LEST WE FORGET:
A DECLARATION BY THE WORLD IGBO CONGRESS (WIC)
WHO WE ARE
We are an apex Diaspora organization representing all associations of our people who are united by a common cause of peacefully and lawfully protecting the interests of our people through advocacy of their inalienable rights to existence.
We also work to create awareness of the world to our plight and facilitate peaceful resistance to the cruel, wicked and unprovoked acts of hatred against our people, by our supposed compatriots in Nigeria since 1945.
We are conscious of the fact that this heart-rending and on-going decimation of our people was conceived and foisted on us by the British Government since she created the artificial geographic entity she called Nigeria, by fusing numerous ethnic nationalities who are strange bed fellows, in furtherance of the economic interests of their erstwhile Royal Niger Company (previously called United African Company and renamed National African Company at some point).
PURPOSE OF THE DECLARATION
On behalf of all who hail from “Biafran Land” and in reference to the insecure climate in which the people of this region find themselves. This is compounded by Nigeria’s determination to continue an overt and covert war of genocide against our people through deliberate policies to silently strangulate us economically and politically under the imposed 1999 “Constitution” which is a continuation of the uncompleted outright pogrom and open acts of genocide perpetrated against us from July 29th 1966 To January 1970.
THE GENESIS OF THE PRESENT CRISIS
We have the chronology of the said decimation of our people from 1945 until the beginning of the crisis that led to the present pitiable circumstances of our people.
The world is aware of the ethnic cleansing of our people in the Nigerian Army from 29th July 1966 followed by open-ended massacre and pogrom from then till September 30th 1966, when diplomatic pressure was brought on Nigeria’s leader at the time, Lt. Colonel Gowon, to make a national broadcast wherein he confessed that the unprovoked massacre of our citizens had degenerated to a level of reckless irresponsibility on the part of the rampaging soldiers, their commanders, and the Military Governor of the then Northern Nigeria, Major Usman Katsina, for their failure to stop the killings of helpless civilians and restore order.
Despite the magnitude of that criminal dastardly act, the perpetrators were never brought to book because they were acting on the instruction of the Nigerian State as a sovereign entity in the comity of nations (as the British Government of the time under Prime Minister Harold Wilson posited in defense of the crime).
THE EVOLVING DYNAMICS
Even as we were leaking the wounds needlessly inflicted on us by Nigerian Government through her foreign-aided Armed Forces, which created an influx of the greatest number of internally displaced persons in the world into our territory, we continued to seek a peaceful political arrangement such that the security of our lives and property as Nigerian citizens, and the right to defend same within our territory, is constitutionally guaranteed.
This modest demand on our part, despite our being victims of the worst cruelty a nation could inflict on her citizens, was also the position taken in the sober submission made by the Northern Region Delegates to the September 1966 aborted Constitutional Conference in Lagos, as an alternative to their “Araba” (secession) intention at the time which the British convinced Lt. Colonel Gowon and Northern leaders to abandon.
Eventually, Nigeria’s Military Leaders of the time, led by Lt. Colonel Gowon, Nigeria’s Head of State, met in Aburi Ghana with the Military Governor of our territory from 5th to 7th January 1967 and, in sincere appreciation of this TRUTH, and the NEED to prevent future recrudesce of our bitter experiences, AGREED on Nigerian Armed Forces being split into Regional Commands consequent upon which the then Lieutenant Colonel Yakubu Gowon (Nigeria’s Head of State) PROMULGATED A DEGREE creating Regional Commands: the Northern Regional Command, the Eastern Regional Command, the Western Regional Command, and the Mid-Western Regional Command in line with the federating structure on which Nigerians agreed to become one political entity.
It was also realized in hindsight then that if the 1963 Constitution had made this provision, both January 15th 1966 and July 29th 1966 coups (and others after them), would have been impossible for any group to plan and execute and thereafter impose itself on the whole country, let alone embark on the criminal enterprise of genocide and ethnic cleansing.
AN ATTEMPT AT SELF PRESERVATION: A LAST RESORT
Unfortunately, the Nigeria Government breached and reneged on this accord on the advice of the British Government and other local and international interests. We insisted on full implementation of the Accord, not partial implementation of it.
There are many examples where similar constitutional provisions are conceded to a Region or ethnic groups that distrust the Central authority. For example, the Kurdistan Region (of Northern Iraq) has such autonomy as we peacefully demanded.
The Kurdistan Regional Command of the IRAQI NATIONAL ARMED FORCES is called the Peshmerga. But when Nigeria recalcitrantly repudiated the Accord and even abrogated the decree by which Nigerian Armed Forces command was decentralized, we declared our territory a sovereign entity, the Republic of Biafra, by which we sought nothing more than our right of self-determination in defense of our lives, property and territory.
Unfortunately for us, we had no Lord Rothschild in Britain to force Her Majesty’s Government to stick with justice and honor by encouraging Nigeria to abide by the Aburi Accord, our version of the Balfour Declaration, and not shut her eyes to pogrom.
Consequently, Britain unabashedly encouraged the Fulani oligarchy, through whom she still indirectly controls Nigeria, to use the declaration of Biafra to justify the long sought excuse to declare a war against us, pursuant to their earlier averred political jihad objective of dipping the Koran into the Bight of Biafra, where the Atlantic Sea washes the shores of our homeland.
THE WORLD BARKED BUT DID NOT BITE
The ferocious brutality unleashed on us during that war remains etched in the conscience of humanity as a scandalous evidence of the fact that no matter how heinous and dark the acts of a State may be, she will go scot-free if she has the support of a Super power as Her Majesty’s Great Britain despite outcries by other countries. For example:
(1) Richard Nixon as the Republican Presidential candidate in 1968 cried out urging the United States to abandon diplomatic niceties and react to the wanton mass murder of Igbos which in his moral judgment “now involves genocide” (New York Times, September 9th, 1968). But upon being elected President, the United States of America under him abandoned us to genocide in preference for obliging Britain.
(2) US Congressman Donald Lukens of Ohio, on his return to the United States from independent fact finding visit to Biafra and Nigeria, decrying the failure of American to act on moral grounds stated to New York Times thus:
“While the bombing may have somewhat prejudiced my logic, I don’t think I’m totally pro Biafra. But I do think Biafra has a moral right to be heard before appropriate international bodies, including the United Nation. And I think it is wrong to have a policy based on colonial boundaries drawn decades ago by European powers to serve European interests.
When I got to Lagos, I asked Elbert Mathews, our Ambassador, what our policy was. He said a quick kill of Biafra would be the most humane way to end the war. Well, if that is the policy we got locked into, then either I live in the wrong country or the policy is wrong”.
(3) Even in Britain, an outcry against the support for genocide by the government of Harold Wilson was raised by Winston Churchill III, the grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, who led an independent fact-finding team to Biafra as it exposed existence of evidence of genocide.
His blood chilling and morally revolting report to the British Parliament, which graphically exposed acts of deliberate cold carnage in Biafra so ridiculed the cover-up by British government under Harold Wilson and generated so much public anger that Harold Wilson had to douse it by quickly arranging a stage-managed Common Wealth ‘fact finding visit’ spin to Nigeria, headed by General William Milroy of Canada, to endorse his stance of no evidence of genocide.
Milroy’s Report was immediately dismissed by Steven Lewis, a Canadian member of Parliament whose team had just visited Biafra. He charged:
“Anybody who says that there is no evidence of genocide by Nigeria against Biafra is either in the pay of Britain or being a deliberate fool. If you want to see genocide, come to Biafra” (Agence France-Presse, 12th October, 1968).
(4)Senator Edward Kennedy of blessed memory in his Memoir noted with deep pains that:
“……. A quarter million Nigerian troops finally overwhelmed the tiny breakaway state, gunning down and starving the Ibos by tens of thousands. The war itself was nearly at an end when I called hearings before my Refugee Committee in early January 1970.
Well before that, the victor’s merciless crushing of the rebel state had begun to smack of genocide. In my first Senate speech following Bobby’s death, on September 23, 1968, I pointed out that while the United States and other nations did nothing to intervene, more than seven thousand Biafrans were dying of starvation each day.
But the suffering was far from over: the victorious Nigerian armies were running unrestrained through Biafra, ransacking households, murdering and raping. After testimony on the extent of brutality, I renewed my call for America to intervene in this open-ended massacre.”
(5). Golda Meir, then Prime Minister of Israel, lamented that the genocide went on unchallenged, because the State of Israel was herself fighting for survival in the face of ruthless onslaught against her by jihadists in the Middle East who wanted Jews wiped out of the earth, just as their brothers in Nigeria want(ed) Biafrans wiped out of the Earth.
The above words of late Senator Edward Kennedy are not a mere dirge for the funeral rites of those who died in Biafra due to the world’s failure to act against genocide. They are a stanza of a requiem hymn of an era where America would be SILENT and feel powerless in the face of the worst form of injustice: GENOCIDE, because she is “locked in a policy based on colonial boundaries drawn decades ago by European powers to serve European interests”.
She must now extricate herself from such conspiracy and thereby redeem her noble image of, and forever remain, the last beacon of hope for all people whose right to life and self-determination are threatened.
It is no secret that the war is still going on, but under different disguises. Can the international community pretend to be unaware of the spreading of Boko Haram members across our Region under the guise of Fulani cattle herdsmen armed with AK47 rifles? Is the world blind to the existence of undeclared martial law over our territory self-evidenced by physical military and paramilitary occupation of our territory?
Can the world be unaware of a strategy of Buhari administration’s pre-emptive declaration of unarmed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as terrorists, while Boko Haram under disguise of herdsmen, are protected by Nigeria’s Security forces? How can our leaders go to bed at night and sleep comfortably even while the now ubiquitous Fulani herdsmen are a trigger crunch away from their bed head posts in all the nooks and crannies of our clime?
THE RISE OF CHAMPIONS
It is the continued pogrom, ethnic cleansing and attempted genocide against our people by their supposed compatriots due to hatred, envy, and irreconcilable differences in culture and mode of thought and worship, that brought forth the people’s CHAMPIONS: Asari Dokubo, Ralph Uwazurike, Nnamdi Kanu and many others, who are peacefully resisting the carnage.
These sons of our land are miffed by the calumny of the Federal Government with the apparent collusion of the world. The generality of the peoples of the territory known as Biafra from May 30th 1967 to January 1970 totally support their struggle and tribulations on behalf of us all: for this generation and generations unborn that have been arbitrarily zoned by British as belonging to different Regions of Nigeria. We are not unmindful that our political class is compromised, induced, cajoled, blackmailed and intimidated into acquiescence by different arms of the Nigerian State Security who also force and or suborn them to publicly condemn these champions of the struggle. Frankly, how can they speak out when the nozzle of Federal terrorists’ rifles are pointing at their heads?
WHAT WE NEED TO DO NOW
As a foremost leader of the struggle, Asari Dokubo, has unequivocally stated: Nnamdi Kanu has REOPENED the eyes of the world to our plight and our cause. We believe that this is the awareness we had always needed since 1970, but never got. Nnamdi Kanu is highly recognized in the relevant world stage as representing Our Cause: The Emancipation of Our People.
Just as Exclusionary anti-Semitic Policies and pogrom of 1881 – 1884 forced Theodor Herzel (founder of Zionism) to abandon his comfort zone and champion the Cause of the Jews and their right to a homeland, so did the endless massacre and economic strangulation of our people by the Federal Government of Nigeria gave rise to the IPOB’s insistence that our right to self determination and security in our region cannot be compromised.
Our political class should PUBLICLY (not in whispers) support him. IPOB is unarmed and has never perpetrated acts of violence. They ask for an internationally supervised referendum or plebiscite as a prerequisite for determining what the majority of our peoples want. That is Our Common Cause.
Every person who hails from Biafran territory agrees that the so-called 1999 ‘constitution’ is an attempt at legitimization of the subjugation, economic strangulation, and pillorying of our people and the plunder of our resources. The fact that one of us may become a President of Nigeria under this constitution at some point, does not change this fact.
On Aburi we stand for our Region and for our kit and kin locked into different Regions of Nigeria by the colonialists. We stand in solidarity as a people in demanding our right of self-determination, a referendum and full implementation of the Aburi Accord being the barest minimum acceptable to the generality of our people.
Any restructuring or re-engineering of Nigeria must come to terms with this barest minimum. Nnamdi Kanu has, in several ways, demonstrated that he is a peaceful man; and flexible enough to settle for this, if that is what we, his people, want. We need to resist the temptation of accepting subornation by the Federal Government to castigate and betray him and other champions and the Common Cause of Our People.
The current political configurations are only a placeholder as we struggle for a better future. We believe that all our people at home or in the Diaspora, deep in their private hearts, support this Cause. We need to take advantage of the awareness already created by Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB to design the future of our dreams.
We should not be intimidated by the unconscionable declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organization. Instead, we should be comforted by the fact that Menachem Begin, who later became the 6th Prime Minister of Israel, was also labeled a terrorist by the British when he was struggling for the right of the Jews to have a homeland. We are grateful to the State of Israel for realizing that our predicaments today, were exactly theirs yesterday.
As Brutus would say in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, “There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, and we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures”.
As the 2019 elections loom in Nigeria and as we have made our wish for our people known in a previous publication, we call on all our people who yearn for the appellation of being “Our Leaders” to seize this opportunity to actually be the leaders of our people.
We must take the current when it serves, and that is now. Let us not forget what this is all about: the preservation, protection and emancipation of our people. This is a bigger objective than all of us in case we are tempted to forget.
Professor Anthony Ejiofor
Chairman, World Igbo Congress (WIC).
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