Opinion

Biafra holocaust, victims’ eternal wounds and pains (2)

Bia Between 1944 – 1948, it was clear to Britain that unless something was done to the NCNC nationalist agenda, Nigeria would slip out of its colonial hands without adequate safeguards for preserving and maintaining British neocolonial interest and other intentions. So, John Macpherson was posted to Nigeria from Sudan where he had successfully engineered the constitutional framework to entrench the chosen Arab Islamic leaders to rule the country for it.

On replacing Sir Arthur Richards, John Macpherson as governor, bent backward for rapproachment with Nigeria’s nationalists particularly Azikiwe and cultivated their friendship and understanding by integrating them into British colonial government by way of appointment into colonial boards and by that action quietened the blazing fire of the nationalist fervour which the Zikist Movement led by Kola Balogun and thousands of Nigerian youths across Nigeria have ignited.

Between 1946 and 1953, Britain through Governor Macpherson had commenced and consummated the entrenchment of a state structure and constitutional framework that assured Britain of protection of its interest and neocolonial agenda by instituting a unipolar political praxis that assured political leadership in the hands of people loyal to the Sokoto caliphate and led by Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

This British political agenda of neocolonialism was the result of the committee chaired by Sir N. Brook whose summarized conclusion was to retain Nigeria at all cost as a neocolonial facility dedicated as market for British manufactured goods and services; a government with parliament that is mere consultative assembly rigged with official majority and an executive branch that is paternalistic and strong enough to ward off official opposition and ruthlessly subjugate it.

M. E Allen in a colonial office report 058/213 had noted that this state structure and constitutional framework will ensure that the federal government will be strong enough to keep Nigeria together but certainly undemocratic and unjust. This masterstroke against Nigerians was achieved by “rigging the parliament through official majorities and restricted franchise such as proportionate representation” and indirect election. By 1960 when Britain was ready to leave Nigeria, it had accomplished its aim of creating a neocolonial state safely entrusted in hands of local allies and destined according to Suzanne Cronje in her book, The World And Nigeria: The Diplomatic History of Biafra War 1967 – 70 to suffer the following: a large neo-colonial state tied to the apron string of Britain and strong enough to be a brake on black Africa’s ambitions; a safe and dedicated raw material market for, and market for British finished goods and services; a leadership so hopelessly divided by internal contradictions, schisms and rivalries which guarantee that no evolution of a strong African state capable of challenging Britain and its allies’ neocolonial interests in Africa or at the comity of nations. These British neocolonial agenda against Nigeria are now out in declassified British colonial records collected and published by the University of London as British Documents on the End of an Empire. Before leaving Nigeria in 1960, Britain had already set the stage for the political kataka (violent upheavals) as expressed in Tivs riots, Western Region crises 1962- 1965, the coups of January 15 and July 29, 1966, the pogroms against the Igbo and the eventual Biafra War 1967-1970.

The Biafra War was instigated and discreetly managed by Britain, provided the diplomatic cover for Nigeria and supplied the lethal weaponry and logistics that resulted in the Biafra Holocaust. The killing field and consequent genocide that Biafra became was made possible by the irresolute and unbending diplomatic stance adopted by Britain in supporting Nigeria’s Federal Military Government. Most British foreign affairs’ officials such as Arthur Richard and John Macpherson who having served as colonial governors in Nigeria had after colonial service in Nigeria been elevated to peerage as Lords Millerton and Caradon. Both continued to serve Britain in its Colonial Office and United Nations as UK permanent representative from which vantage positions they blocked all entreaties for the world to hear and respond to Biafra’s cries of genocide until over three million people perished. Several historical accounts from within and outside Nigeria have furnished the young Igbo a full account of the war and the unabashed role of Harold Wilson’s government in that dark chapter of Igbo national life which inflames and set the minds of these vicarious victims at turmoil over man’s inhumanity to man. Before the start of the Biafra War, British government led by Harold Wilson had taken sides by supporting the Federal Military Government of General Yakubu Gowon against the Eastern Region and made little effort to broker peaceful settlement between the belligerent parties and even the indigenous settlement effort in the Aburi Accord was sabotaged by Britain that considered Nigeria too precious a prize to be toyed with in local remedies and solutions that did not factor British neocolonial interests.

Lord Walston, then British parliamentary secretary for trade was emphatic that Britain would do anything to safeguard Nigeria for British trade, especially by securing according to him, British interest in the petroleum resources of the country. Another British official, Lord Shepherd had also declared that “Britain was probably the only country in the world that could not in fact or in honour, be neutral about” Nigeria crises.

Throughout the question of genocide debate, British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson strenuously opposed any suggestion that the number of deaths happening in Biafra through actual battles and hungerinduced diseases had reached genocidal proportion not even when Winston Churchill, the erstwhile Prime Minister travelled to Biafra and conducted a fact-finding tour that proved the claims of genocide as he witnessed bombings by Federal Military Government’s Ilyushin planes on hospitals and markets with several hundreds casualties.

But the most intriguing, the eternal source of anger was British subversion of its mandate over Nigeria when at the very formative stage of Nigeria’s development, it set out deliberately to betray its trust by choosing the Fulani ethnic group and setting it on a false unipolar political foundation to become ruler of their compatriots’ ethnic groups and did expect such devious artifice to endure.

It is this situation and continuance of that system that make the young Igbo, and now the Yoruba (Sunday Igboho) to react to Britain the way Dr. Uju Anya and Nnamdi Kanu have reacted to the British Government, people and key officials such as the Dr. Anya’s September 8, 2022 outburst against Queen Elizabeth. A dispassionate appraisal of Nigeria’s tortuous history and difficulties it has occasioned makes it imperative that instead of taking umbrage at Dr. Uju Anya or even Nnamdi Kanu’s outbursts or tantrums, the world, in particular Britain and Nigeria should take deliberate measures to find solution to the Igbo, and National Questions in Nigeria. After all, the Jews who suffered similar but even worse mistreatments through almost two millennia turbulent history of anti-Semitism and violent attacks and pogroms in Roman Empire, Ottoman Empire, Spain, France, Russia, Britain and many others culminating in the Germany’s Hitler’s Final Solution during the World War when over six million Jews perished, a sacrifice that made the world through the victorious allies led by the United States to acquiesce to the founding of a homeland for the Jews in Palestine, in accordance with the earlier British Declaration of Intent called ‘Balfour Declaration’ during the 1st World War, which promise Britain reneged on due to diplomatic balancing of its interest over the Arab and Persian oils.

So instead of the world taking umbrage at Dr. Anya’s outburst against Queen Elizabeth, the world should take diplomatic steps to assist Nigeria to effect a closure of the Biafra War which it helped instigated and helped to execute by pressuring Nigeria’s rulers to abolish the autocratic, iniquitous, draconian and oppressive state structure and constitutional framework that resulted in the Nigeria crises (1962 – 1999) with the end products of Biafra conundrum, state failure and diseased society plaguing Nigeria since 1999 to date.

A resolution of this systemic socio-political problem in a way similar to the dismantling of Republic of South Africa’s apartheid system or Rwandan regeneration will be wholesome justice served the Igbo and other ethnic groups that became victims of this British subterfuge. Justice is first condition of humanity that assures peace and such will heal and change the mindsets of the eternally wounded Igbo.

What the Igbo, and other aggrieved groups need in Nigeria is freedom tempered with justice to unleash the natural creative energy of Nigerian society which will make Nigeria a new country with boundless prospect to greatness. Without this closure of Biafra, the Igbo and invariably the several groups that became victims will continue to nurse their wounds and endure the pains, like the Igbo proverb says: “Nobody beats a child and prevents it from crying.” Without this closure, there are many Dr. Uju Anya, Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho, all born after the Biafra War that have read that sordid history and asking questions and without satisfactory answers they would be prone to react the same way these aggrieved Nigerians arte reacting. Let’s heal the wounds and the tantrums resulting from the pains will cease.

 

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