The Nigerian Civil War broke out on 6 July 1967. The war was the culmination of an uneasy peace and stability that had plagued the Nation from independence in 1960. This situation had its genesis in the geography, history, culture and demography of Nigeria.
The immediate cause of the civil war itself may be identified as the coup and the counter coup of 1966 which altered the political equation and destroyed the fragile trust existing among the major ethnic groups. As a means of holding the country together in the last result, the country was divided into twelve states from the original four regions in May 1967. The former Eastern Region under Lt. Col. Ojukwu saw the act of the creation of states by decree “without consultation” as the last straw, and declared the Region an independent state of “Biafra”. The Federal Government in Lagos saw this as an act of secession and illegal. Several meetings were held to resolve the issue
peacefully without success. To avoid disintegration of the country, the central government was left with only one choice of bringing back the Region to the main fold by force.
The Federal side expected a quick victory while the Biafrans saw the war as that of survival and were ready to fight to the last man. By August 1967, the war had been extended to the Mid – Western Region by the Biafrans with the aim to relief pressure on the northern front and to threaten the Federal Capital, Lagos. Both sides employed Political, Diplomatic, Psychological and Military strategies to prosecute the war. By the end of April 1969, after almost two years of bloody and destructive war, the envisioned quick victory had eluded the Federal side, the rebel enclave had been drastically reduced in size but the Biafrans were still holding on. More peace conferences were held but none achieved a cease – fire and an end to the war. The Federals embarked on a strategic envelopment of the remaining Biafran enclave. By the Christmas of 1969, it was obvious that the end of the civil war was near.
The self – acclaimed Head of State of Biafra, Lt. Col. Ojukwu, realizing the hopelessness of the situation fled the enclave with his immediate family members on the 10th of January 1970. The Commander of the Biafran Army who took over the administration of the remaining enclave surrendered to the Federal Government on 14th January 1970 bringing an end to the war, secessionist attempt and bloodshed. Several lessons were learnt from the war and these have helped in the unification, political, military and economical progress of the country.
For 30 months of war, there was hatred, there was hunger and there was blood all over as African children passed through the most painful life and starvation in their lives. The whole land was desecrated with blood. And children died with reckless abandon. Nobody cared for them. Sight of children with protruded tommy for lack of food was common across Biafra land. They were kwashiorkor-like-children with many dying abandoned to their fate as their parents may have died or their fathers conscripted into the army against their wish and sent to the war front with little or no military training.
Male youths were randomly seized to join the Biafra army. Houses were searched and able bodied male youths were drafted to join the Biafran army. They had no choice but to join. Many were forced to run out of their communities for fear of being forced to join the army. Education and economic activities were brought to all time low. Consequently, food became extremely scarce in Biafra land.
Graphic images of suffering children with no food to eat littered the streets of villages and cities of Biafra land, there was massive starvation especially in the eastern states. Many went bony looking like skeletons while multitude died, majorly out of hunger. In the midst of the horrendous crisis, tears and starvation, the Biafra flag was still flying across the Biafra designated states. Men, women and children waved the flag hoping for victory and the full independence of the Biafra Republic. A hope born from the very depth of their souls, and the dream of a nation whose sun would one day rise up high to shine forth glory for the whole world to see.
The effects of this war is a take-home lesson that should never be submitted back to this generation especially this advanced age.
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