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Opinions Sun, 4 Aug 2013

Lessons from the Biafra war to Ghana’s beligerants

Compatriots,

Over 2,000,000 people died in the war between Federal Nigeria and Biafra. Sadly most of the victims of this war were a generation of children and women. The war between Nigeria and Biafra compels us to focus on the real challenges of Ghana/Africa's industrialisation and modernisation.

In these heady days of public nervousness over the outcome of the forthcoming Election Petition judgement, it is imperative on all of us Ghanaians to heed the traumatising civil war experiences of both Nigeria’s so-called Biafra War, and the ethnic-cleansing disasters in Rwanda. War is not a good thing that must even be contemplated as an option. The video link and bibliographic references below, inform us of the dangerousness of chest-thumping and loose utterances of the NPP’s Kennedy Agyapong, the US-based academic, Kwame Okuampa Ahoofe and others, like NPP's Akufo-Addo's, "All Die Be Die". ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=W3Erl5Y-SZM; http://youtu.be/6X-DfIstELA; http://youtu.be/mk9f52iabUw).

CAUSES OF THE BIAFRA WAR

The Nigerian-Biafran War, 6 July 1967–15 January 1970, had several root causes. These included: the ill-drawn geography and population demography defined by the colonising British, economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions.

What is certain is that ethnic chauvinism, evidenced by the intemperate language of certain Northern and Southern leaders conflagrated into ethnic cleansing of the type that will be replayed years later in Rwanda:

"There were pogroms in the North where soldiers, officers and civilians were killed. It was estimated that about 30,000 out of the 13 million people of Ibo/Igbo ethnic origin lost their lives...Northerners beheaded numerous Igbo civilians and left the headless corpses on trains to the East for the Igbos to see...The refusal of Gowon's government to stop the killing of Igbo civilians by fellow Northerners led to increasing anti-Nigerian feelings on the part of the Igbos. Even more surprising was that some of these killings were organized by soldiers, who after killing all Igbo soldiers they could lay hands on, resorted to killing and maiming civilians" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigerian_Civil_War).

Of course the above pogroms were not lost on, Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu, the then military governor of the Igbo southeast, "Citing the northern massacres and electoral fraud, proclaimed with southern parliament the secession of the south-eastern region from Nigeria as the Republic of Biafra, an independent nation on 30 May 1967 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigerian_Civil_War).

RUMBLINGS OF THE WAR

Images of the Nigeria-Biafra War are perhaps the most replayed in Africa's history. From it, many print publications, films, videos and radio programmes have been churned out. Yet Akufo-Addo and Obetsebi-Lamptey continue to act as if an ethnically-based civil war, over the presumed outcome of a yet-contested political election, will be a Sunday church picnic.

First, actually war, all wars, cause irreversible psychological, human, material and geographic damage. References (See: Biafra was the beginning, by Hugh McCullum, http://www.africafiles.org/article.asp?ID=5549; http://www.biafraland.com/genocide_in_pictures.htm; Biafra: The Nigerian Civil War In Pictures - Warning Disturbing Images - (Page 3), http://www.nairaland.com/nigeria/topic-582396.64.html; OPERATION 'AURE': The Northern Military Counter-Rebellion of July 1966, By Nowa Omoigui, http://www.africamasterweb.com/CounterCoup.html).

Second, there has been some recent seizure of arms by the security forces all over Ghana. I have also been informed on Facebook that stockpiles of arms are being stockpiled in the Ivory Coast by belligerents to start a war should things not go their way. Ghanaians should find it unpardonably irresponsible and objectionable that anyone will contemplate fanning the flames of war in these rather nervous times of the judges deliberation to announce the outcome of the Election Petition. No stone must be left unturned in our collective efforts to stop all likelihood of civil war.

Ghana is a stable democracy - one of the best in Africa. Our Electoral Commissioner has the overwhelming support of the nation. Respected international observers have consistently concluded the fairness of previous elections. In this respect Ghana's previous and current leader, Rawlings, Kufour and Mills have all been excellent examples of continental democracy and statemenship.

Third, currently the NPP has not proposed a radical, innovative economic and political departure from the current stale and bankrupt policies of the IMF/World Bank that continues to be ineptly pursued by Pres. Mahama’s NDC government. The PNDC, NPP and then the NDC have pursued the same - osim kur (one-way) economic policies since the 1983 when "JJ" discretely dispatched his then "Secretary of Finance", Dr. Kwesi Botchwey and later his side-kick Joe Abbey, to Washington to sign the accursed agreement with the IMF. So the question remains: why are Ghanaians still voting for these bankrupt IMF-SAP kow-towing parties, who have not between them not managed one single Development and Modernisation Program (DMP) since 1982?!

THE NDC AND NPP ARE NOT WORTH DYING FOR

The NDC and NPP are not worth dying for, because their economic policies are the same – what the whiteman has written for them – IMF-SAP. Ghana's economic ‘policies’ has been the same for nearly thirty one years - "The Value is the Same" - Neocolonial and capitulatory! In power, the NPP continued the PNDC's policy of selling Ghana's economic asserts to Western Trans-National Corporations - Tullow Oil (UK), Cosmos Energy (USA), and to members of their Cosa Nostra (in-house family Mafia). Consequently, the NPP has not seen much wrong with the management of our oil. Yet there are serious issues of mismanagement with it (see: Ghana’s Inability To Enforce Regulations Can Affect Oil Production – Report, the white man has written for them (IMF-SAP).

The management of our gold is shrouded in even more scam (see: Ghana Gold Scam,http://www.joewein.de/sw/gold-scam.htm; Illegal Ghana gold mine owner arrested after collapse,http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10457434; Ghana Stock Exchange, www.gse.com.gh/.../ETF%20CONCEPT%20PAPER%20latest%20fin...; Obuasi, Ghana, http://www.mining-technology.com/projects/obuasi/). Indeed the NPP has never championed Ghana's self-interest. The only interest they ever had was their self interest! They have always been apologists for the West. Akufo-Addo famously said Ghana and the US are "Natural allies".

It is true that former US Secretary of State, Andrew Young, Martin Luther King and former US President, Richard Nixon dutifully represented the US on Ghana's Independence Day. We thank them for it. It is also true that U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower partly funded the Akosombo Dam (Ghana funded 35% of it). But Ghana paid for this through the nose. The arrangement that the U.S. cobbled between Dr. Nkrumah, Kaiser Aluminium Co. and the U.S. government was massively disadvantageous to Ghana. VALCO singularly used more electricity than the whole of Ghana did. The U.S. paid itself U.S. $100s of millions in cheap electricity and exploited our bauxite far beyond anywhere else in the world. We also note that Kosmos Energy and other US and UK firms are continuing their "special relationship with Ghana" by milking us dry.

So, Akufo-Addo's ramblings, about Ghana's special relationship with the U.S, have to be what local wits term, "fan-fool respect". It is nothing to write home about. With the appalling record the NPP has, it becomes nothing short of surreal that Akufo-Addo should pretend he is in so much a hurry to lead Ghana. That he will seriously lead the varied and often dissonant Akan people, into an internecine ethnic conflict in order to attain political power. He will have absolutely nothing to offer Ghana other the same bankrupting programme the NDC currently follows blindly. They are both a waste of time as far as transforming Ghana is concerned. Stale and shiftless.

Of course, keen political observers in Ghana/Africa, not oblivious to the above-mentioned factors, know that Akuffo Addo and Bawumia’s histrionics with the Election Petition is simply a hollow political devise to energise his flagging political health. They also know that he is covering up his lack of meaningful alternatives to the NDC's equally comatose developmental plans. But responsibility requires understanding and perceiving the reaction of the masses of people who may take these outlandish statements literally.

NO MORE HEAD-SCRATCHING-ASS-TIGHTENING-I-BEG-YOU-YES-SAH-BOSS BULLSHIT

You may not need reminding that my criticism does not stop at the door of just the NPP. I am also unhappy about the economic and political record of the PNDC and NDC. So realistically are there alternatives to the PNDC, NDC, NPP, NDC political circus of promising a lot but doing nothing?

Yes. Allow me to retool a recent piece I posted. I admit it was stridently titled, "NO MORE HEAD-SCRATCHING-ASS-TIGHTENING-I-BEG-YOU-YES-SAH-BOSS BULLSHIT!" But actually it paints a futuristic, oxygenated, inclusive world of progress for Ghanaians. A world that gives a better sense of purpose than the stale, capitulatory, naive, lassie faire nonsense we have had after Dr. Nkrumah's CPP government. These are my suggestions - and I am not even party-affiliated...

I suggest a future where all Ghana's people: children, youth, women, men and the aged will be fully mobilised to build and defend Ghana.

A future that offers a sense of happy, innocent security that my future as a child would be endlessly promising. That I am capable of achieving anything I set my mind to.

A sense that my country is best in everything - gold, cocoa and industrial production, football, space technology, seafaring/oceanography, architecture, archaeology, academic, vocational and technological excellence.

A sense that my energetic, courageous, intelligent, effervescent, articulate orator of a leader, will vote only for the self-interest of Ghana and Africa, and tell them "where-its-at" at the United Nation.

A sense that singularly my government will have the audacity and courage to address and implement the Nationalisation of Ghana's key industrial and commodity export sectors. No-ifs-or-buts!

A sense that an ambitious programme of industrialisation and Modernisation will be launched to transform Ghana from its presence semi-feudal, dependent, capitalist economy to a NEWLY INDUSTRIALISED PROUD FORMER NEO-COLONIAL STATE (NIPFNCS)!

A sense that the Ghanaian masses will have affordable and excellent science and technology-fuelled education and available jobs after that. Affordable and competitive supermarkets, schools, housing, health care and transportation.

A sense that the Ghanaian people will confidently and automatically consider themselves capable, knowledgeable and skilled to undertake any technological, industrial, psychological, political, economic, social educational or cultural challenge that befalls them! WHO BORN DOG?

A sense that the Ghanaian people can walk about anywhere in their country without being mugged by armed robbers.

A sense that the Ghanaian people will be self-assured, self-sufficient, self-reliant, self-respecting people. A people who will find it extremely abhorrent any iota of suggestion - especially from Europeans - that they must submit themselves to dehumanising acts of a sexual or dehumanising nature for material or financial rewards. NO MORE PAEDOPHILIA AND SAKAWA PROSTITUTION!

A sense that the Ghana government will rather give than take AID or AIDS from any country. TOFIAKWA!

A sense that all the Ghanaian people: children, youth, women, men and the aged will be fully mobilised to achieve and defend these.

CONCLUSION

To conclude, Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu outlasted the war that took the life of two million and maimed thousands more of his people. I have a recurrent recollection of a cartoon I saw of Col. Ojukwu about to board an airplane to flee the war. Although it is only a cartoon, I can still not bare the pained sense of sadness and disappointment I feel when I recall the faces of haunted puzzlement on the kwashiorkor-bellied children and skeletal women. Ojukwu fleed to save his life. His people had to stay and live or die.

THE WAR COST MILLIONS OF LIVES BUT NOT ONE SINGLE DEVELOPMENT AND MODERNISATION PROGRAMEE WAS OR COULD BE LAUNCHED WHILE THE WAR LASTED. The question that echoes in my mind that you should also ask yourself is this, "Was it all worth it?"

Regards.

Columnist: Kofi of Africa