What is Biafra, who are the IPOB and why do they want to become independent from Nigeria?

The lack of autonomy, the conflict of religions, the ethnic and cultural differences, but above all, the economic problems and political injustices revive in the Nigerian population the separatist spirit. Fifty years after the civil war, the government ignores the cries of independence to proclaim the Republic of Biafra.

Bombing in northern Nigeria, in January 2017. AFP
No one knows where Nnamdi Kanu is. On October 17, 2017, he did not appear before the court, where he was going to be triedthe same happened on November 14. "Even the military says they are looking for Not even know if he 's alive or dead . Some suspect returned to England. Personally, I think it is safe. Maybe you are devising new strategies" and told the journalist Chido Onumah to the Spectator the uncertainties about the fate of Nnamdi Kanu, the ex-leader of the independence movement of Nigeria, the seventh most populous country in the world.
"The soldiers invaded our house aimlessly. They took so many people, even Nnamdi Kanu. They killed him or they are hiding him somewhere , "Prince Emmanuel Kanu told the dailypostnewspaper on November 18 about the absence of his brother Nnamdi Kanu.
On November 22, new indications were released. According to dailypost nigeria , the new head of the independence movement, Ezenachukwu Okwudili, revealed that Kanu fled to England with his English passport, without anyone seeing him officially. The activist has been missing for more than two months . It seems that the earth has swallowed it.
In the lands where the politician lived, in Umuahia, the capital of the State of Abia located in the southeast of the country, there was a military confrontation in mid-September 2107. Several members of the independence movement were shot and several are missing. Nnamdi Kanu is one of them. The army denied that attack , according to Europa Press. However, a Reuters agency team observed broken windows and fire bullets that covered the walls of the house where Nnamdi Kanu lived : the former head of the separatist organization IPOB.
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB for its acronym in English) hope that some states, located in the southeast, become independent of Nigeria and that they constitute a new country with their own flag and anthem: Biafra. They intend to return to the past, on May 30, 1967 in particular, when Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu proclaimed the Republic of Biafra. 
Fifty years ago, the flag of Nigeria was lowered with three vertical bands of green, white, green. Green represents natural abundance; the white peace. In place of it, Biafra was raised: one of three horizontal bands of carmine, black and green, with a golden sun in the middle. Peace disappeared not only from the flag but also from the country.
The secession of Biafra led to a civil war of two and a half yearsand caused between half a million and 2.5 million dead. In 1970, the forces of Biafra surrendered and the government proclaimed the end of the war with the slogan " There is no victory, there are no losers ". What there was, were victims. Many. Most of them were not compensated until this year in October. Some 150 million dollars were allocated to the wounded and another 80 million to the cleaning of areas, which are still full of explosives and mines, and to the rehabilitation of schools and churches in the south and southeast of Nigeria.
In this region of the country is also the origin of the name of that new State: the Bay of Biafra. After the British colonization, on October 1 in 1960, Nigeria was divided into three administrative regions: the Northern Region, the Western Region and the Eastern Region. At that time, 60 or 70% of inhabitants in the southeast belonged to the ethnic group of the Igbo , who have their own language and culture. The majority of the Igbo are Christians, while in the northern region, Muslims predominate. But the reason for the seperation was not purely ethnic, but also economic. 10 years before the proclamation oilwas found in the Niger Delta. A large part of the reserves of black gold was found in the region that became independent .  
Biafra was only the name to replace the name of the Eastern Region. "There was nothing to unify Biafra. Biafra was a region that encompassed many ethnic groups . It was just a geo-political arrangement, "journalist Chido Onumah told El Espectador, adding that there are disagreements on what Biafra is today . There is no unique geographical state called Biafra, but it consists of 5 or 6 different states. Not everyone who lives in that part is in favor of secession.
The majority who protest in favor of independence are young people who did not suffer the consequences of the civil war. They are based on the belief that separating from Nigeria is the best option to solve economic problems, corruption and lack of autonomy.
The lack of work and the level of poverty are the driving force of the independence movement. "It's easy to convince them and say: You have no work and a decent life because they oppress you. That is why we want our own State and our nation, "Onumah said, adding that even terrorist groups, such as Boko Haram, take advantage of misery and recruit young people for the equivalent of one dollar.
Boko Haram, which is located in northeastern Nigeria, - and which also has a presence in the neighboring countries of Chad, Niger and Cameroon - is not the only terrorist organization in the country, according to the Nigerian military. Last September, the military classified the supporters of the IPOB as terroristsand sent troops to the region to stop the separatist agitation.
Meanwhile, in the United States, in front of the United Nations assembly, thousands of IPOB activists waved the flag of Biafra, they sang peacefully. They demonstrated against the massacre, the destruction of houses and the military invasion in the state of Abia and rebelled against the Nigerian president: Muhammadu Buhari.  
The head of state of Nigeria was elected in 2015 with 52% of the votes. The ex-military man fought against the separatists in 1970, and comes from the northern region. Many times they criticized him for his hostile tone regarding the inhabitants of the southeast . In 2015, he argued that the regions, where only 5% of the population voted for him, can not expect to receive the same treatment as the areas in which he received 97% of votes , according to The Economist magazine .
In October 2017, messages were leaked in which the president emphasized that the World Bank Group will take its investment focus to the northern region in Nigeria. "With all these statements, the president repeatedly showed that he is not a national leader. The Igbos do not feel represented by him,"says Onumah. They consider him a leader from the north. In addition, since the secession of Biafra in 1966, there was not even a president who came from the southern area of ​​Nigeria.
A week ago, Buhari visited, for the first time in two years since he assumed the presidency, the Ebonyi State, located in the southeast. At the same time, it was also the first official visit by a Nigerian president to this state in the last 17 years. "The government avoids talking about the Biafra issue, but you can not ignore an issue that is present in society, " Onumah told El Espectador . In 2012, a group of 100 men and women were arrested because they walked in the streets raising the flag of Biafra, according to the BBC newspaper. 
The incidents occurred in the same year, when Nnamdi Kanu began his political activism. From England, he launched Radio Biafra and began issuing calls for independence. When, in October 2015, he stepped on Nigerian lands for a visit, he was dragged. He was imprisoned without a judicial process being held . A violation of the law, which many human rights groups denounced. In May 2017, Kanu was released on bail.
A month before he was dragged, the former leader of the separatist movement delivered a speech at the Igbo world congress in Los Angeles, USA, and requested " We need weapons, we need bullets from the people of the United States." Two years later, the head of the group sustained AFP that "We chose the path of peaceful agitation, without violence, persuasions, logic, reasons and arguments."
But many Nigerians do not understand that logic behind and argue that the ibgo community, more than any other Nigerian ethnic group, is found everywhere in Nigeria, not just in the southeast. Even in the north, where many of them are engaged in trade.
Especially the Igbo who reside in this area were confronted in the summer of 2017 with a threat from the Arewa Youth Advisory Forum. This organization from the north got tired of hearing so many cries of independence from Biafra and gave them an ultimatum. The northern Igbos had until October 1, to leave their homes and leave the area , otherwise they would be "eliminated". But they forget that some need others.
"The solution to the conflict is not to create a new country," Chido Onumah argued in his book Todos somos Biafra . For him, Biafra is a metaphor to explain that it is not the only region in Nigeria looking for a better future . In total there are more than 300 ethnic groups in the country and most of them face similar problems of which the IPOB complain.  
Last year, even former Vice President Atiku Abubakar demanded to restructure the country and grant more autonomy to the regions, so that each one could exploit its natural resources and pay taxes to the federal government. While some applauded it, others feared that regions with fewer resources might be at a disadvantage .
Many Nigerians also ask to formulate a new constitution. The current one is the product of military leaders, and does not represent the Nigerian population. Restructuring, new constitution or independence, "the prerequisite to improve Nigeria is good governance and administration, " said Nigerian journalist Opeoluwa Dapo Thomas.



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