Author Topic: Re: The Nigerian Civil War, Causes, Strategies, And Lessons Learnt  (Read 7992 times)

Offline geniusg

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The Biafran Air Force carried out strategic bombings of major towns, military installations and the Defense Industry.    This had a diverstating effect on civilian population and further helped the Nigerian propaganda which resulted in making more people to join the NA to crush the rebellion.    The Biafran Navy also carried out some attack on the Nigerian ships with little effect.    Mercenaries were hired to train the troops and took part in the fighting.     

Nigeria opened her offensive operations from the northern sector.   1 Area Command NA, supported by an Artillery Brigade, Armored units equipped with British Scorpion tanks, Saladin armored cars and ferrets, and Engineer units, issued its operational orders for OPUNICORD, the code name for the "police" action against the rebels on the 2 July 1967.  The offence was launched on two fronts.    The command was divided into two brigades with three battalions each.    1 Brigade advanced on the axis Ogugu - Ogunga - Nsukka road while 2nd Brigade advanced on axis Gakem - Obudu - Ogoja road.    The rebels successfully repulsed the attack.   However, with the many friends the command had made since they concentrated on the border waiting for the order to attack, they began to recruit guides,  informants and with this came the intelligence on the disposition of the Biafran troops, their strength and plans and a breakthrough. 

By the 10th of July 1967, 1st Bde had captured all its first objectives and if they had had the detail intelligence of the Biafran army on this day they would have pressed on to take Enugu, the Biafran capital.    H.  M.   Njoku remarked,   "At Ukehe I could not believe my eyes.    All along the way were refugees streaming towards Enugu on Nsukka road.    Many of the retreating troops carried self inflicted wounds.    Some senior offices complained of malaria, headache, and all sorts of ailments.    If the NA knew the situation on the Biafran side on this eventful day and pressed on  they would have taken Enugu the same day without resistance.  " (4:128)

By the 12th of July the 2nd Bde had captured Obudu, Gakem, and Ogoja.     A second front, the southern sector was opened on the 26 July, 1967 by a sea landing on Bonny by a division formed from the Lagos Garrison Organization  (LGO).     With the support of the Navy, the division established a beach head and exploited north after a fierce sea and land battle.    On 8th August 1967, Biafra invaded the former Mid - Western Region with the aim to relieve the pressure on the northern sector and to threaten Lagos, the Federal Capital.    While the LGO was making preparations for subsequent operations beyond Bonny, the news of the rebel infiltration into the  Mid - West was passed to the commander who was then instructed to leave a battalion in Bonny, suspend all operations there and move to Escravos with two battalions with a view to dislodging the rebels and clearing the riverine area of the Mid - West.   These moves were carried out with the support of the Nigerian Navy  and   the merchant of the National Shipping Line.    Another division was formed to support the LGO in the clearing of the Mid - West of the rebels.     At this point, the formations were redesignated 1 Area Command became 1 Infantry Division,  the newly division was designated 2 Infantry Division, and the LGO became the 3 Infantry Division.    And with this the "police action"  turned into a full scale military operation. 
By the end of September 1969, a substantial part of the Mid - West had been cleared of the rebels.    The commander of the 3 Infantry Division secured permission to change the designation of his formation to 3 Marine Commando because of the peculiarly riverine and creek operations already carried out by the division.    This was the first time something in the resemblance of a Marine organization was tried in the history of the Nigerian Army.    The division was not trained In amphibious operations.    Infact the troops were made up of the soldiers of the Lagos Garrison Organization (LGO),  the administrative establishment for the Federal capital.    However, with some crash training, the division became the most feared and successful throughout the war.   

Enugu became the bastion of secession and rebellion and the Federal Government of Nigeria expected that its capture would mean the end of secession.    The advance from Nsukka to Enugu began in earnest on 12 September 1967.    The rebels counterattacked and for the first time launched their "Red Devil" tanks.    These were modified pre - second World War armored personnel carriers made in France.    They were dangerous, slow, blind, cumbersome and not easily maneuverable.   T hey were easy prey to anti - tank recoilless rifles and bold infantry attack.    By the 4th October 1967, Enugu was captured and with this capture 1 Infantry  Division took time to refit and reorganize.    The division had the erroneous belief that the fall of Enugu would automatically mean the collapse of the rebellIon.    1 Infantry Division decided to give the rebels time to give up secession not knowing that the fire of rebellion was still burning high in the hearts of most Easterners.    Ojukwu was callously fanning the fire and riding high on the emotions of his apparently wounded and high spirited people who felt slighted and wanted to revenge for all the events of 1966.    It took  the division another six months to resume the offence thereby giving the rebels the necessary respite to also reorganize and acquire more ammunition, weapons and equipment to continue the resistance. 

The 3 Marine Commando opened another front on the south / south eastern border.    With the support of the Navy, Calabar was captured on the 13th October 1967.    The capture of Calabar, Warri, Escravos and Bonny established the supremacy of the Federal Government in Nigerian waters and international waters bordering Nigerian coast.    Biafra was sealed off leaving Portharcourt Airport as the only means of international communication and transportation with the outside world.    It was at this point that Biafran leadership decided to find alternative routes for importation of war materiel and medical aids into the enclave.    Three stretches of straight roads were developed into airstrips; Awgu, Uga and Ulli.    On 19th May 1968 Portharcourt was captured.    With the capture of Enugu, Bonny, Calabar and Portharcourt, the outside world was left in no doubt of the Federal supremacy in the war.    The mercenaries fighting for Biafra started deserting.    Biafra started to smuggle abroad photographs of starving children and to blackmail Nigeria of genocide.    This secured military, economic and political relief from international organizations for Biafra and further lengthened the war and the suffering of the people of Biafra. 

By the early 1969, 2nd Infantry Division crossed the Niger River at Idah, after several unsuccessful attempts to cross the river at Asaba, advanced through the already liberated areas of Nsukka and Enugu to capture Onitsha.    The division continued its advance towards Owerri.    At the same time 1 Infantry Division advanced on Umuahia.   The 3 Marine Commando was by now advancing on three fronts:  Oguta - Owerinta - Ulli airstrip - Umuahia axis; Portharcourt - Aba - Owerri - Umuahia axis; and Calabar - Uyo - Umuahia axis.    The plan was a link up with 1 Infantry Division at Umuahia in order to envelop the rebels and either force them to surrender or to destroy their fighting spirit.    his plan, the final offensive, was successfully implemented.    Biafra tried unsuccessfully to hold the NA onslaught using guerrilla tactics. 

On the 10th January 1970, Lt.   Col.   Ojukwu, the self proclaimed Head of State of Biafra, on realizing the total chaotic and hopelessness of the situation, handed over to the Commander Biafran Army Maj.   Gen.   Phillip Effiong, the administration of Biafra and flew out of the enclave with his immediate family members in search of peace.   Maj.   Gen.   Effiong consulted with the Biafra Strategic Committee on the situation and they decided that enough was enough and that the only honorable way out was to surrender.    In his surrender announcement to the people of Biafra on Radio Biafra, part of Maj.   Gen.   Effiong address said:

Fellow Countrymen,
As you know I was asked to be the officer administering the government of this republIc on the 10th of January, 1970.    Since then I know some of you have been  waiting to hear a statement from me.    Throughout history, injured people have had to result to arms in their self defense where peaceful negotiation have failed.    We are no exception.    We took up arms because of the sense of insecurity generated in our people by the events of 1966.    We have fought in defense of that cause.    I am now convinced that a stop must be put to the bloodshed which is going on as a  result of the war.    I am also convinced that the suffering of our people must be brought to an end.    Our people are now disillusioned and those elements of the old regime who have made negotiations and reconciliation impossible have voluntarily removed themselves from our midst.    I have, therefore, instructed an orderly disengagement of troops. 

I urge on Gen.   Gowon, in the name of humanity, to order his troops to pause while an armistice is negotiated in order to avoid the mass suffering caused by the movement of population.   We have always believed that our differences with Nigeria should be settled by peaceful negotiation.    A delegation of our people is therefore ready to meet representatives of Nigerian Government anywhere to negotiate a peace settlement on the basis of OAU resolution. 

Part of Maj.   Gen.   Yakubu Gowon, the Head of the Federal Government's speech to accept formally the declared surrender and the end of the civil war read:

Citizens of Nigeria,
It is with a heart full of gratitude to God that I announce to you that today marks the formal end of the civil war.    This afternoon at the Doddan Barracks, Lt.   Col.   Phillip Effiong, Lt.   Col.   David Ogunewe, Lt.   Col.   Patrick Anwunah, Lt.   Col.   Patrick Amadi and commissioner Police, Chief Patrick Okeke formally proclaimed the end of the attempt at secession and accepted the authority of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria.    They also formally accepted the present political and administrative structure of the country.    This ends thirty months of a grim struggle.    Thirty months of sacrifice and  national agony. 

The world knows how hard we strove to avoid the civil war.    Our objectives in fighting the war to crush Ojukwu's rebellion were always clear.    We desired to preserve the territorial integrity and unity of Nigeria.    For, as one country, we would be able to maintain lasting peace amongst our various communities; achieve rapid economic development to improve the lot of our people; guarantee a dignified future and respect in the world for our posterity and contribute to African unity and modernization.    On the other hand, the small successor states in a disintegrated Nigeria would be  victims of perpetual war and misery and neo - colonialism.    Our duty was clear.    And we are today, vindicated.     

The so - called "Rising Sun of Biafra"  is set for ever.    It will be a great disservice for anyone to continue to use the word "Biafra" to refer to any part of the East Central State of Nigeria.    The tragic chapter of violence is just ended.   We are at the dawn of national reconciliation.    Once again we have the opportunity to build a new nation.    On our side, we fought the war with great caution, not in anger or hatred, but always in the hope that common sense would prevail.    Many times we sought a negotiated settlement, not out of wickedness, but in order to minimize the problems of reintegration, reconciliation and reconstruction.    We knew that however the war ended, in the battlefield or in the conference room, our brothers fighting under other colors must rejoin us and that we must together rebuild the nation anew.    All Nigerians share the victory today.    The victory for national unity, victory for hopes of Africans and black people everywhere.    We mourn the dead heroes.    We thank God for sparing us to see this glorious dawn of national reconciliation.    We must seek His guidance to do our duty to contribute our quota to the building of a great nation,  ounded on the concerted efforts of all its people and on justice and equality.    A nation never to return to the fractious, sterile and selfish debates that led to the tragic conflict just ending.   

The Federal Government has mounted a massive relief operations to alleviate the suffering of the people in the newly liberated areas.    We are mobilizing adequate resources to provide food, shelter, and medicines for the  affected population.    My government has directed that former civil servants and public corporation officials should be promptly reinstated as they come out of hiding.    Details of this exercise have been published.    Plans for the rehabilitation of self - employed people will also be announced promptly.    We have overcome a lot over the past four years.    I have therefore every confidence that ours will become a great nation. 

The surrender paper was signed on 14th January 1970 in Lagos and thus came the end of the civil war and renunciation of secession.   

The Nigerian civil war, unlike other wars across international boundaries, was a war of unification, a war of reintegration.    It was therefore a much more difficult war for the Federal field commanders to prosecute with the objectives of unification in mind than wars fought against aggressors on foreign land.    The human aspect was paramount.    It was a contradiction and complication not easy to resolve - how to fight causing only limited destruction, how to inflict wounds and heal at the same time, how to subdue without fatal and permanent injuries, how to feed and house civilian population without exposing our troops to danger and risk of saboteurs and infiltrators, how to achieve surrender without inflicting permanent or long lasting psychological humiliation.   

The Nigerian political tensions, conflicts and confrontations, like other human interactions, had never conformed with the law of physics that action and reaction are opposite and equal.    Reactions had always been more intense and graver than action, real or imagined.    Those who are the sowers of wind are usually the reapers of the whirlwind.    The Kano riots of 1953 was a reaction to the humiliation of the Northern legislators in Lagos most of whom are still alive and politicking while the rioters are dead, unsung and long forgotten.    In the Nigerian historical context, each political action, tension or conflict had evoked more violence in reaction and the elites who initiated the action are normally not the ones who reap the more violent reaction or destruction.    They are masters in the art of survival and they have always emerged almost unscratched.    It is the common man who knows little or nothing of the on-goings and who certainly gains nothing from the appointments or the prerequisites of office of these elites that is used as cannon fodder and expendable material for the attainment and sustenance of power, wealth and prosperity. 

Our leaders aid those of other developing nations must eschew bitterness and violence, learn that no individual or section has a monopoly of violence and that one action of violence evokes greater and more destructive violent reaction, the magnitude which can never be imagined in advance.    In the end the law of retributive justice catches with the perpetrators of bitterness, violence and destruction.   This difficult lesson must be learnt. 

The great publicity given to the war by Markpress on behalf of Biafra, especially the photographs of starving children and ruined or deserted towns, evoked deep feelings of sympathy all over the Western world.    By and large, these pitiful sights touched the conscience of those who mounted large scale humanitarian campaigns on behalf of Biafra.    The issues in the war were relegated to the background and the human and humanitarian aspects came to the fore.    Most of them were genuine in their humanitarian efforts but little did they know that most of their contributions were used to purchase arms and ammunition which prolonged the war and thereby increased and heightened the sufferings of those they were trying to help. 

There were involvement of some notable world leaders on supposedly humanitarian grounds, but they had, as we have seen, ulterior motives which were mainly to satisfy their political, economic or diplomatic interests.    Some foreign governments covertly encouraged and sustained rebellion under the guise of humanitarianism by secretly giving weapons and other war material to Biafra.    They seceded in fuelling the war and prolonged it and consequently prolonging the suffering of the people in the war affected areas. 

       The importance of winning the support and mobilizing the civilian populace became very obvious.    Biafra, despite her inferiority in manpower and war machineries held on for so long because her people believed in fighting the war which they considered a war of survival.    On the same token, Nigeria won the war primarily because she was able to win the support of the populace who enlisted in thousands to reunify the country.   

Moral and discipline are two of the most important factors that greatly contribute to success in war.    Obasanjo commented on the effects of these factors thus, "I observed amongst Nigerian troops during the war different aspects of human behavior under the stress and strains of battle, and interaction between ordinary Nigerians, war or no war.    What I found amazing was the length to which soldiers would go when morale and discipline broke down, in order to avoid going to battle or, so to speak, facing death.    In effect, while running away from death they inflicted death on themselves as some of them died from their self - inflicted injuries.    But towards the end of the war when everything was going right - the rebels were on the run, advance was fast and co-ordinated, moral was high - even our own wounded soldiers did not want to be evacuated to the rear for treatment and medical attention.    Several times I heard such wounded soldiers saying to me, "Oga, na you and me go end this war and capture Ojukwu.   " (5:169)

Motivation is another very important factor that made troops fight.   The Nigerian soldiers enjoyed rapid promotion and increase in pay throughout the war.    This encouraged them to fight on.    It is also important to allow troops time to worship in their various religious faith.    Chaplains should be provided to pray for the troops whenever time warrants.    War is a situation that requires faith - faith in your equipment, faith in your comrades and colleagues, faith in God or the supreme being or whatever one believes in,  faith in oneself and in the cause for which one is fighting.    I believe that success in a profession that embraces the twin problem of human relationships and personal danger in a degree not to be found in any other profession demands more than the attributes of man, it requires divine guidance as well.    The care for the wounded and the dead must be taken seriously. 

High standard of training can never be over emphasized.    Most of the soldiers recruited during the war did not undergo enough depot training before being launched into battle.    This resulted in many casualties on both sides.    Most of them who survived the war had to be retrained.    Members of the military must recognize that they depend more on the professional and technical competence and proficiency of their team members than on the formal authority structure.    The maintenance of the highly sophisticated weapons and equipment procured during the war became very difficult.    Most of them lasted for a few months in combat.   Weapons were imported from all over the world and this led to non - standardization after the war.    Most of them had to be phased out due to lack of spare parts.          The quality of initiative in the individual must be allowed to develop.    It is the most valued of all leadership qualities and virtues in the military.    In this period of tremedious technological change, military leaders are confronted with almost perpetual change or crisis of organization especially in a fairly fluid combat situation.    Whatever may be the technological achievement of our age and it's impact on military science, improvisation is still the keynote of the individual fighter and combat group.    This aspect of military training must be emphasized in peacetime.    This is particularly important in the developing nation like ours. 

Failures arising from lack of adequate joint training became very obvious as a result of fratricide that occurred during the war.    On many occasions fire support request made to the Air Force never came, and when it did come, it was sometimes on own friendly positions.    Supply from the air that became necessary atimes and were tried often fell on the enemy side. 

It is commonly said that an army fights on its stomach.    Logistics won the war for Nigeria.    If the Biafrans had half of the resources Nigeria had, the story might be different.    The Biafrans were better organized and managed the meager resources available to them more effectively.    The Nigerian Army learnt a big lesson from this.    The Army school of Logistics was upgraded and well funded to train and produce high quality logisticians for the Army after the war. 

Communication in the field was a big problem to both sides in the conflict.    Radios were lacking and when they were procured, trained manpower was not available.    The importance of good and reliable communication and gathering of adequate and up to date intelligence of the enemy was a big lesson. 

The silencing of guns allowed the milk of brotherhood, love, understanding and sympathy to flow from both the civilians and the soldiers on the Federal side to their fellow citizens on the rebel side.   As time went by, everybody came to appreciate the futility of the war which some had regarded as inevitable.   

Post Merge: May 09, 2010, 04:09:44 PM
The war had come and gone.   The story of the war and what led to it has been told, is being told and will continue to be told.   What seems to me a human tragedy all through ages is the inability of man to learn a good lesson from the past so as to avoid the pitfall of those who had gone before.   There is also the innate and unconscious desire of man to remain oblivious of the lessons of the past.   He hopes and believes that the past can be ignored, that the present is what matters,  that no mistakes of the present can be as serious and grievous as the mistakes of the past.   As a result history tends to repeat itself.   However, there are exceptions of nations and men who had learnt from history to avoid collective and individual disasters or a repetition of such disasters.   I feel confident that Nigeria must join the group of these happy exceptions if we are to have political stability, economic progress, integrated development, social justice, contentment and be the epicenter of African solidarity.   Since the end of the civil war, Nigeria has made considerable progress in all these areas.     


« Last Edit: May 09, 2010, 04:09:44 PM by geniusg »
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Offline africana35

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Re: Re: The Nigerian Civil War, Causes, Strategies, And Lessons Learnt
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2010, 03:54:26 PM »
I I THINK YOU SAID IT ALL BUT YOU SOUND ANTI IGBOS. ! That is why i will not take it lightly with you.  you can see what the igbo saw, tht prompted us to divide this nation.  look how the northerners are talking about this 2011, as if it is their birth right to rule! broda, shine ur eye! is now or never.

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Re: Re: The Nigerian Civil War, Causes, Strategies, And Lessons Learnt
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2010, 03:54:26 PM »