ColumnsDuro Onabule

Legitimacy of secession, even break-up (2)

In the past, when Africa was, in truth, the Dark Continent as disparagingly viewed by other parts of the world, certain circumstantial factors largely contributed to the omnibus atrocities committed by political factors on the continent. One of such factors was the principle of non-internal affairs of another.

The origin of that principle was in itself well-meaning except that over the years, complicit African leaders found excuse to turn blind eyes and maintained convenient silence at any other country where crimes against humanity were freely committed. That was not the purpose of principle of non-interference as enunciated by the defunct Organisation of African Unity. Instead, non-interference was the only way to take a public stand by African leaders against Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah whose expansionist policy was open subversion of Togo and especially Nigeria. Nkrumah established an Ideological Institute at Winneba, Ghana, where he trained subverts from neighbouring countries, who invariably returned home to commit  treason.

Despite that limit placed on Kwame Nkrumah’s subversive activities against his neighbours, the Ghanaian leader (Nkrumah) still exposed himself when in 1963, he enthusiastically endorsed the assassination of Togo’s President Sylvanus Olympio by their country’s armed forces while other African leaders were (still) too shocked to react to the situation. That was the first military coup in post-colonial Africa. Again when Nigeria’s Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa was assassinated in the January 1966 military coup, the same Nkrumah not only endorsed the coup but also derided Balewa as “the victim of a system he (Balewa) did not understand.” Retributively, six weeks after Balewa’s death, Nkrumah himself, while on official visit to Ghana, was overthrown by Ghanaian armed forces, which returned to Nigeria military authorities, treason felons being trained by Nkrumah.

To guard against such subversion, surviving African leaders became more committed to the principle of non-interference. Unfortunately, that policy became a cover for crimes against humanity. But that was years ago. Any doubt on the changed attitude has been removed by events in Gambia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi. Elections held in Ghana and the electorate dismissed incumbent President Yahya Jammeh, who had ruled for some twenty-two years. Initially Jammeh conceded defeat and congratulated the newly elected successor.

A fortnight later, Jammeh somersaulted and rejected his defeat with the hope of perpetuating himself in office, as was the case in the past while other African leaders would acquiesce.

Most unusually, other West African leaders, including Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari, dashed to the Gambia to prevail on the out-going leader not to mess about. Others who joined Buhari on the intervention trip were ECOWAS Chairman/Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, out-going Ghananian President, John Dramani Mahama, and Sierra-Leonean leader, Ernest Bai Koroma. With the prospects that Jammeh will defy all pleas, even the United Nations has finalised plans for necessary sanctions. In the past, other African leaders would have considered the Gambian leader’s rascality as that country’s internal affairs even as he would be committing crimes against humanity to keep himself in power.

Democratic Republic of Congo is another African country where the United Nations  and African Union have intervened to check the political excesses of President Joseph Kabila, who rose to power following the mysterious assassination of his father and former President, Laurent Kabila. The new constitution introduced in 2006 established a tenure limit of two terms, which should see Joseph Kabila quit office in December 2016. Instead, the rascal has put off elections till 2018. Meantime, protesting Congolese have been variously butchered by Kabila’s forces. African Union and United Nations unsuccessfully prevailed on Kabila to quit.

United Nations has accordingly imposed sanctions on Joseph Kabila and his key officials. Accordingly, any idea that events in Nigeria, including secession threat, can be handled with another bloody civil war without the intervention of the outside world should be perished.

By the way, is the threat or even demand for secession as evil as being portrayed? On the contrary, Nigeria’s history is such that secession threats in the past proved prescient success for the agitators, depending on their part of the country. The question, therefore, is why should secession threat be legitimate and successful for some and be treasonable or suicidal for others?

In the violent disturbances throughout the North from May 1966 to July 1966, an understandable reaction to the political assassinations of January 1966, the open demand of the rioters was for “Araba” (interpreted rightly or wrongly to be secession) away from Nigeria. The then Lt. Colonel Yakubu Gowon swept to office on that wave after the counter-assassinations to level up with the situation in January 1966.

Indeed, Gowon almost granted the demand of the Araba agitators but for a last-minute deletion, on the advice of British diplomats. Even then, nuances of the secession announcement were still contained in Gowon’s maiden broadcast when he said “the basis for unity is not there and is badly rocked not once but many times….” Once consolidated in power, as the new Commander-in-Chief, Gowon abandoned the secession threat.

In 2010, while President Umaru Yar’Adua was lying critically ill, the man was virtually sentenced to death when South-South, led by Edwin Clark openly threatened to secede from Nigeria unless their “son,” Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan, was sworn in as new president. For some unknown reasons, the North panicked and went all the way to initiate an emergency amendment to the Nigerian constitution, providing a bogus principle of necessity to install Jonathan. The fact of history is that there was never any threat of another bloody civil war with which to crush that South-South secession threat led by Edwin Clark.

Third, not many Nigerians recall that Southern Cameroons was part of eastern region of Nigeria until 1958 when the British colonial government granted the secession demand of the Cameroonian leader, Dr. E.M.L. Endeley, to merge with French Cameroons (to form today’s Cameroon. Rather than crush that secession threat by unleashing army terror, the British colonial government organised a plebiscite to determine the wishes of Southern Cameroonians to either secede or remain with Nigeria. That is today’s exact principle of self-determination under the United Nations charter. Southern Cameroonians voted for secession.

We must, therefore, see secession clause as a constant in Nigeria’s constitutions to serve as a warning to Federal Government on neglect or injustice to (any) parts of the country that may be concerned. Today’s agitators for secession must be treated equally as secessionist agitators of the past, who succeeded painlessly in achieving redress or ultimate goal listed above. Stiff opposition to another civil war to contain secession threat should not be seen as in favour only Biafran agitators. In a country like Nigeria, after South-east, the next agitators for secession may be from South-South or South-west. Wait for this. The next agitation for secession may even be from any of the zones in, if not the entire North.

There is this delusion that Northern Nigeria may be hard hit because the place is landlocked. A people pushed to the wall will throw in anything to redress injustice. And being landlocked may not be an inhibition in such circumstances. Two of the most thriving and fast developing economics in Africa – Lesotho and Ethiopia are completely landlocked. Ethiopia became landlocked after the secession of Eretria through the United Nations Principle of self determination. In effect, all along, Eretria was an economic burden on pre-secession Ethiopia. In addition, the total number of landlocked countries in Africa is sixteen, namely: Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Throughout the world, such landlocked countries are over sixty. Among them are Austria, Switzerland, Serbia and Macedonia, both from the disintegrated federation of Yugoslavia; Hungary, Slovakia, Czech, Kazakhstan, Laos, Luxembourg, etc. Yet, Switzerland and Austria are two of the strongest economies in the world.

In any part of the world, demands for secession always arise from political grievances accumulated over years and government response is to look into such grievances. Scots are neither Biafrans nor Niger Deltans. Yet, the Scots are intent on secession from Britain. In response, British government has been yielding more autonomy to Scotland and Wales to neutralise secession agitation. In comparison, Nigeria Federal Government is far more powerful over the states than it (Federal Government) was at independence in 1960, even though ambitious political elite, insisting on federation with strong centre should be blamed for advocating a system, the implication of which they were too blind to foresee.

What is more, whatever autonomy granted to any state(s) or zone will automatically devolve on other parts of the country. So, what is the problem? Blood-thirst is not part of governance. Nigeria continues to solidify Federal Government financially. For what? Looting by politicians instead of allocating such revenue to redressing political grievances generating demand for secession.

If the Federal Government is so financially inhibited from redressing roads in the Biafran territory, the same Federal Government is seeming too enthusiastic to purchase arms with which to crush demands for secession. And we will end up with another scandal of money allocated on paper for purchasing the arms (for the second civil war) only to discover such was diverted to election campaigns in 2019 or to purchase decampees from other political parties.

Nigeria should be ashamed for its more woeful record in containing public agitation, than the racist South African regime. In March 1960, black South Africans demonstrating against apartheid system were cut down at Sharpeville. The casualty figure was sixty-nine.

On its part, Nigerian government repressing agitation for secession killed one hundred and fifty Biafrans according to Amnesty International. Nigerian army at first denied the massacre only to contradict itself by claiming to have acted in self-defence. Was Amnesty international, therefore, not justified in its report on defenceless Nigerians killed in cold blood?

Nigeria’s former Prime Minister, Tafawa Balewa, must be embarrassed in his grave. After the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, Tafawa Balewa in 1961, making his debut as the leader of a newly independent nation attending the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ conference in London led the battle for the expulsion of apartheid South Africa from the organisation. Balewa won world acclamation. If the dead could speak, Balewa would condemn the Onitsha massacre.

And what is the difference between Sharpeville massacre in South Africa in 1960 and the Onitsha massacre in 2016? One was carried out by white South-Africans against blacks while the other was carried out by Nigerias against fellow Nigerians. Henceforth, any such massacre in Nigeria – whether at Onitsha on secessionist agitators or along Zaria-Kaduna road against shites should be reported by human rights groups, as crimes against humanity, to the International Criminal Court at the Hague.

No nation’s territorial integrity should be sustained at the expense of the corpses of its citizens. We must learn to discuss, negotiate, concede and agree, not on anybody’s or group’s terms but on anybody’s and  every group’s terms. That is the basis of a harmonious, durable and possibly, everlasting union. Arrogant threat of another civil war can only provoke defiance. And may God help Nigeria the day the first shots of such of a repeat civil war are ordered.

For now, this essay is concluded.

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  1. Double Chief,this is another brilliant master piece! However I wish you would substitute the word “Secession” for ” SELF-DETERMINATION ” as secession connotes or is associated with a civil war.The new agitation for SELF-DETERMINATION by Biafrans is geared towards a peaceful and diplomatic carving out of a new entity,reminiscent of the Balkanization of USSR,separation of Ethiopia and Erithrea,Czech and Slovakia.India and Pakistan were separated at Independence by Britain in response to Nehru Gandi lead protest in India.According to European history,Holland and Belgium used to be one country-Netherland.Portugal and Spain were also one country. Roman empire spread all the way to present day Israel.Biafra is a reality,the question is when will it emerge.Unfortunately, the SW is yet to view this agitation from a broader perspective.An independent and presumably developing Biafra,self sustaining in agriculture and domestic production of goods and services,a solid economy will spur its neighbor, SW Nigeria,into innovative research,increasing technoligical and economic efforts aimed at matching its perennial competitor or out performing their achievement.

  2. Mr. Onabule, since I have been reading your columns, I haven’t come across any of your pieces that made so much sense to me like this one. Keep saying it as it is, let it be that those whom the gods want to destroy, they (the gods) first make them go mad.

  3. World of international politics and affairs is complex and confused to any who do not know and understand it. That is why one would ask why an instrument applied to an issue somewhere is not apply to the similar issue in another place- any who is making emphasis in reference to such equal application, do not know and understand international politics and affairs. As far as Republic Of Biafra is concerned in this 21st century world and 21st century world order, it is irreversible, at the same time, should not rule out war for Republic Of Biafra, which Biafrans have the capability and capacity for defence and existence of Biafrans in this 21st century world- in this world and its politics, one can only fight for what one want and defend it.

  4. In all these, those who may still think they can turn back the hand of the clock or now realized Republic Of Biafra is irreversible, as a result engage in acts of mockery as if they are interested in well being of Biafrans. Whatever, neither Biafrans nor Republic Of Biafra can be fooled- I have due respect for Prof. Nnaji, he should not stain his name as far as Igbos and Republic Of Biafra are concerned- if he is quoted right with a 22 Dec. Summit and persons involved. Republic Of Biafra will handle its affairs- social, economic etc. on the whole eastern region platform. Any such summit that is not under Republic Of Biafra and the whole eastern region platform, is irrelevant.

  5. As far as Republic Of Biafra is concerned, there is nothing called south east, south south but eastern region from now on- all organizations, unions etc. will only be eastern- eastern elders, eastern youths etc. We are one, will only handle our affairs as one and on one platform under Republic Of Biafra for our existence- social, economic etc. in this 21st century world, and coexist with other regions, countries etc. base on mutual principles.

  6. All these noise called inclusion etc., what is interesting in the said government Igbos should have associate with? Is it the present mess? It doesnt even worth talking about it because it is all past- all has been seen, decision has been made, it is now about Republic Of Biafra in which Biafrans will once again prove their capabilities, not noise making. Other regions- west, north should also prove their capabilities under their Umbrellas- Republics, and stop noise making, Biafrans obsession etc.

  7. Sultan of Sokoto visit in Enugu is not bridge building, as far as Republic Of Biafra is concerned, there is no longer any bridge to build- they only have to respect Republic Of Biafra now in existence. Attentions should not be drawn to Enugu, capital of Republic Of Biafra will be in a territory of present River State and Imo State. If Saraki, Osinbajo on the platform NASS do not take the chance at hand now via impeachment of the incompetent person, a good deal from Republic Of Biafra, it will be their last chance.

  8. Sabotage history of persons from the pressent territory called Anambara State and Enugu State against Biafra in 1960s is known, despite the fact that no such sabotage will have any effect on Republic Of Biafra of present but any individual or group involve in such sabotage in any form will see the wrath of Republic Of Biafra. Any easterner who do not stand for Republic Of Biafra now is a lost person.

  9. The question about the said 22 Dec. summit and persons invited and platform is: what economic or security legacy or record do Buhari etc. have to be invited for such summit? Such invitations and platform made the summit a big failure. Eastern region and People are different- certain people from eastern region should have that in mind and be up to date in whatever they are doing so as not to be a disgrace- what is on ground now and reality is Republic Of Biafra of eastern region, by so doing, everything became Eastern and Biafran- an irreversible reality.

  10. The terminology “secession” is not rightly applicable with the present struggles for the actualization of Bafria by the patriotic Bafrians!
    More appropriate terminology is the struggle for self-actualization under the global community laws of equity and social justice!
    In 1966, the word secession was applied by the then writers to describe the incidences that led to Nigeria civil war, commonly called”Biafra war”!
    In reality, Biafra needs to be globally recognized and officialized as an Indepence Sovereign State, as Godly wisdom demands, just as NIGERIA is from the British colonization in October 1st 1960!
    The unnecessary militarization and brutality of the NIGERIA Security Agencies against the Biafran agitators is uncalled for, and barbaric in every sense of the civilized reasoning!
    Rather, the needed legal processes of the Biafra formalization should be adopted by NIGERIA Government and its Security Agencies, just as the International communities laws advocate for any group of people who want their self-actualization!
    The NIGERIA Security Agencies’ brutality against the Biafran agitators, as if they are really criminals, is the highest violations of the global community social justice!
    Biafra is not a symbol of any sort of crime and social vices!
    The Biafrans across the global communities are known as peaceful, law-abiding and hardworking people!
    Biafrans are not directly known with any form of violence-oriented and criminality, as the Fulani’s herdsmen are directly known as the fourth global deadliest terrorists and criminals!
    Unfortunately, the Fulani’s herdsmen criminality is casually being tackled by the same NIGERIA Security Agencies in NIGERIA today, under President Buhari administration command, who kept killing and brutalizing the Biafran agitators for no just cause.
    This is indeed worse than Abacha’s military regime Government!

  11. Why Igbos are prone to attack- Sultan of Sokoto. The excuses and stories are insult to Igbos and eastern region of Republic Of Biafra. The palace made fulanis think they are king over the north via war victory of caliphate, by so doing can mess up in the north etc. When such nonsense called grazing bill, army want to set up cattle ranch everywhere etc. are mentioned, what do he expect the kids called herdsmen to think? If you have your money, you get AK 47, if he claims not know how it happens. Caliphate mentality is out-dated mentality in the north how much more extending it beyond the borders of the north. The same mentality misled Buhari to always think use of force via military, by so doing abuse the military, soldiers etc., and unfortunately to him, it is about Biafrans- warrious by birth, not the northerners they defeated via caliphate. Even the caliphate victory is hijacked by fulani but not only fulanis fought it, but all northerner who believed in the revolution. It is all history- the present reality is Republic Of Biafra, which they are to respect by cordial separation now or do not respect it, which means separation with war, and then meet in battle, result after one month of war will decide.

  12. If Republic Of Biafra is a mistake as sultan of sokoto is quoted, the mistake is Biafrans not his or any other. If the foreign bandits who drew the map etc. called Nigeria is God as he is quoted, his stories are fairy tales. Biafrans are natives on their native land own by God who gave them freedom to choose and they have choosen to exist and handle their affairs under Republic Of Biafra- it is irreversible.

  13. Sultan of sokoto now ran to East and West to beg, no longer to London etc- their master who fooled and used them over the decades, so do Buhari etc. who also want to go to East to beg- that is how God deals with humanity in the most perfect way- it is over: Republic Of Biafra is irreversible. This is 21st century world with 21st century world order.

  14. The only economic and security solution in eastern region and other regions in the present territory called Nigeria is Republic Of Biafra. The so-called 22 Dec. summit in Enugu and every other thing in relation to the issue- economic, security etc. are irrelevant and waste of their time. This is 21st century world and 21st century world order.

  15. The reason given by the Rag-head Caliph of Sokoto,Alhaji
    Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar, why the Igbos are prone to attacks
    in the North,is but a hogwash.
    The Satan of Sokoto is a damned liar!
    The fact of the matter is that his Fulani folks are barbarians and
    savages, whose tradition from time immemorial,is mass murder
    of non-muslims,their so called infidels.
    Alhaji Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar forebears came all the way from the Futa Jallon Highland of Mali,led by a Jihadist Warlord,
    Uthman Dan Fodio, on Jihad killing and slaughtering non-muslims
    on their way to Northern Nigeria.
    The Bauchis, (Slaves) the indigenous people of Northern Nigeria,
    were slaughtered, captured and sold to the Slave Markets of the Maghrebs of North Africa by Uthman’s Janjawee Jihadist Army.
    Today,Alhaji Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar is the Ruler of that
    farce,the Caliphate of Sokoto founded by Uthman Dan Fodio.
    The caliphate of Sokoto has a grand plan to Islamise,Sharialize
    and make our Fatherland, the Estate of Uthman Dan Fodio.
    But that is a tall order.They are yet to reckon with us,the Noble
    Qua Ibos of the Lower Niger.
    In 1922 the Caliphate of Sokoto accused Southern Nigerian
    Pioneers of proselytizing in its Caliphate with European Missionaries.They slaughtered thousands of non-muslims through
    out the North.Majority of the victims were Igbos.
    In 1945 there was yet another Jihaddist massacres of Christians, mostly Igbos in the North, for the same reaso.Our then Colonial Masters had to intervene,putting an end to the barbaric massacres.
    During 1955 /1956 Census,because the Sage,Chief Obafemi Awolowo observed that the Hausa/Fulanis must haved included the numbers of their camels,cows, goats and sheep to their population in order to have a population of 50 millions then.
    The Abokis in their anger over that,attacked first the Yorubas and later the Igbos and other Southerners,through out the North.
    Our Colonial Masters intervened and our population in 1956 was
    56 Millions.But even that figure was manufactured by our bloody
    fucking Bristish Masters.
    If today our population is properly tallied,Nigerians will indeed be
    suprised, that our Population isn’t up to 100 millions.
    In 1966,the Abokis (Fulanis) might have had their good reason to slaughter Igbos in good measures.Even unborn Igbo babies were turn out of their mothers wombs and left to die, by Alhaji Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar’s muslim subjects and morons.
    The Rag-head Caliph of Sokoto,is indeed,a damned liar and a dissembler.
    But one day,we Biafrans shall certainly take our pound of flesh from the Abokis.
    Hail Biafra!!

  16. You must shy away from spirit of individualism, Obasanjo tell Igbo. I have deep respect for Obasanjo base on his biological backgrounds not his political history etc., but I did not expect that he will be among persons who have become so confused to tell Igbos insulting cheap stories. Let put it simply: the psychological war of talking eastern region People of Biafra down have failed- no one need to waste his or her time on that. They only have to respect Republic Of Biafra now in existence.

  17. Release Nnamdi Kanu now- Ekweremadu. The person or persons he tells to release Nnamdi Kanu, are they the law? Only law can hold somebody or release somebody. Law is property of humanity- in which everyone have right of protection. The problem is taking advantage of those who do not know law. No one is holding Nnamdi Kanu, he and IPOB holds him- I ve told them lawful thing to do and he will be out. Another question is, if he want to come out? Or want to win a war that do not exist?

  18. With every evidence, politicians of eastern region are the one disgracing Powerful People of eastern region of Republic Of Biafra. If somebody like Ekweremadu used the word marginalization, it means he do not even know the position of easterners in this territory presently called Nigeria. That is why he will say people that controls the economy are marginalized and want such people inclusion is such mess called goverment. If the responsibility is left to them, as it should be, they wouldn’t have been able to solve fundamental problem of eastern region- which is Republic Of Biafra. If they do not wake up now, they will be behind in the present development- which is Republic Of Biafra now in existence.

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