Biafra used to be a sovereign state that seceded from Nigeria. However, it is now a part of Nigeria but the spirit of Biafrans is still alive. They’re now under the umbrella of IPOB with the aim of making Biafra a sovereign state again.
Why Does Biafra Want to Separate from Nigeria?
IPOB has stated that Nigeria has relegated them and made it almost impossible for them to develop. The absence of good infrastructure, marginalization, and neglect by Nigeria has made Biafra willing to separate from Nigeria. Their reason for wanting to separate is to be able to have their own country and to develop it.
A brief history
We need to go back in time to understand why Biafra wants to separate from Nigeria.
Nigeria gained independence from Britain in 1960. Just like many other countries, Nigeria’s borders didn’t reflect earlier cultural, ethnic, political, or religious boundaries. After the independence, Nigeria was divided by ethnicity — North (Hausa and Fulani majority), East (Igbo majority), West (Yoruba majority)
During the discussions of independence, ethnic tension was already simmering. It was around the mid-twentieth century that religious and ethnic riots started to happen. An ethnic riot occurred in Jos in 1942, in which the Igbo people were targeted by Hausa-Fulani people, and many Igbos were left wounded or dead. It is estimated that about 300 Igbos died in the riot. A similar riot occurred in Kano in 1953.
A decade later there were reports of frauds in the election. The Igbos and westerners resented the political domination of the Hausas under the Northern People’s Congress. Most of the NPC candidates were unopposed in the election. This caused chaos across the country and it motivated some officials to take action. The federal government which was dominated by Hausas allowed the crisis to happen with the intention to declare a state of emergency, then to place the western region under martial law.
The federal government was seen as a corrupt one, and their corrupt practices reached a breaking point in January 1966 because a military coup occurred. Most army officers who partake in the coup were Igbos, and 30 political leaders were assassinated, including four of the most senior officers who were northerners. The commander of the army, General Aguiyi Ironsi became the new leader.
However, in July 1966 he was killed as northern officers staged a counter-coup. The northerners also killed any southern officer they came across, and a new head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, was put in power. The coup and the counter-coup created even more ethnic tension. By September 1996, about 30,000 Igbo civilians were killed in the north, and as retaliation, some Northerners were killed in eastern cities.
Lieutenant-Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria, declared Eastern Nigeria together with her continental shelf and territorial waters an independent sovereign state, and he named this new state “The Republic of Biafra”. He cited that the Igbos killed in the post-coup violence was the reason for the declaration of independence.
Nigeria attacked Biafra on 6 July 1967. Biafra, which was officially the Republic of Biafra, managed to be a secessionist state in West Africa from May 1967 to January 1970. For those three years, two-and-a-half years were riddled with war. The Nigerian army fought the Biafrans until they regained power and Biafra lost its independence. Almost two million Biafran civilians of which 3/4 were small children, died from starvation, caused by the blockade of the region by the Nigerian government.
This is a brief history, and from it, you can tell why Biafra wanted to separate from Nigeria, their major reason was the killing of Igbos by the Northerners. Present-day Biafra has separate reasons for wanting to separate, which is majorly the underdevelopment of Eastern cities, and no elected Igbo official has been elected the president since, thereby making Igbos feel marginalized.
Who Is The Leader Of Biafra?
The leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is Nnamdi Okwu Kanu who is a British Nigeria, and a political activist. IPOB is a group fighting for the separation of Biafra from Nigeria. One of his notable achievements is the registering of a radio station named Radio Biafra, and he is the director.
After various attempts to make Biafra secede from Nigeria, he was arrested on treason charges on 14 October 2015 in Lagos. He was detained for more than one year, even though various court orders ruled for his release.
While in court, he dressed like a Jew, and he said he believes in Judaism. He was released from prison on bail on 28 April 2017.
Since Nigeria gained independence, there has been ongoing violence, especially between different tribes. This has caused massive destruction and rule & order have been broken just for each tribe to be victorious.