The Debate

Should Nigeria Consider a Referendum on Question of Biafran Sovereignty?


Gloria Edem: Referendum is constitutional in a democratic society. It enlists the opinions of the electorate on issues of national concern.
Given the issue on ground, I would opine that resting such a huge decision on the shoulders of the masses both literate and non-literate, the adequately informed and the mis-informed, the subjective and the objective as the case may not be the best idea. The majority will give answers submerged in tribalistic and blind sentiments not necessarily for the growth of the Nigerian community.
We can almost guess the answer. A south-southerner would most likely vote no to Biafran sovereignty for known reasons (Southerners not wanting to be merged with the Easterners). An Easterner will most likely vote yes (a dream come through). While the Northerners and Westerners will most likely vote no for obvious reasons.
Do we then rest such decision on our feelings?


Okechukwu Ofili: Nigeria should not consider a referendum on the question of Biafran sovereignty. That’s not the issue at hand.
The core issue at hand is Nigeria’s refusal to discuss the war. It’s as if the war never happened and because of this people especially in the south-east have not been able to heal. Their pains and sufferings have not been acknowledged.
Today people fly every day into an international airport named after Muritala Mohammed who killed Ironsi. It’s like people flying into an airport named Nzeogwo.
So no there is no needed for a referendum. The agitation is not for sake of being independent but it’s because their history and suffering have been largely deleted from Nigeria history. Until we as a nation acknowledge the past and write about it in our JSS and SSS classes… till then, the spirit will never fully heal. Heal the spirit, discuss the war and the agitation will subside.


Okwara “Zebrudiah” M: Referendum on Biafran sovereignty? Never!!!
Firstly, Chief Ojukwu, in his book, “Because I Am Involved”, explained that Biafra was NOT a separatist group but only a reflex to self-preservation against the Anti-Igbo Pogrom of 1966.
Secondly, Nigeria needs the East (Biafran region) and so does the East. With regional Agriculture (i.e provision of grain belts, banana belts etc.), Nigeria would effectively tackle the problem of skyrocketing food prices in the country.
Thirdly, why should Nigeria consider granting, when men like Ben Gbulie, Guy Ikokwu, and even Ojukwu firmly believe in One Nigeria.
Lastly, Separatists like IPOB, TRIPOB, MASSOB, cannot even settle their petty problems. Why give them chance to be “free” when they are not free from themselves.

Sylvanus Omoniyi: Yes. Nigeria should consider a referendum on question of Biafran sovereignty. The call for Biafra is an expression against repression by a country that represses its own people; and a system that devours its own citizens. As far as I’m concerned, it is not a crime to fight for self-determination and preservation. It is a right. The government of Nigeria must not give the impression that Nigeria is a prison where everyone must live, irrespective of the living conditions. The government needs to address the grievances of the Igbo. They need to consider their welfare. They must be treated like humans, too. The period of crushing and repression in order to silent popular opinion is over. The advent of social media and technology has changed the way people view things. The internet and social media age has changed the system of information dissemination. In this contemporary world, information travels faster than anything. The government should be very sensitive in handling the Biafran issue. Attempting to crush the IPOB may lead to more problems and in fact, may further more civil unrest. It is the duty of the government to carry all ethnics along in line with the constitution.

‘Ade Oriade: I was beginning to hope Nduyeobong will just get mad and tired of me. You know, get to the point of “what exactly is her problem?” because, then I can just apologise and come up with some silly excuse when the truth is, the more I read about Biafra, the more I feel unqualified to give an opinion.
The thing is, before I had to write this, I always thought I knew Biafra. I’m not sure whether I felt that way because I’m Nigerian or because I’ve read Half of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I always thought, “What’s the use in fighting so hard to keep a group of people who have continuously expressed their will to leave?” So, when this came up, I thought easy-peasy, Nigeria should DEFINITELY consider a referendum on question of Biafran sovereignty but as it now occurs to me, not for the right reasons.
Reading up on Biafra and the war, I’m quite shocked and honestly, apologetic for my ignorance. In a piece written by Kurt Vonnegut- Biafra: A People Betrayed (from Wameters, Foma and Granfalloons, 1979) he wrote about his firsthand experience in Biafra during the war. He spent six nights there and identified with the people. He wrote of their strength, happiness, resilience and hope. In one of the paragraphs that really touched me he wrote, “I asked a Biafran how long his nation had existed so far, and he replied, ‘Three Christmases, and a little bit more.’ He wasn’t a hungry man. He was a living skeleton, but he walked like a man.” Anyone notice how the Biafran didn’t say three years and instead said three Christmases? I understood it to be Hope in the face of their adversity. He chose to see Christmases and not mere years. Kurt spoke so highly of my people that it brought tears to my eyes.
After studying every piece of literature, I could find online, on Biafra, from the military coup and counter-coup of 1966, the killing of estimated 30,000 Igbos in the north (“Biafran Secession: Nigeria 1967-1970” Armed Conflict Events Database. 16 December, 2000), the secession in 1967, the blood and sweat of the people from 1967 to 1970, to the continuing fight of the people of Biafra to date, I say YES, Nigeria should consider a referendum on question of Biafran Sovereignty. I do not say this lightly as I understand what is to be lost in terms of resources and political strength, however, I cannot ignore all that has been and is being lost in the fight for their sovereignty. Maybe this will give Nigeria the push it so obviously lacks, to build other sources of national income; maybe we will form a confederation; I don’t know, but I believe, Biafra has definitely earned the right to be given a chance and we as a people, owe her that much.




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