(Harold Wilson: “would accept a half million dead Biafrans if that was what it took...”)
Author:  Herbert Ekwe-EkweHerbert Ekwe-Ekwe is visiting professor at Universidade de Fortaleza and specialist on the state and on genocide and wars in Africa in the post-1966 epoch – beginning with the Igbo genocide, 29 May 1966-12 Jan 1970

Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe*****
Conqueror’s concord

In Empire: What Ruling the World Did to the British (London: Viking, 2011), Jeremy Paxman allocates just 12 lines of his total 368-page study to British-occupied Nigeria in west Africa. But Paxman’s pithy commentary undoubtedly speaks volumes of the mindset of the occupation regime on the very eve of its presumed departure from Nigeria in October 1960. This is clearly a regime that is not prepared or willing to abandon the bounty harvest or lucre that is its Nigeria. Instead, it is exploring across a spectrum of strategies to subvert the very goal of the restoration-of-independence movement for the peoples which the Igbo, one of the constituent nations in Nigeria, had led since the 1930s.Using state archival material, Paxman presents the crux of the panoramic conversation on the subject in Lagos (Nigeria’s then capital), in January 1960, between James Robertson, the outgoing occupation governor, and visiting British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan (Paxman, 2011: 272):
(Harold Macmillan) MACMILLAN: Are the people fit for self-government?

No, of course not.
According to Paxman, James Robertson reckons that it would take “another 20 or 25 years” for Nigeria to be “fit for self-government” (Paxman: 272; added emphasis). Instructively, this is the same Robertson who had, prior to his Lagos meeting with Macmillan, “concluded” the “terms” of the British “exit” from Nigeria in “negotiations” with the country’s restoration-of-independence movement – begun 15 years earlier and had been chaired successively by two previous occupation governors including sessions scheduled and held in England (Herbert Ekwe-EkweBiafra Revisited, 2006: 27-43, 121). This is the same Robertson who had just rigged the December 1959 countrywide elections in Nigeria (part of the restoration-of-independence “package”) in favour of the Hausa-Fulani north region, as Harold Smith, a member of the occupation regime in Lagos at the time, would recall years later (Harold Smith, “A squalid end to empire”, The Free Library, 1 November 2008; Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, “Elections in Africa – the voter, the court, the outcome”, 2013: 810-811). Furthermore, this is the same Robertson whose predecessor, in Lagos, had earlier rigged the countrywide census results – again, in favour of Britain’s Hausa-Fulani north regional clients (Smith, “A squalid end of empire”), aimed at ensuring that the latter, with a fabricated population majority in the country, has the “electoral clout” to safeguard for the (British)conqueror-state the vast arena of its strategic and economic assets in Nigeria in perpetuity (Ekwe-Ekwe, 2006: 18-114; Herbert Ekwe-EkweReadings from Reading: Essays on African Politics, Genocide, Literature, 2011: 1-6).  As this study will demonstrate, this north region constitutes the core of Britain’s local clients in Nigeria, vehemently opposed to African independence – and, therefore, the British exit! Consequently, it would play a key role in the perpetration of the Igbo genocide which it undertakes in concert with Britain. Pointedly, on the broader stretch of the politics of liberation of the Southern World, during this post-Second World War epoch, the north Nigeria region has the unenviable accolade across this hemisphere of being home to one of the few peoples who wanted the continuing occupation of their lands by one of the pan-European powers of global conquest since the 15th century CE (Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe, “LĂ©opold Senghor”, The Literary Encyclopedia, 30 June 2002).
So, given James Robertson’s apparent “unfavourable prognosis” on Nigeria illustrated in Empire, Prime Minister Macmillan asks his governor for advice on the way forward for the British continuing occupation of Nigeria (Paxman: 272): “What do you recommend me to do?”

ROBERTSON: I recommend you give it to them at once.
(James Robertson)ROBERTSON
Really? Why? Doesn’t Robertson’s suggestion to his boss sound wholly contradictory to the tract that this conclave had trodden so far? Well, no, not really… Both prime minister and governor have no disagreement, whatsoever, on holding onto British “interests” in Nigeria in perpetuity; they do not believe that they are necessarily bound by the “terms” of the envisaged British “exit” from Nigeria “negotiated” since 1945 even though, ironically, these had largely preserved British “interests”, thanks to the veto-power that its Hausa-Fulani north region subalterns would exercise in the “new” dispensation (Ekwe-Ekwe, 2006: 40-43, 121); most crucially, both men do not subscribe to the inalienable rights of Africans to recover their conquered lands.
It is the case, though, that if the British officials were to renege on their “exit” from Nigeria at this 11th hour, they would have to contend with a serious crisis – at least in the short/medium term – right there on the ground in Nigeria: “The alternative [is] that most talented people [read: the Igbo and those others elsewhere in south Nigeria who demanded and supported the drive towards unfettered restoration-of-independence for the peoples during these past 30 years] would become rebels and the British would spend the next two decades fighting to stave off what [is] inevitable, while incurring the opprobrium of the world” (Paxman: 272).
As the Lagos deliberations end, nine months before the designated British departure date (1 October 1960), both prime minister and governor needn’t agonise, too much, over the future prospects of their country’s Nigeria stranglehold. After all, despite the “talented people”, Britain is aware that it holds the trump card to defend this stranglehold via its Hausa-Fulani clients. Twice in the previous 15 years (significantly, it should be noted, during those crucial years of British “negotiations” of its “exit” from Nigeria with the “talented people”), the clients organised and unleashed pogroms against Igbo people in the northcentral town of Jos (1945) and north city of Kano (1953). Hundreds of Igbo were murdered during these massacres and tens of thousands of pounds sterling worth of their property looted or destroyed (Ekwe-Ekwe, 2006: 8, 19-20). No perpetrators of these murders were ever apprehended or punished by the occupation regime.
Six and one-half years hence, from Sunday 29 May 1966, these same British clients would unleash the genocide against the Igbo people. During the course of 44 months, 3.1 million Igbo children, women and men are murdered in this foundational and most gruesome genocide of post-(European)conquest Africa. The Igbo and the world suddenly realise that those anti-Igbo pogroms, carried out during the years of the Anglo-“talented people”-in-Nigeria doubtful restoration-of-independence negotiations, were indeed “dress rehearsals” for the 29 May 1966-12 January 1970 Igbo genocide.
(Harold Wilson: “would accept a half million dead
Biafrans if that was what it took…”)

Britain plays an instrumental role in the perpetration of the genocide – politically, diplomatically and militarily, and its closest international ally, the United States, as we will soon elaborate, is fully aware of its mission. Now, a new Harold-the-prime minister, this time Harold Wilson, beginning in 1964, has no qualms about the “opprobrium of the world” considered by the other Harold during those January 1960 talks with governor Robertson. Wilson’s reasons are obvious: the architecture of control and execution of mass violence in Nigeria have altered, somehow, since January 1960, and the forces on the ground spearheading the Igbo genocide are the trusted Hausa-Fulani subalterns of old in addition to their since locally expanded allies in Yoruba, Edo and Urhobo west Nigeria – not Britain, directly; precisely, what Macmillan and Robertson had sought to avoid during that Lagos summit! Declassified British state papers indicate the monstrous disposition by the Wilson government, right from the outset, to saturate the Nigerian genocidist armoury on the ground with a wide range of British weapons to ensure that the murder of the Igbo is effected most comprehensively:

In December 1967 … [British Foreign] Secretary George Thomson said that “ [the Nigerians] are most impressed with the Saladins and Ferrets” previously supplied by Britain. As a result Britain supplied six Saladin armoured personnel carriers (APCs), 30 Saracen APCs along with 2,000 machine guns for them, anti-tank guns and 9 million rounds of ammunition. Denis Healey, the Defence Secretary, wrote that he hoped these supplies will encourage the Nigerians “to look to the United Kingdom for their future purchases of defence equipment”. By the end of the year [1967] Britain had also approved the export of 1,050 bayonets, 700 grenades, 1,950 rifles with grenade launchers, 15,000 lbs of explosives and two helicopters … In the first half of the following year,1968, Britain approved the export of 15 million rounds of ammunition, 21,000 mortar bombs, 42,500 Howitzer rounds, 12 Oerlikon guns, 3 Bofors guns, 500 submachine guns, 12 Saladins with guns and spare parts, 30 Saracens and spare parts, 800 bayonets, 4,000 rifles and two other helicopters. At the same time Wilson was constantly reassuring Gowon of British support for a United Nigeria, saying in April 1968 that “I think we can fairly claim that we have not wavered in this support throughout …”. British arms supplies were stepped up again in November [1968]. Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart said the Nigerians could have 5 million more rounds of ammunition, 40,000 more mortar bombs and 2,000 rifles.
(Denis Healey: defence secretary)

“You may tell Gowon”, Stewart instructed High Commissioner Hunt in Lagos, “that we are certainly ready to consider a further application” to supply similar arms in the future as well. He concluded: “if there is anything else for ground warfare which you… think they need and which would help speed up the end of the fighting, please let us know and we will consider urgently whether we can supply it”. Other supplies agreed in November [1968], following meetings with the Nigerians included six Saladins and 20,000 rounds of ammunition for them, and stepped up monthly supplies of ammunition, amounting to a total of 15 million rounds additional to those already agreed. It was recognised by the Defence Minister that “the scale of the UK supply of small arms ammunition to Nigeria in recent months has been and will continue to be on a vast scale”. The recent deal meant that Britain was supplying 36 million rounds of ammunition in the last few months alone. Britain’s “willingness to supply very large quantities of ammunition”, Lord Shepherd [minister of state, foreign office] noted, “meant drawing on the British army’s own supplies”. By the end of 1968 Britain had sold Nigeria £9 million worth of arms, £6 million of which was spent on small arms … In March 1969 the government approved the export of 19 million rounds of ammunition, 10,000 grenades and 39,000 mortar bombs … Two senior British RAF officers secretly visited Nigeria in August 1969 to advise the Nigerians on “how they could better prosecute the air war” … [I]n December 1969 … Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart was calling for stepping up military assistance including the supply of more armoured cars. These supplies by Britain, he wrote, “have undoubtedly been the most effective weapons in the ground war and have spear-headed all the major [Nigerian] advances”. (Mark Curtis, “Nigeria’s war over Biafra, 1967-70”)

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  1. How could Igbos have led Nigeria since 1930 when Igbos had their first graduate in 1930 when Yorubas had over 100 graduates inthat 1930? Igbos and their falsification of history.