Friday, July 07, 2006

The Nigerian Civil War: Causes, Strategies, And Lessons Learnt

The Nigerian Civil War: Causes, Strategies, And Lessons Learnt. This is a case study by Major Abubakar A. Atofarati of the Nigerian Army, examining the causes of the war, the strategies employed by the belligerents, and the lessons subsequently learned. It was written when Major Abubakar was a student at the US Marine Command and Staff College in 1991/92.

Unfortunately, the chapters are not hyperlinked so it is hard to skip around from the Table of Contents to chapters or maps. However, the writing seems solid and well thought out. In particular, I found the chapter on the History of the Nigerian Army before 1966 interesting.

Wikipedia notes, "The Nigerian Civil War, July 6, 1967 – January 13, 1970, was a political conflict caused by the attempted secession of the southeastern provinces of Nigeria as the self-proclaimed republic of Biafra. The war became notorious for the starvation in some of the besieged war-bound regions, and the consequent claims of genocide made by the largely Igbo people of those regions. The NGO Doctors Without Borders was created in 1971 as an aftermath of the war by Bernard Kouchner and other French doctors who had worked in besieged Biafra."

From the site:

The Federation of Nigeria, as it is known today, has never really been one homogeneous country, for it's widely differing peoples and tribes. This obvious fact notwithstanding, the former colonial master decided to keep the country one in order to effectively control her vital resources for their economic interests. Thus, for administrative convenience the Northern and Southern Nigeria were amalgamated in 1914. Thereafter the only thing this people had in common was the name of their country since each side had different administrative set - up. This alone was an insufficient basis for true unity. Under normal circumstances the amagalmation ought to have brought the various peoples together and provided a firm basis for the arduous task of establishing closer cultural, social, religious, and linguistic ties vital for true unity among the people. There was division, hatred, unhealthy rivalry, and pronounced disparity in development.

The growth of nationalism in the society and the subsequent emergence of political parties were based on ethnic/tribal rather than national interests, and therefore had no unifying effect on the peoples against the colonial master. Rather, it was the people themselves who were the victims of the political struggles which were supposed to be aimed at removing foreign domination. At independence Nigeria became a Federation and remained one country. Soon afterwards the battle to consolidate the legacy of political and military dominance of a section of Nigeria over the rest of the Federation began with increased intensity. It is this struggle that eventually degenerated into coup, counter coup and a bloody civil war.

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