Biafra: Effiong, Ojukwu’s Deputy is Dead

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Read Time:1 Minute, 46 Second

Vanguard (Lagos)
NEWS
November 8, 2003
Posted to the web November 8, 2003
 

THE defunct Biafran General who signed the surrender document with Colonel Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Phillip Effiong is dead, Radio Nigeria reported yesterday.

Chief Effiong who held the chieftaincy title of Akakang Ibimo Ibom (the people's sword ) was 78.

Details of his death were scanty at press time.

Chief Effiong who was administrator of Biafra after the then Head of State of Biafra Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu had fled to Cote d'Ivoire went on air on January 12, 1970 saying: "I am convinced now that a stop must be put to the bloodshed which is going on as a result of the war. I am also convinced that the suffering of our people must be brought to an immediate end".

He joined the Nigerian Army on July 28, 1945 and rose to the position of ordiance corps member in the colonial army before teaming up with the rebels.

After the war, he was thrown into detention by the then military government of General Yakubu Gowon.

Recounting his experience during the war to Vanguard in a June 1996 interview, he said "I have no regrets whatsoever of my involvement in Biafra or the role I played. The war deprived me of my property, dignity, my name. Yet, I saved so many souls on both sides and by this, I mean Biafra and Nigeria. I'm denied everything; No gratuity no pension. Nothing.

"I felt that I played a role which has kept this country united till today. I never shot anybody, all I did was as a military personnel and officer, I trained soldiers who went to the bush to fight.

"At the end of it all when I saw they (Biafran soldiers) could no longer continue and Ojukwu had fled, I did what was ideal after wide consultation that today Ojukwu is a hero in this country.

"I'm not envious but why am I being persecuted by country I played a significant role in is unity".

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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yakubu Gowon’s Victory Message

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Read Time:11 Minute, 38 Second

'The Dawn of National Reconciliation' – Gowon's Victory Message to the Nation, 15 January 1970
Broadcast from Lagos, 15 January 1970.

Citizens of Nigeria,

It is with a heart full of gratitude to God that I announce to you that today marks the formal end of the civil war. This afternoon at Dodan Barracks, Lt. Col. Phillip Effiong, Lt. Col. David Ogunewe, Lt. Col. Patrick Anwunah, Lt. Col. Patrick Amadi and Commissioner of Police, Chief Patrick Okeke formally proclaimed the end of the attempt at secession and accepted the authority of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria. They also formally accepted the present political and administrative structure of the country. This ends thirty months of a grim struggle. Thirty months of sacrifice and national agony.

Exactly four years ago on January 15, 1966, a group of young army officers overthrew the Government of the country with violence. The country hoped, however, that the military regime which followed would quickly restore discipline and confidence in the army and introduce a just, honest, patriotic and progressive government. The country was disappointed in those hopes. There were further tragic incidents in the army leading to the death of many officers and men in July 1966.

I then assumed the leadership of the Federal Military Government. I gave a solemn pledge to work to reduce tension in the army and the country, to restore the Federal Constitution and to prepare the country for an orderly return to civilian rule as early as possible. Despite my efforts and to co-operation of all other members of the Supreme Military Council, the former Lt. Col. Ojukwu pushed us from one crisis to another. This intransigent defiance of Federal Government authority heightened tensions and led to the much regretted riots in September/October 1966. He subsequently exploited the situation to plunge the former Eastern Region into secession and the nation into a tragic war.

The world knows how hard we strove to avoid the civil war. Our objectives in fighting the war to crush Ojukwu's rebellion were always clear. We desired to preserve the territorial integrity and unity of Nigeria. For as one country we would be able to maintain lasting peace amongst our various communities; achieve rapid economic development to improve the lot of our people; guarantee a dignified future and respect in the world for our prosperity and contribute to African unity and modernization. On the other hand, the small successor states in a disintegrated Nigeria would be victims of perpetual war and misery and neo-colonialism. Our duty was clear. And we are, today, vindicated.

The so-called "Rising Sun of Biafra" is set for ever. It will be a great disservice for anyone to continue to use the word Biafra to refer to any part of the East Central State of Nigeria. The tragic chapter of violence is just ended. We are the dawn of national reconciliation. Once again, we have an opportunity to build a new nation.

My dear compatriots, we must pay homage to the fallen. To the heroes, who have made the supreme sacrifice that we may be able to build a nation great in justice, fair play, and industry. They will be mourned for ever by a grateful nation. There are also the innocent men, women, and children who perished, not in battle but as a result of the conflict. We also honour their memory. We honour the fallen of both sides of this tragic fratricidal conflict. Let it be our resolution that all those dead shall have not died in vain. Let the greater nation we shall build be their proud monument forever.

Now, my dear countrymen, we must recommence at once in greater earnest, the task of healing the nation's wounds. We have at various times repeated our desire for reconciliation in full equality, once the secessionist regime abandoned secession. I solemnly repeat our guarantees of a general amnesty for those misled into rebellion. We guarantee the security of life and property of all citizens in every part of Nigeria and equality in political rights. We also guarantee the right of every Nigerian to reside and work wherever he chooses in the Federation, as equal citizens of one united country. It is only right that we should all henceforth respect each other. We should all exercise civic restraint and use our freedom, taking into full account the legitimate right and needs of the other man. There is no question of second class citizenship in Nigeria.

On our side, we fought the war with great caution, not in anger or hatred, but always in the hope that common sense would prevail. Many times we sought a negotiated settlement, not out of weakness, but in order to minimize the problems of reintegration, reconciliation, and reconstruction. We knew that however the war ended, in the battlefield, or in the conference room, our brothers fighting under other colours must rejoin us and that we must together rebuild the nation anew.

Those now freed from the terror and misery of the secessionist enclave are therefore doubly welcome. The nation is relieved. All energies will now be bent to the task of reintegration and reconciliation. They will find, contrary to the civil [thus in press release; but probably 'evil'?] propaganda with which they were fed, that thousands and thousands of Ibos have lived and worked in peace with other ethnic groups in Lagos and elsewhere in the Federation throughout the dark days of the civil war. There is, therefore, no cause for humiliation on the part of any group of the people of this country. The task of reconciliation is truly begun.

The nation will be proud of the fact that the ceremony today at Dodan Barracks of reunion under the banner of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was arranged and conducted by Nigerians amongst ourselves alone. No foreign good offices was involved. That is what we always prayed for. We always prayed that we should resolve our problems ourselves, free from foreign mentors and go-betweens however well intentioned. Thus, our nation is come of age. And the meaning of today's event must be enshrined in the nation's memory for ever.

There is an urgent task to be done. The Federal Government has mounted a massive relief operation to alleviate the suffering of the people in the newly liberated areas. I have as announced, assigned special responsibility for this to a member of the Federal Executive Council. We are mobilizing adequate resources from the Federal Government to provide food, shelter, and medicines for the affected population. Rehabilitation and reconstruction will follow simultaneously to restore electricity, transport and communications. We must, as a matter of urgency, resettle firms and reopen factories to ensure that normal economic life is resumed by everyone as soon as possible. Special attention will be given to the rehabilitation of women and children in particular, so long denied the comfort of homes, the blessing of education and the assurance of a future by Ojukwu's wicked tyranny and falsehood. We must restore at once to them hope and purpose in life.

Federal troops have a special charge to give emergency relief to the people in the areas they have liberated before civilian help can come. They must continue and intensify their splendid work in this regard. The state administrations are giving emergency relief the first priority. The Rehabilitation Commissions and the Voluntary Agencies are extending their efforts. The appropriate agencies of Federal Government will soon make further announcements about additional relief measures.

My Government has directed that former civil servants and public corporation officials should be promptly reinstated as they come out of hiding. Detailed arrangements for this exercise have been published. Plans for the rehabilitation of self-employed people will also be announced shortly. The problem of emergency relief is a challenge for the whole nation. We must prove ourselves equal to the task. Our resources, which have enabled us to prosecute the war successfully and without obligations to anyone, are considerable. I appeal to the nation for volunteers to help in the emergency relief operations in the newly liberated areas. Doctors, nurses, engineers, technicians, builders, plumbers, mechanics, and administrators – all skilled hands willing to help are urgently required. The detailed arrangements for recruitment will soon be announced. I am sure that there will be a prompt and good response to this call.

You will have heard that my Government may seek the assistance of friendly foreign governments and bodies, especially in the provision of equipment to supplement our national effort. There are, however, a number of foreign governments and organizations whose so-called assistance will not be welcome. These are the governments and organizations which sustained the rebellion. They are thus guilty of the blood of thousands who perished because of prolongation of the futile rebel assistance. They did not act out of love for humanity. Their purpose was to disintegrate Nigeria and Africa and impose their will on us. They may still harbour their evil intentions. We shall therefore not allow them to divide and estrange us again from one another with their dubious and insulting gifts and their false humanitarianism.

Regarding the future, we shall maintain our purpose to work for stability with the existing political structure of a minimum of twelve states. The collision of three giant regions with pretentions to sovereignty created distrust and fear and to the tragic conflict now ending. The multi-state structure will therefore be retained with the minimum of the present twelve states. Immediate post-war planning and reconstruction will continue on this basis. Any new constitution will be the result of discussion by the representatives of all the people of Nigeria.

I am happy that despite the war, Nigeria has maintained a strong and expanding economy. Plans are also far advance for faster economic modernization. Our enormous material resources and our large dynamic population will make this possible. We are pledge to ensure rapid development for the benefit of the Nigerian people themselves. It will be much easier to achieve reconciliation and reintegration in increasing prosperity.

Fellow countrymen, the civil war is truly over. We thank God. But the state of national emergency and emergency regulations remain. Discipline and sacrifice are essential if we are to achieve our goals in the immediate post-war period and lay sound foundations for the future. I demand of you patience, resolution, and continued dedication. I demand of the workers and employers continued restraint in industrial relations in keeping with the recent decree. A decree on price control will soon be promulgated. We shall soon review wages and salaries to improve the lot of the ordinary man. The immediate economic problems are challenging and we must behave accordingly.

On this occasion, I wish to place on record the nation's gratitude to the Organization of African Unity for its splendid diplomatic and moral support for the Federal cause. I thank particularly the Chairman of the Consultative Committee on Nigeria, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I and the other members of the committee. I also thank the President of the OAU General Assembly, Presidents Mobutu, Boumedienne, and Ahidjo, who presided over OAU summit discussions of the Nigerian crisis. The enemies of Africa were restrained by the demonstration of such solid support. I thank the Secretary General of the United Nations, U Thant, for his understanding attitude towards our country's crisis and the specialized agencies for their assistance. I also thank the friendly governments who gave us moral and material support in the darkest hour of our need. The nation will remember them as true friends. It is the desire of my Government that our relations with them should grow stronger.

Consistent with our basic policy, we shall maintain correct relations with all foreign governments notwithstanding the anxieties they may have caused us. As we emerge from our greatest trial we shall endeavour to work for peace in the world and for a better economic deal for the less developed countries of the world.

The Armed Forces deserve the greatest praise for their valour in battle, their loyalty and dedication and for their resourcefulness in overcoming the formidable obstacles placed in our way. I praise them for observing strictly the code of conduct issued to them at the beginning of the operations. It is necessary now more than ever when the rebellion is ended for them to maintain the high standard they have attained. The letter and spirit of the code must be obeyed. Their first duty is to protect the lives and property of all surrendering troops and civilians and to give them humane treatment. Stern disciplinary measures will be taken against any who violate the code. I know, however, that I can continue to count on your loyalty and discipline.

I also praise the civilian population everywhere in the country for their patience, sacrifice, loyalty, and steadfast support for the fighting troops and for One Nigeria. We must all be justly proud. All Nigerians share the victory of today. The victory for national unity, victory for hopes of Africans and black people everywhere. We must thank God for his mercies. We mourn the dead heroes. We thank God for sparing us to see his glorious dawn of national reconciliation. We have ordered that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday be national days of prayer. We must his guidance to do our duty to contribute our quota to the building of a great nation, founded on the concerted efforts of all its people and on justice and equality. A nation never to return to the fractious, sterile and selfish debates that led to the tragic conflict just ending. We have overcome a lot over the past four years. I have therefore every confidence that ours will become a great nation. So help us God.

Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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General Gowon Welcomes Biafra’s Surrender

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Read Time:2 Minute, 37 Second

Broadcast at midnight on 12 January 1970 (Federal Ministry of Information Press Release No. 31\1970).

My Dear Compatriots:

We have arrived at one of the greatest moments of the history in our nation. A great moment of victory for national unity and reconciliation. We have arrived at the end of a tragic and painful conflict.

Thirty months ago we were obliged to take up arms against out brothers who were deceived and misled into armed rebellion against their fatherland by the former Lieut-Col. Ojukwu. Our objective was to crush the rebellion; to maintain the territorial integrity of our nation; to assert the ability of the blackman to build a strong, progressive and prosperous, modern state and to ensure respect, dignity and equality in the comity of nations for our posterity.

I salute you once again for the courage, loyalty and steadfastness of our fighting troops, and the loyal support and sacrifice of all Nigerians. I pay tribute to the courage and resourcefulness of those who have fought so long against lawful troops, as victims of Ojukwu’s vicious propaganda and the machinations of certain foreign Governments.

You will have heard the broadcast of Lieut.-Col. Effiong asking the remnants of the secessionist troops to lay down their arms. This is in accord with our appeal. I accept in good faith Lieut.-Colonel Effiong’s declaration accepting the OAU resolutions supporting the unity and territorial integrity of Nigeria. I urge all the secessionist troops to act honorably and lay down their arms in an orderly manner. Instructions have been issued to all field commanders of their Nigerian Army to put into immediate effect to contingency arrangements for the mass surrender of secessionist forces. The officers of the secessionist troops are urged to send emissaries to Federal field commanders at once to work out detailed arrangements for orderly surrender. All field commanders will take all necessary measures to give full protection to surrendering troops. Field commanders are instructed to push and establish effective Federal presence in all areas remaining under secessionist control. Federal troops in carrying out this directive will be accompanied by Police units and will exercise all care and shoot only if they encounter resistance. I appeal to all remaining secessionist forces to co-operate with Federal troops to avoid any further loss of life. All Federal troops must continue to observe the letter and spirit of the code of conduct issued at the beginning of the military operations.

We reiterate our promise of a general amnesty for all those misled into the futile attempt to disintegrate the country. Federal troops, East-Central State officials and authorized relief workers in the field will take adequate care of all civilians in the liberated areas. We must all demonstrate our will for honourable reconciliation within a united Nigeria.

Fellow countrymen, with your continued loyalty and dedication to the national cause, we shall succeed in healing the nation’s wounds. We must all welcome, with open arms, the people now freed from the tyranny and deceit of Ojukwu and his gang.

Long live one united Nigeria.

We thank God for His mercies.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Lt.-Col. Effiong Announces Surrender of Biafra

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Read Time:3 Minute, 14 Second

Lt.-Col. Effiong Announces Surrender of Biafra
Text taken from transcript of actual radio broadcast over the Biafran radio at 4:40 p.m., on Monday 12 January 1970.

Fellow Countrymen,

As you know, I was asked to be the officer administering the government of this republic on the 10th of January, 1970. Since then, I know that some of you have been waiting to hear a statement from me. I have had extensive consultations with the leaders of the community, both military and civil, and I am now encouraged and hasten to make this statement to you by the mandate of the Armed Forces and the people of this country. I have assumed the leadership of the government.

Throughout history, injured people have had to resort to arms in their self-defence where peaceful negotiations fail. We are no exception. We took up arms because of the sense of insecurity generated in our people by the events of 1966. We have fought in defence of that cause.

I take this opportunity to congratulate officers and men of our Armed Forces for their gallantry and bravery which have earned for them the admirations of the whole world. I thank the civil population for their steadfastness and courage in the face of overwhelming odds and starvation. I am convinced that the suffering of our people must be brought to an immediate end. Our people are now disillusioned, and those elements of the old government regime who have made negotiations and reconciliation impossible have voluntarily removed themselves from our midst.

I have, therefore, instructed an orderly disengagement of troops. I am despatching emissaries to make contact with Nigeria’s field commanders in places like Onitsha, Owerri, Awka, Enugu, and Calabar with a view to arranging armistice. I urge on General Gowon, in the name of humanity, to order his troops to pause while an armistice is negotiated in order to avoid the mass suffering caused by the movement of population.

We have always believed that our differences with Nigeria should be settled by peaceful negotiations. A delegation of our people is therefore ready to meet representatives of Nigeria Federal Government anywhere to negotiate a peace settlement on the basis of OAU resolutions. The delegation will consist of the Chief Justice Sir Louis Mbanefo, as leader, Professor Eni Njoku, Mr. J. I. Emembolu, Chief A.E. Bassey, Mr. E. Agumah. The delegation will have full authority to negotiate on our behalf. I have appointed a council to advise me on the government of the country. It consists of the Chief Justice Sir Louis Mbanefo, Brigadier P.C. Amadi – Army, Brigadier C. A. Nwanwo – Army, Captain W. A. Anuku – Navy, Wing Commander J. I. Ezero – Air Force, Inspector-General of Police, Chief P. I. Okeke, Attorney-General Mr. J. I. Emembolu, Professor Eni Njoku, Dr. I. Eke, Chief A.E. Udoffia, Chief A.E. Bassey, Mr. M.T. Mbu, Mr. E. Agumah, Chief Frank Opuigo, Chief J.N. Echeruo. Any question of a government in exile is repudiated by our people.

Civilian population are hereby advised to remain calm and to co-operate with the Armed Forces and the Police in the maintenance of law and order. They should remain in their homes and stop mass movements which have increased suffering and loss of lives.

On behalf of our people, I thank those foreign governments and friends who have steadfastly given us support in our cause. We shall continue to count on their continued help and counsel. I also thank His Holiness the Pope, the Joint Church Aid and other relief organizations for the help they have given for the relief of suffering and starvation. I appeal to all governments to give urgent help for relief and to prevail on the Federal Military Government to order their troops to stop all military operations.

May God help us all.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Ojukwu’s Call from Exile

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Read Time:9 Minute, 33 Second

Ojukwu’s Call from Exile

Statement issued through the Biafran Information agency in Geneva and reproduced verbatim in The Times, 16 January 1970.

Three days ago I left the Republic of Biafra with certain members of my Cabinet as a result of a decision taken by that Cabinet in the interest of our people’s survival. Since my departure events have moved with such breathless speed that friends and foe alike have been left not only bewildered but confused.

It is therefore necessary for me to address these words to the international press in order to keep the records right, and in pursuit of the object of my leaving the Republic of Biafra.

It is necessary in order to understand events that have led to the drama of the past few days to look back at the origin of our conflict and conduct in this war. Biafra, once the eastern region of Nigeria, was one of three sovereignties that banded together to form the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Three of the reasons which made the sovereignties bind themselves together were:

1. Mutual protection of life and property – hence the fundamental human rights entrenched in our constitution and the arrangements made for the joint control of the police.

2. Security against external and internal threats – hence the responsibility of the central Government for defence.

3. The promotion of international trade and good relations with foreign countries – hence the assignment of exclusive responsibility to the central Government.

During the course of our first experiment in nationhood it was clear that the Federal Organization had neither the will nor the desire to maintain that unity of purpose for which the Federation was founded.

In 1966 it became clear that the central authority was unable and unwilling to fulfil the terms for which it was established. Right under her nose the people of Eastern Nigeria, now Biafrans, were subjected to such acts of barbarism, such atrocities that gave clear indication of a genocide that was to come.

The people of Biafra, in full consultation and believing that the only guarantee for security lay in the resumption of the sovereignty, mandated me to proclaim their territory the sovereign and independent Republic of Biafra, and to take up arms if need be to protect the lives and property of our people and the independence was thus proclaimed.

On July 6, 1967, the Federal forces crossed the boundaries of Biafra and attacked her defenseless populace. Our people, in the face of such aggression, had no alternative but to defend themselves as best they could. The war that ensued has continued from that day with unabated fury until today when we find that, because of certain limitations, we are no longer able to offer formal military resistance to the Nigerian aggressors.

For three years we have fought against overwhelming odds. Our conduct of the war has contrasted sharply with that of the Nigerian hordes. We were always aware of our limitation, and therefore have never discontinued out efforts for peace and a negotiated settlement.

We had relied on the conscience of the world to respect the rights of our people to self-determination and security. We have been frustrated by an international conspiracy against the interest of the African.

Yet, believing in the justice of our cause and the ultimate triumph of truth over falsehood, outnumbered and outgunned, we have grimly held back the unrelenting enemy for three grueling years with our bare hands.

Nigeria began her recent final offensive against Biafra in October 1969 after months of preparations, which included the starvation of our entire populace to such sub-human level that the movement of enemy troops through our territory became a mere formality.

For months we cried to an unsympathetic world, pointing out the danger of a total blockade and siege warfare at this stage of world civilization. In answer to that cry our people were further subjected to more deprivation by the drastic reduction of relief supplies, not only to the menfolk but to our women and children, to the aged and the very young, to the old and the infirm.

By the end of November the Biafra armed forces were no longer able to feed themselves; our civil populace were neither able to feed themselves nor the army. Yet over 30 grim days our gallant and heroic forces maintained their positions in the sheer hope of a miraculous respite.

In the first week of January, the Nigerian forces, by a fast military move, took control of the last areas from where we had any possibility of obtaining food. In quick succession demoralization set in, threatening national disintegration and bringing in its wake confusion and mass exodus.

I gathered together at Owerri during the night of January 8, 1970, those members of my Cabinet who could be contacted to review the situation. At that meeting I presented in firm and clear terms the grim hopelessness of continued formal military resistance.

I informed the Cabinet that my primary duty in the circumstances was to seek the protection of our exhausted people and to save the leadership of our heroic republic. I therefore offered to go out of Biafra myself in search of peace.

I decided personally to lead any delegation in order to give it maximum effect and to speed up matters in order to save the lives of our people and preserve the concept of Biafra. I did this knowing that whilst I live Biafra lives. If I am no more it would be only a matter of time for the noble concept to be swept into oblivion.

I chose for the delegation the following persons: Dr. M.I. Okpara, my political adviser; Mr. N.U. Akpan, my Chief Secretary; Major-General Madiebo, the commander of my army.

In the fluid and uncertain military circumstances the Cabinet considered it advisable and reasonable that families of envoys in or going abroad should be sent out. My last hours in Biafra before my departure were spent in close consultation with Major-General Philip Effiong, whom I had appointed to administer the Government in my absence, and his last request to me was to take out his family and to maintain them under my protection. I agreed.

Since the departure of the delegation from Biafra, we have remained faithful to our mandate. We have made contacts with friends and men of goodwill. We have spared no efforts to mobilize all forces in an effort to take food into Biafra on a gigantic scale. We have taken steps to alert the world to the real fears of genocide at the hands of the Nigerians.

Nigeria’s continuing efforts have always been directed at domesticizing the conflict in order to apply the final solution to the Biafran problem away from the glare of an inquisitive world.

From all indications it is clear that Nigeria will not feed our people. They have said so often enough, and their past records clearly underling this fact. There is no food whatsoever in Biafra and unless food can get into Biafran mouths in the next 72 hours it will be too late.

Nigeria’s insistence to control the distribution of relief is both to ensure that Biafrans get no such relief, and also to shut out outsiders who might witness and expose the enormous crimes she plans to commit against our people.

Nigeria throughout this war has distinguished herself for a lack of control over her armed forces. It is therefore most unlikely that, flushed with an intoxication of unexpected military victory, she will be able to exercise any measure of control on her forces now on the rampage.

In any case Nigeria’s aim is to destroy the elite of Biafra. The only possible way of preventing such a catastrophe is by interposing between the contesting forces some neutral force to prevent a genocide that would make 1939-45 Europe a mere child’s play. We have always believed in the futility of this war. We have always maintained that this war will solve no problems. If this carnage must stop, Nigerian leaders and their friends must borrow a leaf from the lessons of the last world war, where it was found that a permanent settlement could only emerge from an honourable peace.

Immediate efforts should therefore be directed towards early negotiations for peace without exacting full tribute of conquest. Only in this way can peace which the whole world desires have any chance. I therefore appeal to all governments and international organizations, countries and churches of the world, men and women of goodwill, to both out friends and enemies, in the interest of humanity to come forward to assist and protect the lives and talents of Biafra, to relieve the starvation and wasteful death now the only companion of our exhausted people.

I implore the world to rise to this desperate need, to mount all possible pressures on Nigeria to ensure that food gets to my people.

I would like to conclude this statement with a solemn declaration, emphasizing again the point I have repeatedly made in this appeal to the governments of the world to save my people from extermination. The sole motive behind Nigeria’s determination to draw an iron curtain over Biafra and exclude international observers, relief agencies, journalists whom they have not carefully picked themselves, is to make sure that the atrocities they will certainly carry out in Biafra is unseen and unreported in the world press. Once they have sealed off Biafra from the gaze of mankind, I hesitate to contemplate the fate of the Biafran leadership, the trained manpower, the scientists and professionals whom they would liquidate as planned before the world can interfere. Genocide, I repeat, is not an internal affair of Nigeria, and it is the clear duty of those powers who have armed and helped Nigeria to gain victory over Biafra to step in and persuade Gowon to allow international agencies and observers to enter Biafra to feed the hungry, to heal the sick and to save a whole people from complete annihilation.

If they fail to persuade Nigeria to open her doors to these agencies then their declarations of humanitarian aid to Nigeria becomes mere propaganda. I repeat the aims of Nigeria are genocidal – the test that the contrary is the case is her willingness to admit humanitarian agencies whom Gowon has now openly declared he will exclude.

As a people we have endured as only giants endure. We have fought as heroes fight. We have dared as only gods dare. We are disillusioned by the world’s insensitivity to the plight of our people. Yet because our cause is just we believe we have not lost the war, only that the battlefield has changed. We are convinced that Biafra will survive. Biafra was born out of the blood of innocents slaughtered in Nigeria during the pogroms of 1966. Biafra will ever live, not as a dream but as the crystallization of the cherished hopes of a people who see in the establishment of this territory a last hope for peace and security. Biafra cannot be destroyed be mere force of arms.

May I take this opportunity to thank all those persons and organizations that have sacrificed that we might live – that we assure them that their sacrifice will not be in vain.

Biafra lives. The struggle continues. Long live the Republic of Biafra.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Ojukwu Flees to Exile

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Read Time:3 Minute, 59 Second

Ojukwu’s Message as He Flees Biafra (1)
(1) Pre-recorded and broadcast over Biafran radio at 6:00 a.m., 11 January 1970. (Text from B.B.C ME\3277\B1.)

Proud and heroic Biafrans, fellow countrymen and women, once again I salute you. My Government has been reviewing the progress of this war that has now raged for the past two and a half years with increasing fury. It is well that at each stage we remind ourselves of the purposes of this war, what we are fighting to safeguard, and why we are so determined to continue to defend ourselves.

You have borne the brunt of the strains of this fight. You have suffered unmentionable privations at the hands of an enemy that has used every conceivable weapon, particularly the weapon of starvation, against an innocent people whose only crime is that they choose to live in peace and security according to their own beliefs and away from a country that had condemned and rejected them.

Your heroism as a people has sustained our gallant armed forces in defending the territory of our fatherland and in giving you that protection that we all so ardently need and desire. You have had your villages and homes ravaged and plundered, your assets destroyed, millions of your sons and daughters murdered in cold blood, and your youth condemned to misery by the enemy’s recent movements and indiscriminate shelling and bombing of hamlets, villages, and refugees in their camps and on the roads.

All this sacrifice has been in the interest and with the sole purpose of achieving security which was the main motive forcing our taking up arms to defend ourselves. We had proclaimed ourselves a Republic independent and sovereign because we were and are satisfied that only through it can we guarantee our security. Nevertheless we left the door open and [declared] on several occasions that we welcomed any other initiative that offer us the security we need. Each time we have said so our enemies and detractors have mischievously distorted our statements. We are entitled in the light of our recent experience to demand to know what measures are being proposed for our security.

The task of a leader of a people at war is to be responsive to the plight of his people, to determine what level of sacrifice can be accepted. Your patriotism has exceeded all expectations and earned worldwide admiration for your fortitude. Armed with your mandate I have striven to apply the forces at our disposal to the best of our ability against overwhelming odds. Throughout we have made strenuous efforts for peace, taking initiatives of our own to get peace talks going, made compromises in order to get our adversaries to settle our conflict at the conference table. Each time a callous world has imposed a new set of conditions. Each condition that we fulfil gives rise to an entirely new one.

More recently, some friends of both sides have made some proposals for an arrangement with Nigeria that in our view will offer to Biafrans the security to which we aspire. This has been referred to as certain forms of union, confederalties, association, or commonwealth arrangements with Nigeria.

Once more, to show our honesty, and in accord with my own frequent affirmations that I would personally go anywhere to secure peace and security for my people, I am now travelling out of Biafra to explore with our friends all these proposals further and fully and to be at hand to settle these issues to the best of my ability, always serving the interests of my people. Our detractors may see this move as a sign of collapse of our struggle, or an escape from my responsibilities.

If, God helping, we can by this latest show of earnestness secure for our people the end of destruction of your homes and property, I shall be satisfied that this venture on which I embark with your blessing has yielded fruit. I know that your prayers go with me as I go in search of peace and that, God willing, I shall soon be back among you. In my short absence I have arranged for the Chief of General Staff, Maj-Gen. Phillip Effiong, to administer the Government with the rest of the Cabinet to run the affairs of this Republic while I go on this mission, accompanied by my Political Adviser and my Chief Secretary.

I once more pay my tribute to the Biafra Armed Forces, and urge all ranks to maintain their positions while I seek an early and honourable end to this struggle and all the suffering it has brought on our people. Proud and courageous Biafrans, [noble] Biafrans, Biafra shall live. God bless you all.

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Anthony Claret

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Ahiara Declaration

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Read Time:51 Minute, 5 Second

THE AHIARA DECLARATION: The Principles of the Biafran Revolution

By Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu,
June 1, 1969

Today, as I look back over our two years as a sovereign and independent nation, I am over-whelmed with the feeling of pride and satisfaction in our performance and achievement as a people. Our indomitable will, our courage, our endurance of the severest privations, our resourcefulness and inventiveness in the face of tremendous odds and dangers, have become proverbial in a world so bereft of heroism, and have become a source of frustration to Nigeria and her foreign masters. For this and for the many miracles of our time, let us give thanks to Almighty God….

Fellow countrymen and women, for nearly two years we have been engaged in a war which threatens our people with total destruction. Our enemy has been unrelenting in his fury and has fought our defenseless people with a vast array of military hardware of a sophistication unknown to Africa. For two years we have withstood his assaults with nothing other than our stout hearts and bare hands. We have frustrated his diabolical intentions and have beaten his wicked mentors in their calculations and innovations. Shamelessly, our enemy has moved from deadline to deadline, seeking excuses justifying their failures to an ever credulous world. Today, I am happy and proud to report that, all the odds notwithstanding, the enemy, at great cost in lives and equipment, is not near to his avowed objective.

Proud Biafrans, I have kept my promise. Diplomatically, our friends have increased and have remained steadfast to our cause: and, despite the rantings of our detractors, indications are that their support will continue…. Fellow countrymen and women, the signs are auspicious, the future fills us with less foreboding. I am confident, with the initiative in war now in our own hands, that we have turned the last bend in our race to self-realization and are now set on the home straight in this our struggle. We must not flag. The tape is in sight. What we need is a final burst of speed to breast the tape and secure the victory which will ensure for us for all time, glory and honour, peace and progress.

Fellow compatriots, today, being our Thanksgiving Day, it is most appropriate that we pause awhile to take stock, to consider our past, our successes notwithstanding, to consider our future, our aspirations and our fears….

Fellow Biafrans, I have for a long time thought about this our predicament the attitude of the civilized world to this our conflict. The more I think about it the more I am convinced that our disability is racial. The root cause of our problem lies in the fact that we are black. If all the things that have happened to us had happened to another people who are not black, if other people who are not black had reacted in the way our people have reacted these two long years, the world's response would surely have been different.

In 1966, some 5O,OOO of us were slaughtered like cattle in Nigeria. In the course of this war, well over one million of us have been killed: yet the world is unimpressed and looks on in indifference. Last year, some blood-thirsty Nigerian troops for sport murdered the entire male population of a village. All the world did was to indulge in an academic argument whether the number was in hundreds or in thousands. Today, because a handful of white men collaborating with the enemy, fighting side by side with the enemy, were caught by our gallant troops, the entire world threatens to stop. For 18 white men Europe is aroused. What have they said about our millions? Eighteen white men assisting the crime of genocide: what does Europe say about our murdered innocents? Have we not died enough ? How many Black dead make a missing white? Mathematicians, please answer me. Is it infinity?

Take another example. For two years we have been subjected to a total blockade. We all know how bitter, bloody and protracted the First and Second World Wars were. At no stage in those wars did the white belligerents carry out a total blockade of their fellow whites. In each case where a blockade was imposed, allowance was made for certain basic necessities of life in the interest of women, children and other non-combatants. Ours is the only example in recent history y w here a whole people have been so treated.

What is it that makes our case different ? Do we not have women, children and other non-combatants? Does the fact that they are black women, black children and black non-combatants make such a world of difference? Nigeria embarked on a crime of genocide against our people by first mounting a total blockade against Biafra.

To cover up their designs and deceive the black world, the white powers supporting Nigeria blame Biafrans for the continuation of the blockade and for the starvation and suffering which that entails. They uphold Nigerian proposals on relief which in any case they helped to formulate, as being 'conciliatory' or 'satisfactory'.

Knowing that these proposals would give Nigeria further military advantage, and compromise the basic cause for Which we have struggled for two years, they turn round to condemn us for rejecting them. They accept the total blockade against us as a legitimate weapon of war because it Suits them and because we are black. Had we been white the inhuman and cruel blockade would long have been lifted…. That Nigeria has received complete support from Britain should surprise no one. For Britain is a country whose history is replete with instances of genocide.

In my address to you on the occasion of the first anniversary of our in dependence, I touched on a number of issues relevant to our struggle and to our hope for a prosperous, just and happy society. I talked to you of the background to our struggle and on the visions and values which inspired us to found our own state. On this occasion of our second anniversary, I shall go further in the examination of the meaning and import of our revolution by discussing the wider issues involved and the character and structure of the new society we are determined and committed to build. Our enemies and their foreign sponsors have deliberately sought by false and ill-motivated propaganda to cloud the real issues which caused and still determine the course and character of our struggle.

They have sought in various ways to dismiss our struggle as a tribal conflict. They have attributed it to the mad adventuresome Of a fictitious power-seeking clique anxious to carve out an empire to rule, dominate and exploit. But they have failed. Our course is transparently just and no amount of propaganda can detract from it.

Our struggle has far-reaching significance. It is the latest recrudescence in our time of the age-old struggle of the black man for his full stature as man. We are the latest victims of a wicked collusion between the three traditional scourges of the black men racism, Arab-muslim expansionism and white economic imperialism. Playing a subsidiary role is Bolshevik Russia seeking for place in the African sun. Our struggle is a total and vehement rejection of all those evils which blighted Nigeria, evils which were bound to lead to the disintegration of that ill-fated federation. Our struggle is not mere resistance -that would be merely negative. It is a positive commitment to build a healthy, dynamic and progressive state, such as would be the pride of black men the world over.

For this reason our struggle is a movement against racial prejudice, in particular against that tendency to regard the black man as culturally, morally, spiritually, intellectually, and physically inferior to the other two major races of the world the yellow and the white races. This belief in the innate inferiority of the Negro and that his proper place in the world is that of the servant of the other races, has from early days coloured the attitude of the outside world to Negro problems It still does today

It is this myth about the Negro that still conditions the thinking and attitude of most white governments on all issues concerning black Africa and the black man: it explains the double standards which they apply to present-day world problems it explains their stand on the whole question of independence and basic human rights for black peoples of the world. These myths explain the stand of many of the world governments and organizations on our present struggle.

Our disagreement with the Nigerians arose in part from a conflict between two diametrically opposed conceptions of the end and purpose of the modern African state. It was and still is, our firm conviction that a modern Negro African government worth the trust placed in it by the people, must build a progressive state that ensures the reign of social and economic justice, and of the rule of law But the Nigerians, under the leadership of the Hausa Fulani feudal aristocracy, preferred anarchy and injustice

Since in the thinking of many white powers a good, progressive and efficient government is good only for whites, our view was considered dangerous and pernicious: a point of view which explains but does not justify the blind support which those powers have given to uphold the Nigerian ideal of a corrupt, decadent and putrefying society. To them genocide is an appropriate answer to any group of Black people who have the temerity to attempt to evolve their own social system

When the Nigerians violated our basic human rights and liberties, we decided reluctantly but bravely to found our own state, to exercise our inalienable right to self determination as our only remaining hope for survival as a people Yet because we are black, we are denied by the white powers the exercise of this right which they themselves have proclaimed as inalienable. In our struggle we have learnt that the right of self-determination is inalienable, but only to the white man…. What do we find here in Negro Africa ? The Federation of Nigeria is today as corrupt, as unprogressive and as oppressive and irreformable as the Ottoman empire was in eastern Europe over a century ago. And in contrast, the Nigerian Federation in the form it was constituted by the British cannot by any stretch of imagination be considered an African necessity. Yet we are being forced to sacrifice our very existence as a people to the integrity of that ramshackle creation that has no justification either in history or in the freely expressed wishes of the people.

What other reason for this can there be than the fact that we are black? . . . Because tile black man is considered inferior and servile to the white, he must accept his political, social and economic system and ideologies ready made from Europe, America or the Soviet Union. Within the confines of his nation he must accept a federation or confederation or unitary government if federation or confederation or unitary government suits the interests of his white masters: he must accept inept and unimaginative leadership because the contrary would hurt the interests of the master race: he must accept economic exploitation by alien commercial firms and companies because the whites benefit from it. Beyond the confines of his state, he must accept regional and continental organizations which provide a front for the manipulations of the imperialist powers: organizations which are therefore unable to respond to African problems in a truly African manner. For Africans to show a true independence is to ask for anathemization and total liquidation.

The Biafran struggle is, on another plane, a resistance to the Arab-Muslim expansionism which has menaced and ravaged the African continent for twelve centuries….

Our Biafran ancestors remained immune from the Islamic contagion. From the middle years of the last century Christianity was established in our land. In this way we came to be a predominantly Christian people. We came to stand out as a non-Muslim island in a raging Islamic sea. Throughout the period of the ill-fated Nigerian experiment, the Muslims hoped to infiltrate Biafra by peaceful means and quiet propaganda, but failed. Then the late Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto tried, by political and economic blackmail and terrorism, to convert Biafrans settled in Northern Nigeria to Islam. His hope u as that these Biafrans of dispersion would then carry Islam to Biafra, and by so doing give the religion political control of the area. The crises which agitated the so-called independent Nigeria from 1962 gave these aggressive proselytizers the chance to try converting us by force.

It is now evident why the fanatic Arab-Muslim states like Algeria, Egypt and the Sudan have come out openly and massively to support and aid Nigeria in her present war of genocide against us. These states see militant Arabism as a powerful instrument for attaining power in the world. Biafra is one of the few African states untainted by Islam. Therefore, to militant Arabism, Biafra is a stumbling block to their plan for controlling the whole continent. This control is fast becoming manifest in the Organization of African Unity. On the question of the Middle East, the Sudanese crisis, in the war between Nigeria and Biafra, militant Arabism has succeeded in imposing its point of view through blackmail and bluster.

It has threatened African leaders and governments with inciting their muslim minorities to rebellion if the govern-ments adopted an independent line on these questions. In this way an O.A.U. that has not felt itself able to discuss the genocide in the Sudan and Biafra, an O A.U. that has again and again advertised its ineptitude as a peace maker, has rushed into open condemnation of Israel over the Middle East dispute Indeed, in recent times, by its performance, the O.A.U. might well be an organization of Arab unity.

Our struggle, in an even more fundamental sense, is the culmination of the confrontation between Negro nationalism and white imperialism. It is a movement designed to ensure the realization of man's full stature in Africa.

Ever since the 15th Century, the European world has treated the African continent as a field for exploitation. Their policies in Africa have for so long been determined to a very great extent by their greed for economic gain. For over three and half centuries, it suited them to transport and transplant millions of the flower of our manhood for the purpose of exploiting the Americas and the West Indies. They did so with no uneasiness of conscience. They justified this trade in men by reference to biblical passages violently torn out of context…. This brutal and unprecedented rape of a whole continent was a violent challenge to Negro self-respect. Not surprisingly, within half a century the theory and practice of empire ran into stiff opposition from Negro nationalism. In the face of the movement for Negro freedom the white imperialists changed their tactics. They decided to install puppet African administrations to create the illusion of political independence, while retaining the control of the economy. And this they quickly did between 1957 and 1965. The direct empire was transformed into an indirect empire, that regime of fraud and exploitation which African nationalists aptly describe as neo- colonialism.

Nigeria was a classic example of neo-colonialist state, and what is left of it, still is. The militant nationalism of the late forties and early fifties had caught the British imperialists unawares. They hurried to accommodate it by in stalling the ignorant, decadent and feudalistic Hausa-Fulani oligarchy in power. For the British, the credentials of the Hausa-Fulani were that not having emerged from the middle ages they knew nothing about the modern state and the powerful forces that now rule men's minds. Owing their position to the British, they were servile and submissive. The result was that while Nigerians lived in the illusion of independence, they were still in fact being ruled from Number 10 Downing Street. The British still enjoyed a strangle hold on their economy.

The crises which rocked Nigeria from the morrow of 'independence' were brought about by the efforts of progressive nationalists to achieve true in dependence for themselves and for posterity. For their part in this effort, Biafrans were stigmatized and singled out for extermination. In imperialist thinking, only phony independence is good for blacks. The sponsorship of Nigeria by white imperialism has not been disinterested. They are only concerned with the preservation of that corrupt and rickety structure of a Nigeria in a perpetual state of powerlessness to check foreign exploitation….

Fellow countrymen and women, we have seen in proper perspective the diabolical roles which the British Government and the foreign companies have played and are playing in our war with Nigeria. We now see why in spite of Britain's tottering economy Harold Wilson's Government insists on financing Nigeria's futile war against us. We see why the Shell-BP led the Nigerian hordes into Bonny, pays Biafran oil royalties to Nigeria, and provided the Nigerian army with all the help it needed for its attack on Port Harcourt. We see why the West African Conference readily and meekly cooperated with Gowon in the imposition of a total blockade against us. We see why the oil and trading companies in Nigeria still finance this war and why they risk the life and limb of their staff in the war zones.

And now, Bolshevik Russia. Russia is a late arrival in the race for world empire. Since the end of the second world war she has fought hard to gain a foothold in Africa, recognizing, like the other imperialist powers before her, the strategic importance of Africa in the quest for world domination. She first tried to enter into alliance with African nationalism. Later, finding that African nationalism had been thwarted, at least temporarily, by the collusion between imperialism, and the decadent forces in Africa society, Russia quickly changed her strategy and identified herself with those very conservative forces which she had earlier denounced. Here she met with quick success. In North Africa and Egypt, Russian influence has taken firm root and is growing. With her success in Egypt and Algeria, Russia developed an even keener appetite for more territory in Africa, particularly the areas occupied by the Negroes. Her early efforts in the Congo and Ghana proved still-born. The Nigeria-Biafra conflict offered an opportunity for another beach-head in Africa .

It is not Russia's intention to make Nigeria a better place for Nigerians or indeed any other part of Africa a better place for Africans. Her interest is strategic. In her challenge to the United States and the western world, she needs vantage points in Africa. With her entrenched position in Northern Nigeria, the central Sudan of the historians and geographers, Russia is in a position to co-ordinate her strategy for West and North Africa. We are all familiar with the ancient and historic cultural, linguistic and religious links between North Africa and the Central Sudan. We know that the Hausa language is a lingua franca for over two-thirds of this area. We know how far afield a wandering Imam preaching Islam and Bolshevism can go…

Fellow Biafrans, these are the evil and titanic forces with which we are engaged in a life and death struggle. These are the obstacles to the Negro's efforts to realize himself. thugs rag the forces which the Biafran revolution must sweep aside to succeed…. We do not claim that the Biafran revolution is the first attempt in history by the Negro to assert his identity, to claim his right and proper place as a human being on a basic of equality with the white and yellow races. We are aware of the Negro's past and present efforts to prove his ability at home and abroad. We are familiar with his achievements in pre-history; We are familiar with his achievements in political organizations; we are familiar with his contributions to the world store of art and culture. The Negro's white oppressors are not unaware of all these. But in stead of their awareness they are not prepared to admit that the Negro is a man and a brother. From this derives our deep conviction that the Biafran revolution is not just a movement of BIOS, Ibibios, Ijaws, and Ogojas. It is a movement of true and patriotic Africans. It is African nationalism conscious of itself and fully aware of the powers with which it is contending….

We have indeed come a long way. We were once Nigerians, today we are Biafrans. We are Biafrans because on May 30, 1967, we finally said 'no' to the evils and injustices in which Nigeria was steeped. Nigeria was made up of peoples and groups with very little in common. As everyone know, Biafrans were in the fore-front among those who tried to make Nigeria a nation. It is ironic that some ill-informed and mischievous people today will accuse us of breaking up a united African country. Only those u ho do not know tile facts or deliberately ignore them can hold such an opinion. We know the facts because we were there and the things that happened, happened to us.

Nigeria was indeed a very wicked and corrupt country in spite of the glorious image given her in the European press We know why Nigeria was given that image. It was her reward for serving the economic and political interests of her European masters. Nigeria is a stooge of Europe. Her independence was and is a lie. Even her Prime Minister was a Knight of the British Empire; but worse than her total subservience to foreign political and economic interests, Nigeria committed many crimes against her nationals which in the end made complete nonsense of her claim to unity. Nigeria persecuted and slaughtered her minorities; Nigerian justice was a farce her elections, her politics her everything was corrupt. Qualification, merit and experience were dislocated in public service. In one area of Nigeria, for instance, they preferred to turn a nurse who had worked for five years into a doctor rather than employ a qualified doctor from another part of Nigeria. Barely literate clerks were made Permanent Secretaries. A university Vice Chancellor was sacked because he belonged to the wrong tribe. Bribery, corruption and nepotism were so widespread that people began to wonder openly whether any country in the world could compare with Nigeria in corruption and abuse of power. All the modern institutions the legislature the civil service, the army, the police, the judiciary, the universities, the trade unions and the organs of mass information were devalued and made the tools of corrupt political power. There was complete neglect and impoverish ment of the people. Whatever prosperity there was, was deceptive. There was despair in many hearts, and the number of suicides was growing every day. The farmers were very hard- hit. Their standards of living had fallen steeply. The soil was perishing from over-farming and lack of scientific husbandry. The towns, like the soil, were waste-lands into which people put in too much exertion for too little reward. There were crime waves and people lived in fear of their lives. Business speculation, rack-renting, worship of money and share:) practices left a few people extremely rich at the expense of the many, and those few flaunted their wealth before the many and talked about sharing the national cake. Foreign interests did roaring business spreading consumer goods and wares among a people who had not developed a habit of thrift and well fell prey to Iying advertisements. Inequality of the sexes was actively promoted in Nigeria. Rather than aspire to equality with men, women were encouraged to accept the status of inferiority and to become the mistresses of successful politicians and business executive, or they were married off at the age of fourteen as the fifteenth wives of the new rich. That was the glorious Nigeria, the mythical Nigeria, celebrated in the European press.

Then worst of all came the genocide in which over 50,000 of our kith and kin were slaughtered in cold blood all over Nigeria and nobody asked questions; nobody showed regret; nobody showed remorse. Thus, Nigeria had become a jungle with no safety, no justice and no hope for our people. We decided then to found a new place, a human habitation away from the Nigerian jungle. That was the origin of our revolution. From the moment we assumed the illustrious name of the ancient kingdom of Biafra, we were rediscovering the original independence of a great African people. We accepted by this revolutionary act the glory, as well as the sacri fice, of true independence and freedom. We knew that we had challenged the many forces and interests which had conspired to keep Africa and the black race in subjection for ever. We knew they were going to be ruthless and implacable in defense of their age-old imposition on us and exploitation of our people. But we were prepared, and remain prepared, to pay any price for our freedom and dignity….

Our revolution is a historic opportunity given to us to establish a just society; to revive the dignity of our people at home and the dignity of the black man in the world. We realize that in order to achieve those ends we must remove those weaknesses in our institutions and organizations and those disabilities in foreign relations which have tended to degrade this dignity. This means that we must reject Nigerianism in all its guises….

The Biafran revolution is the people's revolution. 'Who are the people?' you ask. The farmer, the trader, the clerk, the businessman, the housewife, the student, the civil servant, the soldier you and I arc the people. Is there anyone here who is not of the people? Is there anyone here afraid of the people anyone suspicious of the people ? Is there anyone despising the people ? Such a man has no place in our revolution. If he is a leader, he has no right to leadership, because all power, all sovereignty, belongs to the people. In Biafra the people are supreme; the people are master the leader is the servant. You see, you make a mistake when you greet me with shouts of 'power, power'. I am not power you are. My name is Emeka, I am your servant, that is all.

Fellow countrymen, we pride ourselves on our honesty. Let us admit to ourselves that when u e left Nigeria, some of us did not shake off every particle of Nigerianism. We say that Nigerians are corrupt and take bribes; but here in our country we have among us some members of the Police and the Judiciary who are corrupt and who 'eat' bribes. We accuse Nigerians of in ordinate love of money, ostentatious living and irresponsibility: but here, even while we are engaged in a war of national survival, even while the very life of our nation hangs in the balance, we see some public servants who throw huge parties to entertain their friends; who kill cows to christen their babies. We have members of the armed forces Who carry on 'attack' trade instead of fighting the enemy. We have traders who hoard essential goods and inflate prices, thereby increasing the people's hardship. We have 'money-mongers' who aspire to build on hundreds of plots on land as yet unreclaimed from the enemy; who plan to buy scores of lorries and buses and to become agents for those very foreign businessmen who have brought their country to grief. We have some civil servants who think of themselves as masters rather than servants of the people. We see doctors who stay idle in their villages while their countrymen and women suffer and die.

When we see all these things, they remind us that not every Biafran has vet absorbed the spirit of the revolution. They tell us that we still have among us a number of people whose attitudes and outlooks are Nigerian. It is clear that if our revolution is to succeed, we must reclaim these wayward Biafrans. We must Biafranize them. We must prepare all our people for the glorious roles which await them in the revolution. If, after we shall have tried to re claim them, and have failed, then they must be swept aside. The people's revolution must stride ahead and, like a battering ram, clear all obstacles in its path . Fortunately, the vast majority of Biafrans are prepared for these roles.

When we think of our revolution, therefore, we think about these things. We think about our ancient heritage; we think about the challenge of today and the promise of the future. We think about the charges which are taking place at this very moment in our personal lives and in our society. We see Biafrans from different parts of the country living together, working together, suffering together and pursuing together a common cause…. We see our ordinary men and women the people pursuing, in their different but essential ways, the great task of our national survival. We see every sign that this struggle is purifying and elevating the masses of our people…. We see many bad social habits and attitudes beginning to change. Above all, we find a universal desire among our people not only to remain free and independent but also to create a new and better order or society for the benefit of all. In the last five or six months, I have devised one additional way of learning at first hand how the ordinary men and women of our country see the revolution. I have established a practice of meeting every Wednesday with a different cross-section of our people, to discuss the problems of the revolution. these meetings have brought home to me the great desire for challenge among the generality of our people. I have heard a number of criticisms and complaints by people against certain things. I have also noticed groups forming themselves and trying to put right some of the ills of society. All this indicates both that there is a change in progress, and need for more change. Thus, the Biafran revolution is not dreamt up by an elite. It is the will of the people. The people want it. Their immediate concern is to defeat the Nigerian aggressor and so safeguard the Biafran revolution.

I stand before you tonight not to launch the Biafran revolution, because it is already in existence. It came into being two years ago when we proclaimed to all the world that we had finally extricated ourselves from the sea of mud that was is Nigeria. I stand before you to proclaim formally the commit ment of the Biafran state to the principles of the revolution and to enunciate those principles. Some people are frightened when they hear the word revolution. They say: 'revolution? Heaven help us, it is too dangerous. It means mobs rushing around destroying property, killing people and upsetting everything.' But these people do not understand the real meaning of revolution. For us, a revolution is a change a quick change a change for the better. Every society is changing all the time. It is changing for the better or for the worse. It is either moving forward or moving backwards; it cannot stand absolutely still. A revolution is a forward movement. It is a rapid for ward movement which improves a people's standard of living and their material circumstance and purifies and raises their moral tone. It transforms for the better those institutions which are still relevant, and discards those which stand in the way of progress.

The Biafran revolution believes in the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the human person. The Biafran sees the willful and wanton destruction of human life not only as a grave crime but as an abominable sin. In our society every human life is holy, every individual person counts. No Biafran wants to be taken for granted or ignored, neither does he ignore or take others for granted. This explains why such degrading practices as begging for alms were unknown in Biafran society. Therefore, all forms of disabilities and inequalities which reduce the dignity of the individual or destroy his sense of person have no place in the new Biafran social order. The Biafran revolution upholds the dignity of man. The Biafran revolution stands firmly against genocide, against any attempt to destroy a people, its security, its right to life, property and progress. Any attempt to deprive a community of its identity is abhorrent to the Biafran people. Having ourselves suffered genocide, we are all the more determined to take a clear stand now and at all times against this crime.

The new Biafran social order places a high premium on love, patriotism and devotion to the fatherland. Every true Biafran must love Biafra, must have faith in Biafra and its people, and must strive for its greater unity. He must find his salvation here in Biafra. He must be prepared to work for Biafra, to die for Biafra. He must be prepared to defend the sovereignty of Biafra wherever and by whomsoever it is challenged. Biafran patriots do all this already, and Biafra expects all her sons and daughters of today and to morrow, to emulate their noble example. Diplomats Who treat insults to the fatherland and the leadership of our struggle with levity are not patriotic. That young man who sneaks about the village, avoiding service in his country's armed forces is unpatriotic; that young, able-bodied school teacher who prefers to distribute relief when he should be fighting his country's war, is not only unpatriotic put is doing a woman's work. Those who help these loafers to dodge their civic duties should henceforth re-examine themselves.

All Biafrans are brothers and sisters bound together by ties of geography, trade, inter-marriage, and culture and by their common misfortune in Nigeria and their present experience of the armed struggle. Biafrans are even more united by the desire to create a new and better order of society which will satisfy their needs and aspirations. Therefore, there is no justification for anyone to introduce into the Biafran fatherland divisions based on ethnic origin, sex or religion. 'To do so would be unpatriotic. Every true Biafran must know and demand his civic rights. Furthermore, he must recognize the rights of other Biafrans and be prepared to defend them when necessary. So often people complain that they have been ill-treated by the police or some other public servant. But the truth very often is that we allow ourselves to be bullied because we are not man enough to demand and stand up for our rights, and that fellow citizens around do not assist us when we do demand our rights. In the new Biafran social order sovereignty and power belong to the people. Those who Exercise power do so on behalf of the people. Those who govern must not tyrannize the people. They carry a sacred trust of the people and must use their authority strictly in accordance with the will of the people. The true test of success in public life is that the people who are the real masters are contented and happy. The rulers must satisfy the people at all times.

But it is no use saying that power belongs to the people unless we are prepared to make it work in practice. Even in the old political days, the oppressors of the people were among those who shouted loudest that power belonged to the people. The Biafran revolution will constantly and honestly seek methods of making this concept a fact rather than a pious hope. Where, therefore, a ministry or department runs inefficiently or improperly, its head must accept personal responsibility for such a situation and, depending on the gravity of the failure, must resign or be removed. And where he is proved to have misused his position of trust to enrich himself, the principle of public accountability requires that he be punished severely and his ill-gotten gains taken from him.

Those who aspire to lead must bear in mind the fact that they are servants and, as such, cannot ever be greater than the people, their masters. Every leader in the Biafran revolution is the embodiment of the ideals of the revolution. Part of his role as leader is to keep the revolutionary spirit alive, to be a friend of the people and protector of their evolution. He should have right judgment both of people and of situations and the ability to attract to himself the right kind of lieutenants who can best further the interests of the people and of the revolution. The leader must not only say but always demonstrate that the power he exercises is derived from the people. Therefore, like every other Biafran public servant, he is accountable to the people for the use he makes of their mandates. He must get out when the people tell him to get out. The more power the leader is given by the people, then less is his personal freedom and the greater his responsibility for the good of the people. He should never allow his high office to separate him from the people. He must be fanatical for their welfare.

A leader in the Biafran revolution must at all times stand for justice in dealing with the people. He should be the symbol of justice, which is the supreme guarantee of good government. He should be ready, if need be, to lay down his life in pursuit of this ideal. He must have physical and moral courage and must be able to inspire the people out of despondency. He should never strive towards the perpetuation of his office or devise means to cling to office beyond the clear mandate of the people. He should resist the temptation to erect memorials to himself in his life-time, to have his head embossed on the coin, name streets and institutions after himself or convert government into a. family business. A leader who serves his people well will be enshrined in their hearts and minds. This is all the reward he can expect in his life-time. He will be to the people the symbol of excellence, the quintessence of the revolution. He will be Biafran.

One of the corner-stones of the Biafran revolution is social justice. We believe that there should be equal opportunity for all, that appreciation and just reward should be given for honest work and that society should show concern and special care for the weak and infirm. Our people reject all forms of social inequalities and disabilities and all class and sectional privileges. Biafrans believe that society should treat all its members with impartiality and fairness. Therefore, the Biafran state must not apportion special privileges or favours to some citizens and deny them to others. For example, how can we talk of social justice in a situation where a highly-paid public servant gets his salt free and poor housewives in the village pay five pounds for a cup. The state should not create a situation favourable to the exploitation of some citizens by others. The State is the father of all, the source of security, the reliable agent which helps all to realize their legitimate hopes and aspirations. Without social justice, harmony and stability within society disappear and antagonisms between various sections of the community take their place. Our revolution will uphold social justice at all times. The Biafran state will be the fountain of justice.

In the new Biafra, all property belongs to the community. Every individual must consider all he has, whether in talent or material wealth, as belonging to the community for which he holds it in trust. This principle does not mean the abolition of personal property but it implies that the state, acting on behalf of the community, can intervene in the disposition of property to the greater advantage of all. Over-acquisitiveness or the inordinate desire to amass wealth is a factor liable to threaten social stability, especially in an under-developed society in which there are not enough material goods to go round. This creates lop-sided development, breeds antagonisms between the 'haves' and the 'have- nots' and undermines the peace and unity of the people.

While the Biafran revolution will foster private economic enterprise and initiative, it should remain constantly alive to the dangers of some citizens accumulating large private fortunes. Property-grabbing, if unchecked by the state, will set the pattern of behaviour for the whole society which begins to attach undue value to money and property. Thus a wealthy man, even if he is known to be a crook, is accorded greater respect than an honest citizen who is not well-off. A society where this happens is doomed to rot and decay. Moreover, the danger is always there of a small group of powerful property owners using their influence to deflect the state from performing its duties to the citizens as a whole and thereby destroying the democratic basis of society. This happens in many countries and it is one of the duties of our revolution to prevent its occurrence in Biafra.

Finally, the Biafran revolution will create possibilities for citizens with talent in business, administration, management and technology, to fulfill themselves and receive due appreciation and reward in the service of the state, as has indeed happened in our total mobilization to prosecute the present war. The Biafran revolution is committed to creating a society not torn by class consciousness and class antagonisms. Biafran society is traditionally egalitarian. The possibility for social mobility is always presented in our society. The new Biafran social order rejects all rigid classifications of society. Anyone with imagination, anyone with integrity, anyone who works hard, can rise to any height. Thus, the son of a truck pusher can become the Head of State of Biafra. The Biafran revolution will provide opportunities for Biafrans to aspire and to achieve their legitimate desires. Those who find themselves below at any particular moment must have the opportunity to rise to the top.

Our new society is open and progressive. The people of Biafra have always striven to achieve a workable balance between the claims of tradition and the demand for change and betterment. We are adaptable because as a people we are convinced that in the world 'no condition is permanent' and we believe that human effort and will are necessary to bring about changes and improve ments in the condition of the individual and of society. The Biafran would, thus, make the effort to improve his lot and the material well-being of his community. He has the will to transform his society into a modern pro gressive community. In this process of rapid transformation he will retain and cherish the best elements of his culture, drawing sustenance as well as moral and psychological stability from them. But being a Biafran he will never be afraid to adapt what needs to be adapted or challenge what has to be changed. The Biafran revolution will continue to discover and develop local talent and to use progressive foreign ideas and skills so long as they do not destroy the identity of our culture or detract from the sovereignty of our fatherland. The Biafran revolution will also ensure through education that the positive aspects of Biafran traditional culture, especially those which are likely to be swamped out of existence by introduced foreign influences, are conserved. The undiscriminating absorption of new ideas and attitudes will be discouraged. Biafrans can, in the final analysis, only validly express their nation's personality and enhance their corporate identity through Biafran culture, through Biafran art and literature, music, dancing and drama, and through the peculiar gestures and social habits which distinguish them from all other people. Those then are the main principles of our revolution. They are not abstract formulations but arise out of the traditional background and the present temper of our people. They grow out of our native soil and are the product of our peculiar climate. They belong to us. If anyone here doubts the validity of these principles let him go out into the streets and into the villages, let him ask the ordinary Biafran. Let him go to the army, ask the rank and file and he will find, as I have found, that they have very clear ideas about the kind of society we should build here. They will not put them in the same words I have used tonight but the meaning will be the same. From today, let no Biafran pretend that he or she does not know the main-spring of our national action, let him or her not plead ignorance when found indulging in un-Biafran activities. The principles of our revolution are hereby clearly set out for everyone to see. They are now the property of every Biafran and the instrument for interpreting our national life. But principles are principles. They can only be transformed into reality through the institutions of society, otherwise they remain inert and useless. It is my firm conviction that in the Biafran revolution principles and practice will go hand in hand. It is my duty and the duty of all of you to bring this about. Looking at the institutions of our society, the very vehicles for carrying out our revolutionary principles, what do you find ? We find old, jaded and rusty machines creaking along most inefficiently and delaying the people's progress and the progress of the revolution. The problem of our institutions is partly that they were designed by other people, in other times and for other pur poses. Their most fundamental weakness is that they came into being during the colonial period when the relationship between the colonial administrators and people was that of master and servant. Our public servants as heirs of the colonial masters are apt to treat the people today with arrogance and condescension. In the new Biafran social order we say that power belongs to the people, but this central principle tends to elude many of the public servants who continue to behave in a manner which shows that they consider themselves master and the people their servants. The message of the revolu tion has tended to fly over their heads. Let them beware, the revolution gathering momentum

Our experience during this struggle has brought home to us the need for versatility. Many of our citizens have found themselves having to do emergency duties different from their normal peace-time jobs. In the years after the present armed conflict, we may find that in the defense of the revolution the general state of mobilization and alertness will remain. One of the ways of preparing ourselves for this emergency will be to ensure that a citizen will be trained in two jobs his normal peace-time occupation and a different skill which will be called into play during a national emergency. Thus, for example, a clerk may be given training to enable him to operate as an ambulance-driver during the emergency or a university lecturer as a post- master. We realize here that the problem is more than that of providing narrow, technical training. It has to do with re-orientation of attitudes. It has to do with the cultivation of the right kind of civic virtues and loyalty to Biafra. We all stand in need of this. It is quite clear that to attain the goals of the Biafran revolution we will require extensive political and civic education of our people. To this effect, we will, in the near future, set up a National Orientation College (N.O.C.) which will undertake the needful function of formally inculcating the Biafran ideology and the principles of the revolution. We will also pursue this vital task of education through seminars, mass rallies, formal and informal addresses by the leaders and standard-bearers of the revolution. All Biafrans who are going to play a role in the promotion of the revolution, especially those who are going to operate the institutions of the new society, must first of all expose themselves to the ideology of the revolution The full realization of the Biafran ideology and the promise of the Biafran revolution will have the important effect of drawing the people of Biafra into close unity with the Biafran state. The Biafran state and the Biafran people thus become one. The people jealously defend and protect the integrity of the state. The state guarantees the people certain basic rights and welfare. In this third year of our independence, we restate these basic rights and welfare obligations which the revolutionary state of Biafra guarantees to the people.

In the field of employment and labour, the Biafran revolution guarantees every able Biafran the right to work. All those who are lazy or refuse to work forfeit their right to this guarantee. 'He who does not work should not eat' is an important principle in Biafra.

Our revolution provides equal opportunities for employment and labour for all Biafrans irrespective of sex. For equal output a woman must receive the same remuneration as a man. Our revolutionary Biafran state will guarantee a rational system of remuneration of labour. Merit and output shall be the criteria for reward in labour. 'To each according to his ability, to each ability according to its product' shall be our motto Biafra.

Our revolution guarantees security for workers who have been incapacitated by physical injury or disease. It will be the duty of the Biafran state to raise the standard of living of the Biafran people, to provide them with improved living conditions and to afford the modern amenities that enhance their human dignity and self-esteem. We recognize that at a11 times the great contributions made by the farmer, the craftsmen and other toilers of the revolution to our national progress. It will be a cardinal point of our economic policy to keep their welfare constantly in view. The Biafran revolution will promulgate a workers' charter which will codify and establish workers' rights.

The maintenance of the heath and physical well-being of the Biafran citizen must be the concern and the responsibility of the state. The revolutionary Biafran state will at all times strive to provide medical service for all its citizens in accordance with the resources available to it, it will wage a continuous struggle against epidemic and endemic diseases, and will promote among the people knowledge of hygienic living. It will develop social and preventive medicine, set up sanitariums for incurable and infectious diseases and mental diseases, and a net-work of maternity homes for ante and post- natal care of Biafran mothers. Furthermore, Biafra will set great store by the purity of the air which its people breathe. We have a right to live in a clean, pollution-free atmosphere.

Our revolution recognizes the very importance of the mental and emotional need 0f the Biafran people. To this end, the Biafran state will pay great attention to education, culture and the arts. We shall aim at elevating our cultural institutions and promoting educational reforms which will foster a sense of national and racial pride among our people and discourage ideas which inspire a sense of inferiority and dependence on foreigners. It will be the prime duty of the revolutionary Biafran state to eradicate illiteracy from our society, to guarantee free education to all Biafran children to a stage limited only by existing resources. Our nation will encourage the training of scientists, technicians and skilled workers needed for quick industrialization and the modernization of our agriculture. We will ensure the development of higher education and technological training for our people, encourage our intellectuals, writers, artists and scientists to research, create and invent in the service of the state and the people. We must prepare our people to con-tribute significantly to knowledge and world culture.

Finally, the present armed struggle, in which many of our countrymen and women have distinguished themselves and made numerous sacrifices in defense of the fatherland and the revolution, has imposed on the state Or Biafra extra responsibility for the welfare of its people. Biafra will give special care and assistance to soldiers and civilians disabled in the course Or the pogrom and the war. It will develop special schemes for resettlement and rehabilitation. The nation will assume responsibility for the dependents of the heroes of the revolution who have lost their lives in defense of the father ….

Again and again, in stating the principles of our revolution, we have spoken of the people. We have spoken of the primacy of people, of the belief that power belongs to the people, that the revolution is the servant of the people. We make no apologies for speaking so constantly about the people, because we believe in the people; we have faith in the people. They are the bastion of the nation, the makers of its culture and history. But in talking about the people we must never lose sight of the individuals who make up the people. The single individual is the final, irreducible unit of the people. In Biafra that single individual counts. The Biafran revolution cannot lose sight of this fact. The desirable changes which the revolution aims to bring to the lives of the people will first manifest themselves in the lives of individual Biafrans. The success of the Biafran revolution will depend on the quality of individuals within the state. Therefore, the calibre of the individual is of the utmost importance to the revolution. To build the new society we will require new men who are in tune with the spirit of the new order.

What then should he the qualities of this Biafran of the new order ? He is patriotic, loyal to his state, his government and its leadership. He must not do anything which undermines the security of his state or gives advantage to the enemies of his country. He must not indulge in such evil practices as tribalism and nepotism which weaken the loyalty of their victims to the state. He should be prepared if need be to give up his life in defense of the nation. He must be his brother's keeper, he must help all Biafrans in difficulty, whether or not they are related to kin by blood. He must avoid, at all costs, doing anything which is capable of bringing distress and hardship to other Biafrans. A man who hoards money or goods is not his brother's keeper be cause he brings distress and hardship to his fellow citizens. He must be honourable, he must be a person who keeps his promise and the promise of his office, a person u ho can always be trusted. He must be truthful. He must not cheat his neighbour, his fellow citizens and his country. He must not give or receive bribes or corruptly advance himself or his interests. He must be responsible. He must not push across to others the task which properly belongs to him, or let others receive the blame or punishment for his own failings. A responsible man keeps secrets. A Biafran who is in a position to know what our troops are planning and talks about it is irresponsible. The information he gives out which spread and reach the ear of the enemy. A responsible man minds his own business, he does not show off.

He must be brave and courageous; he must never allow himself to be attacked by other without fighting back to defend himself and his rights. He must be ready to tackle tasks which other people might regard as impossible. He must be law-abiding; he obeys the laws of the land and does nothing to undermine the due processes of law. He must be freedom-loving. He must stand up resolutely against all forms of injustice, oppression and suppression. He must never be afraid to demand his rights. For example, a true Biafran at a post office or bank counter will insist on being served in his turn. He must be progressive; he should not slavishly and blindly adhere to old ways of doing things. He must be prepared to make changes in his way of life in the light of our new revolutionary experience. He is industrious, resourceful and inventive He must not fold his arms and wait for the government to do everything for him he must also help himself.

My fellow countrymen and women, proud and courageous Biafrans, two years ago, faced with the threat of total extermination, we met in circumstances not unlike today's at that august gathering. The entire leaders of our people being present, we as a people decided that we had to take our destiny into our own hand, to plan and decide our future and to stand by the decisions, no matter the vicissitudes of this war which by then was already imminent. At that time, our major pre-occupation was how to remain alive, how to restrain an implacable enemy from destroying us in our own homes. In that moment of crisis we decided to resume our sovereignty. In my statement to the leaders of our community before that decision was made, I spoke about the difficulties. I explained that the road which we were about to tread was to be carved through a jungle of thorns and that our ability to emerge through this jungle was to say the least uncertain. Since that fateful decision, the very worst has happened. Our people have continually been subjected to genocide. The entire conspiracy of neo-colonialism has joined hands to stifle our nascent independence. Yet, undaunted by the odds, proud in the fact of our manhood, encouraged by the companionship of the Almighty, we have fought to this day with honour, with pride and with glory so that today, as I stand before you, I see a proud people acknowledged by the world. I see a heroic people, men with heart-beats as regular and blood as red as the best on earth.

On that fateful day two years ago, you mandated me to do everything within my power to avert the dangers that loomed ahead, the threat of ex termination. Little did we, you and I, know how long the battle was to be, how complex its attendant problems. From then on, what has been achieved is there for the entire world to see, and has only been possible because of the solidarity and support of our people. For this I thank you all. I must have made certain mistakes in the course of this journey but, I am sure that what ever mistakes I have made are mistakes of the head and never of the heart. I have tackled the sudden problems as they unfold before my eves and I have tackled them to the best of my ability with the greater interest of our people m mind.

Today, I am glad that our problems are less than they were a year ago, that arms alone can no longer destroy us, that our victory, the fulfillment of our dreams, is very much in sight. We have forced a stalemate on the enemy and this is likely to continue, with any advances likely to be on our side. If we fail, which God forbid, it can only be because of certain inner weakness in our being. It is in order to avoid these pitfalls that I have today proclaimed be fore you the principles of the Biafran revolution. We in Biafra are convinced that the black man can never come into his own until he is able to build modern states based on indigenous African ideologies, to enjoy true independence, to be able to make his mark in the arts and sciences and to engage in meaningful dialogue with the white man on a basis of equality. When he achieves this, he will have brought a new dimension into international affairs. Biafra will not betray the black man. ~o matter the odds, we will fight with all our might until black men everywhere can point with pride to this republic, standing dignified and defiant, an example of African nationalism triumphant over its many and age-old enemies.

We believe that God, humanity and history are on our side, and that the Biafran revolution is indestructible and eternal. Oh God, not my will but thine

 

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Biafran National Anthem

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Read Time:1 Minute, 3 Second

LAND OF THE RISING SUN

(Biafran National Anthem)

Land of the rising sun, we love and cherish,
Beloved homeland of our brave heroes;
We must defend our lives or we shall perish,
We shall protect our hearts from all our foes;
But if the price is death for all we hold dear,
Then let us die without a shred of fear.
 
Hail to Biafra, consecrated nation,
Oh fatherland, this be our solemn pledge:
Defending thee shall be a dedication,
Spilling our blood we’ll count a privilege;
The waving standard which emboldens the free
Shall always be our flag of liberty.
 
We shall emerge triumphant from this ordeal,
And through the crucible unscathed we’ll pass;
When we are poised the wounds of battle to heal,
We shall remember those who died in mass;
Then shall our trumpets peal the glorious song
Of victory we scored o’er might and wrong.
 
Oh God, protect us from the hidden pitfall,
Guide all our movements lest we go astray;
Give us the strength to heed the humanist call:
‘To give and not to count the cost" each day;
Bless those who rule to serve with resoluteness,
To make this clime a land of righteousness.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Aburi Accord, Ghana -TRANSCRIPT Meeting

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Read Time:62 Minute, 15 Second

TRANSCRIPT from the tape recordings of the Aburi Meeting, January 5-7, 1967

In Attendance:

Lt.-General Joe Ankrah of Ghana (Host)

Lt.-Colonel Yakubu Gowon, Chief of Army Staff of Nigeria (announced as 'Supreme Commander' while whereabouts of Ironsi was 'unknown')

Lt.-Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu, Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria

Colonel Robert Adeyinka Adebayo, Military Governor of Western Nigeria

Lt.-Colonel Hassan Katsina, Military Governor of Northern Nigeria

Lt.-Colonel David Ejoor, Military Governor of Mid-Western Nigeria

Major Mobolaji Johnson, Military Governor of Lagos

Alhaji Kam Selem, Deputy Inspector-General of Police

Mr. T. Omo-Bare

Commodore Akinwale Wey, Chief of Naval Staff

The Main Topic: Re-Organizing Nigeria

———————————————————————–

Reference: Crisis and Conflict in Nigeria, January 1966-July 1967 (Vol. 1) A. H. M. KIRK-GREENE. Oxford University, 1971

————————————————————————-

Attitudes at Aburi

a. How the military looks at the politicians

General Ankrah (Ghana): I will not like to dwell rigidly on any point whatsoever because I feel this is a domestic affair of Nigeria and, as I have always said, it is not difficult for military people to understand each other. It is a saying that if Generals were to meet and discuss frontiers, wars or even go into the details to forestall war, there will never be any differences or discrepancies but unity and understanding. There will be no war because the two old boys will meet at the frontier and tell each other: 'Old boy, we are not going to commit our boys to die, come on, let us keep the politicians out' and that is the end. I am quite confident that having met here to-day, you will continue and achieve what you are here for.

What I want to stress is this, that through the annals of history we have not seen failures with military statesmen and when military personnel do take over the reins of Government they have proved their worth and, I am sure and confident that the Military regimes that have been saddled with the onerous responsibility of rebuilding and reconstructing the various countries in Africa will not let us down.

You are aware that in Nigeria now the whole world is looking up to you as military men and if there is any failure to reunify or even bring perfect understanding to Nigeria as a whole, you will find that the blame will rest with us all through the centuries. There is no gainsaying this whatsoever.

Whatever the situation we are soldiers and soldiers are always statesmen not politicians. They deal with a little bit of politics and diplomacy when the time comes but they are statesmen. The people first and they themselves second but if you think like the politicians do that they want fame or they want to be heard of and neglect your people then, of course, I am quite sure that we as soldiers will live to regret, even our future generations will live to regret. They will be blaming us whenever our names are called or mentioned….

Major Johnson: Gentlemen, if I can start talking on this one, please do not think I am taking undue advantage. Quite honestly I think we all know what brought this country to where we are to-day and while talking yesterday Emeka [first name of Lt.-Col. Ojukwu] touched on a point of how, due to the situation, the politicians got what they have been waiting for to come in. While I very much welcome this Item 4 and while I know that definitely we are not going to be in Government forever, I will like to say that, please for the next six months let us leave everything that will bring the politicians back into the limelight out of the question. Let us go on all these things we have been discussing since yesterday because this is on the basis at which we can get our country back on its feet. Once we can get the papers on these things out and we see them working then we can call the Ad Hoc Constitutional Committee to come and discuss but for now they are just going to confuse the issues more if you bring them out to come and talk anything again. I will say let the Military Government continue for now and after working for six months and we see how far we can go before we start thinking of calling these people back.

Commodore Wey: I 100% support what you have said. Candidly if there had ever been a time in my life when I thought somebody had hurt me sufficiently for me to wish to kill him it was when one of these fellows opened his mouth too wide. I think we should let them stay where they are for the moment. It was simply because we could not get together and handle our affairs. Now that we have established the basis under which we can work please let us leave them where they are and let us try and see how far we can work.

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: On this statement, Gentlemen, a lot depends on what the Ad Hoc Constitutional Committee is. I agree indeed that regarding other Regions it was indeed a platform for politicians, in the East it was not. I did not send politicians to it but be it as it may, if we say we are going to continue then we must obviously get quite satisfied the terms of running this thing properly. We have got to be able to meet and I said it outside and I repeat it here, I, as the Military Governor of the East cannot meet anywhere in Nigeria where there are Northern troops.

b. The events of 29 July and the issue of Supreme Commander: the Colonels speak

Major Johnson: Sir, before we go on if I may say something. I am happy we have got to this point again. I had wanted to take this Conference back all along because as my people say 'If you still have lice in your head, there will still be blood on your fingers :' May I ask one question, gentlemen, is there a Central Government in Nigeria to-day?

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: That question is such a simple one and anyone who has been listening to what I have been saying all the time would know that I do not see a Central Government in Nigeria to-day.

Major Johnson: Thank you, Gentlemen. I think this is the crux of the whole thing and I think if I can take you back this can be a personality clash or something.

I am saying here to-day that this is the backbone of our problem. As far as the Governor of the East is concerned there is no central government in Nigeria. You say, Supreme Commander, but as far as he is concerned there is no Supreme Commander. I think this is where we must start from, gentlemen. Why is he not accepting that there is a Supreme Commander and we accept there is a Supreme Commander.

This brings me to this Conference that was held in August. As was rightly said, this Committee was a Steering Committee. We are all Military personnel here and we know one thing. We have all been pointing accusing fingers at politicians that they used to take military decisions without military men.

The main problem now is that as far as the East is concerned, there is no Central Government. Why? This is what we must find out. I mentioned something about personality clash. I remember that there was a long letter written by the Governor of the East sometime ago referring to the hierarchy in the Army, the policy on seniority and things like that. He said among other things in the letter that if even Lt.-Col. Yakubu Gowon is Supreme Commander is he not right to ask whether it is for a period or something. For all the East knows the former Supreme Commander is only missing and until such a time that they know his whereabouts they do not know any other Supreme Commander. These are the points that have been brought out by the East.

Gentlemen, we said this morning that we have come with open minds and we must hit the nail at the head. The East should tell us now what are their views, what are the conditions they want to demand before they can say that there is a Central Government in Nigeria. For all we know now, nobody has seceded, the East is still part of Nigeria, the West, the North and we know Nigeria as a Federation.

Lt.-Col. Ejoor: The Mid-West please.

Major Johnson: And Lagos. Nigeria is still a Federation and in a Federation there is a Central Government. Where is this Central Government and who is Head of this Central Government? Gentlemen, unless we clear this one, all what we are discussing will not be good enough. What are the conditions the East demand before they can recognise what the rest of us recognise as the Central Government?

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: I agree with you in essence on what you have just said, Bolaji [First name of Major Johnson], but the last bit is badly put. If you will forgive me it is not 'What conditions do they demand before….'

If the problem is that we are trying to see how to solve the problem of Government in the centre then I will come in. I will seek your indulgence as I go a little bit back into what a number of people would perhaps wish to call history.

At a certain stage, we all accepted General Ironsi as the Supreme Commander and Head of the National Military Government. During his regime we met or rather whilst he was about we met as often as it was practicable, and sat and jointly discussed and took decisions. When the decisions were good we all shared the kudos, when those decisions were bad it is only natural that we should all share the blame.

On the 29th of July, whilst he was visiting the Governor of the West, he was said to be besieged in that residence in Ibadan and later kidnapped, further abducted. Subsequent to that, it appeared in his absence the normal thing was whoever is the next senior person to manage the affairs of this country until such a time as he reappeared; or it was necessary he was deposed or if he had suffered certain accident, until such a time as the circumstances were made known. Which ever is the case, the question of the headship of the Government and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces would normally be subjected to a discussion and agreement unless, of course, one party felt he was strong enough to push everybody aside and get to the seat.

When this affair of the 29th July occurred, I remember for certain, the first 24 hours nobody thought it necessary to contact the East from Lagos. I made the contact later and I know the advice I gave Brigadier Ogundipe at that time. I said to him, 'Sir, the situation is so confused that I feel that somebody must take control immediately. Also, I would suggest that you go on to the air and tell the country what has happened and that you were taking control of the situation.' Then I was told about concern for the whole country. I knew that if this thing resolved itself into factions we would get ourselves into so much trouble that we would never or we would find it difficult to get out. I maintained and still do that the answer would have been for the responsible officers of the Army to get together thereby trying to get the Army together to solve the problem that we had on our hands. I said to him 'As soon as you have made your speech I guarantee you within 30 minutes, I needed time to write my own, in 30 minutes I would come on to the air in the East and say that I, the entire Army in the East and the entire people in the East wholeheartedly support you.'

Forgive me, David [first name of Lt.-Col. Ejoor], that I have never said this to you, but I told him too that I was sure that within fifteen minutes you would say the same in the interest of the country as a whole. He told me that he thought it was a good idea but it did not seem likely that it would be accepted by the faction.

Very soon after, I had occasion to talk to you, Jack [nickname of Lt.-Col. Gowon], I did mention amongst other things, two things. The first one was this question of solving the problem and I thought the Army together should solve it. I said also that any break at this time from our normal line would write in something into the Nigerian Army which is bigger than all of us and that thing is indiscipline. How can you ride above people's heads and sit in Lagos purely because you are at the Head of a group who have their fingers poised on the trigger? If you do it you remain forever a living example of that indiscipline which we want to get rid of because tomorrow a Corporal will think because he has his finger on the trigger he could just take over the company from the Major Commanding the company and so on. I knew then that we were heading for something terrible. Despite that and by force of circumstance as we did talk on the telephone, I think twice, you brought up the question of supreme command and I made quite plain my objections, but despite those objections you announced yourself as the Supreme Commander. Now, Supreme Commander by virtue of the fact that you head or that you are acceptable to people who had mutinied against their Commander, kidnapped him and taken him away ? By virtue of the support of Officers and men who had in the dead of night murdered their brother Officers, by virtue of the fact that you stood at the head of a group who had turned their brother Officers from the Eastern Region out of the barracks which they shared ? Our people came home, there are other circumstances which even make the return more tragic. Immediately after I had opportunity to speak to you again, I said on that occasion that there had been too much killing in Nigeria and it was my sincere hope that we can stop these killings. I said then, and have continued to say that in the interest of peace I would co-operate with you to stop the fighting, to stop the killing but I would not recognise.

I would not recognise because as I said we have a Supreme Commander who is missing. I would not recognise and to underline the validity of that claim of mine you appointed another Officer, be he senior to you, Acting Governor in the West, presumably acting for the Governor who was then abducted and that I saw no reason why your position would not then be acting. From there I think we started parting our ways because it was clear that the hold on Lagos was by force of conquest. Now, these things do happen in the world, we are all military Officers. If an Officer is dead 'Oh! he was a fine soldier', we drop the national flag on him, we give him due honours and that is all. The next person steps in. So, the actual fact in itself is a small thing with military men but hierachy, order is very important, discipline are sine qua non for any organisation which prides itself for being called an Army. So, the mutiny had occurred, the mutineer seemed in control of the North, the West, Lagos. By international standards when that does happen then a de facto situation is created immediately where whoever is in a position get a de facto recognition of himself in a position over the area he controls. In this situation, Nigeria resolved itself into three areas. The Lagos, West and North group, the Mid-West, the East. What should have been done is for us to get round to discuss the future, how to carry on in the absence of our Supreme Commander.

We could not get together because of the situation so we sent our accredited representatives, delegates of Governments and personal representatives of Governors to Lagos to try and resolve certain issues on bringing normalcy to the country. They met and unanimously agreed to certain points.

Bolaji, I think in fact from this, if nothing else you do know what I consider went wrong. Perhaps at this juncture I might stop for others to contribute otherwise I would go on and tell you what I consider to be my solution to the problem even now, irrespective of the amount of water that had gone under the bridge. I think there is still a solution provided we are honest with ourselves and we are really very serious about solving this problem. I agree with you it is vital, it is crucial, without it I do not think we can really go anywhere. I leave it for the time being.

Col. Adebayo: I think Emeka has narrated what happened on the 29th July and thereafter. We have all agreed and I am sure you still agree that what we are looking for now is a solution for the future. I do not want us to go into the past anymore, we want a solution for the future. I will suggest with the permission of the other members here that we ask Emeka to give us his solution. Thereafter there might be some others too who would have their own solutions, then we can make a compromise from the solutions we get.

Lt.-Col. Hassan: Gentlemen, General Ankrah told us not to go back into the past, if we are to go back into the past we will sit here for two months talking. Let us forget the past and I agree with Robert [first name of Col. Adebayo] that we ask the East to tell us their solution. If their solution is quite acceptable then we adopt it, amend or whatever we think is good for the country for peace. We are not going to say ourselves what efforts we have put in individually; let us find peace for Nigeria. This is the major issue, unless this is done whatever we are going to discuss is not going to work out well.

Lt.-Col. Ejoor: I believe that before we start suggesting solutions we must examine certain principles vis a vis the Governors. To me, we should not go too far into history but there is one valid point which must be considered and that is the coup we have had so far. The January 15 one was a failure and the Army came in to correct it, the one of the 29th I personally believe was a mutiny to start with but it has now turned out to be a coup. If it is a coup we have to ask ourselves 'is it a successful coup or is it a partial one ?' I believe it is a partial one, it is not a fully successful one. This is the main point which has brought us here, trying to negotiate as opposed to receiving orders from the Commander. I think we must bear this in mind in reaching a decision or a Resolution affecting the re-organisation of the Army. To-day, the Army is faced with four main problems.

Firstly, the problem of leadership;

Secondly, the crisis of confidence amongst Officers and amongst the soldiers;

Thirdly, the chain of command is badly disrupted; and Fourthly, we cannot now have any Nigerian from anywhere serving in the same unit as an effective unit of the Army.

These are bare facts and whatever solution we evolve must go to solve these main problems. I leave these basic principles and what solutions offered should be considered alongside these problems.

Lt.-Col. Hassan: David spoke on re-organisation but the current topic is on Bolaji's point which Emeka narrated. I think this is the major point.

Lt.-Col. Ejoor: When you consider leadership you have to tell us what happened to the former leader.

Commodore Wey: Gentlemen, I think I have been properly placed in this issue from the 15th of January up till now. Unfortunately, I do not put them down because I think I can carry quite a bit in my head. The whole issue is unfortunate, it has happened and it has happened. The truth now is that we want to repair, we do not intend to point accusing fingers at anybody.

When the trouble of the 29th July started I was present, you came and joined us, therefore, I can tell any other person better. I was there when you phoned Brigadier Ogundipe and I knew what you said. At one stage, it was even said that I carried him in my ship and took him out to sea.

I must say one thing that it is impossible for any man to expect to command any unit which he has not got control over. Bolaji would bear witness, he was there, he started it. He was the one who went out first and came back to say that a Private refused to take orders from him; it all happened in the Police Headquarters.

The Inspector-General complained, I went into it and I said if they cannot take orders from an Army Officer like themselves they will not take from a Naval Officer. I retired and called Brigadier Ogundipe. He went out and if an ordinary Sergeant can tell a Brigadier 'I do not take orders from you, until my Captain comes,' I think this was the limit and this is the truth about it. Therefore, it would have been very unfair to Ogundipe or any other person for that matter to take command and there is no point accepting to command a unit over which you have no control.

It was after that negotiations started, I do not know what conversation went on between Ogundipe and Jack. On the long run I was consulted and what I have just said now was exactly my advice. Bob was with me, I went out and we did not finish until two o'clock in the morning. Jack then came into the issue, how he got there I have got the story; he himself has never told me. I have been doing private investigations myself. I knew how he got into Ikeja and how it came about.

I want to repeat that if we did not have the opportunity of having Jack to accept, God knows we would have been all finished. If you remember, you dragged me out, things changed. I do not think people can appreciate the difficulty we were in, therefore, if anybody accepted to lead them candidly I doff my hat for him, I accept it purely from the point of respect. If 55 million people can be saved let us forget everything about position and for God's sake because of our 55 million people let us forget our personal pride. Whether it was a coup or a mutiny let us forget it. If this man comes out and everybody accepts him, please let us accept him.

One thing I would like to repeat, I am a sailor and I want to remain a sailor. I do not see why you soldiers should not remain soldiers. We were not trained to be politicians, let us run the Government, draw up a Constitution, hand-over to the politicians and we get back into our uniforms.

Whatever people may say, I think I will take this advantage to tell you here that when all of you were appointed Governors I was one of those who sat and appointed you Governors but right does not come into this at all; please let us forget personal feelings. I know my rank but if it is the wish of the 55 million people, please let us put our hearts into our pockets and forget our personal pride.

Personally, I am 100 per cent in support that we should mention the whereabouts of Ironsi, even I have advised on this. When that has been done, he is a Head of State and he should be given the proper honour; thereafter, who-so-ever is in the Chair now let us help him to run the country peacefully, no more bloodshed, we have shed enough. We cannot create why should we destroy. If we can help to save please let us do so but we must say the whereabouts of Ironsi. He is a Head of State and we should give him his due respect as a Head of State. It is a temporary issue, four, five years, maybe I would have retired by then.

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: It is all well and good, Gentlemen, but I will be vehement on this. The point is that if a room is dirty you do not sweep the dirt under the carpet because whenever you raise the carpet the dirt will be there. It is not so simple as all that. Indeed, on the very principle that you have enunciated here, it is a question of command and control. I like to know who will stand up here and tell me that he commands and controls the Eastern Army or the Army in the East.

Lt.-Col. Hassan: You alone.

Commodore Wey: I can tell you also here now that you are doing it illegally because when we had the first Government no Governor was supposed to have the command of any Army.

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: You have started on the basis of the principles of command and control. If you control a group who will take orders from you, according to you, everybody doffs his hat, well done. Right, that person you doff your hat to cannot command and control those under him and indeed those of the East. What do you do to that?

Commodore Wey: That is why we are here.

Lt.-Col. Hassan: This is why we are here to solve the problem. You command the East, if you want to come into Nigeria come into Nigeria and that is that.

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: I am not out.

Lt.-Col. Hassan: This is the problem but if we are to go into the basis of coup and mutiny we will be here for months. I have seen an Army mutiny in Kano and if you see me trembling you will know what a mutiny is. You were the first I rang and for two good days I saw a real mutiny when a C.O. of Northern origin commanding soldiers of Northern origin had to run away. Please, we have all come not to raise issues of the past, let us forget the past and come to the problem. Say what you want to say, let us go into the matter and discuss it.

Mr. T. Omo-Bare: Before we ask Emeka to give a solution will it not be advisable that somebody should say what happened to Ironsi

Major Johnson: I support him fully.

Alhaji Kam Selem: If I may just say a few words. I am not a military man, but at that time it was just impossible for anybody else to take command of the country. As far as I know even the present Supreme Commander had to be persuaded to take over the Government. The Senior Officers you are talking about could not possibly accept the leadership of the country at that time. What could we do in a situation like that and the country was kept for 48 hours and nobody knew what was happening. As far as I know he has no ambition to remain in this present post. As soon as the situation in the country returns to normal and the problems are solved he will resign. I associate myself with all the Governors who said we should give the present Supreme Commander the respect he deserves. I was present through the whole trouble from January 15 and most of the things took place in my office. As other speakers said, if the Governor of the East has a solution let us hear the solution.

Lt.-Col. Ejoor: Before we hear the solution, we want to know what happened to Ironsi and Fajuyi.

Lt.-Col. Gowon: If a public statement is required I am prepared to make one now. I have never been afraid to make a public statement anywhere. Left to me it would have been announced the day I knew about it and immediately I took the people that should know into confidence. I have explained this to my Colleagues in absolute sincerity and honesty. I had wanted to make the announcement before this meeting but unfortunately I was unable to do so. In any case, I want to make this announcement very shortly, and if you require it now I will say it. If you wish I can give the information in confidence and we can work on that.

Alhaji Kam Selem: I think the statement should be made in Nigeria so that the necessary honour can be given.

Lt.-Col. Hassan: This was what happened after the January coup. We agreed to announce the names of all the Senior Officers killed but there was fear all over. Let us combine the whole story ready, do the whole thing respectably and solve the problem.

Commodore Wey: Gentlemen, I would like to suggest this. I do not think there is anybody sitting on this table who would say that until today he did not know about the situation. In short, it is a public statement that is required and now we are going to have it in the scribe's book. We know the position and an announcement will be made as soon as we get back home.

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: On this question of announcement and as you have all diagnosed, a lot depends on the public statement. The longer it is kept everything would remain uncertain, so that it is necessary to determine here how we are going to make this announcement. When?

Col. Adebayo: The best thing is to tell us here now what happened to Ironsi then when we get home and we issue our communique, we can make the public statement.

Lt.-Col. Gowon There is a Head of State and at the moment we are all assuming something serious or tragic has happened to him. He is a Head of State, we cannot just sit down here and discuss it. As I said, it is my responsibility to make the announcement in due course and I will make it in due course. I have already made up my mind that this would be done within the next week or two.

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: I am not trying to be difficult on the issue but perhaps you will agree that this issue affects the area I am governing more than any other area. If it is in due course that the announcement is going to be made I would respectfully suggest that a statement would be in due course. Let us decide, if we want the Secretaries to move out, they can move out. If we want everybody out, let them go out for five minutes, the microphones can be taken away or we can move down there. Gentlemen, if even the circumstances mean quite a lot, we can move away from this table, have a quick chat and come back to continue.

Commodore Wey: I support that.

c. The problem of the army

Lt.-Col. Gowon: I think all of us have at one time or the other discussed the situation in the country with regard to the reorganisation of the Army. With reference to 3 (b) 'the implementation of the agreement reached on 9th August' this is on the disposition of Army personnel, that they should go back to their region of origin. This recommendation was made by the Ad Hoc Committee which consisted of Secretaries to the Military Governors, advisers and representatives of Regional Governors. They did not have any mandate to decide anything other than to come and express their feelings and make recommendations. Their recommendations, of course, would be considered by the Regional Governors. I think the recommendation says:

It was accordingly agreed that as far as possible the Army personnel should be posted to barracks in their Regions of origin with immediate effect as an interim measure. Having regard to its peculiar position, the question of maintenance of peace and security in Lagos should be left with the Supreme Commander in consultation with the Military Governors.

This question of movement of troops to their Region of origin arose from the fact that at the time there was so much misunderstanding, so much clash and killings between troops of Northern origin and troops of Eastern origin. I discussed this on the telephone with Emeka and I told him that 'Honestly, my consideration is to save the lives of these boys and the only way to do it is to remove the troops back to barracks in their Region of origin. ' Emeka also told me that there were a number of threats to his life and any moment the troops in Enugu of Northern origin could mutiny and his life and the lives of the people of Eastern Nigeria would be in danger. I agreed with him and said the best thing we could do was to send them back to their Region of origin and some of the boys were already escaping from their units. We agreed to repatriate all troops of Northern origin from the East and those of Eastern origin particularly Ibo speaking from the other major units because the clashes were severest within major units.

As far as I was concerned I did not think the problem was in other units because the feeling at that time was that it was the Northern versus Eastern boys as a result of some things that had happened in the past which had been with us for a long time. If you remember, Emeka, you said something about the boys in the services returning and I agreed to this reluctantly but as far as the major units were concerned, I thought that was necessary. If we can mix up a little now this will certainly be a good basis for future coming together. If we separate totally we will sort of probably get further and further apart and each Region may have an independent Army. I think I have said enough as far as the review of the current situation with reference to the organisation of the Army is concerned and the implementation of the agreement of 9th August. I think we can now discuss this point and later on come to some sort of agreement on the subject….

Lt.-Col. Gowon: I think we can now go to the question of the organisation of the Nigerian Army. There was a Committee that was set up in August or September to think on the re- organisation of the Nigerian Army and I think they produced a paper which we sent to all Military Governors to comment upon and from that we will work out the question of re-organisation. This is something on a nation's security and I think we should be very careful about it. This is the truth about defence in the world today.

If I can say something about my idea for the re-organisation of the Army. I will be very brief. I think that the Nigerian Army today probably would not be able to remain exactly as it was before January 15 or July 29. There has been so much fear generated between ourselves as a result of events since the beginning of 1966 that there is something to be said towards the modification of the present stand. There are two extremes on this. One sort of saying that we remain exactly as we were before January 15 and the other which says, we go completely on Regional basis. I think those are the two extremes. In the middle of course, you have got the possibility of having an Army predominantly people of that Region in their Region.

If I can express my own view or if you like you can call it my philosophy. As far as the Nigerian Army is concerned we cannot get everybody to where he was before January 15 or July 29. If we want to go to the other extreme of having Regional Armies we are trying to have the beginning of the arms race which is what we are trying to do away with. These Regional Armies will turn into private armies and before we know what we are doing we will start having internal troubles within the private armies and, of course, the whole country will be in flames. My thinking is that I do not feel that the basis of trust and confidence has been completely broken, it has been disrupted, it has been shaken but with little mixing and jingling we have got between people, I am quite convinced that it would form the basis of probably a more realistic mixing together in the future. If every Region wants to go its own way and think one day we will meet again, I feel that it may not work properly….

On immediate re-organisation, one would like to see first of all proper command and control. Secondly, we all agreed that most of the soldiers in each Region should come from that Region.

The East and the Mid-West are lucky they have all their people there, unfortunately in the West, I have not got enough Westerners in the place and the people in the West are very afraid now because a lot of their own people were killed during January, July and August. I have tried to clear the fear from them but still they insist on having more Yorubas than they have at the moment. I know there are not enough Yorubas in the Army and those who are there are mostly tradesmen. I do not want to disrupt other units, but from what I said when we last met in Lagos, we can find an immediate solution to the Yoruba problem. That is, try and continue on the normal quota business which we started in Zaria and as a crash programme we should use Abeokuta area as a crash programme training centre for Westerners, for Mid-Westerners who cannot go to Zaria and possibly for the Easterners who cannot go to Zaria at the moment.

I still feel very strongly about this, this is the only way to clear the problem of the Yorubas and this is the only way we can get the confidence of the people of the West because they feel they are the only people now being helped because there are not enough Yorubas in the Army. The moment we can clear this side and we get command and control properly established, I do not think there will be any more problem That is the immediate reorganisation which I would like now but the long term one is on the paper given to us by the committee which was appointed. It is a very good paper and I am still commenting on it.

d. The information media blame

Lt.-Col. Gowon: On the Government Information Media, I think all the Government Information Media in the country have done terribly bad. Emeka would say the New Nigerian has been very unkind to the East

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: And the Post which I pay for.

Lt.-Col. Gowon Sometime I feel my problem is not with anyone but the Outlook.

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: All the other information media have done a lot. When the Information Media in a country completely closed their eyes to what was happening, I think it is a dangerous thing.

Major Johnson: Let us agree it is the situation.

Lt.-Col. Ejoor: All of them have committed one crime or the other.

Lt.-Col. Hassan: The Outlook is the worst of them.

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: The Outlook is not the worst, the Post which we all in fact pay for is the worst followed closely by the New Nigerian.

Mr. T. Omo-Bare: Let us make a general statement on all of them, no distinction.

Lt.-Col. Gowon I think we agreed that all Government Information Media should desist from making inflammatory publications that would worsen the situation in the country.

e. The administrative arrangements for the future

Lt.-Col. Gowon I personally think Decree 34 is worth looking into. I agree that the Supreme Military Council should sit on this, I think even in one of my addresses I said I would do away with any Decree that certainly tended to go towards too much centralisation and if you feel strongly about this, very good, they can be looked into. I think we will resurrect this one when we go back home and take decisions on them.

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: We will not discuss the details but I am anxious that we find solutions. Whatever we do here we set a time for because there has been so much going on. What I am bringing up at this meeting are the things which generate the sort of suspicion we are trying very hard to avoid. If we can set a time limit I would be agreeable that all the parts of Decrees and Decrees that assume overcentralisation will be repealed.

Commodore Wey: Will be looked into, supposing it is a good one?

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: Centralisation is a word that stinks in Nigeria to-day. For that 10,000 people have been killed….

Lt.-Col. Hassan: We are not going back on the question of Government. I think we better make it clear what form of Government because up till now Emeka has been saying he does not recognise the Federal Government of Nigeria. This is the main point. Let us make it clear, is the East agreeing to the present Federal Government ? If not what is the East thinking should be the form of Federal Government?

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: I have said that a Government by a Council run perhaps the same as we have to-day with a Chairman with limited powers and we limit the powers here….

Col. Adebayo: I do not think we should flog this thing too much. I think quite rightly a lot of powers of the Regions have been taken from them by centralising most of them, this was by some of the Decrees made by Lagos before 29th July. I think this must be looked into, the Decrees repealed and the powers must go back to the Regions.

Mr. T. Omo-Bare: Why not use the word, reviewed. We can hold a meeting when we get back home and review these Decrees.

Col. Adebayo: Can we then say that all our Solicitors-General get together and discuss these Decrees?

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: Let us go through the points we know, we know we had a Federation before 15th January, the powers go back to the Regions and from there we try to put things right. All this talk about review, review and for the next six months they will not be reviewed.

Commodore Wey: As far as I am concerned this Government is known as the Military Government and all the Decrees produced so far were produced by the Army, therefore, let us not blame ourselves, let us look into the Decrees and find the ones we can send back. You were in the Council when we made these Decrees.

Alhaji Kam Selem: I think the point he made is good but it is not a matter for us to decide. We have to look into these things. Let the Solicitors-General meet, bring their lists and put up recommendations.

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: The 'legal boys' have looked into it and said 'repeal'. If some 'legal boys' in some regions refuse to work it is not my fault. These are the things that cause a lot of trouble.

Col. Adebayo: Let us give them a date when they should meet….

Mr. T. Omo-Bare: The Governors should go back and tell their men to meet at Benin on a certain date.

Lt.-Col. Hassan: The Ministry of Justice in Lagos

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: He will give the instruction in Lagos and I will give the instruction in Enugu.

Lt.-Col. Hassan: Lagos is the one to say let us meet at such and such a date.

Col. Adebayo: We are giving them instruction from this meeting.

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: It is not Lagos. This is the crucial point about this Government.

Lt.-Col. Hassan: Let us take this question honestly, the East has not recognised the Federal Government, I think you better secede and let the three of us join together.

Lt.-Gen. Ankrah: There is no question of secession when you come here.

Col. Adebayo: What he is saying is that let this meeting decide on the date they are meeting somewhere and when we get back home we will tell our Solicitors-General that they are meeting at such and such a date.

Major Johnson: We can take a date here but I see what Lt.-Col. Hassan is getting at. Usually anything you do in a Federal Government, instructions come from the nerve centre and that nerve centre for all we know is Lagos. It is Lagos that will tell the Regions 'You send your Solicitors-General to meet at Benin at so and so date….' Personally, I feel we have a duty to the people, we should forget about ourselves at the moment. We must put behind our minds that we are all soldiers and we are all likely to go back to the Army after this. All we need now is to find a solution to the problem of Nigeria and that solution must be a sincere one….

I know the Ghana system is working well; if we had started with that system from the beginning it would have been a different thing. There is nothing wrong with our own system, only the timing is bad, it will be bad if we change it now and I think we must make our own organisation workable….

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: I have to come in again. I do not agree with 90 per cent of what you have just said. I have used the analogy of sweeping dirt under the carpet, I again used the question of the ostrich posture burying our heads in the sand and hoping everything is all right. The fact remains that in the year 1966, Nigeria has gone through a turmoil and as Jack himself said, the basis for real unity in this..

Lt.-Col. Gowon: Unitary system of Government, please, not the question of unity.

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: You made an important and realistic declaration in which you said' Our difficulties in the past have been how to agree on the form which such an association should take and the task of my Government', meaning yours, 'is to provide facilities for the widest and fullest consultations at all levels on all vital matters of national interest before a decision is taken.' In the past we have been too presumptuous and have acted on such presumptions. Too often we presume that we know what the people desired. In one or two cases hasty decisions were taken without sufficient consultation. Based on that and knowing what has gone, therefore any government set up now in Nigeria that does not take into cognisance Regional loyalties is complete eye-wash. The Federal Government or support of Gowon or support of anybody, or of Emeka, whatever it is, is neither here nor there. What we want is that certain things were wrong, what are they, let us put them right. When I said Chairman, you can call him Chairman and still call him Governor. The fact still remains, it is really a nomenclature on functions and this is the crux of the matter. On the basis on which he assumed the position in Lagos, it is not possible for the East to accept blindly the leadership from Lagos. For this we have fought, we have struggled for in the past few years. For this the East will continue to struggle and fight if necessary, but thank God we have said there will be no force.

Lt.-Col. Gowon: You can thank God but your attitude is what will say.

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: The point I am making is that this Council of ours whoever we decide should sit on the Chair would have limited functions and only act with our agreement. This was what caused the last downfall. We all know it, there were so many times that we quarreled about this, argued about this, a number of things went down and not fully understood elsewhere. After all, we were all there when Decree No. 34 was made. The point was, amongst the Governors and senior officers, we knew, and we saw it and left it. The people did not, they felt it and re-acted, so we are told. If we are not going to fall into that trap again let us here agree that whoever sits on the chair can only act after consultation . . . and his action would, of course, be limited by our own agreement….

The question of Government, Gentlemen. It would be entirely unrealistic not to take into full cognisance what has happened in the country. There was a mutiny in the Army on January 15, Army leaders from all parts of the country got together halted it and set up a Government. Until May there was a massacre which the Army leaders in their entirety regretted; based on the good faith generated by the realistic way in which the Army or the Armed Forces tackled the problem, it was possible for populations to continue to go back to their areas of domicile and continue living side by side with one another.

Come July, there was another mutiny in the Army as a result of which Jack assumed the title Supreme Commander. This title certainly is contrary to my own views as a member of the Supreme Military Council…. By September the molestations and the killings of Easterners had assumed such large proportions that Easterners everywhere outside the East lost complete faith in a Federal Government that could not offer the basic need to their citizen, that is to offer the citizen protection. The citizens from the East, therefore, sought that protection within their ethnic groups in the East. Contrary to sentiments and all advice, everybody thought the East was going to revenge.

I will say this here because it is no boast that but for my own personality in the crisis the East would have thrown itself completely into a revenge. I halted it because I foresaw that anybody that started an inter-tribal civil war would never be able to control it. I was absolutely certain that once we get into civil war it would take us at least 25 years to sort out. Contrary to all expectation I sent our delegates from the East to the Ad Hoc Constitutional Conference. During this, contrary to what should have been indeed the Military Government's way of doing things, I think a genuine mistake, politicians found themselves for the first time in the forefront of national discussions and, as usual instead of facing the problem before them sought to gain personal triumphs and advantage. The East at the Conference was not doing very well, the molestations continued, the gory details I will spare you….

In this case unfortunately, Gentlemen, Officers and men of Eastern Nigeria origin who had moved from other parts of the country know the names, the faces of individuals who perpetrated these atrocities. Mention a name, we know who killed him, mention somebody we know who at least hounded him out of his barracks. So, Gentlemen, for as long as that situation exists men from Eastern Nigeria would find it utterly impossible to stay in the same barracks, feed in the same mess, fight from the same trenches as men in the Army from Northern Nigeria, they would find this impossible because we know it.

My policy has been that of ensuring the prevention of further killing. If we do not take cognisance of all these and we put our men together and mix up we write in Gentlemen, vendetta into our Armed Forces and once it becomes vendetta it becomes extremely difficult for us to solve because they will stay by force in the same barracks but each Commanding Officer will never be sure when his day will come.

For these basic reasons, separation of the forces, the separation of the population, I, in all sincerity, in order to avoid further friction and further killing, do submit that the only realistic form of Government to-day until tempers can cool is such that will move people slightly apart and a Government that controls the various entities through people of their areas. It is better that we move slightly apart and survive, it is much worse that we move closer and perish in the collision. Therefore, I say no single one person to-day in Nigeria can command the entire loyalty of the people of Nigeria. People can command loyalties of various groups and, therefore, to save the suspicion, to enable us settle down it is essential that whatever form of Government we have in the centre must be limited and controlled by a consensus which we all agree. It is easier for people at the top to be reasonable, it is a different thing for people lower down and it is that that makes me say that Nigeria wide content should be at the highest possible level until such a time as tempers have cooled and tensions have come down. This is the basic principle, if we are agreeable on it then we go into the matters of detail.

Lt.-Col. Hassan: I do agree basically with the principles that have been mentioned by Emeka, but starting from May, I think, in his statement and in what you mentioned earlier, we that are here to-day know what we have done and we know what we have been doing to console and to stop the killings of the people of the East. On the other side, you may not know that all of us here on this table have done so much also, risking our lives and, as you mentioned, the whole thing is at the lower level. If you know how much it is at the lower level and how much we have tried to console the people to stop all these movements and mass killings, you will give me and others a medal tonight.

However, I do agree that at the moment the confidence at the lower level has to be restored and it will take time to get confidence because it is a known fact that the confidence now both in the East and in the North is not yet there. We have tried our best to see that the ordinary man in the street understands the difficulties as already mentioned by Emeka that may face the country, a complete civil war. However, we have done our best and we will continue to do our best but all the same I agree that whatever form of association we are to discuss has to be at the top; to make me believe that tomorrow a Northern soldier will stay in the same barracks within the next few months with an Eastern soldier, the confidence is just not there. With the civilians I would agree because there are so many that have written to us, we have so many from the East who still want to come back but I cannot really say to them 'It is true, go and reside in such and such a place' because if he comes back and something happens to him I will have the feeling that it is my responsibility to save the life of that individual and I told him to come back and he has been killed.

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: The Easterner who wanted to come back to the North I tried actively to stop because I know the Easterner, I know what he is going to do when he goes back to the North and I would be grateful if you discourage him.

Lt.-Col. Hassan: I encouraged some and discouraged some because I feel it is my responsibility. This was what made me face the mutiny in Kano, soldiers were ready to shoot me but all the same it is my responsibility to save lives and I did it. However, I feel that on the civilian side we can do it gradually but at the Army level that will give us great difficulty. I feel we should concentrate now on the form of association we want at the higher level not promises that an Eastern soldier and a Northern soldier can mix together tomorrow, the chances of their mixing together is about 35 per cent but not up to 45 per cent yet. I think that the form of Government that we should have should be discussed at the higher level and then we can try within our territories to bring confidence back gradually. We may say that the confidence is there but right at the bottom it is not there and I am sure Robert will]l agree. Even right now we have divisions within the Regions in the North, the West, the Mid-West, even in the East, the Rivers people want to go. Therefore, we better try to keep the big groups together at the moment and gradually we start mixing together.

Lt.-Col. Ejoor: I do not think I will recount the details which have been mentioned but the salient point which we want to consider is that since there is no one person that has absolute control of the Armed Forces, it is now difficult for us to accept one authority and I think this is the main point which Emeka has tried to make.

We can tackle it in two ways. First, by removing the subject of objection in the lower group, that is by separating the soldiers in the mean time to build confidence until we can bring them together.

Secondly, since we are working in good faith among ourselves we have to repose the responsibility for each group of the Army on those personalities until we are in a position to merge together. With this progression from a Federal set up it only means we have to look very closely into the central powers which are supposed to be those of the Supreme Commander and see how best we can limit these in such a way that the actions are acceptable, to the various Regions. I would like this body to be maintained, the Supreme Military Council must be maintained but we have to reconstruct the duties or the powers of the Supreme Military Council in order to give effect to the other functions that will restore confidence within the various Regions and then in general. I do not think our answer here is to start re- organising the Council but to look into the functions and to specify very definitely what it can do and what it cannot do. If we do that we would go a long way in restoring confidence within the Regions. When this is restored we hope gradually we shall build up, it will be a matter of time and it will come automatically but we will want a strong centre….

Col. Adebayo: I think I should come in here. Two points have been made, one on the Government side and the second which is inter-related to the Government side, the Army. This is a Military Government or Military rule and as such we are military people and must get ourselves together first. If we do not sort ourselves out I cannot see how we can confidently rule the country. I agree entirely with Emeka, Hassan and David. I think it will be simpler on the Government side if we can restore the confidence of the population which we have not got at the moment. Even in the West the Yorubas are afraid of moving around with the Northern troops because they feel 'Well, they have done something to the Easterners may be it is our turn next….' I think I would agree with the majority here that our association should be tightened up at the top and see whether we can bring that association down to the ground when the time comes, when the troops have more confidence in themselves. As Jack and myself have always said, we do not want to break the Army completely into pieces because it will be very very dangerous to any one of us if we break the Army into pieces. If we can tighten up the Army on top then those who are on top will gradually have the confidence of the troops back but I agree entirely that we must separate these troops.

If there are areas where some people can work together, we can go into detail on that but in general I think one should agree that there should be separation from the bottom but not on top.

On the Government side, the problem has been half resolved. We agreed yesterday that our Solicitors-General should get together on the 14th and see what part of the Decrees we can repeal later on and submit their recommendations. I think if we can go back as at 14th January, 1966, I think half of the problem on the Government side is resolved. Then if we want to go through the functions of the Supreme Commander and see what the Regions can take on it will be all right. But, personally, I would say we only repeal those Decrees that were passed after 15th January, 1966 but I think we should revert to what the country was as at 14th January, 1966, that is Regional autonomy.

Lt.-Col. Ejoor: On that point, the implication is that the Civilian Government will have to come back.

Col. Adebayo: What we are doing is that we are trying to get a solution for us Military people to rule, the question of civilians coming back is a different exercise altogether. You repeal all the Decrees made that affected some of the powers of the Regional Governments.

In fact Decree No. 1 is one of them, there are certain parts of Decree No. 1 which should be repealed…. We can go through all the Decrees that have been passed, that will solve our problems and bring the Regional powers back to the Regions….

If we agree on that I see no reason why we should go through the functions and the powers of the Supreme Commander because at the Supreme Military Council a joint decision is always made but unfortunately we could not meet since July 29 and there are areas in which the Federal Executive Council in Lagos could meet without the Regional Governors but on things affecting the Regions the Regional Governors must either attend the meeting or be consulted before passing it into law. If we all agree that we repeal Decrees that affect Regional powers and leave the Supreme Military Council to continue and the Federal Executive Council to continue I think half of our job is done.

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: Again, whilst I agree with Bob I think what he has said has not gone far enough. It has not gone far enough in that before January 15 certainly the Armed Forces were one. These are crucial to whatever we decide to do and, therefore, whilst I agree that the Supreme Military Council should stay, I feel that here we must write it down in our decisions quite categorically that the legislative and executive authority of the Federal Military Government shall be vested in the Supreme Military Council because previously it had been vested in the Supreme Commander.

Col. Adebayo: No.

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: The actions have been such.

Col. Adebayo: Actions, yes.

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: If we are not going to get ourselves into another friction, I think this must really be spelt out, 80 that, what I envisage is that whoever is at the top is a constitutional chap, constitutional within the context of the Military Government. That is, he is the titular head but he would only act when we have met and taken a decision. It is in fact for that reason that I suggested yesterday, so as not to get it confused ever again, that whoever we choose should be the Chairman of a Military Council. Indeed, I have gone on to say or rather I would like to say that he should again be a Titular Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and that he shall perform such functions as are performed by a Constitutional Head of State. By so doing we have limited the powers, by so doing our people will have the confidence that whatever he says must at least have been referred to us all and that we are doing it in the best interest of the entirety rather than saying that this chap is there he is a Northerner and suspect every action of his, this chap is there an Easterner, he must be pushing only Eastern things for the Eastern good. If we spell it out as I have just said I think we would go a long way.

I will go further and I will give you the papers of what I suggest.

Papers passed to Members of the Supreme Military Council

Major Johnson: Before we go into the details of this, I would like to add one or two points…. We must first of all face the social problems in our country.

What you have just enumerated, I am sure, in principle has been the intention of the Federal Military Government since January. General Ironsi, all of us will remember, used to say 'Look, it is easy to be a dictator but it is not easy to try not to be one.' There are several occasions when he would say 'Look, we all take these decisions' even at Council meetings and putting his hand down he would say 'any comments.' I am sure this has been the genuine intention of everybody in the Military Government, nobody wants to be a dictator. I know there could be technical hitches, that in practice we have deviated from it but from what you have said I am sure it is the intention of every military member here, nobody has got any personal aspiration, we are all just longing to get this country back on its feet. So, the decisions being taken jointly I am sure is everybody's welcome.

The nomenclature now is something different. Again, I tie this one up with social. This is why I believe, let us remain with the nomenclature we have got. Supreme Military Council, Federal Executive Council, Regional Executive Council, these are what we are talking about but it is within us. We have said now that we must start this thing from the top. If we know we want unity eventually which we know cannot be built now it is from the top and if we do not show the genuine intention right from the top I do not see what we are going to pass on to the lower people. Those of us here now should know how we want it to be functioning. We know we have agreed, we are going to put it down there that Supreme Commander you will be the man in Lagos to do normal day to day things that were done by the Ministers and this should be carried out with Members of the Executive Council in Lagos. He never takes any decision by himself for all I know although there could be some hitches as I have said and things to include the Regions the Regional Governments will come in and if it is not important they send a memo for them to comment. We say this is what we have agreed upon and it goes on. I do not think we should deviate from this….

Gentlemen, it is not anybody's intention to remain head-up in Nigeria, it is not anybody's ambition that he wants to be Governor. It has come on us and we are doing national service now for our country. When they talk about the history of Nigeria because after all 10 years in our lives is a long time but in the life of a nation it, is a very small time. We are going to pass away one day but what are we going to give to posterity, that is what we should think about now. Personal ambition, what this man should be or that man, we must forget it.

I welcome what Col. Ojukwu said, we take a joint decision, that is what we have been doing but the nomenclature I say, let it remain….The only thing I would like to add is because of the state of the Army itself today I would like to see an effective Commander of the Army. I would like to have an effective Commander and on top of that I would like to see that we break the command of the Army into Area commands. I hate to use Regional commands, I would say Area commands and have effective command on the Area commands and then an effective command for the Army itself. That will assist the Supreme Commander himself from going into detail on Army matters. He can still be the Head of the Armed Forces but that will assist him in going into detail on Army problems. I do not think personally that the Chief of Staff (Army) is effective. He is the Staff Officer, I was Chief of Staff, you were Chief of Staff and you all know that we want somebody who can really command, go to the ground everytime and see that the Officers and the troops are doing the right thing. That is what I would like to add to what I said before but I think the nomenclature should remain.

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: I will object completely to that last one. We started by agreeing that nobody can effectively command the entire Army. Any attempt to put somebody and say he commands the entire Army is 'eyewash' it does not work, not in the present circumstances. Therefore, we must accept that the Army would be Regionalised whether we like the name or not we all understand what we mean by that.

I do not think what we need at the moment is Supreme Commander because Supreme Commander does involve commanding. I think what you need is a Commander-in- Chief who is just titular so that people will take orders from people, at least, they have confidence in. Whoever you put in Lagos, I say this, will not command the loyalty of the East if that person is not acceptable to the East, this is the fact of to-day. So many things have happened and we do no longer trust each other.

Lt.-Col. Hassan: This is taking us back on the whole issue of Nigerian history….

Lt.-Col. Ojukwu: I said there should be a co-ordinating group to which each Region would send somebody but just for the facade of Nigeria there should be a titular Commander-in- Chief not a Supreme Commander which involves and which means somebody who commands over and above the various entities. Perhaps after we have created and generated certain confidence we could again have a Supreme Commander but it is not feasible to-day this is w hat I am saying.

Lt.-Col. Hassan: With respect, to summarise the whole thing the Eastern Region will not recognise whoever is the Supreme Commander in the form of association we are now in and it means a repetition of the whole history of Nigeria when the politicians were there, to strive to put either a Northerner or an Easterner at the top. It must be an Easterner for the Easterners to believe or a Northerner for the Northerners to believe. To summarise, the Eastern people will not recognise anybody in Lagos unless he is an Easterner.

Col. Adebayo: I do not think we should put it that way.

Mr. T. Omo-Bare: I would like to make a statement. I would like to request with respect that we adjourn to private session and iron out this matter because there is a lot involved in it. We cannot sit here on this round table and divide Nigeria because the talks are moving towards Regionalisation of everything and I do not think it is safe and we are right to divide Nigeria up on this table. If we retire into private session we might be able to thrash it out there. We will be able to say everything in our minds and then come back with a Resolution.

Lt.-Col. Gowon: If that is agreed we can retire then.

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Aburi Accord, Ghana -Official Record

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Read Time:14 Minute, 20 Second

Official Record of the Minutes of the Meeting of Nigeria's  Military Leaders held at Aburi.
The Supreme Military Council held its
meeting in Ghana on the 4th-5th January. Those present were:

Lt.-Col. Yakubu Gowon
Colonel Robert Adebayo
Lt.-Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu
Lt.-Col. David Ejoor
Lt.-Col. Hassan Katsina
Commodore J.E.A. Wey
Major Mobolaji Johnson
Alhaji Kam Selem
Mr. T. Omo-Bare

Secretaries:
Mr. S.I.A. Akenzua Permanent Under-Secretary, Federal Cabinet Office 

Mr. P.T. Odumosu Secretary to the Military Government, West
Mr. N.U. Akpan Secretary to the Military Government, East 

Mr. D.P. Lawani Under Secretary, Military Governor's Office, Mid-West
Alhaji Ali Akilu Secretary to the Military Government, North

Opening

The Chairman of the Ghana National Liberation Council, Lt.-General
J.A. Ankrah
, declaring the meeting open, welcomed the visitors to
Ghana and expressed delight that Ghana had been agreed upon by the
Nigerian Military leaders as the venue for this crucial meeting. He
considered the whole matter to be the domestic affair of Nigeria, and
as such, he refrained from dwelling on any specific points. The
General, however, expressed the belief that the Nigerian problems were
not such that cannot be easily resolved through patience,
understanding and mutual respect. Throughout history, he said, there
has been no failure of military statesmen and the eyes of the whole
world were on the Nigerian Army. He advised that soldiers are purely
statesmen and not politicians and the Nigerian Military leaders owe it
as a responsibility to the 56 million people of Nigeria to
successfully carry through their task of nation-building. 

Concluding, the General urged the Nigerian leaders to bury their differences,
forget the past and discuss their matter frankly but patiently.

 

2. Lt.-Col. Gowon invited the Nigerian leaders to say a joint thank you
to their host, and all said thank you in unison in response to
Lt.-General Ankrah's address.

 

3. At this point the General vacated the conference table.

Importation of Arms and resolution renouncing the use of Force

4. Lt.-Col. Ojukwu spoke next. He said that the Agenda was acceptable
to him subject to the comments he had made on some of the items.
Lt.-Col. Ojukwu said that no useful purpose would be served by using
the meeting as a cover for arms build-up and accused the Federal
Military Government of having engaged in large scale arms deals by
sending Major Apolo to negotiate for arms abroad. He alleged that the
Federal Military Government recently paid f1 million for some arms
bougth from Italy and now stored up in Kaduna. Lt.-Col. Ojukwu was
reminded by the Military Governor, North and other members that the
East was indulging in an arms build-up and that the plane carrying
arms which recently crashed on the Cameroons border was destined for
Enugu. Lt.-Col. Ojukwu denied both allegations. Concluding his
remarks on arms build-up, Lt.-Col. Ojukwu proposed that if the meeting
was to make any progress, all the members must at the outset adopt a
resolution to renounce the use of force in the settlement of Nigerian
dispute.

 

5. Lt.-Col. Gowon explained that as a former Chief of Staff,
Army, he was aware of the deficiency in the country's arms and
ammunition which needed replacement. Since the Defense Industries
Corporation could not produce these, the only choice was to order from
overseas and order was accordingly placed to the tune of f3/4 million.
He said to the best of his knowledge, the actual amount that had been
paid out was only f80,000. As to why these arms were sent up to the
North, Lt.-Col. Gowon referred to lack of storage facilities in Lagos
and reminded his Military Colleagues of the number of times arms and
ammunition had been dumped in the sea. This was why, he said, it
became necessary to use the better storage facilities in Kaduna. The
arms and ammunition had not been distributed because they arrived only
two weeks previously and have not yet been taken on charge. After
exhaustive discussion to which all members contributed and during
which Lt.-Col. Ejoor pointed out that it would be necessary to
determine what arms and ammunitions had arrived and what each unit of
the Army had before any further distribution would take place, the
Supreme Military Council unanimously adopted a Declaration proposed by
Lt.-Col. Ojukwu, that all members: 

 

a. renounce the use of force as a means of settling the Nigerian crisis; 

b. reaffirm their faith in discussions and negotiation as the only peaceful way of resolving the Nigerian crisis; and 

c. agree to exchange information on the quantity of arms and ammunition available in each unit of the Army in each Region and in the unallocated stores, and to share out such arms equitably to the various commands; 

d. agree that there should be no more importation of arms and ammunition until normalcy was restored.

The full text of the Declaration was signed by all members. 

 

6. The Supreme Military Council, having acknowledged the fact that the series
of disturbances since 15th, January 1966, have caused disunity in the
Army resulting in lack of discipline and loss of public confidence,
turned their attention to the question of how best the Army should be
re-organized in order to restore that discipline and confidence.
There was a lengthy discussion of the subject and when the arguments
became involved members retired into secret session. On their return
they announced that agreement had been reached by them on the
re-organization, administration and control fo the Army on the
following lines: a. Army to be governed by the Supreme Military
Council under a chairman to be known as Commander-in-Chief of the
Armed Forces and Head of the Federal Military Government. b.
Establishment of a Military Headquarters comprising equal
representation from the Regions and headed by a Chief of Staff. c.
Creation of Area Commands corresponding to existing Regions and under
the charge of Area Commanders. d. Matters of policy, including
appointments and promotion to top executive posts in the Armed Forces
and the Police to be dealt with by the Supreme Military Council. e.
During the period of the Military Government, Military Governors will
have control over Area Commands for internal security. f. Creation of
a Lagos Garrison including Ikeja Barracks.

 

7. In connection with the re-organization of the army, the Council discussed the distribution of
Military personnel with particular reference to the present
recruitment drive. The view was held that general recruitment
throughout the country in the present situation would cause great
imbalance in the distribution of soldiers. After a lengthy discussion
of the subject, the Council agreed to set up a Military Committee, on
which each Region will be represented, to prepare statistics which
will show: a. Present strength of Nigerian Army; b. Deficiency in each
sector of each unit; c. The size appropriate for the country and each
Area Command; d. Additional requirements for the country and each Area
Command. The Committee is to meet and report to Council within two
weeks from the date of receipt of instructions.

 

8. The Council agreed that pending completion of the exercise in paragraph 7 further
recruitment of soldiers should cease.

 

9. In respect of item 3 (b) of the Agenda, implementation of the agreement reached on 9th August,
1966, it was agreed, after a lengthy discussion, that it was
necessary for the agreement reached on 9th August by the delegates of
the Regional Governments to be fully implemented. In particular, it
was accepted in principle that army personnel of Northern origin
should return to the North from the West. It was therefore felt that
a crash program of recruitment and training, the details of which
would be further examined after the Committee to look into the
strength and distribution of army personnel had reported, would be
necessary to constitute indigenous army personnel in the West to a
majority there quickly.

Non-Recognition by the East of Lt.-Col. Gowon as Supreme Commander

 

10. The question of the non-recognition by the East of Lt.-Col. Gowon as
Supreme Commander and Head of the Federal Military Government was also
exhaustively discussed. Lt.-Col. Ojukwu based his objection on the
fact, inter alia, that no one can properly assume the position of
Supreme Commander until the whereabouts of the former Supreme
Commander, Major General Aguiyi-Ironsi, was known. He therefore asked
that the country be informed of the whereabouts of the Major-General
and added that in his view, it was impossible, in the present
circumstances, for any one person to assume any effective central
command of the Nigerian Army. Lt.-Col. Ejoor enunciated four
principles to guide the meeting in formulating an answer to the
question of who should be Supreme Commander. There were the:

 a. Problem of effective leadership;

 b. Crisis of confidence in the Army;
 c. Disruption in the present chain of command;

 d. Inability of any soldier to serve effectively in any unit anywhere in the country.
Lt.-Col. Gowon replied that he was quite prepared to make an
announcement on the matter and regretted that a formal announcement
had been delayed for so long but the delay was originally intended to
allow time for tempers to cool down. He reminded his colleagues that
they already had the information in confidence. After further
discussion and following the insistence by Lt.-Col Ojukwu that Lt.-Col
Gowon should inform members of what happened to the former Supreme
Commander, members retired into secret session and subsequently
returned to continue with the meeting after having reached an
agreement among themselves.

 

11. At this point the meeting adjourned
until Thursday 5th January.

The Power of the Federal Military Government vis-a-vis the Regional
Governments.

 

12. When the meeting resumed on the 5th January, it
proceeded to consider the form of Government best suited to Nigeria in
view of what the country has experienced in the past year (1966).
Members agreed that the legislative and executive authority of the
Federal Military Government should remain in the Supreme Military
Council to which any decision affecting the whole country shall be
referred for determination provided that where it is not possible for
a meeting to be held the matter requiring determination must be
referred to Military Governors for their comment and concurrence.
Specifically, the Council agreed that appointments to senior ranks in
the Police, Diplomatic and Consular Services as well as appointments
to super-scale posts in the Federal Civil Service and the equivalent
posts in Statutory Corporations must be approved by the Supreme
Military Council. The Regional members felt that all the Decrees or
provisions of Decrees passed since 15th January, 1966, and which
detracted from the previous powers and positions of Regional
Governments should be repealed if mutual confidence is to be restored.
After this issue had been discussed at some length the Council took
the following decisions: The Council decided that:

 

i.

on the reorganization of the army:

a. Army to be governed by the Supreme
Military Council under a chairman to be known as Commander-in-Chief of
the Armed Forces and Head of the Federal Military Government.

b. Establishment of a Military Headquarters comprising equal
representation from the Regions and headed by a Chief of Staff.

c. Creation of Area Commands corresponding to existing Regions and under
the charge of Area Commanders.

d. Matters of policy, including
appointments and promotion to top executive posts in the Armed Forces
and the Police to be dealt with by the Supreme Military Council.

e. During the period of the Military Government, Military Governors will
have control over Area Commands for internal security.

f.  Creation of a Lagos Garrison including Ikeja Barracks.

 

ii.

on appointment tocertain posts:
The following appointments must be approved by Supreme Military
Council:
a. Diplomatic and Consular posts.
b. Senior posts in the Armed Forces and the Police.
c. Super-scale Federal Civil Service and Federal Corporation posts.

iii.

on the functioning of the Supreme Military Council:

Any decisionaffecting the whole country must be determined by the Supreme Military
Council. Where a meeting is not possible such a matter must be
referred to Military Governors for comment and concurrence. iv. that
all the Law Officers of the Federation should meet in Benin on the
14th January and list out all the Decrees and provisions of Decrees
concerned so that they may be repealed not later than 21st January if
possible; v. that for at least the next six months, there should be
purely a Military Government, having nothing to do whatever with
politicians.

Soldiers involved in Disturbances on 15th January, 1966 and thereafter

13. Members expressed views about the future of those who have been
detained in connection with all the disturbances since 15th January,
1966, and agreed that the fate of soldiers in detention should be
determined not later than end of January 1967.

Ad Hoc Constitutional Conference

14. The Council next considered the question of the resumption of the
Ad Hoc Constitutional Committee and the acceptance of that Committee's
recommendations of September 1966. After some exchange of views, it
was agreed that the Ad Hoc Committee Should resume sitting as soon as
practicable to begin from where they left off, and that the question
of accepting the unanimous recommendations of September 1966 be
considered at a later meeting of the Supreme Military Council.

The Problems of Displaced Persons

15. The Council considered exhaustively the problems of displaced
persons, with particular reference to their rehabilitation, employment
and property. The view was expressed and generally accepted that the
Federal Government ought to take the lead in establishing a National
Body which will be responsible for raising and making appeal for
funds. Lt.-Col. Ojukwu made the point, which was accepted by Lt.-Col.
Katsina, that in the present situation, the intermingling of
Easterners and Northerners was not feasible. After each Military
Governor had discussed these problems as they affected his area, the
Council agreed:

a. On rehabilitation, that Finance Permanent
Secretaries should resume their meeting within two weeks and submit
recommendations and that each Region should send three representatives
to the meeting.

b. On employment and recovery of property, that civil
servants and Corporation staff (including daily paid employees) who
have not been absorbed should continue to be paid their full salaries
until 31st March, 1967 provided they have not got alternative
employment, and that the Military governors of the East, West and
Mid-West should send representatives (Police Commissioners) to meet
and discuss the problem of recovery of property left behind by
displaced persons. Lt.-Col. Ejoor disclosed that the employment
situation in his Region was so acute that he had no alternative but to
ask no-Mid-Westerners working the private sector in his Region to
quit and make room for Mid-Westerners repatriated from elsewhere.
Lt.-Col. Ojukwu stated that he fully appreciated the problem faced by
both the Military Governor, West, and the Military Governor, Mid-West,
in this matter and that if in the last resort, either of them had to
send the Easterners concerned back to the East, he would understand,
much as the action would further complicate the resettlement problem
in the East. He assured the Council that his order that
non-Easterners should leave the Eastern Region would be kept under
constant review with a view to its being lifted as soon as
practicable.

 

16. On the question of future meeting of the Supreme
Military Council, members agreed that future meetings will be held in
Nigeria at a venue to be mutually agreed.

 

17. On the question of
Government information media, the Council agreed that all Government
information media should be restrained from making inflammatory
statements and causing embarrassment to various Governments in the
Federation.

 

18. There were other matters not on the Agenda which were
also considered among which were the form of Government for Nigeria
(reported in paragraph 12 above) and the disruption of the country's
economy by the lack of movement of rail and road transport which the
Regional Governors agreed to look into.

 

19. The meeting began and
ended in a most cordial atmosphere and members unanimously issued a
second and final Communique'.

 

20. In his closing remarks the Chairman
of the Ghana National Liberation Council expressed his pleasure at the
successful outcome of the meeting and commended the decisions taken to
the Nigerian leaders for their implementation. Lt.-Col. Gowon on
behalf of this colleagues thanked the Ghanaian leader for the
excellent part he had played in helping to resolve the issues. The
successful outcome of the meeting was then toasted with champagne and
the Nigerians took leave of the Ghanaians.

 

21. The proceedings of the meeting were reported verbatim for each Regional Government and the
Federal Government by their respective official reporters and
tape-recorded versions were distributed to each Government.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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