By EJIKE ANYADUBA
MAY 30, 2020, will make it 53 years since the defunct state of Biafra was declared; the civil war that came hard on the heels of that declaration mbetween the seceding state and the Nigerian nation was most impious.
After months (30 to be precise) of savage internecine warfare, Biafra, overwhelmed and faced with certain defeat, surrendered.
Five decades on, the effects of the civil war are yet to be completely erased. The mitigating post -war policy of the Gowon government, intended to reconcile, reconstruct and rehabilitate the defunct state failed to make the desired impact.
Properties seized from the Igbo, especially in Rivers State remain till date as abandoned while basic infrastructure in the South East remain in decrepit state. However, it is in the subtle but consistent effort in turning the Igbo out of doors of certain offices in Nigeria that the post war policy failed completely.
To date, certain positions have been denied the Igbo. But where such position is made available to them which has been few and far between, it often assumes a refrain, chorused by the state, its surrogate media and a few self abusing Igbo.
Constant reference is made about such appointment and the government that effected it, singled out for unnecessary praise.
Perhaps palsied by shock of the loss of the civil war, the intelligent among the Igbo became cagey, leaving the brash and the self abusive compatriots to speak when silence should suffice.
Even when a deserving appointment was made sometimes on a short note due to the fact that some of those so appointed were about to retire, expressions of gratitude were still lavish.
The appointment of Brigadier General David Ndefo as the General Officer Commanding 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, between 2000 and 2001 did not go differently. This time the media upped the game of reminding the readers that appointing an Igbo to a GOC position was a feat to be grateful for.
One time Inspector General of Police Ogbonna Okechukwu Onovo and Comptroller General of Customs Dr. Bernard-Shaw Nwadialor were some of those whose appointments to the headship of the two organs of the government were unduly celebrated by the brash and self abusive Igbo as well as their coadjutors in the biased media.
Major General Azubike Ihejirika appointment as the Chief of Army Staff was taken higher. It elicited from the horde comments and advertorials in the national dailies suggestive that mercenary was appointed.
Nigeria stands the chance of becoming a major economy in the world without her practised discriminatory treatment of a section of its peoples. This is because apart from their quality contributions to nationhood they are a major stakeholder to this British construct of 1914. The full potential of any nation is brought out when every section of it is availed equal opportunities.
The memories of the war should be erased permanently by consciously integrating every section of the country. Efforts must be made to eschew provocative statements capable of inflaming the state to another passionate arm struggle. It is difficult for any nation to survive two civil wars. In fact, history is yet to record that any nation became great on account of repeated internal wars.
Countries that survived civil wars were known to be stronger few years after possibly because certain lessons which were never taught in peace time were learnt.
Nigeria had a chance at greatness by leveraging on the ingenuity of the Igbo but chose otherwise due to selfish reasons.
What happened to the Biafran scientists whose ingenuity in the war was widely acknowledged? Was the ingenuity lost with the war? Why was it not mined for the good of the Nigerian state? Why does the Nigerian state dissipate energy on things that encourage tribal supremacy rather than genuine nationhood?
We may not get to first base with our dream of a great Nigeria if we consciously encourage discrimination.
May the anniversary constantly remind us the war that was as gruesome as it was internecine and encourage us on the path of circumspection.
Anyaduba, a public affairs commentator and analyst, writes from Abatete, Anambra State