EDITORIAL- The Biafra agitation: solving a nagging conundrum

EDITORIAL- The Biafra agitation: solving a nagging conundrum

Fifty years ago, Nigeria starred disintegration in the face when the declaration of the Republic of Biafra came to the fore, AljazirahNigeria recalls.

Biafra was born out of the political crisis which engulfed Nigeria at that time.

The crisis began with the struggle for leadership in the Western Region of Nigeria, the declaration of state of emergency in the West, the coup of January 1966, the counter coup of July 1966, the pogroms, the declaration of Biafra and the  subsequent commencement of a police action that turned into a three-year civil war.

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Fifty years after, many Igbo people say the conditions that made the civil war inevitable still haunt them today.

They allege that they are still politically and economically marginalised under the Nigerian federation.

Consequently, whereas some Igbo are taking the extreme option of asking for separation from Nigeria, many others want a restructuring of the federation to redress the perceived marginalisation.

Despite the release of its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) recently insisted that it would go on with its proposed sit-at-home protest on May 30, to ground all economic activities in the Biafra regions.

Many people in south-eastern Nigeria stayed at home to mark the 50th anniversary of the declaration of the breakaway state of Biafra.

Interestingly most parts of South East complied with the sit-at-home order by pro-Biafra groups as most shops and markets were deserted by mostly Igbo business men and women.

Schools and transportation systems were shut in many areas – including Enugu, which was at the epicentre of the failed campaign to create the breakaway state.

The action which showed the political will and resilience of the people shows that the Biafra issue is a conundrum the government of the day cannot afford to treat with kid gloves. It also shows there is need to tackle the nagging challenge from its roots.

It is against this background that AljazirahNigeria calls for peaceful dialogue with pro Biafrans and their supporters.

AljazirahNigeria opines that the starting point of any response is to understand the agitation’s roots. These include political and economic grievances, a deep sense of collective victimization and alienation among the Igbo, and the failure of south east politicians to provide good governance and development.

Under President Buhari, political grievances have deepened. With no Igbo heading any of the military and security services, many argue the region has no voice in key organs such as the National Defence Council (NDC) and many key government structures.

President Buhari’s forceful response to the agitation has been counter-productive, inflaming passions and boosting separatist sentiments. The government needs to change course and prioritize dialogue over coercion.

For the separatists, AljazirahNigeria opines that dialogue and political solution and not violent agitation can achieve self- determination for Igbos.  South Easterners stand a better chance to benefit from restructuring rather than engaging in agitation that could easily lead to another civil war in Nigeria. They may perhaps want to consider the weighty statement made by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo recently when he said we as Nigerians are ‘better, stronger and greater together than apart.’

AljazirahNigeria appeals to the Federal government to desist from the use of force on Biafra activists as this is not the solution to the growing agitations.

Dialogue would be a better approach to addressing the obvious injustice, marginalization, suffering and hardship the South east geopolitical zone has been perpetually subjected to since the end civil war.

 

 

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