Today, as I look back over our two years as a sovereign and independent nation, I am over-whelmed with the feeling of pride and satisfaction in our performance and achievement as a people. Our indomitable will, our courage, our endurance of the severest privations, our resourcefulness and inventiveness in the face of tremendous odds and dangers, have become proverbial in a world so bereft of heroism, and have become a source of frustration to Nigeria and her foreign masters. For this and for the many miracles of our time, let us give thanks to Almighty God,
Fellow countrymen and women, for nearly two years we have been engaged in a war, which threatens our people with total destruction. Our enemy has been unrelenting in his fury and has fought our defenseless people with a vast array of military hardware of a sophistication unknown to Africa. For two years we have withstood his assaults with nothing other than our stout hearts and bare hands. We have frustrated his diabolical intentions and have beaten his wicked mentors in their calculations and innovations. Shamelessly, our enemy has moved from deadline to deadline, seeking excuses justifying their failures to an ever-credulous world. Today, I am happy and proud to report that, all the odds notwithstanding, the enemy, at great cost in lives and equipment, is not near to his avowed objective.
Proud Biafrans, I have kept my promise. Diplomatically, our friends have increased and have remained steadfast to our cause: and, despite the rantings of our detractors, indications are that their support will continue, Fellow countrymen and women, the signs are auspicious, the future fills us with less foreboding. I am confident, with the initiative in war now in our own hands, that we have turned the last bend in our race to self-realization and are now set on the home straight in this our struggle. We must not flag. The tape is in sight. What we need is a final burst of speed to bosom the tape and secure the victory, which will ensure for us for all time, glory and honour, peace and progress.
Fellow compatriots, today, being our Thanksgiving Day, it is most appropriate that we pause awhile to take stock, to consider our past, our successes notwithstanding, to consider our future, our aspirations and our fears,
Fellow Biafrans, I have for a long time thought about this our predicament the attitude of the civilized world to this our conflict. The more I think about it the more I am convinced that our disability is racial. The root cause of our problem lies in the fact that we are black. If all the things that have happened to us had happened to another people who are not black, if other people who are not black had reacted in the way our people have reacted these two long years, the world’s response would surely have been different.
In 1966, some 50,000of us were slaughtered like cattle in Nigeria. In the course of this war, well over one million of us have been killed: yet the world is unimpressed and looks on in indifference. Last year, some bloodthirsty Nigerian troops for sport murdered the entire male population of a village. All the world did was to indulge in an academic argument whether the number was in hundreds or in thousands. Today, because a handful of white men collaborating with the enemy, fighting side by side with the enemy, were caught by our gallant troops, the entire world threatens to stop. For 18 white men Europe is excited. What have they said about our millions? Eighteen white men assisting the crime of genocide: what does Europe say about our murdered innocents? Have we not died enough? How many black dead make a missing white? Mathematicians, please answer me. Is it infinity?
Take another example. For two years we have been subjected to a total blockade. We all know how bitter, bloody and protracted the First and Second World Wars were. At no stage in those wars did the white belligerents carry out a total blockade of their fellow whites. In each case where a blockade was imposed, allowance was made for certain basic necessities of life in the interest of women, children and other non-combatants. Ours is the only example in recent history where a whole people have been so treated.
What is it that makes our case different? Do we not have women, children and other non-combatants? Does the fact that they are black women, black children and black non-combatants make such a world of difference? Nigeria embarked on a crime of genocide against our people by first mounting a total blockade against Biafra.
To cover up their designs and deceive the black world, the white powers supporting Nigeria blame Biafrans for the continuation of the blockade and for the starvation and suffering which that entails. They uphold Nigerian proposals on relief, which in any case they helped to formulate, as being ‘conciliatory’ or ‘satisfactory’.
Knowing that these proposals would give Nigeria further military advantage, and compromise the basic cause for which we have struggled for two years, they turn round to condemn us for rejecting them. They accept the total blockade against us as a legitimate weapon of war because it suits them and because we are black. Had we been white the inhuman and cruel blockade would long have been lifted, That Nigeria has received complete support from Britain should surprise no one. For Britain is a country whose history is replete with instances of genocide.
In my address to you on the occasion of the first anniversary of our in dependence, I touched on a number of issues relevant to our struggle and to our hope for a prosperous, just and happy society. I talked to you of the background to our struggle and on the visions and values, which inspired us to found our own state. On this occasion of our second anniversary, I shall go further in the examination of the meaning and import of our revolution by discussing the wider issues involved and the character and structure of the new society we are determined and committed to build. Our enemies and their foreign sponsors have deliberately sought by false and ill-motivated propaganda to cloud the real issues, which caused and still determine the course and character of our struggle.
They have sought in various ways to dismiss our struggle as a tribal conflict. They have attributed it to the mad adventuresome of a fictitious power-seeking clique anxious to carve out an empire to rule, dominate and exploit. But they have failed. Our course is transparently just and no amount of propaganda can detract from it.
Our struggle has far-reaching significance. It is the latest recrudescence in our time of the age-old struggle of the black man for his full stature as man. We are the latest victims of a wicked collusion between the three traditional scourges of the black men, racism, Arab-Muslim expansionism and white economic imperialism. Playing a subsidiary role is Bolshevik Russia, seeking for place in the African sun. Our struggle is a total and vehement rejection of all those evils, which blighted Nigeria, evils which were bound to lead to the disintegration of that ill-fated federation. Our struggle is not mere resistance -that would be merely negative. It is a positive commitment to build a healthy, dynamic and progressive state, such as would be the pride of black men the world over.
For this reason our struggle is a movement against racial prejudice, in particular against that tendency to regard the black man as culturally, morally, spiritually, intellectually, and physically inferior to the other two major races of the world the yellow and the white races. This belief in the innate inferiority of the Negro and that his proper place in the world is that of the servant of the other races, has from early days coloured the attitude of the outside world to Negro problems It still does today
It is this myth about the Negro that still conditions the thinking and attitude of most white governments on all issues concerning black Africa and the black man: it explains the double standards which they apply to present-day world problems it explains their stand on the whole question of independence and basic human rights for black peoples of the world. These myths explain the stand of many of the world governments and organizations on our present struggle.
Our disagreement with the Nigerians arose in part from a conflict between two diametrically opposed conceptions of the end and purpose of the modern African state. It was and still is, our firm conviction that a modern Negro African government worth the trust placed in it by the people, must build a progressive state that ensures the reign of social and economic justice, and of the rule of law. But the Nigerians, under the leadership of the Hausa Fulani feudal aristocracy, preferred anarchy and injustice
Since in the thinking of many white powers a good, progressive and efficient government is good only for whites, our view was considered dangerous and pernicious: a point of view which explains but does not justify the blind support which those powers have given to uphold the Nigerian ideal of a corrupt, decadent and putrefying society. To them genocide is an appropriate answer to any group of Black people who have the temerity to attempt to evolve their own social system
When the Nigerians violated our basic human rights and liberties, we decided reluctantly but bravely to found our own state, to exercise our inalienable right to self determination as our only remaining hope for survival as a people Yet because we are black, we are denied by the white powers the exercise of this right which they themselves have proclaimed as inalienable. In our struggle we have learnt that the right of self-determination is inalienable, but only to the white man, What do we find here in Negro Africa? The Federation of Nigeria is today as corrupt, as unprogressive and as oppressive and irreformable as the Ottoman Empire was in Eastern Europe over a century ago. And in contrast, the Nigerian Federation in the form it was constituted by the British cannot by any stretch of imagination be considered an African necessity. Yet we are being forced to sacrifice our very existence as a people to the integrity of that ramshackle creation that has no justification either in history or in the freely expressed wishes of the people.
What other reason for this can there be than the fact that we are black? . . . Because the black man is considered inferior and servile to the white, he must accept his political, social and economic system and ideologies ready made from Europe, America or the Soviet Union? Within the confines of his nation he must accept a federation or confederation or unitary government if federation or confederation or unitary government suits the interests of his white masters: he must accept inept and unimaginative leadership because the contrary would hurt the interests of the master race: he must accept economic exploitation by alien commercial firms and companies because the whites benefit from it. Beyond the confines of his state, he must accept regional and continental organizations, which provide a front for the manipulations of the imperialist powers: organizations, which are therefore unable to respond to African problems in a truly African manner. For Africans to show a true independence is to ask for anathemization and total liquidation.
The Biafran struggle is, on another plane, a resistance to the Arab-Muslim expansionism, which has menaced and ravaged the African continent for twelve centuries,
Our Biafran ancestors remained immune from the Islamic contagion. From the middle years of the last century Christianity was established in our land. In this way we came to be a predominantly Christian people. We came to stand out as a non-Muslim island in a raging Islamic sea. Throughout the period of the ill-fated Nigerian experiment, the Muslims hoped to infiltrate Biafra by peaceful means and quiet propaganda, but failed. Then the late Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto tried, by political and economic blackmail and terrorism, to convert Biafrans settled in Northern Nigeria to Islam. His hope was that these Biafrans of dispersion would then carry Islam to Biafra, and by so doing give the religion political control of the area. The crises, which agitated the so-called independent Nigeria from 1962, gave these aggressive proselytisers the chance to try converting us by force.
It is now evident why the fanatic Arab-Muslim states like Algeria, Egypt and the Sudan have come out openly and massively to support and aid Nigeria in her present war of genocide against us. These states see militant Arabism as a powerful instrument for attaining power in the world. Biafra is one of the few African states untainted by Islam. Therefore, to militant Arabism, Biafra is a stumbling block to their plan for controlling the whole continent. This control is fast becoming manifest in the Organization of African Unity. On the question of the Middle East, the Sudanese crisis, in the war between Nigeria and Biafra, militant Arabism has succeeded in imposing its point of view through blackmail and bluster.It has threatened African leaders and governments with inciting their Muslim minorities to rebellion if the governments adopted an independent line on these questions.
In this way an O.A.U. that has not felt itself able to discuss the genocide in the Sudan and Biafra, an O A.U. that has again and again advertised its ineptitude as a peace maker, has rushed into open condemnation of Israel over the Middle East dispute. Indeed, in recent times, by its performance, the O.A.U. might well be an organization of Arab unity.
Our struggle, in an even more fundamental sense, is the culmination of the confrontation between Negro nationalism and white imperialism. It is a movement designed to ensure the realization of man’s full stature in Africa.
Ever since the 15th Century, the European world has treated the African continent as a field for exploitation. Their policies in Africa have for so long been determined to a very great extent by their greed for economic gain. For over three and half centuries, it suited them to transport and transplant millions of the flower of our manhood for the purpose of exploiting the Americas and the West Indies. They did so with no uneasiness of conscience. They justified this trade in men by reference to biblical passages violently torn out of context, This brutal and unprecedented violation of a whole continent was a violent challenge to Negro self-respect. Not surprisingly, within half a century the theory and practice of empire ran into stiff opposition from Negro nationalism. In the face of the movement for Negro freedom,the white imperialists changed their tactics. They decided to install puppet African administrations to create the illusion of political independence, while retaining the control of the economy. And this they quickly did between 1957 and 1965. The direct empire was transformed into an indirect empire, that regime of fraud and exploitation, which African nationalists aptly describe as neo- colonialism.
Nigeria was a classic example of neo-colonialist state, and what is left of it, still is. The militant nationalism of the late forties and early fifties had caught the British imperialists unawares. They hurried to accommodate it by in stalling the ignorant, decadent and feudalistic Hausa-Fulani oligarchy in power. For the British, the credentials of the Hausa-Fulani were that not having emerged from the middle ages they knew nothing about the modern state and the powerful forces that now rule men’s minds. Owing their position to the British, they were servile and submissive. The result was that while Nigerians lived in the illusion of independence, they were still in fact being ruled from Number 10 Downing Street. The British still enjoyed a strangle hold on their economy.
The crises, which rocked Nigeria from the morrow of ‘independence’, were brought about by the efforts of progressive nationalists to achieve true in dependence for themselves and for posterity. For their part in this effort, Biafrans were stigmatised and singled out for extermination. In imperialist thinking, only phoney independence is good for blacks. The sponsorship of Nigeria by white imperialism has not been disinterested. They are only concerned with the preservation of that corrupt and rickety structure of a Nigeria in a perpetual state of powerlessness to check foreign exploitation,
Fellow countrymen and women, we have seen in proper perspective the diabolical roles, which the British Government and the foreign companies have played and are playing, in our war with Nigeria. We now see why in spite of Britain’s tottering economy Harold Wilson’s Government insists on financing Nigeria’s futile war against us. We see why the Shell-BP led the Nigerian hordes into Bonny, pay Biafran oil royalties to Nigeria, and provided the Nigerian army with all the help it needed for its attack on Port Harcourt. We see why the West African Conference readily and meekly cooperated with Gowon in the imposition of a total blockade against us. We see why the oil and trading companies in Nigeria still finance this war and why they risk the life and limb of their staff in the war zones.
And now, Bolshevik Russia. Russia is a late arrival in the race for a world empire. Since the end of the Second World War she has fought hard to gain a foothold in Africa, recognizing, like the other imperialist powers before her, the strategic importance of Africa in the quest for world domination. She first tried to enter into alliance with African nationalism. Later, finding that African nationalism had been thwarted, at least temporarily, by the collusion between imperialism, and the decadent forces in Africa society, Russia quickly changed her strategy and identified herself with those very conservative forces which she had earlier denounced. Here she met with quick success. In North Africa and Egypt, Russian influence has taken firm root and is growing. With her success in Egypt and Algeria, Russia developed an even keener appetite for more territory in Africa, particularly the areas occupied by the Negroes. Her early efforts in the Congo and Ghana proved stillborn. The Nigeria-Biafra conflict offered an opportunity for another beachhead in Africa.
It is not Russia’s intention to make Nigeria a better place for Nigerians or indeed any other part of Africa a better place for Africans. Her interest is strategic. In her challenge to the United States and the western world, she needs vantage points in Africa. With her entrenched position in Northern Nigeria, the central Sudan of the historians and geographers, Russia is in a position to co-ordinate her strategy for West and North Africa. We are all familiar with the ancient and historic cultural, linguistic and religious links between North Africa and the Central Sudan. We know that the Hausa language is a lingua franca for over two-thirds of this area. We know how far afield a wandering Imam preaching Islam and Bolshevism can go,
Fellow Biafrans, these are the evil and titanic forces with which we are engaged in a life and death struggle. These are the obstacles to the Negro’s efforts to realize himself. Thugs rag the forces, which the Biafran revolution must sweep aside to succeed, We do not claim that the Biafran revolution is the first attempt in history by the Negro to assert his identity, to claim his right and proper place as a human being on a basic of equality with the white and yellow races. We are aware of the Negro’s past and present efforts to prove his ability at home and abroad. We are familiar with his achievements in pre-history; we are familiar with his achievements in political organizations; we are familiar with his contributions to the world store of art and culture. The Negro’s white oppressors are not unaware of all these. But instead of their awareness they are not prepared to admit that the Negro is a man and a brother. From this derives our deep conviction that the Biafran revolution is not just a movement of Igbos, Ibibios, Ijaws, and Ogojas. It is a movement of true and patriotic Africans. It is African nationalism conscious of itself and fully aware of the powers with which it is contending,
We have indeed come a long way. We were once Nigerians, today we are Biafrans. We are Biafrans because on May 30, 1967, we finally said ‘no’ to the evils and injustices in which Nigeria was steeped. Nigeria was made up of peoples and groups with very little in common. As everyone knows, Biafrans were in the forefront among those who tried to make Nigeria a nation. It is ironic that some ill-informed and mischievous people today will accuse us of breaking up a united African country. Only those who do not know the facts or deliberately ignore them can hold such an opinion. We know the facts because we were there and the things that happened, happened to us.
Nigeria was indeed a very wicked and corrupt country in spite of the glorious image given her in the European press We know why Nigeria was given that image. It was her reward for serving the economic and political interests of her European masters. Nigeria is a stooge of Europe. Her independence was and is a lie. Even her Prime Minister was a Knight of the British Empire; but worse than her total subservience to foreign political and economic interests, Nigeria committed many crimes against her nationals, which in the end made complete nonsense of her claim to unity. Nigeria persecuted and slaughtered her minorities.[b]Nigerian justice was a farce, her elections, her politics her everything was corrupt. Qualification, merit and experience were dislocated in public service. In one area of Nigeria, for instance, they preferred to turn a nurse who had worked for five years into a doctor rather than employ a qualified doctor from another part of Nigeria. Barely literate clerks were made Permanent Secretaries. A university Vice Chancellor was sacked because he belonged to the wrong tribe. Bribery, corruption and nepotism were so widespread that people began to wonder openly whether any country in the world could compare with Nigeria in corruption and abuse of power. All the modern institutions the legislature the civil service, the army, the police, the judiciary, the universities, the trade unions and the organs of mass information were devalued and made the tools of corrupt political power. There was complete neglect and impoverishment of the people. Whatever prosperity there was, was deceptive. There was despair in many hearts, and the number of suicides was growing every day. The farmers were very hard- hit. Their standards of living had fallen steeply. The soil was perishing from over-farming and lack of scientific husbandry. The towns, like the soil, were wastelands into which people put in too much exertion for too little reward. There were crime waves and people lived in fear of their lives. Business speculation, rack-renting, worship of money and sharesmiley practices left a few people extremely rich at the expense of the many, and those few flaunted their wealth before the many and talked about sharing the national cake. Foreign interests did roaring business spreading consumer goods and wares among a people who had not developed a habit of thrift and well fell prey to lying advertisements. Inequality of the sexes was actively promoted in Nigeria. Rather than aspire to equality with men, women were encouraged to accept the status of inferiority and to become the mistresses of successful politicians and business executive, or they were married off at the age of fourteen as the fifteenth wives of the new rich. That was the glorious Nigeria, the mythical Nigeria, celebrated in the European press.
Then worst of all came the genocide in which over 50,000 of our kith and kin were slaughtered in cold blood all over Nigeria and nobody asked questions; nobody showed regret; nobody showed remorse. Thus, Nigeria had become a jungle with no safety, no justice and no hope for our people. We decided then to found a new place, a human habitation away from the Nigerian jungle. That was the origin of our revolution. From the moment we assumed the illustrious name of the ancient kingdom of Biafra, we were rediscovering the original independence of a great African people. We accepted by this revolutionary act the glory, as well as the sacrifice, of true independence and freedom. We knew that we had challenged the many forces and interests, which had conspired to keep Africa and the black race in subjection forever. We knew they were going to be ruthless and implacable in defence of their age-old imposition on us and exploitation of our people. But we were prepared, and remain prepared, to pay any price for our freedom and dignity,
Our revolution is a historic opportunity given to us to establish a just society; to revive the dignity of our people at home and the dignity of the black man in the world. We realize that in order to achieve those ends we must remove those weaknesses in our institutions and organizations and those disabilities in foreign relations which have tended to degrade this dignity. This means that we must reject Nigerianism in all its guises,
he Biafran revolution is the people’s revolution. ‘Who are the people?’ you ask. The farmer, the trader, the clerk, the businessman, the housewife, the student, the civil servant, the soldier you and I arc the people. Is there anyone here who is not of the people? Is there anyone here afraid of the people anyone suspicious of the people? Is there anyone despising the people? Such a man has no place in our revolution. If he is a leader, he has no right to leadership, because all power, all sovereignty, belongs to the people. In Biafra the people are supreme; the people are master the leader is the servant. You see, you make a mistake when you greet me with shouts of ‘power, power’. I am not power you are. My name is Emeka, I am your servant, that is all.
Fellow countrymen, we pride ourselves on our honesty. Let us admit to ourselves that when u e left Nigeria, some of us did not shake off every particle of Nigerians. We say that Nigerians are corrupt and take bribes; but here in our country we have among us some members of the Police and the Judiciary who are corrupt and who ‘eat’ bribes. We accuse Nigerians of in ordinate love of money, ostentatious living and irresponsibility: but here, even while we are engaged in a war of national survival, even while the very life of our nation hangs in the balance, we see some public servants who throw huge parties to entertain their friends; who kill cows to christen their babies. We have members of the armed forces who carry on ‘attack’ trade instead of fighting the enemy. We have traders who hoard essential goods and inflate prices, thereby increasing the people’s hardship. We have ‘money-mongers’ who aspire to build on hundreds of plots on land as yet unreclaimed from the enemy; who plan to buy scores of lorries and buses and to become agents for those very foreign businessmen who have brought their country to grief. We have some civil servants who think of themselves as masters rather than servants of the people. We see doctors who stay idle in their villages while their countrymen and women suffer and die.
When we see all these things, they remind us that not every Biafran has vet absorbed the spirit of the revolution. They tell us that we still have among us a number of people whose attitudes and outlooks are Nigerian. It is clear that if our revolution is to succeed, we must reclaim these wayward Biafrans. We must Biafranise them. We must prepare all our people for the glorious roles, which await them in the revolution. If, after we shall have tried to re claim them, and have failed, then they must be swept aside. The people’s revolution must stride ahead and, like a battering ram, clear all obstacles in its path. Fortunately, the vast majority of Biafrans are prepared for these roles.
When we think of our revolution, therefore, we think about these things. We think about our ancient heritage; we think about the challenge of today and the promise of the future. We think about the charges, which are taking place at this very moment in our personal lives and in our society. We see Biafrans from different parts of the country living together, working together, suffering together and pursuing together a common cause, We see our ordinary men and women the people pursuing, in their different but essential ways, the great task of our national survival. We see every sign that this struggle is purifying and elevating the masses of our people, We see many bad social habits and attitudes beginning to change. Above all, we find a universal desire among our people not only to remain free and independent but also to create a new and better order or society for the benefit of all. In the last five or six months, I have devised one additional way of learning at first hand how the ordinary men and women of our country see the revolution. I have established a practice of meeting every Wednesday with a different cross-section of our people, to discuss the problems of the revolution. These meetings have brought home to me the great desire for challenge among the generality of our people. I have heard a number of criticisms and complaints by people against certain things. I have also noticed groups forming themselves and trying to put right some of the ills of society. All this indicates both that there is a change in progress, and need for more change. Thus, the Biafran revolution is not dreamt up by an elite. It is the will of the people. The people want it. Their immediate concern is to defeat the Nigerian aggressor and so safeguard the Biafran revolution.
I stand before you tonight not to launch the Biafran revolution, because it is already in existence. It came into being two years ago when we proclaimed to all the world that we had finally extricated ourselves from the sea of mud that was is Nigeria. I stand before you to proclaim formally the commitment of the Biafran state to the principles of the revolution and to enunciate those principles. Some people are frightened when they hear the word revolution. They say: ‘revolution? Heaven help us, it is too dangerous. It means mobs rushing around destroying property, killing people and upsetting everything.’ But these people do not understand the real meaning of revolution. For us, a revolution is a change a quick change a change for the better. Every society is changing all the time. It is changing for the better or for the worse. It is either moving forward or moving backwards; it cannot stand absolutely still. A revolution is a forward movement. It is a rapid for ward movement, which improves a people’s standard of living and their material circumstance and purifies and raises their moral tone. It transforms for the better those institutions, which are still relevant, and discards those, which stand in the way of progress.
The Biafran revolution believes in the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the human person. The Biafran sees the wilful and wanton destruction of human life not only as a grave crime, but also as an abominable sin. In our society every human life is holy, every individual person counts. No Biafran wants to be taken for granted or ignored, neither does he ignore or take others for granted. This explains why such degrading practices as begging for alms were unknown in Biafran society. Therefore, all forms of disabilities and inequalities, which reduce the dignity of the individual or destroy his sense of person, have no place in the new Biafran social order. The Biafran revolution upholds the dignity of man. The Biafran revolution stands firmly against genocide, against any attempt to destroy a people, its security, its right to life, property and progress. Any attempt to deprive a community of its identity is abhorrent to the Biafran people. Having ourselves suffered genocide, we are all the more determined to take a clear stand now and at all times against this crime.
The new Biafran social order places a high premium on love, patriotism and devotion to the fatherland. Every true Biafran must love Biafra, must have faith in Biafra and its people, and must strive for its greater unity. He must find his salvation here in Biafra. He must be prepared to work for Biafra, to die for Biafra. He must be prepared to defend the sovereignty of Biafra wherever and by whomsoever it is challenged. Biafran patriots do all this already, and Biafra expects all her sons and daughters of today and tomorrow, to emulate their noble example. Diplomats who treat insults to the fatherland and the leadership of our struggle with levity are not patriotic. That young man who sneaks about the village, avoiding service in his country’s armed forces is unpatriotic; that young, able-bodied school teacher who prefers to distribute relief when he should be fighting his country’s war, is not only unpatriotic but is doing a woman’s work. Those who help these loafers to dodge their civic duties should henceforth re-examine themselves.
All Biafrans are brothers and sisters bound together by ties of geography, trade, inter-marriage, and culture and by their common misfortune in Nigeria and their present experience of the armed struggle. Biafrans are even more united by the desire to create a new and better order of society, which will satisfy their needs and aspirations. Therefore, there is no justification for anyone to introduce into the Biafran fatherland divisions based on ethnic origin, sex or religion. ‘To do so would be unpatriotic. Every true Biafran must know and demand his civic rights. Furthermore, he must recognize the rights of other Biafrans and be prepared to defend them when necessary. So often people complain that they have been ill-treated by the police or some other public servant. But the truth very often is that we allow ourselves to be bullied because we are not man enough to demand and stand up for our rights, and that fellow citizens around do not assist us when we do demand our rights. [b]In the new Biafran social order sovereignty and power belong to the people. Those who exercise power do so on behalf of the people. Those who govern must not tyrannize the people. They carry a sacred trust of the people and must use their authority strictly in accordance with the will of the people. The true test of success in public life is that the people who are the real masters are contented and happy. The rulers must satisfy the people at all times.But it is no use saying that power belongs to the people unless we are prepared to make it work in practice. Even in the old political days, the oppressors of the people were among those who shouted loudest that power belonged to the people. The Biafran revolution will constantly and honestly seek methods of making this concept a fact rather than a pious hope. Where, therefore, a ministry or department runs inefficiently or improperly, its head must accept personal responsibility for such a situation and, depending on the gravity of the failure, must resign or be removed. And where he is proved to have misused his position of trust to enrich himself, the principle of public accountability requires that he be punished severely and his ill-gotten gains taken from him.
Those who aspire to lead must bear in mind the fact that they are servants and, as such, cannot ever be greater than the people, their masters. Every leader in the Biafran revolution is the embodiment of the ideals of the revolution. Part of his role as leader is to keep the revolutionary spirit alive, to be a friend of the people and protector of their evolution. He should have right judgment both of people and of situations and the ability to attract to himself the right kind of lieutenants who can best further the interests of the people and of the revolution. The leader must not only say but always demonstrate that the power he exercises is derived from the people. Therefore, like every other Biafran public servant, he is accountable to the people for the use he makes of their mandates. He must get out when the people tell him to get out. The more power the leader is given by the people, then less is his personal freedom and the greater his responsibility for the good of the people. He should never allow his high office to separate him from the people. He must be fanatical for their welfare.
A leader in the Biafran revolution must at all times stand for justice in dealing with the people. He should be the symbol of justice, which is the supreme guarantee of good government. He should be ready, if need be, to lay down his life in pursuit of this ideal. He must have physical and moral courage and must be able to inspire the people out of despondency. He should never strive towards the perpetuation of his office or devise means to cling to office beyond the clear mandate of the people. He should resist the temptation to erect memorials to himself in his life-time, to have his head embossed on the coin, name streets and institutions after himself or convert government into a. family business. A leader who serves his people well will be enshrined in their hearts and minds. This is all the reward he can expect in his lifetime. He will be to the people the symbol of excellence, the quintessence of the revolution. He will be Biafran.
One of the corner stones of the Biafran revolution is social justice. We believe that there should be equal opportunity for all, that appreciation and just reward should be given for honest work and that society should show concern and special care for the weak and infirm. [b]Our people reject all forms of social inequalities and disabilities and all class and sectional privileges. Biafrans believe that society should treat all its members with impartiality and fairness. Therefore, the Biafran state must not apportion special privileges or favours to some citizens and deny them to others. For example, how can we talk of social justice in a situation where a highly paid public servant gets his salt free and poor housewives in the village pay five pounds for a cup? The state should not create a situation favourable to the exploitation of some citizens by others. The State is the father of all, the source of security, the reliable agent, which helps all to realize their legitimate hopes and aspirations. Without social justice, harmony and stability within society disappear and antagonisms between various sections of the community take their place. Our revolution will uphold social justice at all times. The Biafran state will be the fountain of justice.
In the new Biafra, all property belongs to the community. Every individual must consider all he has, whether in talent or material wealth, as belonging to the community for which he holds it in trust. This principle does not mean the abolition of personal property but it implies that the state, acting on behalf of the community, can intervene in the disposition of property to the greater advantage of all. Over-acquisitiveness or the inordinate desire to amass wealth is a factor liable to threaten social stability, especially in an under-developed society in which there are not enough material goods to go round. This creates lop-sided development, breeds antagonisms between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ and undermines the peace and unity of the people.
While the Biafran revolution will foster private economic enterprise and initiative, it should remain constantly alive to the dangers of some citizens accumulating large private fortunes. Property grabbing, if unchecked by the state, will set the pattern of behaviour for the whole society, which begins to attach undue value to money and property. Thus a wealthy man, even if he is known to be a crook, is accorded greater respect than an honest citizen who is not well-off. A society where this happens is doomed to rot and decay. Moreover, the danger is always there of a small group of powerful property owners using their influence to deflect the state from performing its duties to the citizens as a whole and thereby destroying the democratic basis of society. This happens in many countries and it is one of the duties of our revolution to prevent its occurrence in Biafra.
Finally, the Biafran revolution will create possibilities for citizens with talent in business, administration, management and technology, to fulfil themselves and receive due appreciation and reward in the service of the state, as has indeed happened in our total mobilization to prosecute the present war. The Biafran revolution is committed to creating a society not torn by class-consciousness and class antagonisms. Biafran society is traditionally egalitarian. The possibility for social mobility is always presented in our society. The new Biafran social order rejects all rigid classifications of society. Anyone with imagination, anyone with integrity, anyone who works hard, can rise to any height. Thus, the son of a truck pusher can become the Head of State of Biafra. The Biafran revolution will provide opportunities for Biafrans to aspire and to achieve their legitimate desires. Those who find themselves below at any particular moment must have the opportunity to rise to the top.
Our new society is open and progressive. The people of Biafra have always striven to achieve a workable balance between the claims of tradition and the demand for change and betterment. We are adaptable because as a people we are convinced that in the world ‘no condition is permanent’ and we believe that human effort and will are necessary to bring about changes and improvements in the condition of the individual and of society. The Biafran would, thus, make the effort to improve his lot and the material well being of his community. He has the will to transform his society into a modern progressive community. In this process of rapid transformation he will retain and cherish the best elements of his culture, drawing sustenance as well as moral and psychological stability from them. But being a Biafran he will never be afraid to adapt what needs to be adapted or challenge what has to be changed. The Biafran revolution will continue to discover and develop local talent and to use progressive foreign ideas and skills so long as they do not destroy the identity of our culture or detract from the sovereignty of our fatherland. The Biafran revolution will also ensure through education that the positive aspects of Biafran traditional culture, especially those which are likely to be swamped out of existence by introduced foreign influences, are conserved. The undiscriminating absorption of new ideas and attitudes will be discouraged. Biafrans can, in the final analysis, only validly express their nation’s personality and enhance their corporate identity through Biafran culture, through Biafran art and literature, music, dancing and drama, and through the peculiar gestures and social habits which distinguish them from all other people. Those then are the main principles of our revolution. They are not abstract formulations but arise out of the traditional background and the present temper of our people. They grow out of our native soil and are the product of our peculiar climate. They belong to us. If anyone here doubts the validity of these principles let him go out into the streets and into the villages, let him ask the ordinary Biafran. Let him go to the army, ask the rank and file and he will find, as I have found, that they have very clear ideas about the kind of society we should build here. They will not put them in the same words I have used tonight but the meaning will be the same. From today, let no Biafran pretend that he or she does not know the main-spring of our national action, let him or her not plead ignorance when found indulging in un-Biafran activities. The principles of our revolution are hereby clearly set out for everyone to see. They are now the property of every Biafran and the instrument for interpreting our national life. But principles are principles. They can only be transformed into reality through the institutions of society, otherwise they remain inert and useless. It is my firm conviction that in the Biafran revolution principles and practice will go hand in hand. It is my duty and the duty of all of you to bring this about. Looking at the institutions of our society, the very vehicles for carrying out our revolutionary principles, what do you find? We find old, jaded and rusty machines creaking along most inefficiently and delaying the people’s progress and the progress of the revolution. The problem of our institutions is partly that they were designed by other people, in other times and for other purposes. Their most fundamental weakness is that they came into being during the colonial period when the relationship between the colonial administrators and people was that of master and servant. Our public servants as heirs of the colonial masters are apt to treat the people today with arrogance and condescension. In the new Biafran social order we say that power belongs to the people, but this central principle tends to elude many of the public servants who continue to behave in a manner which shows that they consider themselves master and the people their servants. The message of the revolution has tended to fly over their heads. Let them beware, the revolution gathering momentum
Our experience during this struggle has brought home to us the need for versatility. Many of our citizens have found themselves having to do emergency duties different from their normal peacetime jobs. In the years after the present armed conflict, we may find that in the defence of the revolution the general state of mobilization and alertness will remain. One of the ways of preparing ourselves for this emergency will be to ensure that a citizen will be trained in two jobs his normal peace-time occupation and a different skill which will be called into play during a national emergency. Thus, for example, a clerk may be given training to enable him to operate as an ambulance-driver during the emergency or a university lecturer as a post- master. We realize here that the problem is more than that of providing narrow, technical training. It has to do with re-orientation of attitudes. It has to do with the cultivation of the right kind of civic virtues and loyalty to Biafra. We all stand in need of this. It is quite clear that to attain the goals of the Biafran revolution we will require extensive political and civic education of our people. To this effect, we will, in the near future, set up a National Orientation College (N.O.C.), which will undertake the needful function of formally inculcating the Biafran ideology and the principles of the revolution. We will also pursue this vital task of education through seminars, mass rallies, formal and informal addresses by the leaders and standard-bearers of the revolution. All Biafrans who are going to play a role in the promotion of the revolution, especially those who are going to operate the institutions of the new society, must first of all expose themselves to the ideology of the revolution The full realization of the Biafran ideology and the promise of the Biafran revolution will have the important effect of drawing the people of Biafra into close unity with the Biafran state. The Biafran state and the Biafran people thus become one. The people jealously defend and protect the integrity of the state. The state guarantees the people certain basic rights and welfare. In this third year of our independence, we restate these basic rights and welfare obligations, which the revolutionary state of Biafra guarantees to the people.
In the field of employment and labour, the Biafran revolution guarantees every able Biafran the right to work. All those who are lazy or refuse to work forfeit their right to this guarantee. ‘He who does not work should not eat’ is an important principle in Biafra.
Our revolution provides equal opportunities for employment and labour for all Biafrans irrespective of sex. For equal output a woman must receive the same remuneration as a man. Our revolutionary Biafran state will guarantee a rational system of remuneration of labour. Merit and output shall be the criteria for reward in labour. ‘To each according to his ability, to each ability according to its product’ shall be our motto Biafra.
Our revolution guarantees security for workers who have been incapacitated by physical injury or disease. It will be the duty of the Biafran state to raise the standard of living of the Biafran people, to provide them with improved living conditions and to afford the modern amenities that enhance their human dignity and self-esteem. We recognize that at a11 times the great contributions made by the farmer, the craftsmen and other toilers of the revolution to our national progress. It will be a cardinal point of our economic policy to keep their welfare constantly in view. The Biafran revolution will promulgate a workers’ charter, which will codify and establish workers’ rights.
The maintenance of the heath and physical well being of the Biafran citizen must be the concern and the responsibility of the state. The revolutionary Biafran state will at all times strive to provide medical service for all its citizens in accordance with the resources available to it, it will wage a continuous struggle against epidemic and endemic diseases, and will promote among the people knowledge of hygienic living. It will develop social and preventive medicine, set up sanatoriums for incurable and infectious diseases and mental diseases, and a net-work of maternity homes for ante and post- natal care of Biafran mothers. Furthermore, Biafra will set great store by the purity of the air, which its people breathe. We have a right to live in a clean, pollution-free atmosphere.
Our revolution recognizes the very importance of the mental and emotional need of the Biafran people. To this end, the Biafran state will pay great attention to education, culture and the arts. We shall aim at elevating our cultural institutions and promoting educational reforms, which will foster a sense of national and racial pride among our people and discourage ideas, which inspire a sense of inferiority and dependence on foreigners. It will be the prime duty of the revolutionary Biafran state to eradicate illiteracy from our society, to guarantee free education to all Biafran children to a stage limited only by existing resources. Our nation will encourage the training of scientists, technicians and skilled workers needed for quick industrialization and the modernization of our agriculture. We will ensure the development of higher education and technological training for our people, encourage our intellectuals, writers, artists and scientists to research, create and invent in the service of the state and the people. We must prepare our people to con-tribute significantly to knowledge and world culture.
Finally, the present armed struggle, in which many of our countrymen and women have distinguished themselves and made numerous sacrifices in defence of the fatherland and the revolution, has imposed on the state Or Biafra extra responsibility for the welfare of its people. Biafra will give special care and assistance to soldiers and civilians disabled in the course or the pogrom and the war. It will develop special schemes for resettlement and rehabilitation. The nation will assume responsibility for the dependents of the heroes of the revolution who have lost their lives in defence of the father,
Again and again, in stating the principles of our revolution, we have spoken of the people. We have spoken of the primacy of people, of the belief that power belongs to the people, that the revolution is the servant of the people. We make no apologies for speaking so constantly about the people, because we believe in the people; we have faith in the people. They are the bastion of the nation, the makers of its culture and history. But in talking about the people we must never lose sight of the individuals who make up the people. The single individual is the final, irreducible unit of the people. In Biafra that single individual counts. The Biafran revolution cannot lose sight of this fact. The desirable changes, which the revolution aims to bring to the lives of the people, will first manifest themselves in the lives of individual Biafrans. The success of the Biafran revolution will depend on the quality of individuals within the state. Therefore, the calibre of the individual is of the utmost importance to the revolution. To build the new society we will require new men who are in tune with the spirit of the new order.
What then should he the qualities of this Biafran of the new order? He is patriotic, loyal to his state, his government and its leadership. He must not do anything, which undermines the security of his state or gives advantage to the enemies of his country. He must not indulge in such evil practices as tribalism and nepotism, which weaken the loyalty of their victims to the state. He should be prepared if need be to give up his life in defence of the nation. He must be his brother’s keeper; he must help all Biafrans in difficulty, whether or not they are related to kin by blood. He must avoid, at all costs, doing anything, which is capable of bringing distress and hardship to other Biafrans. A man who hoards money or goods is not his brother’s keeper be cause he brings distress and hardship to his fellow citizens. He must be honourable, he must be a person who keeps his promise and the promise of his office, a person who can always be trusted. He must be truthful. He must not cheat his neighbour, his fellow citizens and his country. He must not give or receive bribes or corruptly advance himself or his interests. He must be responsible. He must not push across to others the task, which properly belongs to him, or let others receive the blame or punishment for his own failings. A responsible man keeps secrets. A Biafran who is in a position to know what our troops are planning and talks about it is irresponsible. The information he gives out which spread and reach the ear of the enemy. A responsible man minds his own business, he does not show off.
He must be brave and courageous; he must never allow himself to be attacked by other without fighting back to defend himself and his rights. He must be ready to tackle tasks, which other people might regard as impossible. He must be law-abiding; he obeys the laws of the land and does nothing to undermine the due processes of law. He must be freedom loving. He must stand up resolutely against all forms of injustice, oppression and suppression. He must never be afraid to demand his rights. For example, a true Biafran at a post office or bank counter will insist on being served in his turn. He must be progressive; he should not slavishly and blindly adhere to old ways of doing things. He must be prepared to make changes in his way of life in the light of our new revolutionary experience. He is industrious, resourceful and inventive He must not fold his arms and wait for the government to do everything for him he must also help himself.
My fellow countrymen and women, proud and courageous Biafrans, two years ago, faced with the threat of total extermination, we met in circumstances not unlike todays at that august gathering. The entire leaders of our people being present, we as a people decided that we had to take our destiny into our own hand, to plan and decide our future and to stand by the decisions, no matter the vicissitudes of this war which by then was already imminent. At that time, our major pre-occupation was how to remain alive, how to restrain an implacable enemy from destroying us in our own homes. In that moment of crisis we decided to resume our sovereignty. In my statement to the leaders of our community before that decision was made, I spoke about the difficulties. I explained that the road, which we were about to tread, was to be carved through a jungle of thorns and that our ability to emerge through this jungle was to say the least uncertain. Since that fateful decision, the very worst has happened. Our people have continually been subjected to genocide. The entire conspiracy of neo-colonialism has joined hands to stifle our nascent independence. Yet, undaunted by the odds, proud in the fact of our manhood, encouraged by the companionship of the Almighty, we have fought to this day with honour, with pride and with glory so that today, as I stand before you, I see a proud people acknowledged by the world. I see a heroic people, men with heartbeats as regular and blood as red as the best on earth.
On that fateful day two years ago, you mandated me to do everything within my power to avert the dangers that loomed ahead, the threat of ex termination. Little did we, you and I, know how long the battle was to be, how complex its attendant problems. From then on, what has been achieved is there for the entire world to see, and has only been possible because of the solidarity and support of our people. For this I thank you all. I must have made certain mistakes in the course of this journey but I am sure that whatever mistakes I have made are mistakes of the head and never of the heart. I have tackled the sudden problems as they unfold before my eves and I have tackled them to the best of my ability with the greater interest of our people m mind.
Today, I am glad that our problems are less than they were a year ago, that arms alone could no longer destroy us that our victory, the fulfilment of our dreams, is very much in sight. We have forced a stalemate on the enemy and this is likely to continue, with any advances likely to be on our side. If we fail, which God forbid, it can only be because of certain inner weakness in our being. It is in order to avoid these pitfalls that I have today proclaimed be fore you the principles of the Biafran revolution. We in Biafra are convinced that the black man can never come into his own until he is able to build modern states based on indigenous African ideologies, to enjoy true independence, to be able to make his mark in the arts and sciences and to engage in meaningful dialogue with the white man on a basis of equality. When he achieves this, he will have brought a new dimension into international affairs. Biafra will not betray the black man. No matter the odds, we will fight with all our might until black men everywhere can point with pride to this republic, standing dignified and defiant, an example of African nationalism triumphant over its many and age-old enemies.
We believe that God, humanity and history are on our side, and that the Biafran revolution is indestructible and eternal. Oh God, not my will but thine. .– General Odumegwu Ojukwu.
THE AHIARA DECLARATION: The Principles of the Biafran Revolution
By Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu
June 1, 1969
Flag of Biafra The Ahiara Declaration: The Principles of the Biafran Revolution, commonly known as the Ahiara Declaration, was a document written by the National Guidance Committee of Biafra and delivered as a speech by Biafran President Emeka Ojukwu in the Biafra town of Ahiara on June 1, 1969.