NEW YEAR (2004) MESSAGE
Fellow Biafrans, two months ago we concluded the first post war international conference on Biafra and Biafrans at that conference issued a communiqué. If you have not read it get it and read it carefully. We need to review where we came from, where we are and where we are going. It is now thirty-four years since the Biafra - Nigeria War was officially declared ended. In a broadcast to the people of Nigeria and Biafra, General Yakubu Gowon, then Head of State of Nigeria declared very enthusiastically that there was “NO VICTOR AND NO VANQUISHED”. With a broad smile he declared the intention of his government and the people of Nigeria to welcome all Biafrans (Anang, Efik, Ibibio, Igbo, Ijaw, Ogoja, Ogoni etc.) back into the country called Nigeria . Looking Nigerians and Biafrans in the eye he promised religiously to implement a program of RECONCILIATION, RECONSTRUCTION and REHABILITATION designed to reintegrate the people of Biafra into Nigeria and to rebuild the infrastructure of Biafra which was decimated by the genocidal bombing and vandalism of the Nigerian Army.
This government promised to build Nigeria into one united country that is economically strong, politically and socially stable and respected throughout Africa and the World. This Government promised to respect and protect the fundamental rights of all citizens of Nigeria to freedom of movement, residence, speech, religion, association and lawful ownership of property. This Government promised Biafrans the right to safety and security of life and property. This Government promised to abolish discrimination and persecution of certain ethnic and religious groups in the country. This Government promised to establish a society based on honesty, justice, freedom, equity and fair play for all. The Government of General Gowon made these promises to Biafrans and Nigerians. So did the Governments of Gen. Mohammed, Gen. Obasanjo, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Gen. Buhari, Gen. Babangida, Mr. Shonekon, Gen. Abacha, Gen. Abubakar, and currently Gen. Obasanjo. They all made these same promises to Biafrans and Nigerians. For thirty-four years they have made these promises again and again. Many of you listening to us today were not yet born when these people started making these promises.
Before these promises, Nigerians had committed unspeakable atrocities against Biafrans who were then fellow Nigerians. Nowhere in the history of Africa is there a record of the kind of barbarism that Nigerians visited on Biafrans from May 29, 1966 to January 1970. Let us do a quick flashback to 1966. In January 1966, officers and men of the Nigerian Army including Major Adewale Ademoyega [Yoruba], Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu [Igbo], Major Hassan Usman Katsina [Hausa/Fulani], and others overthrew the government of Tafawa Balewa in a bloody coup de tat. The coup plotters had planned to install Chief Obafemi Awolowo (a Yoruba) as the prime minister of Nigeria . But the head of the Nigeria Army, Major General Aguiyi Ironsi (an Igbo), foiled the coup. The remnant of the Balewa government handed the government of the country over to Major General Aguiyi Ironsi who formed a military government. On May 29, 1966 hordes of Hausa/Fulani men and women all over Northern Nigeria in a carefully planned and expertly executed plot pounced upon people of Eastern Nigeria origin [Anang, Efik, Ibibio, Igbo, Ijaw, Ogoja, Ogoni etc] living all over Northern Nigeria and massacred several thousand of them in all towns and villages in Northern Nigeria. The operation of ejecting Biafrans from Northern Nigeria had begun. On July 29, 1966 Major T. Y. Danjuma and a murderous gang of Hausa/Fulani soldiers murdered their supreme commander and Head of State, Major General Aguiyi Ironsi and his host Col. Adekunle Fajuiyi in Ibadan . They also went around Nigeria and killed about 250 army officers of Biafran origin. They stated clearly that they wanted to break away from Nigeria and form a Republic of the North. Their leader Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon in a broadcast stated, “T he basis for unity did not exist in Nigeria ”. They hoisted their new flag of the North at the Ikeja Army Barracks and flew it for one full month.
Then in an extension of the pogrom of May/June soldiers, policemen and civilians of Northern Nigeria origin again descended on innocent Biafrans living all over Northern Nigeria massacring tens of thousands of them. As the world held its breath in shock and horror at this barbarism, these murderers now joined by the Yoruba in Western Nigeria once again for the third time, pounced on Biafrans on September 29, 1966, killing several tens of thousands of them. All over Northern and Western Nigeria and Lagos Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba people haunted Igbo, Ibibio and other people of Biafra, men, women, and children and slaughtered 50,000 of them like chicken. The ejection of Biafrans from Northern, Western Nigeria , and Lagos had been completed.
Here is the Time Magazine eyewitness account of what happened. “The massacre began at the airport near the Fifth Battalion’s home city of Kano . A Lagos bound jet arrived from London and as the Kano passengers were escorted into the customs shed, a wild-eyed soldier stormed in brandishing a rifle and demanding Ina Nyamiri –the Hausa for, where are the damned Ibos? There were Ibos among the customs officers, and they dropped their chalk and fled, only to be shot down at the terminal by other soldiers. Screaming the blood curses of a Moslem holy war, the Hausa troops turned the airport into a shambles, bayoneting Ibo workers in the bar, gunning them down in the corridors, and hauling Ibo passengers off the plane to be lined up and shot. From the airport the troops fanned out through downtown Kano hunting down Ibos in bars, hotels and on the streets. One contingent drove their Land rovers to the railroad station where more than 100 Ibo were waiting for a train and cut them down with automatic weapon fire. The soldiers did not have to do the entire killing. They were soon joined by thousands of Hausa civilians who rampaged through the city, armed with stones, cutlasses, machetes, and home-made weapons of metal and broken glass. Crying Heathen! And Allah! the mobs and troops invaded the Sabon Gari (strangers quarters), ransacking, looting, and burning Ibo homes and stores and murdering their owners. All night long and into the morning the massacre went on. Then tired but fulfilled, the Hausa drifted back to their homes and barracks to get some breakfast and sleep. Municipal garbage trucks were sent out to collect the dead and dump them into mass graves outside the city. The death toll will never be known, but it was at least 1,000. Somehow several Ibo survived the orgy and all had the same thought: to get out of the North.”
Another journalist, Walter Parrington of the British Daily Express had this to say: “I do not know if there are any Ibos left in Northern Region … for if they are not dead, they must be hiding in the bush of this land which is as big as Britain and France. I saw vultures and dogs tearing at Ibo corpses and women and children wielding machetes and clubs and guns. I talked in Kaduna with the airline charter pilot who flew hundreds of Ibos to safety last week. He said ‘The death toll must be far in excess of 3,000’ … One young Englishwoman said, ‘The Hausas are carting hundreds of wounded Ibos to hospital to kill them there’. I talked to three families who fled from the bush town of Nguru , 176 miles north. They escaped in three Land rovers from the town where about fifty Ibos were murdered by mobs drunk on beer in some European shops. Another Englishman who fled the town told of two Catholic priests running for it, the mob after them ‘I don’t know if they escaped: I didn’t wait to see. …. . A lot of the massacred Ibos are buried in mass graves outside the Moslem walls”.
“In Jos Charter pilots who have been airlifting Ibos to Eastern safety talked of at least 800 dead. In Zaria , 45 miles from Kaduna , I talked with a saffron-robed Hausa who told me: We killed about 250 here. Perhaps Allah willed it ……
One European saw a woman and her child slaughtered in his front garden after he had been forced to turn them away”.
October 16 1966, Colin Legum of the London Observer summed up the situation as follows: “While the Hausa in each town and village in the Northern Nigeria know what happened in their own localities, only the Ibo know the whole terrible story from the 600,000 or so refugees who have fled to the safety of the Eastern Region – hacked, slashed, mangled, stripped naked and robbed of all their possessions; the orphans, the widowed, the traumatized. A woman mute and dazed arrived back in her village after traveling for five days with only a bowl in her lap. She held her child’s head, which was severed, before her eyes. Men, women and children arrived with arms and legs broken; hands hacked off, and mouths split open. Pregnant women were cut open and their unborn children murdered. The total casualties are unknown. The number of injured who have arrived in the East runs into millions. After a fortnight, the scene in the Eastern Region continues to be reminiscent of the ingathering of exiles into Israel after the end of the war. The parallel is not fanciful.” “We know what the Nazis did to the Jews in Auschwitz . In mass cruelty, the expulsion of Germans ordered by the Russians falls not very far short of the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis. The atrocities committed by the Nigerians surpass these.”
A Sierra Leonian who had lived in Northern Nigeria for over thirty years and who watched what the Northerners did to Biafrans states as follows: “The killing of Ibos has become a state industry in Nigeria ”.
When Biafrans concluded that Nigerian Government could no longer guarantee the security of their lives and property, had actually organized systematic murder of tens of thousands of their kit and kin in Northern and Western Nigeria, and had continued the bad faith by refusing to honor any agreements meant to remedy the situation, they declared the Independent Republic of Biafra. Nigeria immediately launched a genocidal war against Biafra on July 6, 1967 , with massive military support from Britain , the Soviet Union , Egypt , Sudan , and Algeria . Nigeria fully blockaded Biafra and starved more than two million Biafran children, nursing mothers, old men and women to death as Biafrans resisted for three long years the Nigerian plot to exterminate them.
This was the situation as the war ended in 1970 and the Government of Nigeria made all those empty promises of RECONCILIATION, RECONSTRUCTION and REHABILITATION. For thirty-four long years you all, men and women, young and old, rich and poor, literate and illiterate, Anang, Efik, Ibibio, Igbo, Ijaw, Ogoja, Ogoni etc. have witnessed how successive Nigerian governments have lied to you, cheated, deceived and stolen what rightly belonged to you Biafrans. You do not need any one to tell you what the situation looks like because you are now your own best judges. Since 1970, each successive Nigerian government has been more corrupt and more brutal than the one before it. Since the year 2000, Transparency International has ranked Nigeria (#1) as the most corrupt country in the whole world two times, and (#2), second most corrupt country in the world two times. Hausa/Fulani/Yoruba oligarchs have stolen massive amounts of money that most Biafrans cannot even imagine. From Yakubu Gowon, to Mohammed, Shagari, Babangida, Abubakar, to Obasanjo, it has been government of the thieves, for the thieves by the thieves. They have dumped some of this money in private accounts in Europe and used some of it to develop Abuja , Lagos , Ibadan , Sokoto, Kano , Bauchi, and Jos which they know are not your towns. What has happened to your own towns and cities in Biafra ? They have neglected them and left them in ruins.
The worst roads in Nigeria are located in Biafran territory while the best roads in Nigeria are in the North and West.
The Igbo and other Easterners (Biafrans) are the most traveled people in Nigeria yet there is not even one single international airport in Biafran territory. But Sokoto, Maiduguri , Kano and even Minna have international airports. Which international businessmen go to Sokoto and Maiduguri ?
Electricity supply to Biafran territory is so poor and erratic that Biafrans may have the largest number of private electric generators per capita in the whole world.
Teaching Hospitals and other health care facilities in Biafran territory have been totally neglected and left to rut and degenerate to ruins. Even Buhari’s PTF did not bother itself with hospitals and pharmacies in Biafran territory.
Of all parts of Nigeria , Biafran territory has the least number of meaningful Federal Government industries.
The Federal Government of Nigerian has destroyed high quality Education that used to be the pride of Biafra . Universities, secondary and primary schools are in a state of dilapidation and ruin.
Ninety percent of your children who graduated from Universities and Colleges in the past ten years are unemployed and have no means of livelihood. They are quickly becoming part of a “wasted generation” still depending on their parents for food, clothing and pocket money ten years after graduating from universities.
Hunger, desperation, and death have become the strange bedfellows of Biafran youths and families. Food, petrol, kerosene, and other essentials of life have become as difficult to find as moon rock.
Insecurity of life and property has become the order of the day. The Federal Government of Nigeria has converted the Nigerian police into a killer squad. If you are a Biafran you can be shot dead by an illiterate Nigerian policeman simply for refusing to give him N20 bribe. No questions asked. The lives of Biafrans have become worthless as they have been reduced to the status of slaves with no rights, freedoms and privileges.
The Nigerian Federal Government violates the fundamental rights of Biafrans with impunity. Your right to freely practice your religion of choice has been abrogated as Nigerian Moslems now impose fundamental Islamic law (Sharia) on non-Moslems Biafran Christians in Northern and Western Nigeria . In February 2000, more than two thousand Christian Biafrans of all ethnic groups were butchered in Kaduna and property worth hundreds of millions of dollars destroyed and looted. All over Northern Nigeria churches that you spent millions of dollars of your hard earned money to build, have been systematically burned down. Your businesses worth billions of dollars have been looted, burned or destroyed often on the direct orders of governments of Northern and Western Nigeria .
If you continue to be in Nigeria, it will only be a matter of time before the Diocese of Asaba, Calabar, Port Harcourt, Onitsha, Enugu, Nsukka, Owerri, Iselle Ukwu will be renamed Emirates of Asaba, Calabar, Port Harcourt, Onitsha, Enugu, Nsukka, Owerri, Iselle-Ukwu and your magnificent Cathedrals converted to Mosques. Many of your brothers, sisters, and parents have been forced out of Northern Nigeria and their businesses destroyed because Moslem governments in Northern Nigeria wouldn’t let them live and do business where they want. Nigeria has officially become a Moslem country.
Governor Sanni Ahmed and the Moslem Ulamas have stated categorically that they will convert Christian Biafrans to Islam by force. Twelve States in Northern Nigeria and two in Western Nigeria have become fundamentalist Islamic Sharia States. Shehu Shagari has called on all Moslems including fundamentalists to stand up for Sharia. So has Muhammadu Buhari. Chief Justice of Nigeria , justice Uwais has stated that Sharia law will be taught in all law schools in Biafran territory. What is left before your Churches are closed down and converted to Mosques?
All over Northern and Western Nigeria and Lagos , Igbo traders and businessmen are chased out after they have spent huge sums of their hard earned money to build decent markets. In Lagos , Igbo traders drained the swamp in Jankara, cleared the garbage and built the decent Jankara Market only to be driven out by Commodore Mudashiru as Lagos government took over the market. They were directed to Ketu where they did exactly the same thing – built a modern market from a swamp and garbage dump. Again they were driven away as Lagos State government stole the fruit of their labor, money and enterprise without compensation. They were then directed to the Ojo Alaba swamp. Again they drained and filled the swamp, built a modern market with electricity, drinking water, banks etc. Now the Lagos State government is chasing you out of the Ladipo Spare Parts Market. First they take huge bribe from you to allow you to drain the swamp and build the market. After you build the market they start collecting rent from you. Next, they call it illegal structure, drive you away and take over the market. The same thing is now happening in Jos where Igbo traders have been chased out of the market they labored and built after Jos Market was burned down. General Obasanjo sent his army of demolition to destroy Zaki Biam General Malu’s hometown. After that the natives descended on Igbo businesses, looted shops and businesses belonging to Ndigbo, and burned down houses belonging to Ndigbo. Our question is “When will Ndigbo learn that Nigeria does not want them except to exploit, humiliate and kill them? When will you learn to build those markets in Biafra realizing that customers go to the place where the goods are located? Most of you traders go to Taiwan , Hong Kong , South Korea , Indonesia , etc to order and purchase goods. You do not sit down in your homes and wait for the manufacturers in these countries to bring the goods to you, do you?
Your right to your own property including your ancestral land has been taken away from you by Nigerian Government. Today Hausa/Fulani/Yoruba oligarchs have seized your land, rivers and streams. They exploit the minerals in your land, steal the money, and use the money to buy arms and ammunition to kill you, to enrich themselves and their relatives as well as to develop cities in their own homeland thousands of kilometers away from you.
They leave you to die from drinking polluted water, eating poisoned crops from devastated farmland, and breathing polluted air from gas flaring. If you protest, they hang you, or send in the mobile police and army to deal ruthlessly with you and destroy your town. This is why they wiped out whole villages in Ijaw land, destroyed Umuechem, Odi and other towns, burned down whole villages, raped wives and daughters, and pillaged several other towns in Biafra . This is why the Nigerian government has killed more than two hundred members of MASSOB, imprisoned thousands without trial and is constantly harassing Chief Ralph Uwazurike, MOSOP, BAKASSI, EGBESU and other organizations asking for self-determination and right to control their destiny and property in Biafra. The promise of life in abundance made to the Anang, Efik, Ibibio, Igbo, Ijaw, Ogoja, Ogoni is now being fulfilled with hangings, extra judicial murders, rapes, broken bones, blood and tears, hunger, joblessness, deprivation and desperation, denial of freedom, liberty and other civil rights. These are the harvest of “ONE NIGERIA ” promised you by these Nigerian Rulers from Yakubu Gowon in 1967 to Olusegun Obasanjo in 2004.
What does the future in Nigeria hold for you, the good people of Biafra ? We hate to tell you this but it is only going to get worse, a lot worse. To continue to stay in Nigeria is to sentence you to life of the living dead. We know of no sane human being who when he or she prays to God, pleads that God give him or her a life of hell on earth. Fortunately, you know that there is a better alternative to the abomination that is Nigeria . It is in this knowledge that the Biafra Foundation in collaboration with other progressive organizations the world over is bringing you this broadcast. The goal is obvious, the objective is clear, and the message must now be absorbed. Every Anang, Efik, Ibibio, Igbo, Ijaw, Ogoja, Ogoni etc man, woman and child must now listen and imbibe this message of hope. The people of Biafra have intertwined history and collective destiny. For too long people who have no love for any group in Biafra , no tolerance for freedom, progress, and decency have used every means at their disposal to divide us and to make us fight among ourselves. As we were busy fighting and destroying each other they settled into the serious business of stealing everything we have and destroying whatever they could not steal. They stole your land and the resources in it. They stole your wives and daughters. They stole your brothers and sisters and turned them against you. They killed those who refused to be stolen through bribery. Your houses, land, rivers and streams that they could not steal, they destroyed and polluted. They have been working very hard to destroy your exceptionally progressive culture. As they commit these heinous crimes, they still tell you that they love and care for you. Sadly some of you believe them. After suffering incredible humiliation and torture for more than thirty years, the blindfold has been removed and we all can see clearly now.
An independent State of Biafra is the destiny of every Anang, Efik, Ibibio, Igbo, Ijaw, Ogoja, and Ogoni man, woman and child.
Let us now give you in outline how the Republic of Biafra will function. We will give you the details in subsequent broadcasts.
The State of Biafra will be built on the principles of Self-Determination and Autonomy. Every ethnic group, every community, will exercise the freedom to govern itself, make its own laws, provide for the safety and protection of its own members, determine for itself what priorities it wants to pursue, plan its own educational program, economic development, industrial and technological program, social and cultural development and the general infrastructure for the welfare and destiny of its people without interference from any outside bodies.
The State of Biafra will be built on the principle of Social and Economic Justice for all. Every Biafran will be guaranteed justice regardless of group affiliation, language, domicile, religion, or any other characteristic. Individuals and groups will exercise 100% control over their property and resources, including their lands and the minerals in them, farms, rivers, streams, houses, and any other private property. No government shall have the right to forcibly appropriate property and resources belonging to individuals or groups.
The State of Biafra will be built on the principle of Liberty . Freedom from arbitrary and despotic government arrest and imprisonment will be the hallmark of the Biafran State and the people of Biafra will reserve the right and freedom to use every means at their disposal to resist and throw off any arbitrary and despotic imposition by any government or its functionaries including the right to terminate membership of the Biafran State.
The State of Biafra will be built on the principle of full respect for the Human Rights of Individuals and the protection of the Civil Rights and Liberties of all citizens and groups. Freedom of Speech, Expression, Assembly, Press and Religion will be guaranteed by the State. Rights to Life, right to Ones Language, right to Communicate with whoever one chooses, right to Protest, right to Dissociate, right to Vote and be Voted for, right to participate in Trade or Occupation of ones choice, right to Fair Employment Practices, right to declare Trade Dispute or Strike, right to Clean and Healthy Environment, right to Legal Protection, right to Popular Participation in Legislative Process, and the right to live and do business wherever one wants will be guaranteed and protected by the State of Biafra.
The State of Biafra will be built on the principle of Respect and admiration for Labor. The State will guarantee every able bodied Biafran the right to work. Biafrans are industrious, resourceful and inventive. The energies, skills, talents that are so abundant in Biafra but which unfortunately have been stifled, muzzled and squashed by Nigeria will be released. These energies, talents and skills will be unleashed to propel Biafra into the comity of technological nations in the shortest possible time. Labor will be respected. Work will be honored. Merit and productivity will be the criteria for reward in labor. Equal opportunities for employment for all Biafrans shall be the watchword of the Biafran Nation.
The State of Biafra will be built on the principle of strong Moral Character. Traditionally the people of Biafra have been a Holy People. They treat human beings, and nature around them with respect. Sadly, Nigeria has destroyed the excellent moral character of Biafrans and dragged them down to the level of moral depravity of Nigeria . But Biafrans will rebuild and reestablish their Strong Moral Character. Every Biafran must be his brother’s keeper. He must be honorable, and truthful. He must not engage in corrupt practices, giving and taking bribes, stealing government or public money and property, and cheating his fellow Biafrans or Government. He must be patriotic, freedom loving and must stand resolutely against any forms of injustice, oppression and victimization. He must be progressive, and must never slavishly obey any evil laws designed to enslave him.
The State of Biafra will be built on the principle of Honest, Trustworthy and exemplary Leadership. A Biafran leader must be honest and trustworthy at all times. He must not steal, cheat and lie to the people. He must be a model of sound Moral Character. He derives his power and authority from the people who elected him and exercises these for their welfare and at their discretion. He is accountable to the people. He is their leader not their ruler. He relinquishes this power and authority any time the people demand that he do so.
The State of Biafra will be built on the principle of the importance and value of the Single Individual. The Single Individual is the smallest irreducible unit of the people. The people cannot really exist without this Single Individual. Therefore the State of Biafra will make every effort to ensure the survival, protection, welfare and well being of this Individual.
Advances in agriculture to guarantee abundant food supply will be a priority. No people can achieve anything if they can not feed themselves. The return of thousands of highly qualified Biafran medical personnel and other scientists from Europe and America and the training of new ones to provide adequate health care for Biafrans will be a priority. A healthy nation will be a productive and prosperous nation. Efficient communication is the cornerstone of all technological development and efficient utilization of manpower. Cheap and efficient communication will be a priority. Since manpower can not be efficiently utilized, and productivity maximized if you can not move large masses of people quickly, effectively and efficiently, Transportation and Aviation will be accorded very high priority. The security of life and property is one of the fundamental needs of human beings. Therefore law and order and the protection of life and property will be accorded high priority. The protection of our environment from erosion and pollution especially the pollution of farms, rivers and streams in the oil producing areas of Biafra will be a priority. The pursuit, establishment and maintenance of very high quality education, the cornerstone of technological development and robust economy will be a priority. The provision of all necessary infrastructures to promote Trade, Commerce, Industry, and easy access to all parts of the world will be a priority. The provision of opportunities for a good life for all Biafrans will be the ultimate priority.
Fellow Biafrans, for too long you have been trapped in the rut, the muck, this stinking putrefaction that is called Nigeria . At times it seemed as if there is no hope or salvation. We now have generations of Biafrans who have never had the good fortune of seeing one honest public servant, civilian or military, having three good meals in a day, drinking clean water, using decent public transportation, being in school for six months without being chased out by the police, being interviewed for a job, having a meaningful job and making a living by decent means. Those of you who travel out of Nigeria cannot remember the last time any airline employee treated you with a modicum of respect while you carried a Nigerian passport. So nationally you are treated as a slave, a third class citizen at best while internationally you are treated as a criminal, a crook, drug dealer, thief and con man. The reason is simple, you are a Nigerian.
It is time for all that to change. Join the Movement to reclaim your Nation, Biafra . Biafra is your Nation. Biafra is your Pride. Biafra is your Hope. Biafra is your Salvation. Biafra is your Right. Biafra is your own. Take it now. Since 1990, many unworkable Federations like Nigeria have disintegrated, broken apart into their component Nation States. All of them have made giant strides in rebuilding their shattered Nations and economies.
The fourteen Nations of the former Soviet Union broke apart and each established their independent Nations. The nations of Yugoslavia broke apart and each established their independent Nations. The nations of the former Czechoslovakia broke apart and each established their independent Nations. The people of East Timor broke away from Indonesia and established their independent Nation. The people of Eritrea broke away and established their independent Nation. The people of Southern Sudan are breaking away and will soon establish their independent Nation. If they can do it why can’t you? Determination and perseverance, that is all you need; that is all you need fellow Biafrans. So wherever you are, whatever you are doing, join the Movement, for the struggle is just about to kick into high gear. Are you ready?
May God Bless the Good People of Biafra and all Those Fighting for Her independence.
Have a wonderful New Year!
January 1, 2004