Congratulations on this epoch – making occasion of your liberation and freedom. It is the dawn of a new day and has been a long time coming for Biafra. The roads have been long, bumpy and uncertain. Lives have been lost in the struggle, thousands of them – if not millions; egos have been bruised. At the end of the day, the words of Albert Einstein comes to mind: If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.
Some people will wonder what the felicitation is all about. It would serve them well, not to judge Biafra by the height it has now achieved, but consider the depth from which it all started. It is only by so doing that they would fully appreciate the significance of this accomplishment. Let us observe a minute of silence in the memory of, and in recognition and honor to those who paid the supreme price in the course of the struggle.
As you begin this undoubtedly onerous journey to Nationhood, allow me to prescribe what I consider guiding principles upon which the achievement of an enduring greatness, which you so much desire and deserve rest.
One of the first major challenge that you may face is that of leadership. Piloting the affairs of a new nation, a nation just emerging from the ashes of a disintegrated fiefdom is not an all-comers affair. It requires unique sets skill-set. It requires that individual that is genuinely ready to be a servant of the people. The president (or prime minister) as you may choose, should be a role model. When put on a pedestal, he must be of such character as will instil strong character in the Biafran youth and set the tone for ongoing civic engagement.
Your leader and all his appointed lietenants must be able to set the stage for an enduring economic and social system, upon which your future fate as a Nation will rest. Just as the fate of a building rests on the foundation, so must you ensure that your Nation produces that first leadership that eschews all forms of biases and see his constituency as the whole of the Biafra Nation. I am sure you have read the now infamous quote credited to former South African President, Pieter Botha where he said “Black people cannot rule themselves because they don’t have the brain and mental capacity to govern a society” – Unfortunately he seems to have been right in the case of most black nations.
You must also have seen what happened in South Sudan after they gained their independence as a sovereign nation; how brethren that collectively fought for their independence later turned against each other. This must not be the testimony of the new Biafra Nation.
Let it not escape the Biafran leadership that a great nation is built on a strong intellectual foundation. This means you must strive to ensure, paraphrasing the counsel of Chinua Achebe, that politicians with plenty of money but very low IQs are not given pride of place in the administration of your New Nation.
The interest of the minorities in Biafra has been a thorny and contentious one. It has even been one of the tools used by the “subjugators” to frustrate the quest of Biafran for their rightly deserved freedom. While I am wholeheartedly convinced that the Biafra Nation will be a Nation for all its citizens, with equal right, opportunities and privileges, I thought it needed to be called out for emphasis. Biafra would do well to harness the immense potential of all its citizens. It should strive to place round-pegs in round holes, irrespective of ethnic origin. It is only by so doing that you will forestall stoking an uneasiness with potential to snowball into agitation by its citizens.
However, I see enough cultural homogeneity within Biafra that will foster an all-inclusive communal co-existence. Biafra must uphold the core principles of unity, self-determination, excellence and social justice, all of which were key aspirations as originally contained in the Ahiara Declaration of June 1, 1969.
While I am not an expert on foreign policy, I want to warn that your “Traditional” Western economies are not your best of friends when it comes to seeking development partners. For the most part, their primary interest is the exploitation of your resources, and I state that without fear of equivocation.
I therefore strongly advocate for formation of new alliances with countries in the Far East, the Asian Tigers and the BRICS area, (The five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
While these countries may not be all-out altruistic in their dealings with you, they, like Biafra are looking for a win-win situation in their engagements. The “traditional” western economies will not take your “snob” without an attempt to destabilize your new country. You must prepare for this eventuality. Trust me, this is not conspiracy theorizing. It has been proven time and again all over Africa.
It is usually said that “If you are not on the table, then you are on the menu”. Biafra must therefore endeavor to have good representations in diverse groups of world political arena. If you have not yet been offered a seat on the table, have a close ally that is already seated on the table. That table could be the United Nation, World Economic Forum, African Union, ECOWAS, OECD, WHO, UNESCO, World Trade Organization– any and all available tables.
While it is good that you are starting off this journey as a Nation with Israel as an ally, it must be a mixed basket of associations. It is in that spirit that you must encourage your citizens residing in other countries to take active part in the political process in those countries. That way, they can lend their voices to issues concerning Biafra that come up for deliberations in those countries. Quite a few of Biafran citizens are already in the Parliament in some countries that I know. This trend must be encouraged and promoted.
Biafra must demonstrate pragmatism and forthrightness in its international dealings, while at the same time, recognizing that smiling faces are not necessarily evidence of friendship. As a government, Biafra must recognize immediate threats while not being blind to the opportunities that may reside within close proximity of its borders and even far away from its borders. These must then be addressed in concert with trusted partners and allies.
BILATERAL RELATION WITH ODUDUWA NATION
There is a great synergy to be derived from a partnership between Biafra and Oduduwa Nation. I did recommend, in one of my earlier articles – ‘Vaquishing the South to Elevate the North’, for the Oduduwa Nation to borrow a leaf from the Biafran Playbook to actualize the Oduduwa Republic. I am sure they are gradually seeing through the hollowness that is the One-Nigeria mantra. There is nothing like one Nigeria. It has always been about the supremacy of the Fulani over the rest of us. Oduduwa Nation will do well to look back and remember what became the fate of their sons who initially fell for the lies of One-Nigeria ( Awolowo, Shonekan, Oladipo Diya, and most recently, Omoyele Sowore). It may serve anyone who is interested to know what they are up against to read Dr Obadiah Mailafia’s interview in the Punch Newspaper of August 25, 2019, titled: “North won’t give up power anytime soon”.
Oduduwa Nation is one of the most viable trading partners that the Biafrans would have in the sub-region and to borrow Donald Trump’s now popular phraseology – “There (really) are good people on both sides”.
I know that Oduduwa will not capitulate and succumb to Fulani domination. While there are obvious challenges on their paths to redemption, chief of which is the religious split of Christianity and Islam in Oduduwa area, they might also have inadvertently allowed what I like to call ‘the petty plans and plots of small minded men to rob them of their destiny and nationhood’. They must urgently rise above these.
Oduduwa is potentially one of the most viable countries in Sub-Saharan Africa; what with its immense material and human resources. There are undoubtedly unparalleled ‘synergistic effect’ where the Science, Engineering and Technological innovative minds of the Biafrans is married to the legal and financial prowess of Oduduwa.
MEDIA/ PUBLIC RELATIONS
There is a saying that ‘Unless the lion learns to write, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter’. That has been the experience of the Biafra Nation, up until very recently. Thanks to social media, Biafra has been able to beam its situation to the world and put a voice to its agitation. It is no secret that the vast majority of the information space within the “subjugator’s” territory was controlled by a section of that enclave. Thank God – the tables are seemingly turning and that section may have recently tasted of the bitter gall dosed out by the ‘conquerors’. I hope they are fairly now better informed about the real agenda of the ‘conquerors’ and that the entire charade called ‘One Nigeria’ is a self-serving enterprise. A Yoruba proverb says “Ti iro ba lo logun odun, ojo kan lotito ma ba” – translated to (If a lie travels ahead for 20 years, it will take just a day for truth to catch up with it); which is exactly what is happening with the unravelling of the lie behind the British/caliphate joint venture called Nigeria.
Biafra must henceforth tell its own story. It must constitute a well – informed and formidable journalistic force. The world must stop viewing the narrative and plight of the biafran people from the prism of those that did not wear its pinching shoes. This team primary accountability will be to assure that the negative reporting emanating from the Biafran Nation does not trump the positives. As Akon, the American Senegalese musician would say, “The story of America and its oft told American Dream is about packaging. In the same manner, Biafra must be packaged and sold to the outside world for what it truly is – “The Land of the Rising Sun”, whose glory had been covered for more than 50 years but which has finally broken forth!
Organisation of a census, to determine the exact number of its citizens would be a first major exercise of the Biafran administration. This will tells you what the population statistics are for Man / Woman, number of school-age children, levels of education and potential Tax base and revenues, all of which helps to determine the education funding plans and a whole lot of other indicators for sustained planning.
Biafra must make a very conscious effort to regulate its population by putting in place and following a policy that ensures its social and infrastructural services are not stretched to their limits. An unmitigated and uncontrolled population come with social challenges that could be antithetical to the very ideal of the Biafran Sovereign State. While not diminishing the role of a well programed population growth, it must be such that is well- within the control of the country.
Without meaning to get into the various societal ills which an unplanned population creates, we must already know that there is an acceptable population/land area ratio (population density). I believe it was for this same reason that China and India had to make deliberate policies limiting the number of children per family, with penalties for families who wanted more than the government regulated child per family. There is no gain-saying the fact that the fewer the number of children the average family has, the more resources available will be able to cater to their needs. Biafra needs all hands to be on deck to make it a dream destination for Africa and the world. The labour force is impacted by the level of productivity of its citizens and the more the number of maternity leaves, so also will there be a shortage of women to contribute to the labour force, i.e. an impact on women contribution to the labour force as a share of the over-all labour productivity. Before people jump and say the Biafran government does not have any business in what happens in people’s bedroom, my immediate response is, when families produce more children than they have the resources to cater for, it then becomes a social problem which by extension is the government’s problem.
The Biafran Nation once upon a time, was at the forefront of the race for western education. Over time, that drive would seem to have been down- played and in its place, an increasing number of male-child opting for apprenticeship and trade. The new Biafra must recognise that the world is moving into a virtual economy and Biafra must move with that trend.
There is an observed pattern where Biafran girls pursue education and the boys choose the path of trading which may have resulted in a rather skewed ratio of boy/girl education. The new Biafra must now take those young boys away from the “shops” and send them to school. The world of enterprising is increasingly moving away from ‘brick and mortar’ store to a virtual space. In the emerging digital world, it is not going to be business as usual.
It is similar to how petrol cars are being replaced with electric cars. Educate the children to help move the Biafran dream into the next decades with a mindset of high tech and InfoTech similar to what India has achieved.
As in every groups, there will always be those wearing the garb of the biblical Judases among a people. They have been derogatorily referred to as “Efulefus. In the history of the Biafra Nation, such agents of blemish have existed, starting with the Ukpabi Asika Administration and his lieutenants. In more recent memories, we have had the likes of Arthur Nzeribe of the infamous “Association for Better Nigeria (ABN)”, a compromised group that set out to promote the elongation agenda of Ibrahim Babangida presidency. There was also the young man called Daniel Kanu of “Youth Earnestly Ask for Abacha, (YEAA)” fame. He was that shameless and greedy individual, who in the face of Abacha’s tyranny, mobilized and campaigned to support the transmutation of Abacha from a military dictator to a maximum civilian ruler. These people, most often, usually end up in opprobrium. We can all already see the fate of Orji Uzor Kalu. The day of reckoning is nearer than we think for Rochas Okorocha, Joe Igbokwe and the Rotimi Amechis of this world. These elements, whose primary motivation was monetary gains, in the same manner as Judas Iscariot, forgot that the person who wants to roast a cow for super does not mind to first nourish the cow, to fatten it, knowing that it will give him a sumptuous meal in the evening time
One of Biafra’s illustrious son, Chinua Achebe must have been clairvoyant and had these “efulefus” in mind when he wrote: “In all great compounds, there must be people of all minds; some good, some bad, some fearless and some cowardly; those who bring in wealth and those who scatter it, those who give good advice and those who only speak the words of palm wine. That is why we say that whatever tune you play in the compound of a great man, there is always someone to dance to it”. Such has become the true situation of the Biafra Nation.
THE BLACK SHEEP OF THE BIAFRAN FAMILY
I will be hypocritical if all I do is adulate and pretend there are no admonitions required, especially with regard to the conducts of some of your citizens. I call those the proverbial “black sheep of the Biafran family”.
Their conducts, either in the activities of drug trafficking, advanced fee fraud, kidnap/ransom seeking and other forms of vices/negativity bring reproach and ignominy to Biafra. Your new status as a country, going forward would expose those atrocities because Biafrans would now carry the Republic of Biafra Passport. There are no hiding places. Such individuals, if there are indeed any, become source of reproach and stains on your ‘white garment’. That is not the image for a new country looking to establish itself as a potential trading partner and with the hope of a revered position in the committee of successful nations.
Once again, as I have previously stated, every society has its own version of these non-desirable elements, including even the advanced systems in Europe, the Americas and Asia. Despite these, you do not want that to be the attributes by which your potential trading and diplomatic partners associate with you. The bedrock of success in international enterprise and bilateral dealing is trust and utmost good faith. Where those are missing, you at best become a “pariah state”; not an enviable position for a new Nation.
If you must truly live up to the acclaimed level of the “African Japanese Economy”, Biafra must imbibe the whole positive value that the Japanese has bequeathed to the human race i.e. inventions, total quality management, civility and humility. It is only by so doing that you can hope to genuinely command the respect of the world and attract more bilateral opportunities. The leadership of Biafra must ppropagate high ethical values and standards in your enterprise, multilateral and bilateral engagements and institutional practices and this needs to be a top-down approach.
A rebirth would call for the re-evaluation of the Biafran value system, which must start to re-orientate its citizens to the real meaning of self-worth. It is not necessarily dictated by the quantum of wealth accumulation. Wealth creation is a good thing because it should under the ideal situation also help to propels development. However, the inordinate pursuit of it, in a manner that leads to pernicious self cannibalization must be abhorred, otherwise it becomes an albatross of the Biafran Nation.
Once again, I congratulate all Biafran.
The real work of Nation building must now commence in earnest. All hands should be on deck to ensure you build a country that is a pride of place for all of black race. Biafra must restore the dignity and the lost glory of the black man. I have no doubt that you will have a solid industrial base in no distant time. There are more than enough human resources both within and from diaspora who are ready and willing to contribute in various capacity to the realization of these goals. Some have even pledged to provide their services Pro-Bono. That is the level of enthusiasm in your people the world over. Biafra will be a test case of what untapped potential resides within the African continent. It may not be an easy task but Biafrans are a traditionally resilient people, not faint hearted and not given to frivolities. They are known for candor, enterprise and industry. These qualities must now be continually espoused and promoted in your public and private lives to see to the enthronement of a truly prosperous nation which become a basket case of good governance and a reference point of what the whole of Africa can be. Anything short of these expectations is to betray the sacrifice of all the martyrs of the struggle, epitomized by the red in the Biafran flag.
Lastly, let me reiterate that I am not an expert in the policies of Nation building. Whatever I have recommended in this piece is based on my knowledge of the Biafran people and its culture, within the context of the now demised British/caliphate joint venture. I therefore take full responsibility for any fallacious or erroneous mis-characterizations.
I hope other Biafrans (home and in diaspora) and lovers of the Biafran ideology worldwide would lend their voices and indeed resources to the resurgence of this prosperous nation.
So help you God.
Peter Omonua, an Officer Cadet in the Canadian Armed Forces writes from Ontario Canada. He can be reached at email@example.com
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