This history episode has to be remembered by all the modern politicians and simple people. It should not be repeated in the Nigerian history and the Biafra genocide remains to be one of its black pages.
It seems that the issues of civil war have already touched every country in the world. Nigeria isn't an exception. It is widely known as Biafra genocide. You should understand that it is thought to be the darkest page in the history of the country. Plenty of people died, including plain citizens and even children. However, everyone must remember about Biafra genocide to prevent it from happening again.
As we've mentioned, the civil war is very common case for the majority of world states. Let’s look at general issue of it before we may start talking about Civil war in Nigeria. Thus, the term might be described as the struggle between two or more groups within one country. Sometimes it also concerns two countries, which used to be united. The most common aim lays in the desire to control whole state or a particular region. People are always looking for some independence.
Nigerian civil war of 1967-1970
It is necessary to know not only whenthe Nigerian civil war was, but also to understand its background, reasons, and consequences.
First, Nigeria possesses a great diversity of population. After getting independence from the British Empire, several tribes appeared to live in one state. The main ones were Hausa (60% of the northern population), Igbo (about 70% in southeast), and Yoruba (almost 80% in southwest). It is vital that they were absolutely different. Each tribe had their own language, culture, and even religion and views on politics. Let’s compare them:
- Igbo. They formed autonomous and democratically-organized villages. The decisions were always made by general assembly, and every person could participate in the process. Though there were monarchs (elected or hereditary), they weren't very powerful.
- Hausa. It was a strong autocratic Islamic society.
- Yoruba. They were more flexible compared to Hausa. They carried out elections, accepted greater upward mobility based upon acquired and not only inherited wealth or title.
Besides, their development was different as well. Education appeared to be more available for Yoruba and Igbo, while Hausa was lagging behind. There was no unity among those tribes. In course of time, it led to the growing hostilities.
The main reason of war was military coup in January 1996. It aimed at accretion of strong and unified nation free from strife and corruption. In fact, nothing changed. The only thing was, the majority of people, who has planned the coup, were from the east, the northern population was sure they wanted to eliminate their political weight. Thinking that Igbo was going to take the rule of the whole country, Northern people started mass killing of them (and other Christians in the north). This made Easterners to declare independence and announce Republic of Biafra.
Principal reasons of Biafra proclamation are:
- Politics. As it has been mentioned, Igbo formed democratic society. There appeared to be strong contrast with North and West of the country.
- Religion. The majority of Eastern people were Christians, in comparison with Northerners. Besides, mass killings, started by Muslim people, influenced situation and intensified the conflict.
- Economy. Biafra region was the main source of oil for whole Nigeria. People there were afraid it would be taken away and their rights and needs would be neglected.
- Ethnic violence. Murders of many Igbos in Northern Nigeria.
The proclamation was another cause of the following Civil war. Gowon Yakubu was head of Federal military government during that time. He did everything he could to prevent Biafra from succession. However, a lot of innocent people died.
READ ALSO: Biafra vs Nigeria court case.
The newly created state included a few provinces, among which you can find:
- Port Harcourt,
Nigerian government wanted quick victory, but the war lasted for three years. Biafran soldiers even managed to reach Lagos, nevertheless, they were finally stopped and surrounded. People from both sides understood that the war must be ended, as it was taking more and more lives. People were dying. Besides, very few of them really wanted to fight against their brothers. In January 1970, Biafran Army Commander took administration and several days later surrendered to Federal government.
It finally was the end of war.
Consequences and results of Biafran war
As any other civil wars in the world, Nigerian one possesses positive and negative consequences. The greatest positive result was that such terrible act motivated the government to shift to federalism. It wasn't only reason, but it was at least one of them. Thus, local governments appeared. And nowadays people are able to preserve their culture, language, traditions, and religious beliefs. Besides, people now feel more united, as they know that everyone has suffered a lot.
Of course, there was big number of negative consequences. The war influenced almost every part of people’s life and state affairs. There are several groups of results:
Economy. It suffered really greatly. Lots of money was spent on military needs. Besides, reconstruction after the end of war demanded big amounts as well. Many rehabilitation programmes were created to help soldiers and sufferers in starting new life. Such things also required money. Moreover, because of corruption and bureaucracies money could vanish sometimes.
Society. As many people were killed, lots of Nigerians lost beloved ones and relatives. It had a great psychological impact as well. Others were made to leave their home places because of the conflict.
Some people are still afraid that the scenario might repeat. In this case, the deprivation of human rights, discrimination, and starvation will take place once again. That’s why government should do everything possible to prevent it in the future.
Biafra case today
Nowadays the Biafra issue is in other sphere. People do not use force, but they create groups and organizations, go to the court, and make other people aware of the issue. Radio biafara.com is one of examples.
The Indigenous People of Biafra is a specially created group of people, who still try to fight for identity. According to them, Nigeria is illegal. Besides, they have taken this case to the United Nations (it is important that they're currently recognized by the organization). Thus, according to the UN, Indigenous People of Biafra have right for self-determination, while current Nigerian government mustn't arrest peaceful gatherings of such people.
Biafra genocide is a very sad episode in Nigerian history. The country has lost plenty of innocent citizens almost for nothing. Of course, there are both positive and negative results of it. However, the latest ones unfortunately prevail. People still think of it and cannot forget it. Many Nigerians lost families and home places.
It is vital to do everything to prevent such things as civil war in the future, because during it people die not only because of the arms. They suffer from hunger, diseases, and other terrible things. That’s why it's necessary to try negotiating in any situation. War will finally end, but the consequences will stay forever. Violence never helps to solve anything.