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THE NIGERIAN CIVIL WAR AND HISTORICAL ANALYSIS (1967-1970)
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The history of Nigeria since 1914 is deeply rooted in major political issues which are violently contested along the lines of ethnic, religious and regional boundaries in the country.
Webster, Boahen and Tidy (1979) noted that Nigeria inherited a constitution from the British government which gave absolute majority to one region thereby promoting regional politics and political division in the country. Thus the events that led to the Nigerian civil war (1967-1970) cannot be separated from ethnic and religious distrust between the three major groups: Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa/Fulani.
Thus, the Nigeria civil war can be regarded as a war that was fought out of necessity because the factors and causes that led to the war was sowed in the political structures and institutions in colonial times and also in emergence of the nation called Nigeria. It carried along with it the seed. According to Madiebo (1980, pg 3-14) “ On the seed of destruction the federation of Nigeria has never really been one homogeneous country due to the divergence of the people in terms of culture, ethnicity, religion , historical and political antecedent”. Despite these obvious facts that exist, the former colonial masters for selfish economic interest decided to forcefully amalgamate the various ethnic groups together in 1914 and for administrative convenience decided to adopt a policy of divide and rule between the various regions.
It is worthy of note that it was in this pattern of rule that Nigeria’s political institution developed from which was to have a bearing effect later after independence which eventually led to the civil war. The growth of nationalism in the society and subsequent emergence of political parties were based on ethnic/tribal rather than national interest, and therefore had no unifying effect on the people against the colonial master, Abubakar, (1992). Rather than being the victim (colonial master), it was the people themselves who were the victim of the political struggles which were supposed to be directed at removing foreign dominance. Soon after independence the battle to consolidate political and military power and dominance by one section of the country became very intense among the ethnic group. This led to the January coup of 1966 and the counter coup that followed and eventually a bloody civil war.
The devastating effect of the war was of high impact on the populace as an estimated 1 million people died and equally the refugees’ crisis that followed with infrastructural damage cannot be quantified. The major impact was felt in the eastern of Nigeria which tried to break away to form the Republic of Biafra under leader called OdumegwuOjukwu. With the fall of Biafra to Federal troops and the surrendering of her troops, the next phase was a post-war peace building effort to reconcile, rehabilitate and reconstruct as a result of the Federal Government “no victor, no vanquished”.
From the above captured facts, many facts seem to account for the genesis of Nigerian Civil war. Thus Nigeria’s political history seems not to be an isolated event or single crisis that constituted it. In the same vein, on the genesis of the Nigerian civil war. That is why Kirk-Green stated that in seeking the genesis of the Nigerian civil war, it is possible to locate in it a variety of different sources and levels. The origins may for instance, be explained in terms of political competition, of inter-personal economic rivalry, of elitist in fighting; more arguably, of class or religious struggle, of military anomaly and ambition; of personal, ethnic and personal conflict or in terms of social malaise and disenchantment with the golden age that never materialized in the aftermath of colonialism itself, the outcome of fifty years of divine and rule in brief, a diagnosis of a series of expectations, aroused, frustrated and finally sinking into a slough of despondent and cut-throat competitiveness (Green, 1975). With the facts in mind the attention of the research is to draw analysis of the key events that took place in Nigeria’s civil war paying attentions account of that between 1976 to 1979.
1.2 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
This study will make use of findings from both primary and secondary sources. The primary sources include written documents such as Government publications, letters, correspondence, documentaries and newspapers. Added to these are descriptive accounts of some Nigerians who experienced the civil war. Interviews will also be conducted with those considered authorities in the field, Political Science and International Relations to complement the other sources. Furthermore, this research work depends largely on archival materials both online and offline-visiting embassies of countries that were regarded as actors during the civil war to gather relevant materials on the study. Official publications published on the websites will also be used in interpreting the events and actions of countries that were involved. Books, journal articles, conference proceedings, seminar papers and other related publications will be used in gathering secondary information for this research.
1.3 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Although, much has been written on the Nigerian Civil War, but seeking the genesis of Nigeria civil war has located it in a variety of different sources and levels. This, consequently, has affected the different ways account of Nigeria Civil is given; thus giving rise to different analysis of the event. Consequently the basis of this research work seeks to fill the vacuum by giving the history analysis of Nigeria Civil, paying attention to its causes, significance of the war, and prevention of another war.
1.4 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of carrying out this research is to:
- Analysis the background that led to Nigeria Civil War
- Analyze the major events that took place outside during the civil war
- Examine the cause of the war
- Discuss the role which the Nigerian Civil War played in defining the country’s policy;
- Examine the significance of the civil war on Nigeria;
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study covers the Nigerian civil war, especially the events that took place during the war paying attention to the account given between 1976-1979.
1.6 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
In producing such a work like this, the problem confronting the researcher is not the scarcity of materials but its availability some of which I presumed are bias in their presentation. Moreso, this research work is ethnic sensitive as some of those who fought during the war are still alive among whom we have, General Yakubu Gowon and Former OlusegunObasanjo. The researcher therefore is confronted with the problem of interpretation of the actions of some of the actors mentioned above.
Finally, there is the question of time, fund and accessibility to the living actors who engaged actively during the civil war and subsequently, in conducting external relations with other countries during the war. However, their autobiography and interviews granted to men of the press will be used. But the problem here is that of distortion which this researcher fears greatly.
Nevertheless, these limitating factors will greatly be managed to make the research work objective.
1.7 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is of paramount importance to decision makers and the would-be diplomats for it traces the historical development of Nigeria foreign policy since the civil war.
Furthermore, this research work will help in providing information on the domestic factors that has been influencing Nigeria foreign since independence.
Apart from the personal satisfaction which is study will give the researcher, I hope that it will be a source of reference to other researchers in similar area