Biafram Struggle

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Approved for Dissemination on Saturday, September 12, 2020
A. Preamble
On July 18, 2020, July 26, 2020, and August 8, 2020, Veterans of the New Biafra
Movement (hereinafter the Veterans) from Igboland and the Diaspora, including the United States, and Canada, met virtually and adopted the resolutions that form the object of this communiqué. The back-to-back meetings were complementary in that the second became necessary to give invitees, for some reason, unable to attend the first, another opportunity to participate, while the third meeting was designed to complete matters arising, including a review and approval of this communiqué.
The Veterans who attended these meetings are individuals who have played or continue to play a role in the ongoing campaign for Igbo self-determination, comprised of a wide variety of activities, including participation in the Igbo Landing events at St. Simon’s Island, Georgia in the United States, in 2003; another in Columbia, South Carolina, USA, in 2004; and conferences in 2006 in other parts of the U.S. and Canada. The Veterans belong to different Igbo-Biafra groups, and their fight for Igbo self-rule, which coincided with the progressive exclusion of the Igbo in the mainstream of Nigerian political life, predated the latest instalment of low-quality civilian rule in Nigeria called the Fourth Republic. A common theme that unites these Veterans is the wisdom that, for the Igbo in the second decade of the 21st century, Biafra, irreversibly, is the destination (Biafra bu ebe anyi nile neje).
Since they were forcibly merged together by the United Kingdom (UK) to form current-day Nigeria, the Igbo have struggled for self-determination designed to restore the autonomy that British colonialists stole from them. Phase 1 in that struggle ended in 1960 when Nigeria achieved political independence from the UK. Paradoxically, the resultant political independence that formed the fruit of that struggle was hijacked by a minority group which showed little interest in the decolonization process—all, no thanks to the UK, which, out of fear and mischief, preferred to cede power to that minority.
Phase 2 in the Igbo self-determination movement in Nigeria took place from 1967 until 1970. That struggle ended in a draw, “no victor, no vanquished,” no surrender document signed and not an inch of Igbo territory lost—but not without the slaughter of one-quarter of the then Igbo population, most of them children, then future of the Igbo nation. Veterans of the New Biafra Movement consciously refrain from denominating the mass killings of the Igbo which took place in Nigeria from 1967 to 1970 a civil war because those killings were an act of aggression against a defenseless Igbo population by the Nigerian government that amounted to a genocide—that the world will one day acknowledge to Igbo self-vindication. The genocide was preceded by a pogrom of the Igbo population in various parts of Nigeria, particularly North Nigeria, involving the mass killings of over 100,000 innocent Igbo. The justification for these

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murders was the malicious labelling of the coup of January 15, 1966, as an Igbo coup. However, this excuse has no basis in reality. Until the low-quality democracy since 1999, Nigeria was a land of military (mis)rule, marked by numerous coups and counter-coups, all of them by non-Igbo officers, but with no reprisal killings of the ethnic groups of these coup plotters and perpetrators. The norm of unprovoked killings with impunity extending to non-Igbo groups that is the bane of Nigeria today, especially under the Buhari sharia regime since 2015, is due to the failure of the Nigerian government to secure accountability for the horrific slaughter of innocent Igbo in 1966 that many Northerners despised and today still despise as “Nyamiri.”
Following the conflict, consistent with no victor, no vanquished, the Nigerian government promised the three “Rs,” standing for rehabilitation, reconstruction, and reintegration, designed to reconcile its alienated Igbo populace. This promise was never kept. Instead, from the word go until the present day, the Nigerian government implemented a vicious policy of exclusion designed to further impoverish a group struggling to emerge from the unspeakable hardship of a genocidal war—to ensure that they never raised their national head. These marks of exclusion included the payment of a flat paltry 20 pounds for monies Igbo left in Nigerian banks before the war, regardless of how large the size of the actual saving (some with bank accounts even got nothing), the adoption of an indigenization decree in February of 1972 at a time soon after the conflict when few Igbo had the wherewithal to participate in the buyout, and the complete lack of “federal” presence (not even basic infrastructure like airports, seaports, and bridges) in Igboland that has gone on now for 50 long years.
Phase 3 of the Igbo self-determination movement coincided with the failure of the Nigerian government to build peace with its Igbo populace after the genocidal war, consistent with its promise of 3 “Rs” in the spirit of no victor, no vanquished. The first part of this phase was marked by repressive military rule that allowed no room for any expression whatsoever. For 25 long years between the end of the so-called civil war and 1999, excluding four short years from 1979 until 1983, military regimes masterminded by the Fulani took hold of the country. By far the most repressive of these illegal regimes were Ibrahim Babaginda from 1985-1993, and Sani Abacha from 1993 until 1998.
In 1994, at the height of the Abacha dictatorship, General Chukwuemeka Odimegwu- Ojukwu, former leader of Biafra, gave a momentous lecture in which he analogized the country’s unity to the biblical Jonah in the belly of the Whale, the Whale being Hausa-Fulani and Jonah the rest of the country, notably the longsuffering Igbo. Keep in mind that the minority Fulani is a non-native ethnicity that arrived in Nigeria only in 1804 from the Fouta Djallon region of Guinea. Ojukwu memorably recounted how during the conflict, Biafrans became “the most technologically advanced black people on earth.”
We remember with pride […] the three heady years of our freedom. …In three years of war, necessity gave birth to invention. … We built bombs, we built rockets, we designed and built our own delivery systems. We guided our rockets, we guided them far, we guided them accurately. For three years blockaded without hope of imports, we maintained engines, machines[,] and technical equipment. We maintained all our vehicles. The state extracted and refined petrol, individuals refined petrol at the back of
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their gardens. We built and maintained our airports, maintained them under heavy bombardment. Despite the heavy bombardment, we recovered so quickly after each raid that we were able to maintain the record for the busiest airport on the content of Africa. We spoke to the world through a telecommunication system engineered by local ingenuity, the world heard us and spoke back to us. We built armored cars and tanks. We modified aircraft from trainers to fighters, from passenger aircraft to bombers. In three years of freedom we had broken the technological barrier. In three years, we became the most civilized, the most technologically advanced black people on earth. We spun nylon yarn, we developed new seeds for food and medicines.
However, Phase 3, the current instalment in the Igbo struggle for self-determination reached a high point under Nigeria’s so-called Fourth Republic beginning in 1999, over twenty years ago, but in actuality circa 1996.
The foregoing reasons, including the appeal to speak with one voice, formed the context for the meetings of Veterans of the New Biafra Movement and this communiqué, a capping point of those meetings. The Igbo have a saying to the effect that an elder does not stay at home, arms akimbo, while a pregnant goat gives birth under leash. The purpose of the meetings, therefore, was for these Veterans to take stock and brainstorm on the way forward. The theme of the meetings was “(Re)positioning the New Biafra Movement.”
B. Fourteen-Point Resolution
The following are the resolutions from the meetings that we Veterans of the New Biafra Movement share with Igbo and friends of Igbo all over the world, home and abroad:
(1) That the Igbo have reached a consensus on a separate state free and separate from Nigeria. The only unfinished business revolves around finer issues on how to get to that state, by whatever name, whether Biafra or any other name of their choice, that Ndigbo must come together to work out.
(2) That within the denouement of exclusion reaching fever pitch under the Fourth Republic, the masses of the Igbo people, the oha, have chosen to be in their own driver seat, rather than let any incompetent driver of whatever ethnic group, whether Yoruba, Fulani, or other ethnicity, drive them into the ditch or mud (poto-poto). What is good for the goose in Scotland is good for the gander in Biafra-land. The Igbo cannot afford to settle for second fiddle in their own land at a time when much smaller entities like Northern Ireland in the UK are now bullishly taking charge of their own national destinies. The Veterans decried the paradox signified by the fact that the British who amalgamated the Igbo and other ethnic groups into the artificial structure called Nigeria by fiat without the consent of these groups, are decentralizing power in a unitary state while Nigeria, a so-called federal state, is centralizing those powers in Abuja for the benefit of a minority Fulani group.
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(3) That Nigeria expired in 2014, one hundred years after it was illegitimately birthed. The UK has no reason to hold Igbo down in this neo-colonial state when it is extending independence to Scotland and Northern Ireland, allowing them the opportunity that the Fulani who hold water in Nigeria for the UK are not affording Igbo Biafrans. Regardless of ethnicity or color, all human beings have the right to dignity, presupposing equal treatment. To this effect, the Veterans appealed to the Nigerian national government to immediately put in place modalities for the conduct of an internationally-supervised referendum for the Igbo of the type the UK government extended to the Scottish people to ascertain the legitimate wishes of the Igbo masses as to whether or not they want to remain in Nigeria.
(4) That there is need for unity of purpose and increased cohesiveness in the New Biafra Movement. However, this will be hard to achieve if Veterans of the New Biafra Movement at home and abroad do not set aside their differences and speak with one voice, irrespective of which group, committed to Biafra restoration, that they belong in.
(5) The Veterans thanked organizations working for the restoration of Igbo self-determination all over the world for their contributions to the movement, but observed that there is a lot yet to be done to realize the new state all Igbo yearn for. Therefore, this is not the time to rest on their oars or dwell unduly on the mistakes of the past. Instead, now is the time to try time-tested, non-violent strategies like lobbying and lawsuits while expressing gratitude to those true friends like the Gabonese, Haitians, Tanzanians, and Zambians, who stood on the side of the Igbo people in their moment of distress and travail.
(6) The Veterans expressed an un-equivocated desire to ally with organizations in Igboland and the Diaspora committed to nonviolent Igbo self-determination.
(7) Osundu agwu ike (an individual engaged in a race to preserve his or her life is never tired). Therefore, the Igbo must strive to realize their self-determination for as long as it takes to get the job done—just like the Eritreans in former Ethiopia and the South Sudanese in former Sudan, contrary to the bogeyman of “balkanization,” the notion now proven wrong that self-determination will lead to the formation of small unviable countries in Africa. Outside Africa, the Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians, worked for self-determination until they achieved their freedom goals in the former Soviet Union.
(8) The Veterans warned that this latest struggle must not go the way of a draw, no victor-no-vanquish, of the 1967-1970 struggle. One U.S. diplomat in a position to know says Nigeria has a notorious record of dancing on the brink without falling into the precipice (hole or poto-poto). All Igbo engaged in the current struggle for self-determination must keep this in mind and remain in the struggle for the long haul—until the goal of Biafra restoration is accomplished.
(9) The Veterans observed that the illegitimate sharia constitution must be the starting point in any negotiation going forward designed to realize Igbo self-determination outside Nigeria. Igbo was not a party at any meeting where Nigerians decided on the supposed
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indissolubility of a constitution Fulani General Abdulsalami Abubakar used to handover in 1999 that was never approved by anybody, except himself and his military co-travelers.
(10) The Veterans observed that nobody undertakes on an important journey using the feet of another person. From a practical and strategic standpoint and to obviate the bogeyman of Igbo “domination,” including from Igbo neighbors in Eastern Nigeria, every ethnic group in Nigeria, no matter how small, must conduct its own campaign for self-determination, as IgboZaraIgbo, a foremost Igbo-Biafra organization, unambiguously elaborated in a seminal press release. After winning their own individual struggles, groups that choose to align with the Igbo may do so, sealing their agreement for governance with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) memorializing their agreement and the nature of the society that they plan to build. That MOU, reached with the help of a neutral third party, such as the UN, will remain in place only for as long as the covenanting parties’ consent.
(11) That Igbo vicious exclusion in Nigeria, minimizedly packaged as “marginalization,” has reached its highest point under General Muhammadu Buhari since 2015 where all three arms of the national government and all security outfits are now headed by northern Muslims and Igbo are relegated to the political wilderness in their own land. The control of the judiciary now led by a sharia chief justice testifies to this exclusion. Using the judiciary, the national government selected a governor for Imo citizens in place of a governor they freely elected themselves. Onye ajuru aju anagha aju onwe ya. (a neglected person does not self-neglect himself or herself). The Igbo must not sit down helplessly in the face of this exclusion. There can be no better time than now to restore Igbo Biafra. The Veterans observed regrettably that vicious exclusion of the Igbo from the political system of the kind noticed under Buhari is the type of injustice that lends force to relentless agitation for Igbo separation from Nigeria.
(12) The Veterans strongly condemned the ceding of Igbo territory for Fulani ranching under any guise. They warned that there will be no statute of limitations for any violation of this norm.
(13) The Veterans strongly condemn the extrajudicial killing of numerous Igbo youth and the wounding of many others on Sunday, August 23, 2020, by combined forces from the Nigeria Police, Nigerian Army, and Department of State Services. They call for full investigation into the killings and mayhems, immediate release of any Igbo youth in detention, as well as the immediate arrest and timely prosecution of all the officials involved. The Veterans warned that any official involved in these dastardly acts, including Igbo governors and other so-called leaders, will have their day in court one day at the International Criminal Court, no matter how long it takes to redress this impunity and promote accountability.
(14) The Veterans warned that 2020 is an era utterly different from 1966 to 1970. No group has a monopoly of violence. Therefore, Fulani rulers and those who hold water for them
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in Nigeria and abroad must not interpret Igbo peaceful gestures and self-restraints in the face of provocation as weakness.
Nnanna Uma

Maazi Nnanna Uma, Ph.D., CPCM
For and on behalf of the Veterans of the New Biafra Movement
Dated this 12th day of Sept., 2020

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