Civil War in Nigeria ended forty-five years ago, but the Biafra protest showed that the echo of this war remains. The new urge for Biafra independence has come from the years of injustice, poverty, and neglect.
The current agitation for the Biafra Independence is a resemblance of the one that provided the Biafra Republic in 1967. In that time, Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu accused the Federal Republic of the Igbos ethnic genocide in the North Region of Nigeria.
In Nigeria History, the conflict with independent Biafran Army lasted for three years. This led up to one million deaths in the Biafra genocide. Most of them are civilians and them mainly because of disease and starvation. It was the devastating part in the Biafra history that the Igbo do not forget.
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New Biafra Case
The past few weeks Biafra and Nigeria started a new wave of protests. The Southeast states, where the Igbo is in the majority raised in protests as the Radio Biafra director Nnamdi Kanu was arrested last month. Nigeria authorities accuse the director of being a member of the illegal organization and conspiracy actions against the country. Shortly after the charges, a wave of protests floods the streets with people carrying the Biafra flag, singing the revolution songs, carrying Biafra Nnamdi Kanu portrait and demanding his release. They all shouting one slogan “Biafra or Death.”
Biafra Kanu Nnamdi group and New Biafra Avengers
Kanu is the head of the IPOB or Indigenous Peoples of Biafra. This group represents the new struggle for the Biafra states. The previous Biafra Avengers were MASSOB or the Movement for the Actualisation of a Sovereign State of Biafra. Ralph Uwazurike formed and headed this organization in 1999. Nevertheless, the Biafra issue led to the split of the MASSOB, and one of the splits led by Uchenna Madu is now working with the IPOB group.
Madu explained that protests bear a symbolic status for right now. They planned to organize a blockage of the Niger bridge in Onitsha. These threats raised shortly after Nigerian security service warnings. The Niger Bridge was a key element for the war of Biafra Independence as it connects the rest of Nigeria with Igboland. It can be treated as the border between the nations.
Madu informed AFP which it was planned to conduct the seven days of protests on that bridge. No vehicles, no weapon or real barricades were planned. It was a massage to the government, so they release Nnamdi Kanu.
Anayochukwu Okpara, who is the IPOB coordinator in Abia state, informed local news that the protests would keep going despite the arrest, harassment, intimidation and detention from the side of the police force. He ensured that the IPOB stands for non-violent campaigns that demand freedom for the Biafra Republic.
Biafra issue and new struggle
The Nigerian army ensured that they are totally ready to suppress any protest if they have the command from the local civil authority or the President. This news provides new fears for the erasing Biafra conflict. Southeast governors condemned the mass protests. They keep questioning, how is it possible that the new wave for the Biafra Independence came with a new leader of Nigeria – President Muhammadu Buhari. They suspect that Northerners, like Buhari, play the major part in the Anti-Igbo attacks in the North Muslim Majority occurred in the 1960s. Still, there are people in Nigeria that can`t agree for the new push on the homeland. One of them is Chucks Ibegbu, who is one of the Igbo Information Network lobby group. According to his words, the new agitation occurred recently. He respects the voice of protesters but reminds them that they shouldn`t demand another civil war. It`s necessary that the struggling groups couldn`t capitalize on the Biafra History conflict and led the society into another civil war.
The problem of the Biafra Protest rises with the new generation of Ndigbo. The young people of Biafra States call for injustice in the structure of Nigeria. They accuse the Nigeria government in the inequality of the young Igbos in the provision of social infrastructure, education, and politics. It should be noted that the older generation, who remember the War – inform about the same things. They say that nothing has changed for the last forty-five years since the conflict.
What are the reasons that led to the new Biafra protests? Why they pledge for the new Independence right now and who are to blame for the Nigeria nations` new tense?
The new president in Biafra Issue
No Biafra demands were noticed during the presidency of Obasanjo. The same goes to the presidency of Jonathan. And they were at the steering wheel of the country for the eight years. President Muhammadu Buhari has been the leader of the country for the few months, and Biafra protests rise again. Some journalists and politics blame Buhari for the new rise of protests. They claim that the president started a new wave of politic decisions that provided to be the foil for re-emerging of the separatist tendencies within the country.
The Vanguard Journalist, Femi Aribisala, who oppose the decision of the President, is ensured that this result from the Buhari`s regime was expected. Femi Aribasala wrote several articles about the problem with the separatist movement and tensions between the Igbo and another part of Nigeria. The Journalist stands on the idea that Nigeria should stay united, but Buhari`s policies move the country in a completely other direction. The main ideas about the politics of the President Buhari are exposed in the articles, like “Nigeria cannot survive without Igbo,” “Re-inventing Igbo Politics in Nigeria” and “Nigeria Cannot Do without the North.”
What are the main reasons for Biafra Protest?
One of the Majorities of an ethnic group in Nigeria has been treated as a minority group for the last forty-five years. Igbo people are not welcome to be the head of states. They also do not agree that The South East of Ndigbo is the only geopolitical zone in the county with five states, where the rest of the country geopolitical zones have six states or more. Therefore, it doubles the states of all other regions even so they are virtual and there was no need to do that. Unless it was needed that the South East could receive the smallest revenues compare to other states even, so the South-Eastern states are amongst oil production states.
The South-East area roads are in bad conditions. Governments do not pay much attention to the problems of roads in the South-East states and even completely ignored the demands of people.
Another big problem was that the insufficient coverage of the information about the South-East states. When Igbo people were slaughtered in mass in the North of the country, when thousands of Igbo had to run and leave their houses and businesses to preserve their lives, when they were threatened of the total distinction – the Ministry of Information kept silence. Moreover, people who were responsible for threatening and killing Igbos on the North were not arrested or prosecuted.
Therefore, it`s not a surprise when one of the major tribes in the country would demand the equality and even the separation from Nigeria. If they feel unsafe, if they seem to be treated as the second-class citizens and they have no belief in the government within the country, then they can start a riot! The government of Nigeria may need to think about the safety of these people and their well-being instead of threatening of imprisonment for their natural demands.
Discrimination of South
The South remembers the actions of Buhari in his first coming of the president in 1984. Buhari antagonized Ndigbo leaders and locked them in prison with no just cause. That happened with Vice-President Alex Ekwueme and Ojukwu. Therefore, electing Buhari as a new president for the country brought out the old grudges of the South.
Another discrimination led by the presidency of Buhari is connected with the Petroleum Trust Fund. The PTF, where he the part created only 4 440 kilometers of roads for the South East part of the country, where the 13 870 kilometers of roads were built in the North. It means that the South got only 24% of new roads, where the North got 76%.
Another discrimination was showed with The National Health and Rehabilitation Programme, where the North got 100% of all funds and the South got zeros.
The Vocational Programme provided by the PTF showed the South only 3% Funds, where North gets 97%.
No votes for South
This anomaly has been duplicated for the several years in more. The votes of the South keep disappearing in the Buhari`s presidency. His main idea was to diminish Jonathan`s votes. Therefore, Southern states are considered to be the supporters of Jonathan, but their votes disappeared in millions.
Let`s get to the numbers, in the election of 2015, there were 7.6 million registered voters, but only 5.6 votes were collected from the South. If it`s to be compared with the Buhari`s North-West – 17.6 million registered voters and 15.1 collected votes. Therefore, millions of votes came to the abyss, and it`s unknown what these votes for.
Biafra protest in White House
The disturbing news came to the Igbos when President Buhari added another insult to these people. On his visit to the United States on his White House conference, the explicit an insulting statement about people who did not support him in the president election 2015. He stated that the states of his country who had given him 97% of votes for his victory in the elections are expected to be treated better, then the part of the country that had given to him only the 5%. He also insisted, that people who voted for him should expect the appreciation for the votes, while the other part of the country should expect other treatment.
Therefore, President Buhari openly ignored the voters of the South. The media assistants tried to water his statements, but their true meaning is the same. The cabinet of Buhari administration provided two more struggles for the South.
The first struggle is his decision to move Boko-Haram prisoners from the North to South. Igbo people protested this decision as it clearly makes the South-East states the targets for the suicide bombers.
The second struggle, which led to the Biafra protest, is placing Biafra Nnamdi Kanu under arrest for creating of the terrorist group. Nevertheless, Kanu is considered to be a new leader and the hero of Igbo people. Therefore, they started Biafra protests, and some of the protesters even call for the Biafra Independence.
Young Igbo call for civil war and complete Independence from Nigeria. Most of the protesters were not born in civil war, and they present a new neglected generation. They claim that the South-East has been neglected by the government for too long. With years of no jobs, seaports, hospitals and roads – this protest for the freedom of Kanu might become a new riot which creates a new civil war.
Biafra issue and decision
Nigeria has been in the struggle for the last few years. Boko Haram is one of the newest terrorist organization keep killing people for all around Nigeria, and they have their reasons to fight. Niger Delta Avengers is another terrorist organization which has provided additional economic losses in the oil industry. The overall economic situation of Nigeria and now the Biafra protest. Maybe it`s clear signs that the politics of the government does not work? Therefore, shouldn`t it be chosen another direction that can lead to the harmony and peace in Nigeria?
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