BIAFRA is real, and those who wave it away do so to the exposure of their wrong assessment of the situation, and to some extent their ignorance, self-deceit, and or self-denial. Every Igbo man is essentially a Biafran; they fought the 1966-1970 war and lost, and their region has been suffering under the post-war policies of the Federal Government, the victors in that war.
They said that it was “no victor, no vanquished” after the war, Igbos took it and moved on, seeking their survival first, while the victors continued with all they thought was necessary to arrest the development and empowerment of the Igbo Land.
They dismantled the information data base of Igbo land, superintended the destruction or deliberate decay of the roads and infrastructure in Igbo land, dismantled the industries and agricultural development programmes of Igbo land, reduced the financial capabilities of the war survivors, redesigned the states boundaries to ensure that Igbo land became land locked, and sowed terrible seeds of discord between Igbos and their neighbors, now known as the South-South states. Little wonder then that the Second Niger Bridge is a big issue to the victors.
Those who want to have more details should Google the works of Ajie, Ukpabi Asika, the first Governor of East Central State.
Forty-five years after that war, the long effect of the post-war policies are quite manifest in our everyday life. A few examples will help. First, the killing of mainly Igbos and others in the North at the least of provocations from the 1980s continued unabated, till terror entered the North in 2008 and became Boko Haram. Igbos were displaced in their thousands, but the Federal Government did nothing to help the internally displaced Igbo people. The late Chief MKO Abiola promised Igbos reparation for the war destructions during his political campaigns in 1993, but unfortunately, all that died with him later that year.
Second, many of Igbo natural neighbours, with cultural links, found it politically and economically expedient to deny their Igbo origin, especially in Rivers State. The Ikwerres have common cultural links with Ndigbo, while Opobo Kingdom has age-long relationship with Igbo land. Names like Amaechi, Nwike, Amadi, Nnochiri, Odili and many more are all Igbo names. The war victors know who they really are and may never take them serious, except as political instruments and pawns.
Third, the Federal Government started the Federal Character policy in order to spread things among the geo-political zones of the country, to promote unity, but the WAEC cut-off mark for admission into universities differ in favor of the victors in the war. An Igbo student must score 75 marks, while his counterpart from Borno, Adamawa, or Sokoto is expected to score 7 marks to enter the same university.
These policies applied also in recruitment into the Federal Civil Service where people are moved from state civil service in the North to a level higher than where they were into the Federal Service to occupy selective posts. Records also show that Igbos constituted 51 percent of the army before that war, but the situation today is different as a result of post-war policies.
These inequalities aimed at holding others back, while the victors in the war continued to move, which were swept under the carpet by Igbos because they simply wanted to survive and overcome the effects and devastations of that war seem to have come to a stage where the youths of Igbo land can no longer take it.
Expectedly, there are among Igbos the cheerleaders, sycophants and praise singers of the Federal Government, and they are the ones who refuse to think and point Ndigbo to the right direction. They put their pockets and ambition first before Igbo land, and are the ones who by their avarice fuelled the wrong notion that everything with the Igbo man is about money. I have stayed long enough in this country to come to the realisation that the Igbo man does not need money more than any other ethnic tribe in Nigeria. Those who killed their colleagues in military coups, wiped out villages and communities for oil money and political power, love money more than the Igbo man, and they abound in most tribes of Nigeria.
While no one is begrudging the victor for enjoying the spoils of war, these deliberate lopsided policies culminated in the agitation for Biafra, and heightened under this administration because of the methods of the APC government and the attitude of President Muhammadu Buhari towards Igbos.
The shape of Nigeria in the next decade will largely depend on the way this administration handles the issue of Biafra, given the existing challenges of terrorism, Fulani herdsmen and kidnapping.
Some notable Nigerians have opined that Biafra is dead and buried, but that cannot be correct because the pro-Biafra protests in Nigeria have been taken to foreign lands; some are detained by the Nigerian government over Biafra. If the Igbo youths are given the impression that their cause is dead and buried, it will surely affect their attitude to any reconciliation plans and moves by government.
Some elites are of the opinion that the agitators should be ignored for whatever reasons, but that approach is exactly what led to the spread of the agitations because agitators will continue to speak till they are heard. If MASSOB was engaged by past governments with the intention to address their grievances, IPOB would likely not have emerged.
IPOB in the main, comprises youth who may not have fought the war and are not interested in how the war was executed, but are asking for a better Nigeria where the Igbo nation will not be emasculated through deliberate political arrangements by other ruling ethnicities as a result of that war.
If the civil war has ended, then let it end, and let us carry on as people of one nation with one destiny and equal opportunities.
Time is ripe now for a rethink from all sides.
Mr Clement Udegbe, a lawyer, wrote from Lagos.