The Nigerian Civil War: Causes, Strategies, And Lessons Learnt
SUBJECT AREA History
THE NIGERIAN CIVIL WAR
CAUSES, STRATEGIES AND
MAJOR ABUBAKAR .A. ATOFARATI
STUDENT: US MARINE COMMAND AND
1. List of Maps.
4. Executive Summary.
5. Background History of
6. History of the Nigerian
Army before 1966.
7. The War - Planning
8. The Clash of Arms.
9. Lessons Learnt.
LIST OF MAPS
1. Map 1 :
The four Regions of Nigeria.
2. Map 2 :
The twelve states of Nigeria.
3. Map 3 :
The liberation of the Mid - Western state.
4. Map 4 :
The front line in mid - 1969.
5. Map 5 :
The final offensive.
THE NIGERIAN CIVIL WAR
CAUSES, STRATEGIES, AND LESSONS LEARNT
The Nigerian Civil War was
fought to reintegrate and reunify
the country. This paper will
focus on the causes of the war, strategies
employed by the belligerents in the conflict, and the lessons learnt.
I. Background History of
II. History of the Nigerian
Army before 1966
III. The War - Planning
IV. The Clash of Arms
V. Lessons Learnt
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
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.
The Nigerian Civil War
broke out on 6 July 1967. The war was
culmination of an uneasy peace and stability that had plagued the
from independence in 1960. This
situation had its genesis in the
geography, history, culture and demography of Nigeria.
The immediate cause of the
civil war itself may be identified as
the coup and the counter coup of 1966 which altered the political
equation and destroyed the fragile trust existing among the major
groups. As a means of holding
the country together in the last result,
the country was divided into twelve states from the original four
regions in May 1967. The former
Eastern Region under Lt. Col. Ojukwu saw
the act of the creation of states by decree "without
the last straw, and declared the Region an independent state of
"Biafra". The Federal
Government in Lagos saw this as an act of
secession and illegal. Several
meetings were held to resolve the issue
peacefully without success. To
avoid disintegration of the country, the
central government was left with only one choice of bringing back the
Region to the main fold by force.
The Federal side expected
a quick victory while the Biafrans saw
the war as that of survival and were ready to fight to the last man.
By August 1967, the war had been extended to the Mid - Western Region
the Biafrans with the aim to relief pressure on the northern front and
to threaten the Federal Capital, Lagos. Both sides employed Political,
Diplomatic, Psychological and Military strategies to prosecute the war.
By the end of April 1969,
after almost two years of bloody and
destructive war, the envisioned quick victory had eluded the Federal
side, the rebel enclave had been drastically reduced in size but the
Biafrans were still holding on.
More peace conferences were held but
none achieved a cease - fire and an end to the war. The Federals
embarked on a strategic envelopment of the remaining Biafran
the Christmas of 1969, it was obvious that the end of the civil war was
The self - acclaimed Head
of State of Biafra, Lt. Col. Ojukwu,
realizing the hopelessness of the situation fled the enclave with his
immediate family members on the 10th of January 1970. The Commander of
the Biafran Army who took over the administration of the remaining
enclave surrendered to the Federal Government on 14th January 1970
bringing an end to the war, secessionist attempt and bloodshed.
Several lessons were
learnt from the war and these have helped in
the unification, political, military and economical progress of the
THE NIGERIAN CIVIL WAR
CAUSES, STRATEGIES AND LESSONS LEARNT
The Nigerian civil war, popularly known all over the world as the
"Biafran War" was
fought from 2 July 1967 to 15 January 1970.
was between the then Eastern Region of Nigeria and the rest of the
country. The Eastern Region
declared itself an independent state which
was regarded as an act of secession by the Federal Military Government
of Nigeria. The war was fought
to reunify the country. In order to
understand what led to the civil war, it is necessary to give a brief
background history of Nigeria.
BACKGROUND HISTORY OF NIGERIA
The land mass known today
as Nigeria existed as a number of
independent and sometimes hostile national states with linguistic and
cultural differences until 1900.
The Governor General of Nigeria between
1920 - 31 , Sir Hugh Clifford, described Nigeria as "a collection of
independent Native States, separated from one another by great
distances, by differences of history and traditions and by
racial, tribal, political, social and religious barriers." (Nigeria
Council Debate. Lagos,
1920). The building of Nigeria as a
national state began in 1900 with the creation of Northern and Southern
Protectorates along with the colony of Lagos by the British government.
Further effort at unification and integration was made in May 1906 when
the colony of Lagos and the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria, which had
existed separately, were amalgamated to become the Colony and
Protectorate of Southern Nigeria.
Even then the Northern
and the Southern Administration were
separate and distinct. Both
were independent of one another and each was
directly responsible to the
Colonial Office. The first momentous
the British in the political evolution of Nigeria as a modern state was
the amalgamation of the administration of the two sections of Nigeria
1 January 1914 by Lord Lugard.
For ease of governing and in the economic
interest of the British, indirect rule and separate development policy
were maintained in the two sections of the country, with the
administration based in Lagos.
This, in effect produced two Nigerias, each
with different social, political, economic, and cultural backgrounds
development within the country.
No further constitutional
development took place until 1922. The
1922 constitution made provision, for the first time, for elected members
to sit on a Nigerian legislative council, but did not empower them to
make laws for the North.
Nigeria was divided into four administrative
units in 1940; the colony of
Lagos, the Northern, Eastern and Western
provinces. This administrative
divisions, with increased power for the
colony and the provinces, was not only maintained but separateness was
also strengthened and deepened by Sir Arthur Richardson's constitution
of 1946 which inaugurated Nigeria's regionalism. It however achieved a
half - hearted political breakthrough by integrating the North with the
South at the legislative level for the first time.
The post second World War
political awareness and upsurge of
nationalism in Africa brought about the Richardson's constitution of
1950. Political parties were
formed on regional and ethnic basis.
Click here to view image
The outcome of this was obvious:
full scale regionalism. With the
Macpherson's constitution of 1951, a greater measure of autonomy was
granted the regions with stronger regional legislatures. With only
residual power left to the central government, Nigeria politically took
a turn for the worse, and there was a possibility of three countries
emerging out of Nigeria.