The race for an independent Nigeria has started quite well on a high note of trust, unity and a morally justifiable cause. Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe from the East, Ahmadu Bello, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa from the North and Obafemi Awolowo from the West were among the prominent, noble and dedicated citizens who led the movement for an independent entity that we have today.
How could one describe the situation when an inhabitant of the East, despite the already existing power of the North, became the president and Alh. Tafawa Balewa took power as Prime Minister, if not out of devotion and altruism for a united country, devoid of ethnicity, tribalism or religion.
Then, the sad incident happened which left tears and memorable events in the lives of many to this day. Even those who weren’t born then wished it never happened. Much like Chinua Achebe’s book, “Things Are Falling Apart” Beyond Reparations for the breakaway state of Biafra led by the late Lt. Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu from July 6, 1967 to January 15, 1970, and Nigeria in its together.
Biafra represented the nationalist aspirations of the Igbo, who believed that continued coexistence with the northern-dominated federal government seemed unrealistic. However, it could be said to be a result of the political, economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions that preceded the formal British decolonization of Nigeria.
The main causes of the war included ethno-religious riots in northern Nigeria, a military coup, counter-coup and persecution of Igbos living in northern Nigeria, and control of lucrative oil production discovered in the Niger Delta region.
The break in national unity for which the first fathers and mothers worked was said goodbye to the very lifting of the success of the struggle. Each individual is very interested in his gains and those of his people without caring about others. The allocation of national resources is driven by ethnic and tribal fanaticism regardless of what has united us from the start.
But had the civil war not taken place, without mincing words, our dream of a united Nigeria, devoid of tribalism, ethnic favoritism and religious sentiment, would have been realized to a large extent, if not entirely, as the had imagined and worked on our first fathers. Until this moment, years after its appearance, no better word to describe our situation than regression.
The agony, pain, dilemma, suffering, death and unresolvable ongoing problems that have been brought to light would have been avoided if the Civil War had never taken place.
Indeed, according to Chinua Achebe, “there was a country”.
Waheed Shotonwa, journalist, writes from Lagos