Tribalism and various political, religious, ethnical and economic reasons led to the civil war in Nigeria in 1967. This was has taken away many lives. It should be remembered and the lessons should be learnt.
Civil war is one of the worst things for any country. People are made to kill their compatriots. Everything comes to the genocide. However, after everything is finally over, there are usually very important lessons that should be learnt. Now we are going to observe the issues of Nigerian Civil war. It's important not only for people of this country, but for anyone, who is not indifferent to our future. Such terrible things must not happen again.
This conflict is very complicated thing. It possesses its own causes and results. Of course, to understand everything better, we need to consider Nigerian Civil war summary.
History of Nigerian Civil war
It's necessary to start from earlier times, when Nigeria has got independence from British Empire. Everything was initiated during that time, because the country was kind of artificial complex. It consisted of many different tribes, the largest part of which comprised in Igbo (70% of population in southeast), Yoruba (80% of southwest), and Hausa (60% in the North). They were completely different, even their political and cultural systems varied greatly. Igbo lived in autonomous and democratically-organized villages. All the decisions were made by general assembly, and everyone could participate in process. There were monarchs (either elected or hereditary), but they weren't that powerful. Yoruba’s society was similar to the Hausa’s one, however, they were more flexible. They had elections, accepted greater upward mobility based upon acquired not obligatory inherited wealth or title.
The same thing was with their development. While Yoruba and Igbo were free to get education, shift the religion to Christianity, and so on, Hausa stayed the same autocratic Islamic society. Thus, the absence of unity as well as ethnic division led to the hostilities.
One of principal causes of Nigerian Civil war was coup, which happened on 15, January in 1966. Its main aim (as in any other military coups) was to create strong, prosperous, and unified nation, which would be free from corruption and internal strife. However, it only caused the change in political balance. As the majority of those, who had planned that coup, were the Easterners, people of the North thought, they were going to eliminate political weights in their region. In fact, they considered that Igbo wanted to take a leadership of the country. Such situation provoked mass killings of Igbos and Christians in the Northern part of Nigeria. Finally, such massacre caused the proclamation of independence by Eastern part of state. They announced the Republic of Biafra.
Federal Military Government called it a secessionist state. Thus, this was another reason to start a war. Nigerian government had to use armed forces in order to reunite the country. In their turn, the newly-born Republic had to protect themselves. Thus, Nigerian Civil war started in 1967.
During that time, Biafra included several provinces, which were:
- Port Harcourt,
Main reasons of Biafra creation were as follows:
- Political. As we have mentioned, Igbo had a democratic society. There was strong contrast with the North and the West of Nigeria.
- Religious. Eastern people were mostly Christians, in comparison with Northern ones. Besides, the mass killings initiated by Muslims influenced situation as well.
- Economic. The Biafra region was principal source of oil for the country. People were afraid it would be taken away and their rights and needs would be neglected.
- Ethnic violence. Many Igbos were murdered in the North.
In fact, the war became the result of instability and uneasy peace since the independence in 1960.
The Government really hoped for the quick victory, while Biafra was ready to fight to the last man. Unexpectedly, by the summer of 1967, the war was far in the Mid-West of Nigeria. Biafran soldiers intended to reach Lagos (the capital). However, they failed. And in the end of the spring in 1969 they were surrounded. Then, when the winter was close, it was already obvious that war would be over soon. The head of Biafra, Colonel Ojukwu, ran away in January of 1970. Commander of Biafran Army took the administration and a few days later, he surrendered to Federal government.
Thus, it appeared to be the end of war.
Influence and results
Such horrible thing had both positive and negative effects on life in Nigeria. First, it pushed government to federalism. More states were created. Nowadays there are 36 states in Nigeria. Each of them tries to preserve its culture, traditions, language, and religion. In fact, the states were reorganized several times during 30 years. Nevertheless, the war was main reason of it.
However, such reconstruction had negative side as well. Political subclasses of state bureaucracies have been created. The governors have often ruled them. There're examples of successful prosecution of such people for corruption though.
Civil War had an impact on economy. Nigerian economics suffered from it, as lots of money were spent on both military needs and reconstruction and rehabilitation programmes. Many people, who have suffered from famine, malnutrition, poverty, and so on, needed assistance (including medical one). However, there's good thing here. Plenty of non-governmental organizations (NGO) have been created to help people. The most prominent in Nigeria include:
- Access to Education for Children,
- Action Health Incorporated,
- lpha O centre for malaria prevention and control,
- ActionAid International Nigeria.
It is to name just a few, as nowadays there is a large number of them.
There is also great effect on the society. More than 3 million people were killed between 1967 and 1970. Many of Nigerians lost their relatives and beloved ones. Some of them were forced to leave their homes. It also led to overpopulation of particular regions.
The main lessons of this war are connected with the following “how-to” issues:
- change everything for the better,
- reunify country,
- inflict wounds and heal them at the same time,
- avoid fatal injuries,
- help civilians,
- make it over as soon as possible.
It isn't the same as fighting beyond the boundaries. It is your own country and people. And you do not want to hurt or lose them. The thing is not only how to win, but how to stabilize the situation with minimum of losses. However, the country managed to reunite and develop. Nowadays the arguments continue, but they aren't violent. There exists a peaceful movement, known as The Indigenous People of Biafra.
They address to the United Nations and to the Supreme Court. And the UN claims that they have the right for self-determination.
Civil War is a blood page of the Nigerian history. It caused the deaths of many people. There're even those, who still suffer. Nevertheless, many things have been made by the government since that time in order to improve the situation. All the programs require big sums of money, but they help people all over the country. It is the most essential purpose. We must learn from past mistakes and never let such horrible things happen again.