrupted by the SSS and the Nigerian Police Force, but more importantly they have become rituals that can be characterized as a “rule-governed activity of a symbolic character that draws the attention of its participants to objects of thought and feeling they hold to be of special significance.”60 These practices have engendered political goals, such as organizational integration, legitimation, construction of solidarity, and inculcation of political beliefs. They invariably channel emotions, guide cognition, organize social groups, and, by providing a sense of continuity, link the past with the present and the present with the future.61 Of crucial importance is the understanding that groups are not just followers or partakers in rituals, but that they also create these rituals, thus making them a powerful tool for political action.62 The proliferation of poorly produced literatures, pamphlets, newspapers, handbills, posters, and banners, among other materials, by the neo-Biafran 20 SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL | WORKING PAPERS ONUOHA | MEMORY AND PEACEBUILDING IN NIGERIA movement serve as rallying symbols and as a means of claiming the Southeastern urban space for its cause. The depiction of these materials with outright political messages in the public transforms public areas, streets, and major roads in the region into a political space. The dotting of several strategic spaces with these materials means that they are taken over by political messages, and the public is forced to consume them because they cannot be avoided. The public constitutes the “willing” and “unwilling” consumer of neo-Biafran ideologies and propaganda. While the willing consumers are those who advocate and support the movement’s quest for self-determination, the unwilling are those who are forced to encounter these materials even though they view them as objects of political propaganda in a political drama beyond their control. Neo-Biafran movements engage in protests and demonstrations in the streets, town halls, and in other public arenas, while adorning themselves conspicuously in contemporary items of resistance such as Biafran t-shirts, mufflers, cardigans, and caps which challenge the Nigerian state. These materials are portrayed against the background of the Biafran colors (Green-Red-Black), and the strong preference for this attire is evident within the movement as members display a confrontational attitude in their quest for self-determination. As a relatively confrontational strategy, the use of these materials is indicative of the radical stance of the movement against the state, a tendency that resonates with other youth-dominated nationalist groups in Nigeria. While this attire indicates a social choice of consumption, it also constitutes a political choice based on their interpretation and reaction to the Nigerian state and the need to locate their sense of identity outside the state. This attire has become a popular national symbol of protest and remembrance in the public spaces across the entire region, and they use it to convey their cause or message, epitomize their struggle, and reclaim their identity. This is a brand of nationalism that constructs and espouses Igbo identity and sensationalizes the exploitation, marginalization, and persecution of the Igbo in Nigeria. CONCLUSION Scholars, activists, and development practitioners are now beginning to consider memory as a critical aspect of post-war peacebuilding. From Cambodia and Kosovo to Rwanda and South Africa, global and African attempts at reconstruction and reconciliation that ignore the role of memory have led to a “cold peace” in real and metaphorical terms. Of the three 21 SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL | WORKING PAPERS ONUOHA | MEMORY AND PEACEBUILDING IN NIGERIA approaches to peacebuilding highlighted in this paper, only the justice as peacebuilding approach accommodates reconciliation, while others emphasize a liberal peace or stabilization of the system. However, for reconciliation to have any meaningful impact on the system, it must accommodate marginalized memories of hurt and injustice, both in actual and historical terms. This involves approaching structural and systemic reforms in a manner that positively impacts individual and collective memories, particularly in post-conflict multiethnic contexts. That, in itself, would involve a paradigm shift in the notion and understanding of peacebuilding, from one that is not just about stabilizing the system to one that is concerned with healing the society. The challenge for post-conflict African states is to locate the quest for peacebuilding within a larger historical framework that addresses the injustice, hurt, persecution, exploitation, and marginalization to which it is responding. Greater resources and attention should be devoted to redressing grievances this, in turn, provides the context where memories of conflicts are recognized and shared narratives are constructed in a public atmosphere that is open to reconciliation. Lessons from Nigeria-Biafra and other intra-African conflicts suggest that reconciliation has the potential to point to a common future. But in most cases, the state does this by imposing a regime of forgetfulness, and, when this is not possible, it imposes partial or official remembrance, amounting to the outright suppression or elimination of individual and collective memories, both in the present and in future. The failure of reconciliation in Nigeria is based on the fact that the state has defined and instituted what it perceived to be the kind of reconciliation suited to Nigeria’s post-war nation building project. More importantly, this notion of reconciliation hinged on a problematic notion of statehood, and state legitimacy, fuels a crisis of citizenship, and national belonging. These are all summed up in the enduring debate known as the National Question, which focuses on how to order the relations between the different ethnic, linguistic, religious, cultural, and regional groupings in Nigeria in a manner that ensures equal rights, privileges, access to power, and national resources. The failure of post-war reconciliation affects the Igbo ethnic group in two ways. The first is that it has created “primary victims,” the old(er) generations of Igbo who lived through the conflict and whose vivid memories are completely ignored, and for whom what is presently referred to as reconciliation is not relevant. The other category is the “secondary victims,” those who have become victims owing to the perpetuation of initial conditions, as 22 SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL | WORKING PAPERS ONUOHA | MEMORY AND PEACEBUILDING IN NIGERIA has been witnessed with the advent of neo-Biafran movements both inside and outside Nigeria.

The Biafran episode demonstrates vividly the enduring impact of ignoring or denying individual or collective memories and how it affects the prospects for reconciliation and peacebuilding. In view of the fact that those who are supposed to be the focus or agents of reconciliation are not recognized in such efforts, this suggests that sustainable peace, at l not recognized in such efforts, this suggests that sustainable peace, at least under the present conditions, is highly improbable.


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57. Political and diplomatic battles over acceptable relief routes
to Biafra. Nigeria refuses direct daylight airlift of supplies to
Biafra, and Biafra refuses relief passed through Nigeria. (July 1968)

58. Britain accused Ojukwu of obstructing relief operations and of
using famine to gain world sympathy.(July 1968)

59. Belgium cancels all arms supplies to Nigeria following crash of
Belgium airliner carrying arms to Lagos.(July 1968)

60. Over Gowon's objections, OAU consultative committee invites
Ojukwu to Niamey to meet with them by July 18th, 1968 to discuss the
crisis.(July 1968)

61. Ojukwu goes to Niamey, meets OAU committee members and Hamani
Diori. Meets with Biafran delegation under Eni Njoku before returning
home. Gowon had left Niamey before Ojukwu's arrival. (July 1968)

62. Biafra rejects proposed relief route from Enugu to Awgu to
Okigwe saying Biafrans will not eat food that passes through Nigerian
hands for fear of poisoning. (July 1968)

63. Speculations on Ojukwu and Gowon leading their respective
delegations to upcoming Addis Ababa talks. Ojukwu, in interview, looks
forward to decisive confrontation with Gowon.(July 1968)

64. Pilots flying arms cargo to Biafra with Henry A. Wharton
threatening to revolt unless a fee of $1000 per trip in increase is
made. (July 1968)

65. France announced support of Biafra and calls for settlement of
dispute on basis of self determination. (July 1968)

66. Addis Ababa talk opens with Ojukwu present but not Gowon. Ojukwu
delivers two hours and ten minutes address insisting that only
sovereignty can guarantee security for Biafrans. Ojukwu leaves talk
accompanied by two Gabonese officials whose presence Nigeria had
protested. (August 1968)

67. Activities of Biafra 4th Commando Division under Major R.
Steiner and five other white officers. (August 1968)

68. Noted Swedish pilot, Count Von Rosen flies food and medicine to
Biafra through secret route immune from Nigerian anti-aircraft fire.
(August 1968)

69. Biafrans display 98 Nigerian troops that surrendered as a unit.
(August 1968)

70. Nigerian troops push for Aba, cross Imo River but encounter
Biafran resistance at Akwete Ojukwu announced that Nigerian thrust on
Aba has been effectively checked, but sources say Ojukwu has moved his
headquarters to Umuahia (August 1968).

71. Gowon orders "final offensive". (August 1968)

72. Biafra faces imminent collapse in September/October 1968 as
Nigerian forces take Aba, Owerri and Okigwe in rapid succession.
Umuahia is the only sizeable town in Biafra's hands. (September 1968)

73. Charles de Gaulle in interview hints at possibility of
recognizing Biafra and admits that France has been aiding Biafra.
(September 1968)

74. Nigerian troops threaten Umuahia but Biafrans are defiant.(September 1968)

75. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) suspends relief
flights to Biafra because Uli Airport is badly damaged by Nigerian
bombs and Nigerian forces are rapidly approaching Ohi- Uturu airstrip.
(September 1968)

76. Nigerian forces near Oguta bringing Uli Airport within artillery
range. Ojukwu reportedly visits Biafra commanders at Oguta and gives
them 24 hours to clear Nigerian forces from within artillery range of
Uli airport.(September 1968)

77. Nigeria announces capture of Owerri and march on Umuahia.

77a. Zambia's President Kenneth Kaunda announces that Biafra
will be allowed to set up government in Exile in Zambia, if
defeated.(September 1968)

78. As Biafra loses Aba, Owerri, and Okigwe in rapid succession,
Ojukwu asks China for help to counter what he called "Anglo-American
imperialism and Soviet revisionism". (September 1968)

78a. Otuocha market massacre by Nigerian war planes over 500
killed. (September 1968)

79. Canada rules Biafran postage stamps invalid.(October 1968)

80. International observer team, sent to monitor conduct of Nigerian
troops, clashes with Col. Benjamin Adekunle in Port Harcourt. (October
1968)

80b. Nigeria apologises for Col. Adekunle's behaviour (October 1968)

81. Biafra dismisses Col. Steiner and his mercenary group in charge
of the Biafran 4th Commando Division. Action linked to friction
between Steiner division and Biafran regular army units. (November
1968)

82. Britain alters expectation of Nigerian total military victory
over Biafra. Expects that Biafra, even if totally occupied, could
prolong the stalemate by guerilla resistance. (December 1968)

83. Biafran troops re-enter Owerri,, with house to house combat
reported. (December 1968)

84. Gowon declares 2-day Christmas truce starting Dec. 21. Ojukwu
agrees to 8-day truce starting Dec. 23. Gowon refuses extension of
truce to one week. (December 1968)

85. De Gaulle urges "recognition of right to self-determination for
valiant Biafra" (January 1969)

86. Mobil Oil Corporation sponsors visit of J.S. Tarka to United
States to counter Pro-Biafran sentiments. (January 1969)

87. In Enugu, the Nigerian Army executes 3 Igbos accused of
attempting to assassinate Nigeria's 1st Division Commander. Col.
Mohammed Shuwa. (January 1969)

88. Nigerian Government prepares for another final offensive.
Nigerian Government spokesman says Biafra must be defeated by the end
of February or growing international support will make Nigerian
victory impossible. (February 1969)

89. About 300 civilians (with eventual toll over 500) are killed by
the Nigerian air force at Umuohiagu market. (February 1969)

90. Ojukwu, in a speech to Biafra's consultative assembly in
Umuahia, says that Nigerian Government has began their "last desperate
effort", but bars any Biafran surrender. States "land army program"
will increase agricultural effort. (February 1969)

91. United States New York Senator, Goodell et al, arrive in Biafra.
(February 1969)

92. U.S. Congressional delegation headed by Representative Diggs of Michigan arrive Biafra. (February 1969)

93. Nigerian government reject peace formula proposed by Dr. Azikiwe (February 1969)

94. Ojukwu expresses hope that De Gaulle, in his forthcoming meeting with Richard Nixon will convince Nixon to press for cease-fire in the war. Ojukwu in interview, discusses three ways in which the war may end. (February 1969)

95. Nigerian warplane kills over 250 civilians in Ozu-abam market.
(February 1969)

96. The United States, the Red Cross and others protest Nigerian's
bombing of civilian population in Biafra. (March 1969)

97. British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson arrives Nigeria for state
visit 29/3/69. Wilson invites Ojukwu to meet with him outside Biafra.
Warns Gowon that bombing of Biafran civilians is eroding the remnant
of British support for the war(March 1969)

98. Ojukwu rejects Wilson's invitation calls invitation "political
propaganda exercise". (April 1969)

99. Nigerian troops open another offensive, after six months. (April 1969)

100. Several push-and-shove action between Nigerian and Biafran
forces between Uzuakoli and Umuahia. (April 1969)

101. OAU Committee opens another meeting to try and end the war. (April 1969)

102. Medical camps for care of Biafran children are established in
the Ivory Coast run by doctors of New York's Columbia Presbyterian
Hospital and Ivory Coast Red Cross. (April 1969)

103. Biafra recaptures Owerri using its 14th Division under Col.
Ogbugo Kalu. (April 1969)

103a. Col. Ogbugo Kalu and Biafran Information Commissioner,
Ifegwu Eke, address 6 foreign jounalists in Owerri to counter Nigerian
denial of its recapture (April 1969)

104. Ojukwu is promoted to Major General and given new mandate to
continue the war. (May 13, 1969)

105. Colonels Adekunle and Haruna, commanders of Nigeria's 3rd and
2nd Divisions respectively are relived from their posts. (May 1969)

106. Pius Okigbo, Biafra's rep. to the U.S. urges U.S. to recognize
Biafra. (May 1969)

107. ICRC (Red Cross) Director, Dr. August Lindt and aides are
detained for 16 hours by Nigeria with no charges. (May 1969)

108. Youth, B. Mayrock, of Old. Westbury, New York, sets himself on
fire and dies in protest against Genocide in Biafra. (May 1969)

109. Biafra marks 2nd anniversary of nationhood. Ojukwu, in address,
says Biafran forces are ready to meet expected Nigerian offensive. (
May 1969)

110. Biafran forces raid Kwale, across the Niger, killing 11 oil
technicians (10 Italians and 1 Jordanian). Biafra captures 17 other
oil workers (14 Italian and 3 W. Germans.) Biafra sentences them to
death. (June 1969)

111. Pope writes letter to Ojukwu regarding lives of Oilmen captures
in the Mid-West. (June 1969)

112. Wale Soyinka is reported seriously ill in Kaduna Prison, where
he is incarcerated without trial. (June 1969)

112b Nigeria shoots down a Swedish Red Cross Plane.(June 1969)

113. Biafra frees captured Oilmen.(June 1969)

114. Nixon urges end of impasse on relief shipments. (June 1969)

115. US Senator, Strum Thurmond, urges Nixon to rush relief food to
Biafra with or without Nigerian permission. (July 1969)

116. Pope visits Uganda and attempts to mediate peace between Nigeria
and Biafra. (August 1969)

117. Zik withdraws support for succession and urges Biafra to abandon
war. (August 1969)

118. Gabonese President, Albert Bongo, reports that Gowon requested
him to arrange meeting between him and Ojukwu Nigeria denies making
such a move. (September 1969)

119. Wole Soyinka is freed. (October 1969)

120. Canadian Prime Minister accuses Biafran authorities of being
interested in receiving arms, not food and medical supplies. (November
1969)

121. Nigerian forces open offensives on both Northern and Southern
borders of Biafra, ending a seven month lull. (December 1969)

122. Biafran delegates arrive at Addis Ababa for new peace talks but
Nigerian delegates were absent. (December 1969)

123. Ojukwu, in Christmas speech says that Biafra is faced with the
toughest military test of the war. (December 1969)

124. As war entered 30th month, Nigerian troops report they've cut
Biafra into three parts. (January 3)

125. Massive Nigerian troops link up and pressure cause refugees to
stream into Owerri as Biafra nears collapse. (January 4th)

126. Ojukwu announces over Radio Biafra that he is flying out of
Biafra to explore possibilities for peace. (January 11th)

127. Nigerian forces reportedly recaptures Owerri and are moving on
Uli Airport. Pandemonium and fright as millions of Biafran refugees
clog roads in chaotic flight from advancing Nigerian troops and
artillery fire. (January 11)

128. Biafra appears near collapse as Nigeria confirms recapture of
Owerri, and Uli airport is virtually destroyed by artillery fire.
(January 11)

129. Biafra capitulates, ending a 30-month war that cost an estimated
two million lives on both sides. (January 11)

130. General Effiong, in radio broadcast, orders Biafran troops to
lay down their arms and says he is sending representatives to meet
with the Nigerian field commanders to negotiate armistice. ( January
13)

131. Gowon, in broadcast, rejects all relief aid from countries or
groups that aided Biafra. (January 14)

132. Nigerian Red Cross claims sole responsibility for distribution
of relief. (January 15)

133. Last Missionaries to Leave Biafra Describe the Beginning of the
End. (January 15)

134. Biafrans Scramble to get on the Last Plane. (January 15)

135. Gowon Re-instates Biafran Civil Servants and Prohibits the Word
"Biafra". (January 15)

136. Effiong makes formal surrender statement/declaration in a
ceremony in Lagos. (January 16)

137. Ojukwu appeals to the world to help save Biafrans in a statement
released for him in Geneva by Markpress. (January 16)

138. Last observers to leave Biafra describe the beginning of the
end. (January 16)

139. Nigeria Expels 4 Journalists for Visiting the East without
Permission. (January 17)

140. General Effiong reassures the Nigerian Government that the
Biafran forces hiding in the bushes will not wage guerilla war.
(January 18)

141. Portugal offers asylum to all Biafran refugees and says it will
maintain its facilities at Sao Tome for relief operation. (January 19)

142. Nigeria thanks USSR Ambassador George T. Kurubo says Soviet aid
to Nigeria was the most important factor in the defeat of Biafra.
(January 21)

143. Nigeria drops safe conduct passes to remote areas to persuade
Biafran troops and civilians to come out from hiding places. (January
21)

144. Obasanjo Detains 80 Journalists in Port Harcourt. (January 21)

145. Gowon, After Stalling, Increases Money for Relief Distribution
First News Conference since End of the War. (January 22)

146. Gabon Offers Asylum to Biafran Exiles. (January 22)

147. Nigeria Grappling with Troop Brutality and Indiscipline. (January 23)

148. Unabated Food Shortage in Biafra. (January 23)

149. British Team Deplores Indiscipline among Nigerian Troops. (January 24)

150. Ojukwu is given asylum in the Ivory Coast. Ivory Coast
Government says he will refrain from all political activities.
(January 24)

150b. Reports of indiscipline, plundering and looting among
Nigeria's 3rd Marine Commando troops. (January 24)

151. Nigerian Government refuses to use Uli Airport for relief,
saying it is a symbol of rebellion. (January 26)

152. U.N. Envoy Calls Biafran Relief Distribution Insufficient. (January 26)

153. Facing Criticism, Nigerian red Cross says It's Expanding Relief
Operations. (January 27)

154. Nigeria Arrests Two C.B.S. Newsmen. (January 27)

155. Gowon says there will be no Nuremburg-type trials for rebel
leaders and he reiterates General amnesty. (January 30)

156. New York Times columnist, A. Lewis describes chaotic conditions
in Biafra. (February 1)

157. Nigeria Establishes Board of Inquiry for Biafran Officers. (February 6)

158. ICRC ends relief operations, citing Nigeria's obstructionist
tendencies. (February 7)

159. Nigeria Bans Arms Possession in 3 Eastern States. (February 13)

160. U Thant defends his policies during and immediately after the
war. (February 18)

161. Igbos are beginning to return to their jobs in the North, West,
and Lagos. (February 22)

162. Gowon Urged to Abate Anti-Missionary Hostility. (March 7)

163. Ojukwu to Face High Treason Charges. (March 14)

164. Nigeria's National Rehabilitation commission takes over relief
distribution from the Nigerian Red Cross. (March 15)

165. Nigerian Chief Army of Staff, Brigadier H.U. Katsina says Ojukwu
will be tried or high treason if he returns. (March 15)

166. Maj. Gen. Effiong Under Arrest. (May )

167. Flat payment of 20 pounds to all Igbos for their Biafran and
pre-war Nigerian money deposited in Nigerian Banks, regardless of
amount. (June 5)

168. Nigeria to Dismiss Pro-Biafran Employees. (August 15)

169. Nigeria Reconciles with Biafra's Friends. (September 1)

170. Nigeria reconciles with Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Gabon and Zambia.
(September 2)

171. Gowon defers civilian rule to 1976. States census and new
constitution are prerequisites to civilian administration. (October 2)

172. More than 5000 Biafran children evacuated during the war return to Lagos.


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Biafra war: “No victor and No vanquished” – Fifty years after the Biafran war

Barely three years after independence from British colonial rule, Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, collapsed into a civil war.

The Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran War, became one of the most divisive wars in the history of post-independence Africa. Its traumatic effects, evident in persistent ethnic animosities and distrust, continues to shape the narrative of Nigerian identity and the nation’s future.

Equally important, the historical origin and the painful experiences of that three-year war (from July 1967 to January 15, 1970) validates the assumption that multiethnic nationhood, which African nationalists constructed from the inherited colonial boundaries, was fragile, even untenable.

Indeed, most historians would agree that the Nigerian Civil War represented the most unambiguous testimony of the failure of colonial rule in Africa. European imperial powers neglected to lay the foundation for nation-states from the various cultural and territorial entities they had forcibly amalgamated into convenient colonial holdings.

But, considering that Nigeria has successfully remained a vibrant nation fifty years after that heinous war, we can also celebrate the remarkable resilience of African nationhood despite the political, religious, socioeconomic, and cultural challenges.

The crisis that would become the Nigerian Civil War began on January 15, 1966 when a group of military officers, mostly of the Igbo ethnic group, overthrew Nigeria’s first democratic government. Their grievances included alleged corruption among public officials, the government’s failure to ensure equitable distribution of economic resources, and alleged attempts by northern elites to entrench the political hegemony of the Northern Region over the rest of the federation.

By the end of that fateful day, 22 top political leaders and military officers had lost their lives, an overwhelming majority of them northerners, including the Prime Minister Sir Tafawa Balewa and the Premier of the Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello and their wives.

The highest-ranking northern military officers were also eliminated, along with the Premier of the Western Region (of the Yoruba ethnic group). Moreover, the coup plotters handed over power to a military body led by General Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi, the Commander of the Nigerian Army, who was also Igbo.

The dominance of Igbo officers in the coup, the assassination of the top northern politicians and the transfer of power to an Igbo general, raised the suspicion among northerners that the objective of the coup was to eliminate their leaders.

General Ironsi’s failure to prosecute the coup plotters and his imposition of a unitary system of governance – which Igbo politicians had sought at the time of independence as a way to gain political advantage and neutralise the hegemony of the north – further enflamed the suspicion of an orchestrated effort to impose Igbo dominance over the rest of the country.

In response, a group of northern officers organised a countercoup in July 1966. This countercoup turned out to be bloodier, and this time, Igbos were the victims. Many high-ranking Igbo officers, including the General Ironsi, were assassinated.

A new military government was led by Lieutenant Colonel (later General) Yakubu Gowon. A Christian from the middle belt, Gowon, was widely expected to be a unifier. However, his inability to stop the massacre of Igbos angered Igbo elites. The result was the declaration of secession of the Igbo-majority Eastern Region, now renamed Biafra, from the Nigerian federation.

Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the military governor of Eastern Nigeria during the Ironsi regime, became the Head of State of the Republic of Biafra and began establishing the infrastructure of a sovereign nation, including the minting of currency and establishing diplomatic relations with other nations. Seeking to prevent the breakup of Nigeria, the Federal Government immediately declared war on Biafra.

By mid-1967, Nigeria had collapsed into full-blown civil war between Biafra and the rest of the union. With its massive air power and large army, the Federal Government captured the oil facilities in the east, upon which the Biafran economy was dependent, as well as Nigeria’s most critical port city, Port Harcourt.

The capture of Port Harcourt allowed the Federal Government to block the shipment of military equipment to the Biafran army. Unfortunately, the embargo also made it difficult for food and medicine to reach civilians. The result was mass starvation of over a million Biafran civilians, mostly women and children.

The Nigerian Civil War ended on January 15, 1970, with the surrender of Biafran leadership.

The colonial roots of war

If the coup of January 15, 1966 was the immediate cause of the civil war, its historical roots are traceable to British colonial rule.

Following the Berlin West African Conference of 1884/85—at which European imperial powers agreed on the principles of claiming colonial holdings—the British began expanding from their coastal enclave around the port of Lagos into the Nigerian interior.

By 1900, most of southern Nigeria had fallen to the British through conquests and treaty negotiations. But the British had their eyes set to the north, on the Sokoto Caliphate. Founded by Usman dan Fodio in 1804, the Caliphate had become the largest state in West Africa by the turn of the century. After a protracted war and subsequent resistance, Sokoto came under full British control in 1906 and was renamed the Northern Protectorate.

Although the British abolished the Caliphate, the existence of its formidable administrative structures encouraged the British to implement a system of indirect rule (with which they had experimented in India). Indirect rule offered a degree of political autonomy to local rulers, in this case the Sultan of Sokoto and the Emirs under his suzerainty. In the Southern Province, on the other hand, the British combined direct and indirect rule, which varied in accordance with political and economic expedience.

On the eve of the First World War in 1914, the British united the two territories, thus marking the beginning of the creation of the Nigerian nation. But unification created a fragmented identity for Nigeria – a presumed Muslim-north versus a Christian-south—the problematic implications of which would reverberate during the civil war.

Nigeria’s ethnic diversity, with over 200 ethnic groups, was a crucial factor in reinforcing these regional divisions. Unification fused together culturally and ethnically distinct regions, which would continue to influence political alignments after independence.

The Muslim Hausa-Fulani of the Sokoto Caliphate constituted the largest ethnic group in the northern territory. They wielded significant political dominance throughout that region thanks primarily to the indirect-rule system.

In the South, the Yoruba ethnic group comprised about 70% of the population of the southwest. The majority of them were Christians, although there was also a sizable Muslim population as well as practitioners of indigenous faiths. In contrast, the southeast was overwhelmingly Christian, with the Igbos representing the largest ethnic group.

Unification gave the north a territorial advantage over the south, while the south had the advantage of relative economic development. The south benefited from its export of lucrative cash crops and a large educated elite created by educational institutions that missionaries established.

In the Muslim-dominated north, the British had discouraged Christian missionaries from launching missions and education institutions in an effort to avoid religious conflict. Consequently, at the time of independence, only a portion of northerners had obtained Western education and skills.

The complex configuration of ethnic and religious identities suggests that the nationalist leaders had to make significant political compromises to accommodate the country’s disparate cultural groups.

The causes of the Biafran crisis can therefore be located at the confluence of British colonial manipulation of ethnic differences and the failure of Nigerian nationalists to implement political arrangements that would foster political and economic equality.

A local conflict in the cold war

Although the Nigerian Civil War occurred at the height of the Cold War – and in contrast to the Congo civil war that had ended just a couple of years earlier (1965) – neither its causes nor its operations could be blamed on tensions between East and West. This was primarily a local affair.

Nonetheless, for economic reasons, international governments weighed in on the conflict: Great Britain and the Soviet Union openly sided with the Federal Government of Nigeria, while France and Israel supported Biafra.

Within Africa, Gabon, Cote d’Ivoire, and the white-minority regime of Zimbabwe (then Northern Rhodesia) led by Ian Smith offered their support to the Biafran state. The rest of the continent privately sympathized with the Federal Government, but publicly claimed neutrality.

Believing in the propaganda that Muslims had declared war on Nigerian Christians, many Christian NGOs in Europe and the United States sided with Biafra. In reality, the war had nothing to do with religion. General Gowon, the Nigerian Head of State and leader of the Federal armed forces, was Christian, as was a significant population of the rest of the federal union.

“No Victor and No Vanquished”

General Gowon’s famous description of the war as one with “no victor and no vanquished” was an important rhetorical effort to heal wounds. Nigeria succeeded in averting what would happen to Sudan a couple of decades later, when Sudan split between a Muslim north and a Christian south.

However, the scars remained in the public memory. The constant reference to the civil war as the source of Nigeria’s lack of unity and periodic instability suggests that the federal government won the war but lost the peace.

Yet, if Nigeria succeeded in preventing the dismembering of its parts, it is due to the tenacity of all Nigerian leaders who worked hard to maintain the union against all odds.

The survival of Nigeria as a nation has helped Africa. It provided the needed leadership in ending white minority rule in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Namibia. In 1972, Nigeria led in the founding of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS). With Nigeria’s leadership, ECOWAS peacekeeping forces contributed to ending civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia, albeit with some tactical errors.

Nigerians and Africans can, therefore, celebrate a war that had no victors and no vanquished.


Monday January 12, 1970

It was Monday, under the sign of Capricorn (see zodiac on January 12, 1970). The US president was Richard Nixon (Republican), the UK Prime Minister was Harold Wilson (Labour), Pope St Paul VI was leading the Catholic Church. Famous people born on this day include Zack de la Rocha and Jenny Griffith in Burbank. In that special week of January people in US were listening to Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head by B.J. Thomas. In UK Two Little Boys by Rolf Harris was in the top 5 hits. MASH, directed by Robert Altman, was one of the most viewed movie released in 1970 while The Gang That Couldn'T Shoot Straight by Jimmy Breslin was one of the best selling book.
But much more happened that day: find out below..

You can also have a look at the year 1970, at January 12 across the years or at January 1970 calendar.


Wednesday

THE EMERGENCE OF AMERICA AS A NATION AND AS A WORLD POWER COULD BE ATTRIBUTE TO WHAT STAGE OF HIS HISTORY?

The Emergence of America as a nation and as a world power could be attribute to what stage of his History?

The America is Bounded on the east by Atlantic Ocean and on the west by the Pacific Ocean, bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south.


Watch the video: RR6902A Nigeria Civil War Report (December 2021).