This year marks the 50th year of the end of the Biafra war, and I can’t stay quiet on the matter.
If the powers-that-be like, let them enact a Hate Speech Decree in a democracy, I make bold to stress that it’s deeply wounding that while Biafra could refine oil in wartime Nigeria can’t after 50 years of peace!
The insults I had to take at an international writers’ workshop were such that would even make a bishop think of suicide or worse.
The fellow writers from Britain, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Sudan etc reduced Nigeria to a butt of jokes over the gargantuan figures voted for fuel subsidy in Nigeria on account of the fact that the country cannot fix its refineries.
My colleagues were a joyful lot who took to calling me “King of Africa” but the catch was that I came from “blundering Nigeria”.
Nigeria’s many woes such as brazen kidnappings, perennial power failure, monumental corruption, benumbing fuel shenanigans and so on were on all lips.
I was hard put defending my country, the self-advertised “Giant of Africa”.
The most damning of Nigerian failures, for now, is the knowledge that while the defunct Biafra Republic could refine fuel so many years ago the triumphant old country cannot refine enough fuel for its local consumption today.
It’s a shame that cries to the high heavens.
It is not as if the men and women who were able to refine fuel back then in Biafra are no longer alive in present-day Nigeria.
These fellow countrymen and women have of course not lost their abilities but the enabling environment has been denied them.
With all the blockade and lack of access to the wider world, Biafran scientists defied multiform odds to refine fuel, manufacture bombs and invent diverse wonders.
The likes of Professor Gordian Ezekwe carried over the wonders of Biafra to the PRODA project he led in Enugu at the end of the civil war, but Nigerian officialdom has ensured that the laudable vision was smashed.
In its place we now have a totally consumerist society depending on imports for all basic needs, not the least of which is the absurdity of exporting crude oil and ending up importing refined fuel at exorbitant cost.
The big guns at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) must be thinking they had done fuel-starved Nigerians a world of good by gleefully announcing that there was no fuel scarcity during this past Christmas season.
The NNPC thrives on the ruinous importation of fuel by surreptitiously promoting the cartel that has held the country to ransom all along.
There is no talk of addressing the issue fundamentally making sure that we can refine our own fuel in this country.
The country is obviously regressing, drifting badly.
Now we even have to close our borders to manufacture local rice of stones!
Is it nemesis or karma at work that Nigeria must perforce blockade itself the way it blockaded Biafra in the vain bid to produce local rice?
The self-advertised winners of the civil war have had several turns leading the country into a comatose state.
It’s akin to literally inheriting a dead horse!
The system of government since the end of the civil war has been unabashed kleptocratic khakistocracy.
Don’t mind my big words which simply mean “government of the worst by the means of stealing!”
The kleptomaniacs have looted the country so rapaciously that it is a wonder that Nigeria still exists.
Just the other time, one of the major actors in the war sold a part of his oil block to the Chinese for all of $2.3 billion US Dollars!
The greed of this tiny army of looters is what leads up to the reality of non-functioning refineries and the total absence of self-made fuel in a country teeming with raw crude.
The point, of course; is that it is not only those Nigerians maligned as Biafrans who can refine fuel.
Nigerians from all across the diverse geo-political zones are possessed of wonderful abilities in this regard but the “them and us” divide implanted by Nigerian leaders has made sure that the energies of our fellow countrymen and women are all the time stifled with insufferable arrogance.
People now adopt the toga of internal exile to escape the calumny, the shame of being addressed as Nigerians.
In the Diaspora as well as within the country, it is not uncommon to see people stressing that they are Biafrans living in exile in Nigeria!
The country can only make true progress when everybody is accommodated within the family, and nobody is discriminated against such that those who used to refine fuel in the rebel republic can now do it for all in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It is largely due to the manifest failures of Nigeria that Biafra lingers in many minds, and so many are thus left with the poser: what might have been if Biafra had survived?