Before you judge Col. Ojukwu, imagine yourself in his position awhile. Now, the stage became set and the Federal Government of Nigeria, having viewed the size of Biafra as against all of Nigeria put together; having tactically but partially fractured Biafra by their diabolical conspiracy, began to boast (as Dr. Junaid is doing now) that in a moment – 48 hours – Biafrans would be wiped out of the surface of the earth in what they tagged, “Police Action”. Why shouldn’t they, when the majority of Biafra’s finest Combatant officers and other ranks were killed during the pogrom that well over 30, 000 Easterners were massacred in Northern and Western parts of Nigeria?
What they were now contemplating was only the day that their heart desires will be accomplished – having successfully blockaded all Biafra’s borders with other neighbor, Countries of Africa - total economic blockade against importation of food, drugs, household needs etc, on the flimsy pretext that they did not want Biafrans to have access to arms and ammunitions to fight back.
Countries that hesitated were ceded some part of Biafra land to make them agree to close their borders against Biafra. Worse still, when Federal Government released the Biafran soldiers serving in Nigerian Army to return to the East, they disarmed all of them, but to their counterparts from other parts of the Country serving in the East, Col. Ojukwu ordered that they should be led out of Eastern borders peacefully and they should go with their arms as soldiers which they were!
Having concluded their assessment of Biafra and her weaponry, the number of soldiers left with them, scarce resources and multiple problems of population explosion, hunger, and intense famine, they became confident that Biafra will not withstand the first push because they have succeeded to render them militarily impotent. With the conviction, on 6th July 1967, they struck, from Enugu axis. Col. Odumegwu-Ojukwu anticipating their attack one day, was busy recruiting able-bodied young men into Biafran Army (B.A), arming them with a very lean stock of arms, complemented by donated guns, pistols, and machetes.
His gallant troops effectively repelled the attack. Cognizant that there were no sophisticated weapons, or if they were very scanty, he immediately assembled Biafran Engineers and set up what was then known as “RAP” meaning Research and Production to showcase their ingenuity.
This idea worked out very well as they began to manufacture armored vehicles, grenades, land and sea mines, Ogbunigwes, rocket launchers and other Mass-killer weapons of warfare. No sooner, the Biafran soldiers captured Benin and declared it a Republic “ROB”. There was great panic in Lagos as they headed towards Ore. Britain, their godfather joined with all their military might, but all to no avail. They involved their traditional ally in battle, America, yet Biafra was not capitulating but rather more resilient. Russia, then a dreaded leading World power supplied all mig fighters to Nigeria and their pilots were highly trained Egyptian and Sudanese experts in flying mig fighters.
But Biafra refused to go down. For sheer frustration, they resorted to soft targets, bombing markets, schools, Churches, hospitals and refugee camps to ensure they exhausted their bombs, contrary to conventional best practices. By the tail end of 1969 however, the much respected Zik of Africa, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, flew into Lagos from where he sojourned abroad and met Gowon.
After the close door deliberation, Zik made an open announcement, calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities and bloodbath. This position, in no small measure, affected the morale of hard fighting Biafran Officers and men very negatively. The Biafran populace too, received it with mixed feelings, the nation having gone this far. Although the fierce battle was still going on on many fronts and sectors, the leaders of Thought met and advised General Ojukwu to leave. It took a lot of persuasions to convince him to accept to leave.
On Sunday, 11th January 1970, Ojukwu, at Uli Airport left to Ivory Coast, one of the five countries that officially recognized Biafra diplomatically as a sovereign nation. The following morning, Monday, 12th January 1970, General Ojukwu’s ever dependable Deputy, General Philip Effiong, announced the historic surrender.
Signals were sent to all formations to stop fighting and pull out. This is quite contrary to major-General Olusegun Obasanjo’s claim that he and his 3rd Marine Commando crushed Biafra. Elated Gowon, surprised at Biafra’s ingenuity and fighting spirit as well as fruitfulness of his meeting with Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe declared a no Victor, no Vanquished verdict.
From this short account, how can a right think person advocate for the use of force or war again to stop agitation for Biafra’s sovereignty? It is an ideology that can never die since the powers-that-be tactlessly and as a result of innate hatred caused its birth! The Youths have now taken over the struggle, making progress every day with fantastic spread across the globe. Times have changed completely. There will be no more economic blockade. The World will no more be deceived as did Mr. Harold Wilson of Britain. Support may now be even, or more on Biafra side. Sophistication is much on the increase.
Release Nnamdi Kanu and others without preconditions. Allow Biafra to go and negotiate diplomatic terms of friendly co-operations to the mutual, benefit of all. Let there be no more senseless waste of lives
EDITED AND PUBLISHED: PRINCE RICHMOND C. AMDAI