It is another remembrance day. The day the Republic of Biafra was proclaimed on May30, 1967. It was a proclamation for freedom – from oppression and from wanton deaths.
The heroes fought against formidable forces from the air, land and sea and including blockade of food that were used to bring down the fighting spirit of the Igbo people.
These heroes banded together in brotherhood and out of that came the innovative ideas that resulted in the historical inventions that we are proud of today.
Thousands of Igbo people were massacred in the North following the coup and counter coup and the false labelling by the BBC reporter who first called it Igbo coup – “Igbo coup open to Northern reprisals” that “all the young majors seemed to be Igbo.'” A manipulative report that led to the death of millions of Igbo people and resulted in the systemic exclusion of the Igbo people from the Nigerian socio-political system.
The wrong labelling of Igbo coup not only led to war and deaths but also dispossessed the Igbo their position in the power play of Nigeria.
Following the declaration of the new country and secession, war was brought to the then Eastern Region, which was disbanded on the eve of the war in order to separate the Igbo people from their neighbours for micro targeting and decimation.
About three million souls died in the war as a result of bombardment and hunger. Millions of people were displaced. An untold suffering and despair visited the people.
Even in death, these heroes were proud of their sacrifice in the face of the seeming genocide. They fought courageously and lost with strength.
Did they die in vain?
In the current quest to restore the defunct Republic of Biafra, it has become a quest that is being tainted with the blood of Igbo people; innocent lives lost and the gruesome manner of terror introduced.
Not only are gangs of criminally minded people seizing the opportunity to unleash terror on the people, they are even hailed by the people as saviours. It has also become a money making enterprise where out of fear, people pay these gangs hugely in order to hold funeral ceremonies or any other events.
These gangs are now beheading and killing for fun if I may say. It is fun, coming from the success of wielding such power to control the people and institute fear in a bid to change the culture of the people.
They burn down institutional buildings, kidnap people and operate cannibalism. They engage in acts of terrorism and engage in ritual killing and the street has offered itself for the killing spree.
Businesses are locked up in the unending sit-at-home, some businesses are leaving the region and many people fear returning to their land of birth in fear for their lives.
These and more happen while people are hushed not to speak out in condemnation or their life, livelihood and properties will be targeted for destruction.
These criminals are acting in disguise of fighting for freedom – freedom on the street filled with blood and terror?
What type of freedom is sought in the neighbourhood of terror, brigandage and arson?
It has become so bad that these acts are carried out in the name of restoring the state of Biafra but I see it also as upending the culture of Igbo people and also a desire to seize social power and chart a new course for the people.
Seizing the social power and introducing vile behaviour and terrorism that goes contrary to the values of Igbo people, is not what the heroes died for.
The heroes died that the people should live and walk free as a free people and not to accept subjugation. They died that the living would pursue brotherhood and community living and in finding solution for collective interest. They died for group interest and not for the pursuit of self-interest to the detriment of the people’s interests. They died that the young would look up to them with pride in their prowess in technology and innovation. They died for patriotism to Igbo values and culture. They died for the region to be a thriving region in socio-economic activities. They did not die for terrorism to be instituted in Igbo land. They did not die for Ndigbo to kill themselves and accept abominations as normal life or be held hostage by criminals. They did not die for the young people to drown in drugs and cultism.
On this Remembrance Day, it calls for the people’s resolve to restore the Igbo land to a land of peace and progress, development and innovation and to reject the change of the social order through terror. It calls for the collective resistance to these criminalities.
May we never forget the sacrifices of these heroes. They died for freedom, not terror.