The Return Of Biafra after the Civil War in the end of the 60s, We are about to reopen what seemed a closed chapter in history of the country. Biafran movement IPOB, led by Nnamdi Kanu (arrested), are ready to unleash the conflict.
By GIACOMO GRISON from London
CHRONOLOGY OF A CONFLICT, ALSO INTERNATIONALLY: May 30, 1967 the Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu,
Governor of the region southeastern Nigeria, proclaimed the birth of the
independent republic of Biafra. In those years, Nigeria, recently undressed
colonial robes, was torn apart by continual blows status, powered by competition for power between the three largest ethnic groups country: the Hausa-Fulani in the north, Yoruba and Igbo in southwest southeast. At the root of disagreements played an significant weight economic factors: Southeast region, rich in oil resources, was always marginalized by the regime of General Yakubu Gowon, who was promoting a redistribution of wealth nationwide. After the unilateral declaration secession, Gowon with the military intervention and imposed an embargo food to reduce food and starved the population of the new republic of Biafra. One of the hallmarks of civil war, which ended
in 1970 with over 3 million Biafrans dead and yield secessionists, were the economic interests at stake, who gave to the conflict international importance. The Great Britain, was interested to preserve the mining agreements stipulated in particularly with the multinational Shell, so it sided with its former colony, which also received support from the Soviet Union. on the other side was formed, Instead, an array
including Portugal, Israel and France, ancient rival of the British in Africa, and supplied the weapons and Biafra mercenaries.
In Nigeria, almost 50 years after the civil war, we are still talking of secession of Biafra. Many still remember the terrible images that, in the late '60s, were on television channels around the world: skeletal children and a people reduced to the extreme by conflict which remained deeply engraved in world public opinion.
But why, after almost half a century, we return today to talk about Biafra? To answer the question we must take a closer look at the Galaxy Igbo movements, ethnicity
Southern, that arose in the last two decades. Some of these, such as MASSOB of Ralph Uwazuruike, began towards the end of the 90's, to exert new pressures on the federal government of Nigeria. But it was the emergence of a new powerful group/movements to give the necessary impetus to the revival of Biafran secessionist hope: the indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB), under the leadership of the charismatic young Nnamdi Kanu. British citizen but of Biafran origin, Kanu was the first among the Igbo to exploit the great potential of the new media as propaganda tools to reunify its people, who after the war had emigrated all over the world. And so, within a few years, the Pro-Biafra movement IPOB won the media isolation landing on online platforms and social networks. Of great impact was immediately the issuing of Radio Biafra, founded in London and directed by Nnamdi Kanu. Fully operational from 2012, the "pirate" channel (defined by the Abuja government, which has repeatedly tried to limit its spread in Nigeria but failed shamelessly) was able to gain an increasingly wider following , making Nnamdi Kanu the new face of rebirth secessionist.
2015 undoubtedly marks a turning point in the strategy of the movement pro-Biafra IPOB. First, the election to the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari, in
in March 2015, has aroused strong hostility in the community of Biafra, which considers it a serious threat to its Christian identity. The situation, already tense, has been further exacerbated by the abduction and arrest of Nnamdi Kanu, which took place during his stay in Lagos, October 14, 2015, bu the Nigerian Security Department (DSS). Accused of high treason, the director of Radio Biafra remains behind bars waiting the ends of the judicial process.
"Buhari held in prison our leader because he fears his charisma, " says Barrister Emma Nmezu, spokesman for IPOB, in an interview granted to Nigrizia in London, where Mr Nmezu resides. The President of Nigeria on several occasions spoke of reconciliation, even if, at the same time, he reiterated that he will not tolerate IPOB separatist movement. With the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu we have followed several peaceful protests of Biafrans across the Southeast of Nigeria. Aba, Onitsha and Port Harcourt are some of the cities that have seen parading thousands of peaceful protesters. There were also clashes with Nigerian Army and police: "More than 500 died in the hands of the Nigerian government," says Barrister Emma Nmezu. To make matters worse, on 25 April, a group of nomadic herders of the Fulani ethnic group is boundless in the state of Enugu, killing at least more than innocent 20 villagers of Nimbo community. Driven to south in search of grassland for their herds, in the past the Fulani had clashed with local farmers, but never with outcomes of such gravity. Someone even suggests the possibility of terrorist infiltration of Boko Haram in Fulanis pastoral communities. In a political and social climate more and more glowing, the episode is likely to become the straw that breaks the camel: local communities of Biafra accused the Nigerian government of complicity in the massacres, and it is feared an escalation of violence.
"We want independence from Nigeria, and we are willing to obtain it with every means possible. Including war, "says peremptory Nmezu. Such menacing tones are not new in IPOB. Two years ago, during a television/Radio broadcast, Nnamdi Kanu launched the following warning: "If you will not give us Biafra, Somalia will seem as paradise compared to what will happen in Nigeria."
REFERENDUM? Not convincing. Barrister Emma Nmezu has pointed out, however, that violence is not a primary option: "It is our intention try a peaceful secession, promoting a referendum in all the southeastern states." Recently, IPOB has appealed to the European Union, the answer to which, through the High Representative for Foreign businesses, Federica Mogherini, has not been slow in coming. In the letter, dated January 18, 2016, it is stated concisely that "any matter relating to the change of national boundaries is regulated in the best according to international law."
The latter, however, does not favor territorial changes. The principle of self-determination, in its "external" form that also contemplates secession, is a limit,
In fact, the principle of territorial integrity of states. The doctrine on the external self-determination, established in the context of decolonization for the peoples under colonial rule or foreign, has recently returned subject of debate, in the light of cases such as the secession of South Sudan. On the matter, very controversial, there is still a consensus that a group is not entitled to exercise this right if devoid of the status of "the people." Unesco report (Doc. SHS- 89 / CONF. 602/7, Paris, 22.02.1990) showed that a group, to be considered "people" and not simply a minority, must have a degree share cultural, ethnic and linguistic and share also the desire to be seen as a political unit. Can we extend this definition to IPOB? The answer is Yes. IPOB is people, a Nation Biafra. "Every single ethnic group in the Niger Delta is considered part of Biafra," Barrister Emma Nmezu siad. "We don't want Nigeria: Biafra or Nothing, "thundered the IPOB's slogans. To sum up: on the question of the referendum, this seems near, but it might have an outcome very far from obvious from what biafrans expect. Of these obstacles Barrister Emma Nmezu seems to be aware of, and reveals some skepticism: "Referendum or not, we will continue on our way. Let's be realistic: it's not fair having to get votes to get something that belongs to us by law ".
RESOURCES AT THE CENTRE OF IT ALL
What moves IPOB to restore Biafra, after all, is also a dynamic economy. Emma Nmezu is clear: "The control of reresources is a priority goal of our struggle. We intend to become a rich and powerful nation with which other states will weave stable and lasting relationships. We urge the international community to help us in the fight. "
BIAFRA, A NEW SOUTH SUDAN? The issue of Biafra, in the final analysis, is controversial and of certain developments. It emerges quite clearly that the recent social unrest in southern Nigeria are tied to those latent anti-government sentiments remained for nearly half a century. Anger and distrust arise in particular by the Nigerian discriminatory policies that still today enacts against the Biafran population. What scares in all this is that, on the one hand, the great will and determination of Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB motion to ride the widespread resentment and move forward without compromise; on the other hand, the
determination of the Abuja government to safeguard at all costs and by all means its economic interests. It should be remembered that earnings from export of crude oil account for about 70% of state budget revenues. Nigeria, according to the Fragile State Index 2015, is one of countries at high risk of sociopolitical default, and many agree that, in a country already struggling with poverty, corruption and terrorism as Nigeria, another "South Sudan" i.e Biafra will surely completely ruin Nigeria existence.