The Nigerian civil war became unavoidable in 1967 after the leader of Biafra, Col. Ojukwu declared the state’s (Biafra) sovereignty. If Nigeria would stand as one Nation, the Head of State, Gen Yakubu Gowon, was left no choice than declare war on Biafra.
Before it ended on 15th January 1970, millions of civilians from both Nations had lost their lives and properties. Scores of Biafran Children were confronted with starvation after the Federal Military Government stopped exportation of relief materials to the East. There were so many gory events that unfolded during the war.
After the leader of Biafra absconded in 1970, the next in command was left with no choice than to surrender. Meanwhile, many Nigerians believed that the Biafran warlord had to surrender because their military leader had eloped the country. That might be the last straw that broke the camel’s back.
However, there are other reasons that contributed to it. In view of enlightening and giving maximum information about occurrences like this, we have made a list of top 10 reasons why Biafra surrendered.
What to do? Take a deep breath and probably grab a bottle of chilled drink while we unravel the mystery behind this.
1) The Abrupt end of Regional Administration
Nigeria used to operate a regional administration before the war. There were four regions, Col. Ojukwu was the governor of the Eastern region. Having an entire region under the command of Col. Ojukwu wasn’t a risk the Federal military government was willing to take.
Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon created 12 states from the existing regions. Some states that used to be under the command of Col. Ojukwu was made sovereign. This created a weaker Biafra Nation. Since war is a fight of a number, the Biafra Nation suffered a problem of number compared to the Nigerian Army.
2) Capturing of Oil Coastal areas by Nigerian Troops
The Nigerian troops were swift to capture the oil coastal areas of Biafra Nation. Federal military Government understood that if the Biafran government were to still be in control of oil coastal areas, the war wouldn’t end soon. Capturing the oil coastal areas left the Biafran government helplessly in need of funds to purchase more arsenal in their armoury.
3)The Imposition of a blockade by the Nigerian government
After losing the oil coastal areas to the Nigerian government, the Biafran government thought they had seen it all. Nigerian government placed a ban on the exportation of relief materials to the Eastern Nation. This led to a famine which confronted thousands of Biafrans including the children. The adage a hungry man is an angry man didn’t come to play here. Hungry Biafrans became helpless weak from starvation.
4) Heavy support for Nigerian Government by Powerful international communities
Some major international communities threw their weight solidly behind the Nigerian government. The British government played a front role in ensuring the Nigerian government were given necessary international help they could get. This was done by the British empire to keep together the Nation they created.
5) The inability of Biafra to get patriotic support
How does this come to play? The silver lining was that the French government were solidly behind the Biafran government, right? However, the support they earned from the French wasn’t a loyal one. The French government wasn’t supporting Biafra because they supported their vision. They had to give support because of the Oil coastal areas and ERAP.
This was revealed through a memo released through the French Secretary-General for African and Malagasy Affairs, Jean Mauricheau-Beaupre.
6) Death of millions of Biafrans from Starvation
Since the Nigerian government stopped the transportation of relief materials to the East. This spelt a doom of famine on the entire Biafran populace. Some observers of the war opined that more Biafrans died from the starvation than bullets from the Nigerian troops. Meanwhile, some foreign aids were given to the Biafrans, but it was nothing compared to heavy starvation they were faced with.
7) Capturing of Owerri the Capital Territory of Biafrans
January 1970, the Nigerian military government gave the heaviest blow on the Nation of Biafra. The advent of ‘Operation by the military government of Nigeria led to the capturing of Owerri the capital city of Biafra. On 9th of January 1970, the powerHouse of Biafra fell to the Nigerian troops. And Uli was subsequently captured a few days after Owerri fell to Nigerian troops.
8) Col. Ojukwu Absconded
After seeing the way and manner which things had turned out to be. Definitely, the Biafran war Lord saw the victory of Nigerian government even before the war ended. So, in a bid to avoid arrest and detention, Col. Ojukwu fled the country and left the fate of Biafra to his second in command, Phillip Effiong. What many considered to be cowardice on part of Ojukwu was celebrated by others. After all, we live to fight another day.
9) Phillip Effiong Accepted ‘Reality over Fact’
The Fact was that the Igbos were badly treated by the Nigerian government dominated by Northerners. The alienation and senseless killings of the Igbos during the 1966 anti-Igbo pogrom, led to their decision to break out of Nigeria. However, the Reality became glaring and audible when calamity began for the Biafrans. It is not easy for one group of a country to break out when others are hail bent on unity.
10) In a bid to rescue what was left of Biafra
After Col. Ojukwu had absconded, Major Gen. Phillip Effiong was left with no choice than to surrender. It became compelling for the Biafran warlords to start having a feeling of belonging for a Nation they once denounced. Coupled with the notion that they (Biafrans) needed all the help they could get from the Nigerian government if they want to salvage what was left of it.
You will agree that you have learned one of two more reasons why the Biafrans surrendered. There is no gainsaying that Nigeria is bound to stay togther. If only we can look beyond ethnicity, tribe, religion or culture, we can maximise the strength in our diversity.
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