Biafra: A Republic or a Dictatorship?

Some 230 years in Philadelphia, the American Founding Fathers had just ended the Constitutional Convention to ratify the US Constitution, a magnificent document just a little shy of 4600 words.
The young country was expectant with hopes but concerned too about its future.

Benjamin Franklin, the renowned inventor, diplomat, and elder statesman stepped out of the hall at the end of the ratification and was confronted by curious citizens. He was a delegate to the Convention. One of them, a lady, asked Benjamin Franklin, “what constitution do we have now, Sir?” Benjamin Franklin quipped, with a hint of sarcasm, “A republic, madam, IF you can keep it?

Barely 24 hours after I made comments expressing some misgivings about the agitation for Biafra, what has struck me is the extreme intolerance of advocates of Biafra. Hot-headed and impervious to contrary opinions, many in this school of thought, really believe that Biafra is an El Dorado waiting to drop from the skies. Not so fast folks. You can’t keep a republic by dissing and insulting those who disagree with you.

If the intolerance and mass lynching psyche of Biafra supporters is an indication of what nay-sayers in the proposed state of Biafra would go through, we have a big problem in our hands.

The viciousness of our politics, the bile and hatred have historical precedents of troubling dimensions. Recall that amidst the 1967-1970 Civil War, the Republic of Biafra was executing “coup plotters” and “saboteurs.”

Virtually ALL the five states created out of the Eastern Region share the same narrative: we don’t want to be dominated/oppressed by our fellow Igbos! Look at the documents in support of the creation of Imo, Abia, Ebonyi States! And those that weren’t created including Aba, Adada, et cetera were all premised on the fear of domination by fellow Igbos too. The lack of capacity to accommodate opposing or contrary views in our discourse is undemocratic and scary.

Blood is often shed and heads broken in Igboland today for simply advocating a point of view different from those who believe that all problems of Ndigbo will be solved overnight once the Republic of Biafra descends from the heavens. We need to look ourselves in the mirror.

It may well be that all the solutions to problems and challenges of Ndigbo reside in the materialization of the Biafran quest but it worries me that the Igbos famed for rational discourse and robust contestation of ideas are now shepherded into a one-way lane.

The vituperation and insults heaped on those who call for alternate points of view, is simply appalling. When the insults come from youths who see nothing good about their aged fathers, grandfathers and uncles, I wonder whether the proposed country of Biafra would be a republic or a dictatorship.

If BIAFRA is realized, can we, with our penchant for vitriolic disrespect, disparagement of entire clans, and intolerance of opposing views, keep the country as a Republic?

I am a proud Igboman. No apologies.
Prof. Ikechi Mgbeoji…


1 Comment

  1. Professor Mgbeoji, Kudos to you for your post and for OBLONGMEDIA to publish your article. What gives me courage is your ability to supersede emotional persuasion for an intellectual cautionary discussion. You have demonstrated that you are one with a spine and hopefully the ‘cannery in the coal mine’. Education and intellectual exchange is a handicap for Nigerians and we wonder why there are so many educated Nigerians all over the world but with a failed system in Nigeria? The discussion for secession is not fully grounded with the rigor for people to actually put their lives on line for the cause. The constituency fanning the flame for Biafra is not well formed with a constitution worthy of international respect. Simply speaking of marginalization is not enough. The current citizens of Nigeria in the North East are the most disenfranchised Nigerians currently; raped, homeless, abducted, starving to death. Generally, Nigerians are victims of their elite all over the country. Rather than a people rise to throw out a bloated system of an expensive model of democracy not fit for a poor country we are haggling over issues which are legally too complicated to win. Democracy is the tyranny of the majority world wide.
    I am circulating your article world wide over the social net and I hope a lively discussion will emanate also more balanced than parallel discussions we are having now. You may be saving lives if reason prevail before the ‘train leaves the station’.


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