1966 Pogrom: The Origin Of Igbo Marginalization In Nigeria Politics

Biafra war

Igbo nationalism is a range of ethnic nationalist ideologies relating to the Igbo ethnic group. Some define the term as seeking Igbo self- determination, while others argue that it refers to the preservation and arrival of Igbo culture, and still others argue that it refers to the development of Igboland stemming from the philosophy Aku Luo uno, which means ” wealth builds the home. “

The Igbo’ s were united into the framework of what is presently known as Nigeria in 1914. The Igbo sovereignty was limited in place by the sovereignty of the British colonial power through the process of integration. However, the Igbo people who were educated led the charge in the formation of political parties as the colonialism practice began to fail. In 1944, the first national party was made known as the National Council of Nigerians and Cameroon (NCNC), led by the journalist and the future president, Nnamdi Azikwe, a reputed Igbo man who was received as a distinctly Igbo figure as opposed to a pan- Africanist or a Nigerian nationalist.

Though the reason for the NCNC is to serve as a means through which Igbo’ s political interests could be achieved as an organized Igbo nationalism. Next was the establishment of the Igbo federal union (IfU) IN 1936, aimed with the view to further extending the reach of the NCNC freedom charter, including the delineating of formal agenda across various Igbo organizations without keeping the NCNC part aside.

Through the merging of both the NCNC and IFU, the Igbo federation union became the Igbo state union (ISU). Excluding the formation of an independent state wasn’ t mentioned in this charter, Igbo political elites made proper use of this structure to assert their interests in a highly regionalized struggle over Nigerian independence.

The nation remained highly divided across ethnic and national lines, even though the independence movement in Nigeria was achieved successfully in 1960. Following the 1966 anti- Igbo pogrom in the nation’ s northern and western regions, many Igbo fled to their ancestral homes in other regions for refuge and guidance, primarily in the Igbo region.

At this point of insecurity, the eastern region demanded more autonomy within the border federal system. At one point, the eastern military governor, Lietenant Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, engaged in negotiations with the military government led by Major General Yakubu Gowon, which resulted in the Aburi Accord, which intended for both parties to suffer greatly from differing interpretations of whether the federal military government had transitioned to a confederation.

Ojukwu declared independence from the federal federal republic of Nigeria and the establishment of the republic of Biafra in 1967. Therefore, began the civil war which lasted from 1967 till 1970 and ended in the dissolution of the attempted republic.

Even in the aftermath of the civil war, Igbo people have noted and lamented the exclusion and marginalization of Igbo politicians from high office. , Major Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi Ironsi, the military head of state appointed, was the last Igbo head of state following the 1966 coup. Meanwhile, both military and political appointments transpiring from 1979 to 2013 have largely overlooked Igbo candidates.

In light of this issue and others, several contemporary Igbo nationalist groups have emerged, rendering different visions of Igbo political autonomy; Such as the Movement for Actualization of the sovereignty state of Biafra (MASSOB) had argued for the revitalization of the Biafra project, or a sovereign Igbo state. As opposed to the largely military strategy of the previous era of Igbo nationalism, the group relies on non- violent tactics in its political strategy.

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