Prove your humanity: 0   +   1   =  

“We Remember Differently” What Really Happened in Biafra

“It is incontestable that the British not only made Nigeria, but also hand it to us whole on their surrender of power. But the Nigeria, which they handed over to us, had in it the forces of its own disintegration…”[2] 

— Obafemi Awolowo, The People’s Republic

Most accounts on the Nigerian Civil War invariably include a background and causes of the war. And like most conflicts, the causes can be split into two strands, long term and short term. Internal problems arising from the British administration of the colony and political tensions arising in Nigeria’s immediate post-independence period are one of the oft-cited long-term causes of the conflict. This precludes the amalgamation of three very different regions both in terms of local culture, tradition, economy and politics into one not so cohesive unit that functioned somewhat under British rule. Though the three regions (North, East and West) are typically identified as being divided amongst the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba ethnic groups respectively, these regions also include a large number of minority groups with their own specific political and cultural contexts.

Following the 1950 and 1952 constitutions, access to power at the national level was directly derived from power held at the regional level with regional population size used to determine the allocation of seats in the Federal House of Parliament. The various attempts of regional leaders and their associated political parties to secure regional power often involved corruption, bribery, election fixing, and census manipulation which escalated once oil revenues came into the picture.

Meanwhile, minority peoples who did not always fit neatly into regional divisions often had to compromise on their political demands and ambitions for greater political representation by aligning themselves to larger groups in the hopes that they would benefit in some way or another. At the same time they agitated for political control of their traditional territories in an attempt to rectify the political imbalance. This kind of rhetoric—that the only way to resolve their grievances with the national government was to have full control of their own political unit—has parallels to Biafra’s reason for secession.

Even in the post-war years, this thinking influenced the division of Nigeria into its current 36-state structure. In the Eastern Region, long-term minority agitation, which began in the 1920s, manifested in demands for a separate Calabar-Ogoja-Rivers state. It is also important to note that minority group agitations for political autonomy predate the Biafran arguments for secession. On this basis it is possible to question Biafra’s legitimacy as a political unit when, in reality, a substantial part of its population wanted to be free of the eastern regional government.

The key point to take from this perspective, is that Nigeria was simply too diverse to remain united without a government that was fully committed towards unity. Yet the former colonial administration had fostered an unhealthy regional competition for political power, which undermined whatever national unity Nigeria had in the mid-1960s. This allowed in part for the regions to continue seeing themselves as separate units, where national unity was only articulated in regards to trying to capture national resource allocation; and it made it easier for any one unit to declare some kind of separation from the whole.[3]

“We promise that you will no more be ashamed to say that you are a Nigerian.”[4] 

— Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, 15 January 1966

One other legacy stemming from British rule was the somewhat unbalanced composition of Nigeria’s military. Upon independence, Nigeria’s military (which had its roots in the West African Frontier Force) numbered around 7,280, quite a small number relative to Nigeria’s total population. By 1966, the military had grown to 15,000. A larger military was needed given its initial small size and Nigeria’s large population. Yet the rapid Nigerianization of the army to replace departing high ranking officers and the filling of the lower ranks to bolster numbers often meant that individuals with little military experience were promoted to high ranking positions, and that low ranking positions were filled with individuals who were not necessarily of the best military calibre. The army was also divided along ethnic and regional lines. The pre-independence army was comprised mostly of eastern soldiers (65 per cent), but following the introduction of a quota system to make sure the army reflected regional populations, the army was composed mostly of soldiers from the north (48 per cent).[5]

The introduction of this quota system is linked to the early involvement of politics in the affairs of a previously un-politicized military. The quota was put into place after Northern politicians feared the future implications of a Northerner-dominated government clashing with an easterner-dominated military. Ironically, the politicization of the military eventually led to their fears being somewhat realized. Further political incursions into the military establishment would continue throughout the early 1960s, either by politicians wooing senior military officers as in the 1964 election crisis or the inclusion of university educated officers who were fascinated with leftist/socialist political idealism. This increasing political idealism, meshed well with growing popular disillusionment in the Nigerian project. So by 1966, Nigeria was left with a relatively unstable government that seemed set on a path of political vice, and a relatively unstable military that faced both growing regional and hierarchal tensions and was becoming more and more politicized. It is no surprise, hence, that a coup would eventually take place in Nigeria, although some may have been surprised that Nigeria’s first republic only lasted for 6 years.

Carried out on the 15th of January 1966 by a group of young army officers of mostly Igbo extraction, who were fed up with corruption in government and believed that it was time for the military intervention, the first coup involved the killing of a number of key political and military figures. The coup plotters were eventually caught and imprisoned, leading to Nigeria’s first military government taking power, under the leadership of Major-General Aguiyi-Ironsi (an Igbo man). There were notable differences in how the situation was perceived regionally. In the Southern Region, the coup and Aguiyi-Ironsi’s government were viewed positively, while in the North, although there was support for the new government, there was some resentment over the loss of its most important political and military leaders. Also given that the majority of the coup plotters were Igbo, and that there were relatively minimal Igbo losses, there were widely held suspicions that the coup was an Igbo plot against the North. This was despite the fact that, in reality, there were a number of Northern participants in the January Coup, and that from statements made by the coup leader Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu there was no mention of regional or ethnic motivations motivating his coup.

The political confusion of early 1966 served as an opportunity for Major Isaac Adaka Boro to declare his own revolution with the secession of the Niger Delta region. Even then, economic underdevelopment and political marginalization were widely held grievances by many in the Niger Delta. These encompassed poor infrastructure and communication links, a handful of schools and hospitals, the lack of investment in agriculture and aquaculture, and that oil revenues from petroleum extracted in the region were not reinvested to better local community livelihood. The rebellion only lasted 12 days before being put down by the Nigerian Army; however, minorities would come to have an important role in the months preceding the 30th of May (when Ojukwu declared the Eastern Region’s intention to secede).

In his efforts to reduce notions of regionalism and tribalism, which were perceived to be at the heart of Nigeria’s problems, Aguiyi-Ironsi enacted Decrees 33 and 34 on the 24th of May. The decrees abolished the regional structure, unified the civil service and also abolished a number of cultural and ethnic organisations (like the COR state movement for example). The act of unifying the civil service, which used to be confined to region-based recruitment, was meant to encourage the creation of a more multicultural government body where an easterner could be in charge of affairs in the West, or a Northerner in the East. However, since easterners had greater exposure to Western forms of education, and were presumed to be generally more qualified, many in the North feared that this decree would simplify the process for easterners to take up important positions in the region. This further contributed to the popular but untrue notion of an ongoing Igbo conspiracy. This discontent and the publication of offensive articles denigrating the dead Sardauna led to the first northern riots in May 1966, where easterners (Igbos as well as other minorities) were attacked. Violence against easterners escalated with the countercoup, which took place on the 29th of July carried out by Northern army officers. This led to the assassination of Aguiyi-Ironsi, and after a period of debate between the remaining military heads, Lt-Colonel Gowon was chosen as head of state.

“Nigeria did not belong to us…”

— Chinua Achebe, There was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra

Regarding the deaths of easterners, changes can be noted in the scope of those victimised as time went on. Initially the violence carried out by Northern officers seemed to be much more systematic and clearly targeted Igbo soldiers. For example in Kaduna, soldiers in the battalion were called to form a parade with the Igbo soldiers being singled out for execution later. However by September, Northern civilians began to take part in the violence targeting Igbo civilians, and then non-Igbo easterners were also targeted (both civilians and soldiers). The violence and the unstable political situation, as well as the demands of the northern coup leaders, led to a mass population transfer between the North and the South, particularly easterners (mostly Igbos returning to the East).

For the non-eastern minorities, responses were a bit more mixed: while some stayed on in the Western and Mid-Western regions, those in the North also migrated out of the region. Casualty figures are not exact, but are estimated at around 80,000 to 100,000. It is estimated that there were about 1.5 million returnees seeking refuge in their eastern homelands by the outbreak of war in 1967. Meanwhile the expulsion of non-easterners from the East took place in October 1966, on the grounds that their safety could no longer be assured. These massacres and the accompanying looting of businesses owned by easterners served as key evidence of ethnic marginalization and perpetuated the idea that easterners (Igbos in particular) were no longer welcome in the other regions.

At the political level, military leaders who held control of their various regions now had to navigate a highly volatile situation that had become entangled with widespread ethnic violence. The respective military leaders of each region met a number to times to try and restore some kind of peace. One of the first meetings was the Ad-Hoc press conference held in Lagos on the 9th of August. The main result of this meeting was the reposting of military personnel back to their regions of origin and the nullification of the previous unification decree.

The next and probably most significant meeting was the meeting of the Supreme Military council at held Aburi in Ghana from the 4th to the 5th of January 1967. It was held in Ghana, as the Eastern Military Government felt that the meeting’s security could not be guaranteed if the meeting was held in Nigeria. A lot of faith was placed in Aburi, that finally all military leaders would find a way to resolve their issues. But from the initial proceedings it was clear that the two key leaders, Gowon and Ojukwu, had different approaches to the discussions. At the end of the meetings, they left Aburi with different interpretations of the final agreements.

A number of things were agreed at the conference, including the renouncement of using military force to resolve issues, the end of arms purchases and active military recruitment, to nullify the decrees passed after the first coup that limited regional autonomy, and to pay the salaries of internally displaced persons as a result of the violence in the north. But like many promises made by Nigerian leaders over the years, the agreements made at Aburi fell through. Claims by both parties that either side had failed to implement the agreements hampered whatever prospects for peace that could have come out of Aburi. Not long after both parties began an intense propaganda war to gain support for their respective causes, with a staunch stubbornness by both sides to try and compromise on anything

“We in the East know our stand…The decree purporting to create states cannot apply in this region.”[6]

— Government Statement on Gowon’s Broadcast of 27 May 1967

In the months following the Aburi Conference, the issue of minorities and their longstanding demand for self-governance came to the front and centre of the dispute between the Federal Military Government (FMG) and the government of the Eastern Region that would become Biafra. In April 1967, the FMG officially proclaimed that state creation would be considered as part of the programme for returning to Nigeria to civilian rule.[7] Gowon declared that if Ojukwu attempted secession, the Eastern Region would be split into new states in order to protect minority groups. According to Gowon, he received petitions from COR peoples complaining about their poor treatment under the eastern government, with the imprisonment of minorities over “political reasons”. One must note that demands for state creation came from all over Nigeria, yet, arguably, eastern minority demands had a greater bearing on the political situation and the lead up to war in the region.

Meanwhile in the press world, both the FMG and the eastern government’s respective ministries of information led a media campaign to gain minority support. In the Eastern Region, this came in the form of anti-state creation news articles printed in pro-eastern government newspapers like the Eastern Nigerian Outlook and the Eastern Nigerian spotlight. Titles such as “Rivers Students Warn Yakubu Gowon” (26 April) “COR State: Ogoja People Say No” (30 April), “Okrika spurns State Plan” (11 May). “Kalabari Chiefs Attack Gowon” (20 May).[8] These articles, as well as a number of staged photo-ops showing Ojukwu being well received by minority communities, clearly demonstrate the almost desperate desire of the Eastern government to retain minority support. [9] In light of the FMG’s intentions to divide the Eastern Region, and the reality that many ethnic groups wanted their own state government, it was crucial to present the image of a unity. Most importantly, it was crucial for the minority groups to show that they were widely supported, so as to legitimize their stance against the FMG. This notion of a united Eastern Region full of happily co-existing ethnic groups, continued to form the Biafran narrative up until 1969.

The FMG was no different in their approach to the minorities. Through the use of news articles and official pamphlets released by the Federal ministry of information, there was a clear attempt to convince minorities that supporting the FMG was in their best interests. It also served to undermine the Biafran government for secession by creating the image of a divided Eastern Region, where minorities would come to be dominated by an Igbo government. As the state creation decree was posited as a way to protect the ethnic minorities in that region, in many pamphlets produced by the FMG with the population figure of 5 million non-Igbo easterners and the 7 million Igbo was repeatedly emphasised.[10] These pamphlets also served to legitimise any FMG action against secession in the name of maintaining Nigeria’s unity, with idealistic titles such as Blue Print for Nigerian Unity (April), Towards One Nigeria (May), Challenge of Unity (June) and Unity of Diversity (July).[11]

If the 1966 coups served as the spark for Nigeria’s descent into civil conflict, then the state creation decree which divided Nigeria into 12 states could be seen as the final drop of petrol. On the 27th of May 1967, Gowon decreed that Nigeria’s four regions would be split into 12 states. The former Eastern Region now became Rivers state, South-Eastern state and East Central state, whose state boundaries fell along collective minority group boundaries. For minority group peoples they had finally gotten the states that they had previously campaigned for, and there was some celebration. Things were not so well received by Ojukwu and his government who alleged that Gowon only created new states in order to satisfy Middle Belt minorities and that minorities in the East were quite happy with their current arrangement.[12] The declaration of Biafran secession just three days later can be seen as a direct reaction to the state creation decree.

As a final note on this section, one must ponder the sincerity of either side to the minority cause. Though it was important to show that they had widespread minority support one can look at the situation more cynically. The peripheral areas of the Eastern region were regarded as highly valuable. The Niger Delta region, despite its longstanding underdevelopment contained vast oil reserves. For instance by May 1967 the Eastern Region produced 404,000 barrels of crude oil per day, making up 65 per cent of Nigeria’s total crude oil; over 90 per cent of this oil was found in the Rivers area.[13] Not long after the outbreak of conflict, the Biafran government began to demand the oil royalties of this region, now that it was part of Biafra.

Additionally, the Rivers and South-Eastern states contained important commercial centres and sea links, like the towns of Calabar and Port Harcourt and their accompanying ports, the oil terminal at Bonny Island and the refinery in Port Harcourt. The area also had high agricultural potential. So in either case, these areas were crucial to secure. In the Biafran case, their economic viability as an independent state depended on these areas, whereas for the FMG, evidently, they needed to keep these areas that promised to bring in such high revenue.

“To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done…”[14]

— The Nigerian Federal Military Government, circa 1967-1971

Secession had been declared on the 30th of May 1967, but no shots were fired till the 6th of July. Between then was a period of relative calm, with some attempts being made to reach a peaceful agreement, but where either side was still making the logistic and administrative preparations for war. A blockade had been placed on the Eastern Region; meanwhile, many of the pamphlets and news articles discussed above were circulated constantly so as to rally support. When fighting did break out conflict was marked by a flurry of military manoeuvres in the first year that began to slow down in 1968 and transitioned into an extended war of attrition for the remaining period.

[15]

“One sack of stockfish for 400 people for a week…”[16]

— International Review of the Red Cross, 8, 1968

Following Biafra’s declaration of secession, the Federal Military Government imposed a blockade on the Eastern Region in order to limit Biafra’s access to supplies, arms and ammunitions. FMG logic was that with a sustained military offensive, and cutting off access to key resources, Biafra’s rebellion would quickly fail and the East would fall back into the federation. However this was not the case, as Biafra held out for two and a half years. As the conflict progressed and the edges of Biafra’s territory receded inland, the effects of the blockade on the civilian population of the region intensified. The lack of critical medical and food supplies, combined with a growing refugee population and the disruption of traditional farming cycles contributed to widespread malnutrition.

This issue really captured the West’s popular imagination, with a large number of foreign charities and aid agencies scrambling to raise funds in order to send food and medical supplies to the affected areas.[17] In some discourses, the Biafran war is said to have changed the scope of humanitarian intervention, as many aid agencies eschewed their neutral stance and openly supported Biafra. In the West, images of starving children catalysed widespread public protest to highlight the plight of Biafra. And though famine and malnutrition were incredibly unfortunate realities of the war, the Biafran government actively promoted these images, possibly in an attempt to secure foreign sympathy and recognition via international NGOs.

It is also around this period that claims of genocide, of the systemic targeting of the Igbo population under the auspices of the Federal Military Government became widespread through Biafran propaganda both abroad and at home. On one hand, the extensive violence meted against easterners following the coups in 1966, coupled with the Asaba massacre and the Biafran famine clearly affected a specific group of people within Nigeria. Yet while pro-Biafra supporters (both then and now) claim that the FMG waged genocide against the Igbo, recent academic research has cast its doubts on these claims. Scholars have even argued that, in one way or another, the humanitarian support given to Biafra prolonged the war (and, by extension, human suffering in the enclave), by allowing the rebel state to continue its efforts against Nigeria.

“We have no intention to leave the federation of Nigeria, and no desire to be left to the mercy of Ojukwu’s Biafra.”[18]

 — Letter to Gowon from South Eastern and Rivers States Students Union, Dublin, 10 May 1968

Ethnic minorities, too, were subject to the economic blockade, and given their position on the periphery of Biafra, it was on their homelands where most of the fighting took place. It was, also, from these homelands that attacks on the ever-reducing Biafran territory were launched. While minority responses towards the creation of states were mostly positive, it would later become clear to many that the declaration of secession by Biafra, and Nigeria’s determination to keep the country united would have dire consequences for their livelihoods. Hence, their responses to the war and their decisions as to what side to support are complex and based on their day to day survival. For some, being Nigerian or Biafran was of no importance; rather, they were concerned that a “Hausa-Ibo war” would be fought on their land.[19]

There are clear divisions between the upper and lower classes of two minority regions in regards to their support of Biafra. In Rivers State, where the minorities seemed to have the most grievances against the eastern regional government, many among the educated groups of this area, were strongly against Biafra and looked forward to “liberation of their land and the expulsion of the oppressor”. Later on, many of those who were most active in demanding for the creation of Rivers State, (and who also fell into the educated or elite category) were assigned important positions in the administration of Rivers State after its area was liberated.[20] At the lower social levels, Biafra was seen as an opportunity, and this optimism led many to join the Biafran army. Although given the longstanding underdevelopment of this region, it is somewhat understandable that they would take any opportunity to better themselves economically.

In the South-East state, the situation was just as complex. Unlike in Rivers, many high ranking minority individuals supported the Biafran cause, and there were a more significant number of them holding positions in the Biafran government and military as compared to those from Rivers.[21] In contrast, at lower class levels in the South-East, many did not support Biafra because they did not want the war to take place on their lands, and because they did not fully understand the reasons for the conflict in the first place.

There were also regional similarities. In both Rivers and the South-East, some supported Biafra because of the massacres that took place in 1966, hinting that Biafran propaganda was effective to this end. Or, like the youths of Rivers state, youths in the South-East joined the Biafran cause simply because they saw it as an opportunity to gain employment.[22] Overall, it is worth to mention that much of the support given was probably more pragmatic than sincere. Many simply supported the side that they felt would ensure their safety and survival, often having “cooperate with both Biafran and Nigerian soldiers at different times” in order to be safe.[23] Or some people may have felt like they had no say in the political processes taking place, and so they just kept working with the side they found their selves in.

Relations between the minorities and the militaries that occupied their lands, tended to be rather similar, as the minorities had both negative and positive experiences with either military group. These same issues also affected Igbo civilians in their encounters with the Nigerian military, though with greater intensity since the Nigerian army shifted all its focus to the enclave in Igboland. In Biafra , in both areas that supported and did not support Biafra, there is evidence that once the situation became more dire for Biafra, there were increased incidents of soldier brutality against minorities as the federal military gained more territory.[24] On the opposing side, in some instances the Nigerian army were welcomed as liberators and the local population cooperated with them whereas in others, federal soldiers took advantage of their hosts by stealing food and molesting women.[25]

“It is never too late to turn back…”[26]

— Press release from Federal Ministry of Information Lagos, 11 Nov 1968

As the war front became concentrated on the Biafran enclave, there was a significant effort by the Federal Military Government to try and convince Igbo civilians to give up their support for Biafra. One of their key mouthpieces in this regard, was Ukpabi Asika (at the time a lecturer at the university of Ibadan), who made a number of speeches and broadcasts compelling the Biafran population to lay down their arms and cross over into federal territory.

This approach marked a shift from attempting to gain minority support, to focusing solely on the Igbo population. It makes sense that once the minority areas were captured by the Nigerian army, the FMG did not do much to gain their attention. This focus on the Igbo by the FMG where its leaders were denigrated and its civilians wooed, coupled with the intense media focus on the famine crisis in the Biafran enclave has had two consequences in terms of how the Nigerian civil war is remembered today. Firstly, that minority experiences during the war have been paid relatively little attention within the overall historiography of the war, despite their crucial roles in the conflict.

Secondly, the FMG’s focus on the Igbos fostered the misrepresentation of the Biafran struggle as an Igbo struggle for independence and self-rule. By extension, this has not only burdened later-generations of the Igbo ethnic group with the overwhelming blame for causing Nigeria’s first major civil conflict, but it has also led to a misguided reframing of Igbo nationalism through calls made for political sovereignty by groups drawing on a false legacy of the first Biafran state.

Looking at primary sources from the Biafran side, it becomes clear that their political aims and goals were ethnically inclusive (not exclusive) and aimed to draw support not solely from the Igbos but from all peoples of the Eastern Region. The Ahiara declaration made 6 months before Biafra surrendered, is a case in point. ‘Igbo’ is mentioned only once, along with some of the other minority groups to reaffirm that the Biafran struggle is not drawn on ethnic lines.[27] At this point in time when Biafra had lost all of her minority territories, the leadership could have openly declared itself as an Igbo-nationalist movement.

Whether the Biafran leadership was sincere in their intentions in regards to the particular challenges faced by eastern minorities, or whether they simply wanted to ensure they kept the economically valuable minority areas in their grasp (in order ensure their future state’s economic viability) is still up for debate. Yet, in either case, this ensured that appeals for Biafran support were broad, inclusive and made to all inhabitants of the Eastern Region.

Rather it is the FMG’s rhetoric against Biafra, through their own efforts to gain minority support that was key to framing the secession as an Igbo ethnic movement for Igbo independence from the Nigerian state.[28] It is also clear that the statistical reality that Igbos made up the majority of the population, and by extension had a greater political presence in the eastern government that also contributed to this. Additionally, it is also possible to see how general ignorance and misunderstanding by the western media and the western public of the true ethnic diversity of the region could reinforce the image of the Biafran struggle as an Igbo struggle.

“At the beginning of the crisis I believed the peoples fear was genuine and warranted a move for separate existence.”[29]

— Major-General Philip Effiong, 6 Feb 1970

On the 10th of January 1970, Major-General Effiong declared Biafra’s intention to surrender, and under the FMG’s famous slogan of ‘No victor, no vanquished’, the complicated process of reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Eastern Region was to begin. It is estimated that 1 to 3 million people lost their lives during the conflict. While the reconciliation process was greatly helped by the boom in oil prices in 1970, it has been criticized for being superficial and selective and for, ultimately, not resolving the core inter-ethnic tensions that led to the conflict.

The war however, has inspired a vast library of literature, from novels to poem anthologies and plays. Indeed, the literature of the Nigerian civil war has its own self standing body of academic research, which is almost as prolific as the body of historical and political research on the conflict.

In the 50 years between now and the first coup, although much has improved in Nigeria, we are yet to find a point of harmony. Ethno-nationalist agitation is ongoing, and in the past few years the ghosts of Biafra summoned by groups like MASSOB and IPOB have come back to haunt the Eastern region, in the wake of our current economic uncertainty.

While there is much that has been already written about the war, there are always new perspectives and narratives to be considered. Going forward, we need to encourage a critical examination of past works, not only to identify inherent biases and subjectivity but, also, to form new theories on how the war has been treated as a historical event. While we remember differently, there is always scope for change. And it is important that we establish a balanced narrative of the war, involving all involved parties, as a way of furthering the discourse, as a way to preserve our history, and as a way to finally overcome the war’s painful legacies


[1] Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie “Chinua Achebe at 82: “We Remember Differently” Premium Times, 23 November 2012, http://www.premiumtimesng.com/arts-entertainment/108378-chinua-achebe-at-82-we-remember-differently-by-chimamanda-ngozi-adichie.html (accessed 15 September 2016)

[2] Obafemi Awolowo, The Peoples Republic, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968, 72

[3] Indeed other regions had threatened to secede at one point or another, but only the Eastern Region and the Niger Delta under Isaac Adaka Boro actually attempted to separate from Nigeria, both ultimately failing however.

[4] “ Nzeogwu Announces Martial Law in the North and Promulgates Ten Decrees”, broadcast on 15 January 1966, reproduced in A. H. M Kirk-Greene, Crisis and Conflict in Nigeria: A Documentary Source Book, Vol 1, London: Oxford University Press, 1971,125-126

[5] N.J. Miners, The Nigerian Army 1956–66, London: Methuen and Co. Ltd, 1971, 118

[6] SOAS Archives, The Nigerian Civil War Collection, MSC321463/09 “Government Statement on Gowon’s Broadcast of 27 May 1967”, Eastern Nigeria News, 29 May 1967

[7] “Programme for return to civilian rule: Communiqué issued by the Supreme Military Council, 22 April 1967”, Blueprint for Nigerian Unity, Lagos: Federal Ministry of Information,1967

[8] SOAS Archives, Nigerian Civil War Collection, MS321463/08, News Material April 1967 and MS321463/09, News Material May 1967

[9] “Gift For Governor”, Nigerian Outlook 7 May 1967, and “Youths in Uyo Hail Ojukwu’s gesture” Nigerian Outlook 12 May 1967, SOAS Archives, The Nigerian Civil War Collection, MS321463/09,News Material May 1967

[10] Towards One Nigeria, 5, 28 and Challenge of Unity, 3, 5 both Lagos: Federal Ministry of Information,1967. (Although according to the 1963 census, the figures were closer to 4 million non-Igbo easterners and 8 million Igbos)

[11] All produced by the Federal Ministry of Information, Lagos, 1967

[12] SOAS Archives, The Nigerian Civil War Collection, MSC321463/09 “Government Statement on Gowon’s Broadcast of 27 May 1967”, Eastern Nigeria News, 29 May 1967

[13] The National Archives (NA), FCO38/321 Shell-BP’s Interest in Nigeria, and Rivers State, The Oil Rich Rivers State, Port Harcourt,1967, “Estrange to Davies, 2 August 1968” Folio 54 01/01/1968 – 31/12/1968

[14] One of the most famous slogans of the FMG. It was widely broadcast on radios and featured in pamphlets and press releases. Unity in Diversity, 15

[15] This timeline is based on a number timelines namely the one found in Kirk-Greene, Crisis and Conflict,476-481 and the one in John J. Stremlau , The International Politics of the Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970, xv

[16] “Help to war victims in Nigeria”. International Review of the Red Cross, 8, 1968, pp.516-526, 521

[17] Arua Oko Omaka has recently published an extensive study of humanitarian intervention during the Nigerian Civil War, which may be considered essential reading on this topic (or at least may cover whatever topics I have not addressed); The Biafran Humanitarian Crisis, 1967–1970: International Human Rights and Joint Church Aid, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2016

[18] NA, FCO23/182, Folio 21, “Peace talks Minorities of Former Eastern Region of Nigeria Appeal to Gowon”, Letter to Gowon from South Eastern and Rivers States Students Union, Dublin, 10 May 1968

[19] Testimony of an Ogoja village woman, cited in de St.Jorre, The Nigerian Civil War,143

[20] NA,FCO65/211,Rivers State, Folio 8,“Rivers State: Matthews, Department of State, American Embassy, Lagos,15 Feb 1969”

[21] NA,FCO65/736 Position of the Ibo at the End of Civil War in Nigeria B, Folio 105, “Biafran Government”

[22] Axel Harneit-Sievers, Jones O. Ahuazem

and Sydney Emezue, A Social History of the Nigerian Civil War: Perspectives from Below. Enugu: Jemezie

Associates, 1997,42

[23] Testimony from an Efik respondent, cited in ibid

[24] Sievers, “The People, The Soldiers and The State”, 46-87, 73 and Emueze, “Women and the War” both 87 in A Social History, 150

[25] Ahuazem, “Perceptions: Biafra” 33 and Emueze “Women and the War”132-156, both in A Social History, 151

[26] NA, FCO65/213, Press release from Federal Ministry of Information Lagos: Asika Appeals for A New Era, 11 Nov 1968

[27] Ojukwu, The Ahiara Declaration: The Principles of Biafran Revolution, Biafra Information Service Corporation, 1969. (The declaration was first made at the village of Ahiara on the 1st of June 1969)

[28] See the FMG pamphlets previously referenced.

[29] NA, FCO65/737, Effiong Speaks on Amnesty, The New Nigerian, 6 Feb 1970