Do You Have a Connection to the Post-Biafran War “Twenty Pounds” Policy?

At the end of the Biafran War, in 1970, as part of a “No Victor, No Vanquished” policy ostensibly aimed at reintegrating former Biafrans into Nigeria, the Nigerian government gave every Biafran adult twenty Nigerian pounds. The real intentions of this policy, however, may have been in its implementation, which saw the financial assets of each former Biafran restricted to twenty pounds, regardless of their financial standing before and during the War.

Now, The Republic is trying to find out what happened to the recipients of the post-War government’s twenty pounds. Specifically, we’d like to know how dramatic changes in wealth brought on by the War and its political aftermath played out over the course of the lives of former Biafrans. We have designed this project with several working hypotheses in mind. These include: that the twenty pounds policy had devastating impacts on former Biafrans; and that, however, these impacts were not homogenous perhaps as a result of disparities in non-financial wealth.

If you have knowledge on your family history, or have always wondered the extent to which the War had an impact on your family’s possessions and believe you can use this project as an opportunity to seek and share more information, please let us know by completing the form below.

Once you fill the form, depending on the quality of your responses, our editors and researchers may reach out to you with more questions, to further develop your story. Please note that you retain the rights to all media and responses you supply to us.

We are particularly interested in stories driven by young people using this project as an opportunity to reconnect with older generations and learn more about their own history. The questions apply strictly to the descendants of former Biafrans, but if you do not have this connection and know of someone who does, please do not hesitate to share this with them, using, where applicable, the hashtag #BiafranWealth.

By filling this form, you acknowledge that you have a family connection to someone who received £20 from the Nigerian government at the end of the Biafran War.

  • AbdulHamid Adiamoh

    It does sound a little disingenuous when you say: “The real intentions of this policy, however, may have been in its implementation, which saw the financial assets of each former Biafran restricted to twenty pounds, regardless of their financial standing before and during the War.”
    There is no evidence of any policy that restricted anyone’s financial assets to 20 Pounds after the war. The Twenty Pounds was rather a grant to most Igbo adults to “help” them get back from the ruins of war. Many used this money to repair their damaged homes etc. Note also that 20 pounds in 1970 was an appreciable amount of money and note too that there were non-Biafran victims of the war who actually got no post-conflict support from the Nigerian government.
    In fact, the Nigerian government’s policy towards former Biafrans was rather magnanimous. Firstly, every Igbo civil servant was automatically reabsorbed back to their public service positions and were paid about year salary in advance to help them stabilise and ease back into normal life (six months advance for senior civil servants with fat salaries).
    Secondly, the government worked hard to ensure that every former “Biafran” who had assets in any part of Nigeria got these back after the war. This policy, which was massively successful, resulted into the return of assets (especially houses) and the payment of accumulated rental incomes to Igbo landlords who left their houses in other parts of the country during the war. In fact, it is widely known that the Biafran leader, Chukwuemeka Ojukwu was able to retrieve his father’s several assets in Lagos and elsewhere. What would have prevented other Igbos from doing so? Rather than being impoverished after the war, the accumulated rental savings provided the push that helped many Igbos relaunch businesses post conflict.
    Ironically, the only area where this policy was not as successful and where some Igbo landlords found it difficult/impossible to secure the return of their assets was in Port Harcourt, itself a former Biafran enclave.
    It is also noteworthy that the accumulated monthly allocation due to the South Eastern States that made up Biafra during the war was duly released to them after the war. These funds were paid into The African Continental Bank (ACB) and the Cooperative Bank for Eastern Nigeria, the two main financial institutions of the Igbo at the time of the war. These banks, which were near collapse during and after the civil war, were rejuvenated by the injection of this substantial amount. Given that the war lasted for about 30 months, anyone can imagine the sheer magnitude of the capital injection by Nigeria into “Biafra” almost immediately after the war. This hardly makes for a government that aimed at the financial emasculation of Igbo people.
    It is also necessary to re-emphasize that the 20 pounds given to Igbos was gratis. It was not, contrary to oft-repeated lies, in lieu of Igbo savings in Nigerian banks before the war. Every Igbo person that had evidence of their financial relationship with any bank anywhere in Nigeria were able to go to these banks to retrieve those savings. There is no record of anyone having being denied this basic contractual right between him/herself and their banks.