Nigeria is not breaking up

DESPITE our relentless, vociferous denunciation of Nigeria and her woes, most Nigerians are committed to Nigeria, and her continued unity. As such, any group of Nigerians seeking to secede from Nigeria will invariably incur the wrath of the majority of Nigerians. And, as in past, the generality of Nigerians will rally against such a group and defeat it. In 1967, the majority of Nigerians, including many Igbo, were opposed to secession. And the international community, African countries as represented by the Organization of African Unity, OAU, Britain and the United States of America, were all opposed to the separation of any part of Nigeria from the Nigerian federation. The Igbo military elite, for example, Hilary Njoku (the most senior Igbo army officer, after Ironsi, in the Nigerian army), Emmanuel Ifeajuna (one of the very few university-educated Nigerian army officers) and Chukwuma Nzeogwu (the then most celebrated Igbo army officer), and the Igbo political elite, most notably, Nnamdi Azikiwe, were opposed to secession. In a speech to the Diplomatic Community in Nigeria on April 24, 1967, Yakubu Gowon stated the federal government’s stance against secession, “my colleagues and I would spare no effort in the search for peace provided nothing is done by anyone to impair the integrity and corporate existence of Nigeria”. The member countries of OAU were appalled by the slaughter of Igbo civilians in Northern Nigeria but were opposed to the dismemberment of Nigeria. A one time Biafran diplomat, Raph Uwechue, wrote that due “to (its) aversion for secession, the OAU stuck rigidly to the principle of settlement within the context of one Nigeria”. In addition, the American and British governments were opposed to a breakup of Nigeria. In his book, Oil, Politics and Violence, the historian and writer, Max Siollun, wrote, “Both the American Ambassador, Elbert Matthews, and the British High Commissioner, Cumming Bruce, made strong representations against secession (because) it will be a major political and economic disaster for Nigerian people and severe setback for independent[…]

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