What is the Exit Strategy?

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AKIN OSUNTOKUN: DIALOGUE WITH NIGERIA

‘Only a peaceful solution must be found to arrest the present worsening stalemate and restore normalcy. The Eastern Region must be encouraged to remain part of the Federation. If the Eastern Region is allowed by acts of omission or commission to secede from or opt out of Nigeria, then the Western Region and Lagos must also stay out of the Federation… A war against the East in which Northern soldiers are predominant, will only unite the Easterners or the Ibos against their attackers, strengthen them in their belief that they are not wanted by the majority of their fellow-Nigerians, and finally push them out of the Federation’.-Obafemi Awolowo, May 1st 1967

‘Those who advocate the use of force for the settlement of our present problems should stop a little and reflect. If it is claimed that an attack on the East is going to be launched by the Federal Government and not by the North as such and that it is designed to ensure the unity and integrity of the Federation, two other insuperable points also become obvious. First, if a war against the East becomes a necessity it must be agreed to unanimously by the remaining units of the Federation. In this connection, the West, Mid- West and Lagos have declared their implacable opposition to the use of force in solving the present problem’.- Obafemi Awolowo, May 1st 1967

Those familiar with the James Hadley Chase novel series-as my generation does-would remember the story of how they catch monkeys in Brazil. Nuts are put inside an empty bottle and the bottle is planted in any location frequented by monkeys. Next to banana, nuts are the favourite delicacies of monkeys. Upon sighting the bottle, the primate scurries to the designation to retrieve the boon inside the bottle. He dips his paws inside the container and grabs the nuts but there is a snag..

Grabbing the nuts expands the paw into a fist and a size that is larger than the neck of the bottle rendering the expanded paw irretrievable. And so the animal is confronted with two options-let go of the nuts, liberate your paws and call it a day or hold on to them and remained trapped in the bottle. In the kingdom of animals, monkeys are supposed to rank high on intelligence quotient, IQ, measure, but seductive greed like the biblical narrative of Samson and the femme fatale (Delilah) can easily compromise a man’s capacity to think rationally and render him unto fool hardiness.

As it is with humans so it is with monkeys-after all they are our ancestral cousins. Spell bound by greed-fostered irrationality, the monkey refuses to let go of the nuts, remain rooted to the spot, and thereby entraps itself in fulfilment of the script laid out for its capture. This allegory applies to all human situations of vulnerability to self-destructive behavioural lapses. It is the story of how the inability to successfully wage jihad on our carnal impulses tends to becloud our sense of judgement. In a manner of speaking it is the story of obdurate foolhardiness and foreclosure of exit strategy. It is also the story of the recent escalation of the Biafra secessionist dilemma.

Both sides to the spiralling conflict are boxing themselves into a corner-more so the federal government or hopefully maybe not. After all, speaking on behalf of Nnamidi Kanu, Professor Ben Nwabueze has proffered the following caveat “President Buhari will be looking for trouble if he tries to usurp the constitutional powers of the people to ask for a better Nigeria through a change in structure. The power to restructure belongs to the people, not the National Assembly, and the government must not toy with this for the peace of the nation. Kanu has mandated me to declare to Nigeria that he is ready to call off the struggle for Biafra if progress is made in restructuring Nigeria.”

Well said Professor but the applicable Yoruba admonition here is that you don’t go charging to confront the family adversary who slain your father until you are sufficiently equipped with the martial wherewithal. And according to Irohin Oodua ‘No doubt, Mr Kanu has demonstrated infantile radicalism, lack of tact, recklessness and complete disrespect for revolutionary methods in his trade. He had singled out the major ethnic groups, Yoruba and Hausa-Fulani for conscious attacks foreclosing the prospect of alliances in a terrain that requires lots of caution and wisdom’.

Now to the federal government-in formulating a military policy on Biafra, the fundamental mistake the crucify Biafra warmongers can make is not to appreciate the significant contextual difference between the power politics configuration of the 1966-67 status quo ante and what obtains now. The most significant obstacle would be the inability to cobble together the federal alliance that overpowered Biafra in the civil war, and I am not talking of the military capability alone. To begin with ‘given its ethnic configuration, the action of the Army has the potential of polarizing its formations along primordial lines and putting its entire martial spirit in mutiny mode’.

And given the political experience of the South West between 1970 and the present, it is going to be next to impossible to persuade the Yoruba and a substantial segment of the national intelligentsia to see an embattled Igbo as the worse of two evils. Indeed to the extent that the Igbo views restructuring as acceptable middle ground they are going to find unity of purpose with the South West. Thus the potential military onslaught against the former is going to be delegitimized before it even begins. This is partly a cost of the instant preponderant perception of the Buhari presidency as embodiment of Hausa-Fulani nepotism and hegemony.

As a matter of historical fact, if Emeka Ojukwu were not so overcome with hubris there was the real prospect that the Western region would have found common purpose with Biafra. What Ojukwu was proposing, in not too many words, was the position that the Western region should substitute the extant hegemony of the ‘North’ for the hegemony of the South East. He proceeded to give effect to this vision by launching an attack to capture Lagos with the stated mission of ousting the government of General Yakubu Gowon and decimate the Nigerian army. Since the route to Lagos runs through the aorta of Yoruba land, the loaded sub plot was that the Biafra liberation army would temporarily remain as occupation force in the Western region. Coupled with the charm offensive and the political cunning of Yakubu Gowon, this was the immediate threat that ultimately tipped Awolowo and the Yoruba into the federal alliance camp.

Awolowo died a bitterly frustrated and disappointed man at what post-civil Nigeria had become and the only inference we can draw from his compulsion to choose a running mate from the South East in the 1979 Presidential election is (probably) that he backed a wrong horse in 1967-not that he had a choice anyway. In tandem, nearly all the combatant officers from the South who fought on the federal side during the civil war have publicly and commonly expressed remorse and regret at what they deem a similar mistake.

No less the number one fan of the North from the South and the civil war conqueror, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, recently urged a most conciliatory de-escalation of the situation created by the strong arm, might is right, invasion of the South East by the Nigerian army. This is a man who habitually incurs the hostility of his ethnic kith and kin on his penchant for often been perceived as catholic than the pope in rooting for a political status quo that only one sub region of Nigeria seems comfortable with. His hectoring opposition to the advocacy for restructuring is one of the most damaging blows to this cause. And then he counselled, like any Nigerian patriarch should do, that President Buhari should deign to meet with Kanu and what was the response from the Presidency and like-minded regional chauvinists? Obasanjo should go stuff himself. Remember, the same Obasanjo was the only former ruler of Nigeria who travelled to Maiduguri to engage with the Boko-Haram insurgents.

In foreclosing any other option than coercion, the point should be made that neither the present occupant of the turn by turn Nigerian presidency nor Nnamdi Kanu can hold this country to ransom. If it is asking too much to suggest that a Nigerian president should engage with the personification of a whole region’s grievance-to which this incumbent president substantially contributed, then Nigeria may be living on borrowed time. No nation survives two civil wars and howsoever it begins, it will be an unwinnable war for the aggressor. Nigeria is more divided now than ever before is a refrain that has gained popular currency in contemporary Nigeria; and the political degeneration of Nigeria since the civil war has become a retrospective vindication of the Biafran argument then and now.

At the end of the day and in a very crucial perspective, Biafra is just a stream from the steady flow of a trend that localises grievances and externalises victimhood of oppression and persecution. And the main culprit for this perspective is the constitutional structure of the country. On account of the hegemonic concentration of powers and resources at the centre, Nigerians hardly hold the level of government nearest to them accountable for their woes. I will continue to argue that advocacy for restructuring is a neutral agenda and unless the Nigerian government is prepared to keep on confronting one Biafra after another then restructuring is inevitable. If you want Nigerians to stop complaining and harbouring grievances of marginalisation then what you do is foster a sense of local and regional autonomy not dependency on the centre syndrome.

In the wisdom of the Guardian newspaper ‘the lack of economic progress in the polity is a direct result of the failure to address the main political issue that is responsible for such retardation: over-centralisation of powers… Since the military struck in 1966 and destroyed the federal structure that triggered monumental growth of all the regions of old, Nigeria has not recorded any tangible development in any economic or political sense.

  • Godwin Arinze Oyeh

    My brother JW we share the same pain on the marginalisation of Igbos but my only problem is the tone.We can discuss ,dialogue just as the Ohanaeze and elders are counselling and i very much believe something meaningful will be achieved .I think the major thing we need is to liase with the other nationalities so as to have a common ground.Honestly i don’t see Igbos achieving anything all alone.These are really uncommom times,we need a lot of caution.

  • Daniel

    To avoid any epistle of reply today, I think very clearly Buhari seems destined to destroy Nigeria.

  • Intrepid

    ” Awolowo died a bitterly frustrated and disappointed man at what
    post-civil Nigeria had become and the only inference we can draw from
    his compulsion to choose a running mate from the South East in the 1979
    Presidential election is (probably) that he backed a wrong horse in
    1967-not that he had a choice anyway. In tandem, nearly all the
    combatant officers from the South who fought on the federal side during
    the civil war have publicly and commonly expressed remorse and regret at
    what they deem a similar mistake”

    The quote above from the Writer, is the bitter truth that some yorubas never want to accept.

    Thank you Akin, for always sticking your neck out to hold on to the TRUTH. Meanwhile there were these REGRETS I still recall. Those from the Black Scorpion, Gen. Akinrinande et al.

    Not forgeting the not so best selling civil war memoir from another Actor, Gen Alabi. The title of the book is what interest me the most, because it gives out the other word for regret. ” THE TRAGEDY OF VICTORY”

    What about that which came out from the Geobel of the then Federal Side, Enahoro.

    On his dying days, he had this statement to make, when cornered by pressmen to speak on the state of the nation.

    ” I REGRET NOT SEEING THE NIGERIA OF MY DREAM”.

    THere is a simple IGBO saying, When you hold a man on the ground, you would definitely remain on the ground with him, but when you let go, you will rise up with him. ONYE JI MADU NA ALA, JI ONWE YA.

    Nigeria has been unwittingly holding the Igbos down since 1970, and the consequencies are there, when you compare Nigeria with a country like Malaysia.

  • Godwin Arinze Oyeh

    Igbos no dey tire for war ? Must everything be settled by warring ? Why don’t we leave other Nigerians to agitate ?We have survived all this while without any help from successive govts .So what’s the big deal about appointment or no appointment ? Please let’s give peace a chance Onye ajuru anagh aju onwe ya .

    • Jon West

      You don’t understand the problem, so let those who do attack the issues. The Igbo dont want war, and neither Nwabueze nor Kanu, are looking for appointments.

      • Darcy

        But as Trotsky said, war definitely wants us.

        Then again, the Biafra issue is all sound, no substance. When you guys are ready to be serious. You’ll become like the duck whose ducklings the Hawk took.

        There is a reason, Germany’s unification stunned the world, and it wasn’t because they were squawking like hens.

        • Jon West

          Germanys unification was the direct result of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was what stunned the world. Nigeria will collapse and the Igbo will be set free. An oxymoron if you ask me.

          • Darcy

            I was talking of the first one in the 1870s.

            Will the free Igbo be on an island? Otherwise their economic success will just lead to them being swamped by Nigerian immigrants.

          • Obi Ike Sorres

            It can be managed. If Biafra become successful others will copy and replicate what made it successful by Igbos moving there to do it or the indigenes copying from Igbos or vice versa

          • Darcy

            Just like Nigerians have copied what made the US/UK successful instead of moving there?

            At some point, you guys need to quit being utopian.

            If Biafra is successful, it’ll look more like Lagos than Awkunanaw. What will Biafrans do, when the Nigerian immigrants form ethnic blocs and start voting like that, deny them their suffrage?

            Enough rhetoric, put forward a governing plan, that at least looks realistic, and no, the Igbo will prevail because we secretly Jews is a stupid starting point.

  • Mystic mallam

    Again, bravo Akin, for a great write up, even if some of your premises on this one are quite arguable. I’m sure some of your many readers will point them out. My take though is that President Buhari is not miscalculating considering the mindset and motives that brought him to power – to remedy the ”injustice” meted to HIS PEOPLE over 13 years of rule by Southern-Christian Presidents. Apparently, the only credible stumbling block on the path of fulfilling that mission remains the ”stubborn, insatiable Igbo” who have ”gained so much more than their deserved share” but still asking for more. The mindset was clear – if he were to stand any chance of returning Nigeria to his preferred mould – a nation where the ”North is not cheated”, the headstrong Igbo must be put in their place if not comprehensively crushed. And then, Kanu and his bunch of irreverent urchins came on board and gave him a veneer of the cover he hoped for to commence the assignment. He made no mistakes in his calculation: when the ND militants started acting up, his natural instinct moved him to quickly go crush them. Unfortunately, the delicate but precious blood-bearing arteries in the region – oil pipelines – restrained him, checkmate and amnesty restored. On the other hand, Buhari reckoned that the SE has not a single leverage over federal power, only vulnerabilities, and Kanu like Ojukwu before him, could not see or reckon with that reality. The President has therefore pounced and the whole Igbo race – with no pipelines to breach, boxed in a small landmass, with neither access to the sea, nor safe haven to hide in, and their relatively immense wealth trapped in places but their land – lays prostrate before the federal jackboot in the form of pythons dancing in high noon. That’s victory for the president. But what value is that victory type which may give short-lived satisfaction to some few, and long-term grief for Nigeria?

  • Jon West

    To have an exit strategy in any business or political endeavour, you must have some business sense and some confidence in your ability to handle alternative outcomes. Nigeria has , since the events of July 1966 an the Biafran surrender , been a banquet and harvest of unearned opportunity for the Hauasa/Fualni and Yoruba alliance
    that won the Biafran war.

    They apparently did not really listen to the warnings of the Biafran General Phillip Effiong, who admonished Nigeria to handle the defeated Biafrans with care in order to avoid a resurgence of the Biafran spirit in the future. In apparent response, the then Military Governor of the Western State, Brigadier Aeyinka Adebayo, implored Gowon to ensure that the Biafran enclave was not supported to recover, in order to avoid a repeat of the situation where, with the Marshall Plan, the victorious allies revived the fortunes of Japan and Germany, making them economic powerhouses that threatened to supplant their conquerors and benefactors.
    Adebayo was playing the typical game that has kept the Nigerian nation to operate at a below-par basis. Prior to his death , he became a born-again regionalist, perhaps because, like Akin Osuntokun has eloquently stated , all the Southern (Southwestern surely) military officers who partook in the Biafran genocide have still recanted their ignominious role in that human inferno. However as a top Highlife hit in the 1960s chorused “Had I known always comes at last”, most times too late to make amends .

    All this harvest of regrets (genuine an contrived) will not reverse the damage done by the carnage which was actually predicated on the opportunism and hypocrisy of the usual suspects from the usual region of Nigeria. The Biafran war could have been avoided, right from Aburi, if opportunism did not supplant reason. The same opportunism was apparent in the events preceding the 2015 election and again, but in Quick short time, the results are manifesting to suggest similarity. It is quite interesting that the current VP is a political wannabe of the same tendency that scuttled Aburi and the chance to save Nigeria. Interestingly , he is towing the opportunistic path of his predecessor.
    Men repeat history and then blame history for repeating itself. To hell with Nigeria!!

    • Iskacountryman

      what is the matter with you…dont you want us to win the world cup?

      • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

        Lol – Can we win the world cup?

        • Jon West

          Yes, an all Igbo team, motivated by Ziks vision of the role of the Igbo in the redemption and restoration of the dignity of the Black Man can win it. However, first we must get rid of the Miyetti Allah and their Life Patron.

          • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

            lol
            Mr JW – you kill me!!

          • Gary

            Mr West, this is precisely the stereotypical problem of the Igboman – whether it’s Zik, Ojukwu or Nnamdi Kanu.
            So na only una sabi play soccer? The rest of us nko? Dombraye, Yekini, Odegbami, Musa dem no play football? Even that heartbreaker Yakubu Aiyegbeni who refused to just put leg push the inside an open goal against Greece at the World Cup!
            The Igbo must learn to subdue their off-putting claims of Judaic exceptionalism to forge the needed political alliances for the mutual advancement of the peoples of the South.

            It was Wole Soyinka, now strangely silent amid the blowback from telling us Frankenstein was a born again democrat, who once said that a tiger need not proclaim its tigritude. The other animals know that already.
            It would behoove the Igbo intelligentsia to stop getting in everybody’s face that they are the biggest, wisest and destined to lead us and the rest of Africa to greatness. Hyping yourself for ethnic self-pride and motivation is one thing. Acting on that hype in dealing with others you clearly need to achieve your goals, is a different kettle of fish. And as we have seen from Ojukwu to Nnamdi Kanu’s go-it-alone brashness, it has not achieved the desired outcome. We now being treated with images of Hausa-Fulani soldiers roaming villages in Abia State like the Afrikaner security forces in the black South African townships of Soweto and Guguletu under Apartheid.
            Oh, not only the Yoruba but the Igbo intelligentsia and media literati also supported the return of Muhammadu Buhari to fight corruption and indiscipline. Ask the folks in Umuahia and environs how that is going.
            Elections have consequences. We just have to hunker down and help our misled people survive the next 18 months. Then take our destiny in our own hands.

          • Jon West

            My dear man, try to have a sense of humour. I am just enjoying myself with the bitter truth. Its good you mentioned the image of Apartheid soldiers roaming about Soweto and other Black Townships. Whatever happened to them? Could liberation in South Africa have come without their actions and the unintended consequences of global outrage, sanctions and the rise of Nelson Mandela. We are on the threshold of history here. The Herdsman President is a Godsend for the Igbo. If he runs again in 2019, I shall vote for him this time. You have to kill Nigeria in order save it or alternatively berth Biafra, and the man is a natural born killer of ideas,progress and compromise.

          • AyoJon

            Lol

          • Lawrenece Ifo

            We said.

          • Lawrenece Ifo

            Well said.
            I will vote for him.

          • Lawrenece Ifo

            Hahaha.

        • Iskacountryman

          absolutely…just offer eboe players the usual incentives…

      • Jon West

        You cant win because the 97% have no soccer skills and the 3 and 5% who have 97% of the skills will sabotage the effort . To hell with Nigeria!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Iskacountryman

          now now now…you are doing this deliberately to upset me…you forget that mikel obi is from jos…

          • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

            I don’t want to upset you……but I wonder what he is doing in the first team

    • Lawrenece Ifo

      I love the ever refreshing historical side of your write up.
      Please continue to give us more of it.

  • obinnna77

    Vintage Akin.

  • the masked one

    “The political degeneration since after the civil war has become a retrospective vindication of the Biafran argument then and now”???

    Here you nailed it! I’ll not add, I’ll not subtract. To do so, is to detract from and dilute the essence of your poignant but faultless conclusions.

    However, the point should be made that as long we continue to avoid the truth and bury our heads in the sands like ostrich thinking it will pass away, the truth will always stare in the face anytime we raise our heads.

    • Intrepid

      ” Justice does not tilt in a balance. Only injustice does”

      THe masked Phantom. You always come out with ONE.

    • Darcy

      Political degeneration would imply that Nigeria was ever stable. It has never been. Even the Brits were still pacifying areas up till independence.

      A bigger problem in this country is how we romanticise the past. Call me swayed by Whatsapp, a Colour TV, but by every metric, Nigerians have never had it better. Y’all could try averting your eyes from the Asian Tigers to look to our past. Compare and contrast.

      • obinnna77

        Short-termist nonsense. It’s not about the past. It’s that the present, and therefore, the future , are built on unsustainable foundations. What will happen to your conveniences if crude drops by 20 basis points? Are you aware of the drive towards renewable energy in the developed world, and it’s implications for a country that imports toothpicks? Kindergarten conjecture.

        • William Norris

          The man still made a very good point.

          Nigeria has never been a great or even good place to live, not even in the halcion days of Gowon’s oil boom…..

        • Darcy

          That isn’t how these things work. If Crude Oil drops, as long as our policy response i.e No currency controls for example, are correct, then we’ll chug along as is. Crude Oil forms are increasingly smaller piece of our Economic Gross Product.

          I’m generally pessimistic about the future. A collapse in oil prices will definitely exacerbate inequality, but it won’t be the Nigerian doomsday scenario, it’s being painted out.

  • Country man

    “Both sides to the spiralling conflict are boxing themselves into a corner-more so the federal government”.
    Mr Akin,
    This govt has not realized it yet as Buhari and co are too bigoted to see the situation they are putting themselves in.
    On restructuring professor Ben is right, the constitution was made for the people not the people for the constitution, and they can decide what best suits them not a bunch of rogues profiting from the present structure

    In modern times, most countries rarely do well after fighting the same war twice (there is a reason why Germany and Japan are refered to as modern day miracles) so those drumming the beat of war have no idea what they want to get into. More so in africa where providing basics for citizens is rocket science.
    Its high time the people put aside primordial instincts of ethnic bigotry and come together to fashion a sustainable Nation

    • William Norris

      The Japanese and German miracles were sustained by ethnic chauvinism.

      There’s NOTHING WRONG with ethnic bigotry. It’s HUMAN NATURE and springs from the same instinct that would make you give preference to your own CHILDREN or your nephews/nieces if you had to make life and death choices between them and some random kids you meet on the street.

      It only becomes problematic when people are FORCED to live together. So the important thing is to find ways of accommodating those INEVITABLE instincts, which in the case of Nigeria means devising the weakest possible national arrangements.

      ANYBODY preaching racial or tribal harmony, especially in Nigeria, is either unrealistic or evil minded.

  • Kunle O.

    You’re spot on that ‘Biafra is just a stream from the steady flow of a trend that localizes grievances and externalizes victimhood of oppression and persecution’. This peculiar attribute of not taking responsibility for our collective failures, but rather always fantasizing about the next elusive mirage to transform our social and economic circumstances is the bane of the black race. If the neutral consensus is restructuring Nigeria, why are Nigerians not pressuring their local leaders (elected or not) or marching on the NASS to get on with it? Because it is easier to yell over one another or externalize the blame for our failures to others. I never get the foolishness of ethnic identity, especially as a basis for conflict. People are born as humans and they die as humans, everything in between is temporary vexation to which many succumb to their own loss.

  • American Abroad

    As an incurable evangelist for accurate historical rendition, to say nothing of proper prose, I am frequently aghast on reading revisionist history on these BackPages. In all fairness, Mr Osuntokun typically stands on solid ground, but not today, not this time. He was probably in a hurry to meet deadlines.

    First, the canard that no nation ever survives two civil wars, an unattributed assertion that is sometimes ascribed to Mr TY Danjuma, is historically false. Ancient Rome fought so many civil wars from 100 BC until about 400 AD, as memorably captured in Julius Caesar’s many dispatches including the classic Gallic Wars, which those of a certain age had to memorize in Latin class. Indeed, so did England (from the “Civil Anarchy” of 1135, through the revolt of 1173, the Baron’s Wars, the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, the First, Second and Third Civil Wars of 1642-1652, and the Monmouth-Glorious Revolutions of the bloody 1680s), the Umayyads and Abbasids during the four Fitnas, the seemingly never-ending Castilian Civil Wars in Spain, and some would argue, the Peloponnesian Wars between Sparta and Athens which spanned 28 years of internecine conflict only to reprise in 1824 and 1946. And I have not even mentioned Congo, Liberia, Chile, Russia or Albania, but you surely get the point by now.

    Second, whilst I respect the intellectual nous of Mr Ben Nwabueze, the aging warhorse of constitutional battles past and present, secession is always a political imperative, delivered by public consensus as predicated by contemporaneous economic, political, social or military realities. It neither resides with those oft-invoked but faceless “public”, government, or even in most instances, the elected political representatives of the “people”. Such events depend on history and the legitimate expectations of the concerned societies. Otherwise, Catalonia would have long been shorn of Spain, as would the Kurds in Iraq, Scots in United Kingdom, Kashmir from India, and perhaps, Quebec from Canada. None of those is ever likely to happen; however, history is an ever-shifting sand of opportunity, as the implosion of Hitler’s 1000-year Reich in 1945 gave Austria the opportunity to escape anschluss and secede, the economic debacle of the last 20 years in Ethiopia helped free Eritrea, and the benign-sounding Naivasha Agreement of 2005 set the stage for the eventual dissolution of Sudan, pretty much as Aburi (1967) was originally designed to.

    The invasion of Western Nigeria by Ojukwu, though certainly pig-headed, was not an act of hubris. It was ill-advised and was bound to be counter-productive. However, it was not entirely surprising; in Nigeria’s political history, principle is almost always the same as strategy. The historical evidence was that it was designed to relieve military pressure from the Gakem-Ogoja axis (as well as Enugu) by creating a second military diversionary front in the West, and hopefully, draw in the West from their strategic posture of “armed neutrality”. Only problem: he should have sent a more reliable consiglieri (than the ambitious Colonel Victor Banjo) at the head of his expeditionary force, he could have given Awolowo fore-knowledge of the impending invasion, he should have resisted the temptation of appointing an Igbo medic (Albert Okonkwo) as Governor of “Republic of Benin”, and perhaps, he could have been a lot more conciliatory of Western minorities especially the jittery (and understandably suspicious) David Ejoor.

    Except the Bashorun of Okemesi is privy to “inside” information, it is not entirely clear to me how Awolowo, certainly a jinxed politician, could have died both frustrated and disappointed. He was never going to be President; the cards were heavily stacked against him. Furthermore, despite a mellowing with age, he was often the Iago to his own personal Othello, subverting his own political ambitions with his predatory commercial instincts and misleading himself as he sought to forever position himself to optimal political advantage. In the end, he slayed his own beloved Desmoneda, that one thing closest to his heart, which was his undisguised lust for national leadership. He lost, we all did, too. But I think “frustrated” is taking it a bit too far. Awolowo was a very insightful man, so I am pretty sure he fully understood the natural justice (or Karma, if you will) implicit in his failed quest, which was paradoxically, handed over on a platter to the “great unwashed” from Ota.

    Ah, Obasanjo crops up, once more like a recurring decimal- or a herpetic rash, depending on your point of view. The historical evidence would show that he was certainly not incorruptible (indeed, he was very corrupt), that he always tried to do the best thing for his country, save when it was in conflict with overweening self-interest, but it would also shows that he is, so far, the best Nigerian President ever. Which is both tragic and celebratory.

    As for Kanu, history will long argue about the significance of his stillborn nativist movement: was he a Mandela, an Isaac Boro, another Ojukwu, or simply an impressionable young man, modest in means and intellect, who found himself in the midst of a historical schism he was ill-equipped to handle? I believe the correct interpretation is that the neo-Biafran movement actually found him, rather than the converse. Which also, is both omen and opportunity.

    Let’s at least keep the history as accurate as possible.

    • Dayo Akom

      I appreciate your historical narration on how countries went into many civil wars and still do well, but one thing I want you to understand is that there are no two situations that are the same. In the present situation in Nigeria, it is most likely that the nation will not be able to survive another civil war.

      There are so many interests both locally and internationally that will continue fueling the war to the detriment of the nation. What I think we should all do is to take any step possible to avoid another civil war in our nation. Imagine the humanitarian crisis that will result in the event of another civil war and presently, we are having hard time handling the case of IDP in the Northern part of the country as a result of activities of Boko Haram.

      • Netanyahu

        Dayo, I commend your forthrightness. May god bless you. To #American Abroad, I always wish to encounter you through your posts and thoughts. Very intellectually rich. Have a wonderful day. To Akin Osuntokun, I completely align with your views here. Great write up.

      • KWOY

        With this, and the obvious stand of the overwhelming proportion of the Yoruba, it is very clear Akin is wrong to believe that the Yoruba won’t join in any future military alliance against Biafra! Only the Igbo is either foolish or courageous to want to go!

      • Darcy

        “In the present situation in Nigeria, it is most likely that the nation will not be able to survive another civil war.”

        I disagree. All you need do is take a look at the DRC. It has survived what, three now? gearing up for the fourth.

        The powers in Europe will prefer arming the legitimate Government so as to ensure a crushing victory, rather than allow their far-right opponents come to power.

    • obinnna77

      Upstanding.

    • Jon West

      For Kanu, like you, I also believe that the neo-Biafran movement actually found him, rather than the converse. The neo Biafrans became emboldened by the regression of the Nigerian state to political and economic anomie and the coming of the Herdsman President was the final straw that tested their patience. Now post 1970 Nigeria will never be the same again. To hell with Nigeria!!

      • Iskacountryman

        stop saying …to hell with nigeria…you are beginning to upset me…

        • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

          I too do not like that phrase.
          But now that JW knows that the phrase is upsetting, I bet you, he will employ it more. You for no tell am!!

          • Iskacountryman

            shoot…my bad…i thought he was a reasonable man…

      • Darcy

        “the coming of the Herdsman President was the final straw that tested their patience.”

        This right here is why at my most melancholic, I start to believe that the only solution to Nigeria’s woes is a wholesale pogrom of say everybody born before the war. You old folks are so damn poisonous in your politics.

        Is this to be the cycle of Nigerian politics, regional chaos when the political cards do not favour your candidate. FFS, it’s just 4 years, enjoy your state allocation, let people graduate in peace and try again in 4.

    • Iskacountryman

      well well well…thanks for assuring us that we could have as many wars as we like…much would not change if the dynamic of forces are not upturned…i would go to sleep smiling…

      • obinnna77

        The variables are the price of crude, and centrifugal ethnic forces. Fula, you suppose that Operation Egwu Eke is funded by the sale of transnational Zebu cattle? How many Egwu Ekes and Lafiya Doles can be funded before the exchequer is bankrupted? You had better pray Fura becomes exportable.

    • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

      Sir, your impressive and vast knowledge of history is as usual compelling. Yet to conclude that because history says that a country can survive many wars because ancient Rome once did is to ignore the unique dynamics that the Nigerian situation will bring.

      Listen to what Akin is saying.

      And it is simple. Do not restructure and Nigeria will continue to have these agitations which in this part of the world always means violence and displacement. When restructuring is continually ignored, it will lead to war – if it does, it will not be like in the past, which was, the rest of Nigeria vs the hapless Ibos. This time, it will be one street vs the other – put in the that mix, the interest of the global opportunists, then you will have many years of local and international warfare, in which a global world war will play in our villages and streets. As in Syria and Iraq.

      My fear; The Nigerian is one who is happy to cut his nose to spite his face.

      • Jon West

        Syria and Iraq are too far. Look no further than DR Congo, the richest country in Africa and potentially in the world because of its geology and location. The idiot Negroes have refused to sit down and sort out their differences, so that they can enjoy their natural resources gifts; hence the harvest of misery and deaths, while first the Belgians and the Americans, and now the Chinese freeload on their incalculable mineral resources endowment.

        • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

          A war in Nigeria will decimate much of Africa, starting with the West.
          The humanitarian crisis will be biblical in scale.
          Perhaps the rest of the West African region should come together to perform an intervention on their big brother (Nigeria) because we are acting as though on suicide mission fueled by the drug of oil.

          • Jon West

            Get rid of the Miyetti Allah and their Life Patron and all will be well!!!

          • Darcy

            Europe won’t stand for it. France would sooner intervene militarily, or pay off Saharan militias to make the Mediterranean crossing a no go area.

            Funny, wasn’t internecine wars that left us vulnerable to colonialism in the first place?

            I’ve often wondered, why do Nigerian commentators often consider turning the Northern electorate a no go area? Afterall, once, the South voted Democrat.

            The Northerners are poor, Nnamdi Kanu would have been better off putting his skills in trying to get the Talakawa for vote a bit more progressively.

          • Jon West

            The Talakawa are brainwashed and brainless. They are a lost cause to themselves having been programmed by ignorance and illiteracy, to obey the elite. The Poor souls will never listen to an Nyamiri, even if he fed them when they were starved by their elite.

          • Darcy

            Ibiakwa. Let’s think of it then as the Southerner’s burden.

          • obinnna77

            Claptrap. Ask Awolowo how far that got him. The Sardauna remarked to Sunday Awoniyi that his fellow ‘bayarbe’ had the temerity to cause him, the Sardauna, the inconvenience of having to campaign for votes to counter Awolowo’s progressive campaigns among the Northern underclass. He ‘rewarded’ Awolowo, by excising the Midwest. Enough said.

          • Darcy

            So when a girl you’re eyeing tells you No, your response is to become a Priest?

            Haba!

    • lord of jaspers

      when we say that no nation can survive two civil wars, you should try and understand the kind of civil war that we are talking about, you should ask yourself what sort of civil war can lead to the dismemberment of a nation! only a civil war in which a nation is divided into two (or more) clear territories, with the people in one territory not wanting to be part of the whole nation, while the people in the other territory considers them fully a part of the whole nation, only such wars do we say that a nation cannot survive two of it! and the span of time between the two wars must be short enough that the people fighting in the second war can identify with the first war! that is the people in the second war must see the first war as a legacy and a heritage! by the end of the second of such civil war, either the seceding territory has succeeded in its quest, or the seceding territory is considered as a conquered territory by either the people of the unitarist territory or the people of the seceding territory themselves, that is either the secession is successful or the people of the seceding territory are not considered as equal citizens in the united country by either themselves of members of the victorious territory at the end of the second civil war, hence for all intents and purposes, the full nation is dead, and the seceding nation will be considered as a colony of the first! hence insurrections will never end in the seceding territory! this long explanation is necessary because of the fallacy of the few examples of the nations you gave that has survived more than two civil wars! first, rome never fought any of such civil wars, rome only fought either wars of insurrections in various of its many colonies, whose people were not considered romans, or wars among its elite, none of which ever considered declaring themselves as none romans! the gallic wars for instance were not civil wars but wars of conquests! two, england never fought any of such wars either, the norman war was a war of conquest, the english revolution was a civil war, the type you always find among the roman elites, the orange revolution was of the same type, england has historically never had any war in which a part of england wanted to seceed, not since the territory was called england anyway! most of the fitnas involving the umayyads and abbasids were not civil wars but rather revolutions in which the elites of the territory were replaced violently i.e they were not civil wars of secession! the same with castillian civil wars, they were wars of successions, not secession hence they wouldnt have had the same effect! the peloponnesian wars were not civil wars in any sense of the word! by the way, the civil wars in congo and liberia were simply one very long war with brief interregnums of peace, the fighters in the first civil war were the same in the subsequent wars and most importantly, most of them were not asking for secessions! i think these examples will suffice! there have only been a few true secession civil wars in history, among them are the american civil war, the ethopian civil war, the timorese insurrection in indonesia and the nigerian civil war!

    • Paulocaesar

      Aaakpu!!!