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The Nigerian Civil War
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The Nigerian Civil War

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  1. The Nigerian Civil War By Alyssa Miller, Sydney Moorhead, and Gary Au

  2. The Nigerian Civil War

  3. The Nigerian Civil War • Also known as the Nigerian-Biafran War • July 6, 1967 – January 15, 1970 • Political conflict • Nigerian Victory • Approximately 100,000 military casualties • 500,000-2,000,000+ civilian casualties (mostly from starvation)

  4. The Nigerian Civil War • The Opposing Forces: • Nigeria & Egypt (air force) vs. Biafra & Benin • Nigeria was supported by: UK, Soviet Union, Syria, Sudan, Chad, Niger, and Saudi Arabia • Biafra was supported by: Israel, South Africa, Rhodesia, France, and Portugal

  5. Causes of the Nigerian Civil War

  6. The Tribal and Regional Tensions • More than 50 years prior to the war, Great Britain carved out Nigeria from the rest of West Africa • This area contained hundreds of different ethnic groups

  7. The Tribal and Regional Tensions • Hausa-Fulani (North) • 65% of the population in the north • Yoruba (West) • 75% of the population in the southwest • Igbo (East) • 60-70% of the population in the southeast

  8. The Tribal and Regional Tensions • Hausa-Fulani (North) • Semi-Fedual and Islamic • Traditionally ruled by an autocratic, conservative Islamic hierarchy • The Islamic hierarchy consists of approximately 30 Emirs (leaders) which owed their allegiance to the Sultan • Sultan • “The source of all political power and religious authority.”

  9. The Tribal and Regional Tensions • Yoruba (West) • Consisted with series of monarchs (referred to as Obas) • Less autocratic than the Hausa-Fulani • Social/Political systems allowed for people to move up the hierarchal system to a greater extent through acquired wealth/title than inherited wealth/title

  10. The Tribal and Regional Tensions • Igbo (East) • Mostly autonomous, in about 600 democratically-organized communities/villages • Decisions made in Igbo communities were made in a general assembly in which men could participate • Monarchs were simply figureheads

  11. Britain’s Colonial Influence • British political ideology carved up Nigeria into three regions: North, East, West • The divide increased the already dominate economic, political, and social competition among Nigeria’s ethnic groups

  12. Britain’s Colonial Influence • Along with the political divide, the North was divided in such a way in which it had slightly more population than the other two regions combined • Thus, the North was allocated more seats in the Federal Legislature (established by colonial authorities)

  13. Britain’s Colonial Influence • The Federal Legislature • Made up of three political parties, each supported by a region • The Northern People’s Congress (NPC) – North (led by NnamdiAzikiwe) • The Action Group (AG) – West (led by led by AhmaduBello) • The National Conference of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) – East (led by ObafemiAwolowo)

  14. Britain’s Colonial Influence 1940s and 1950s • The Igbo and Yoruba parties were in the forefront of the fight for independence from Britain • Promoted an independent Nigeria to be organized to a several small states • The North feared that independence would mean political and economic domination from more Westernized elites in the South (thus, preferring British rule) • As a condition of independence, demanded the country to be divided into three regions (the North with a clear majority) • Igbo and Yoruba leaders accepted the North’s demands since they wanted to be an independent country

  15. Oil? • Discovery of vast oil reserves in the Niger River delta • Prior to oil discover, Nigeria’s revenue wealth depended on agricultural products from the south and minerals from the north • The Easterner’s fear that the North was going to strip eastern oil reserves for the benefit of the North (since the North held the majority in the Federal Legislature)

  16. Political Crisis • Census 1962-63 • The general census of 1962: “riddled with malpractices and inflation of such astronomical proportions that the Eastern Region refused to accept the result.” • The second census (1963): the figures were accepted with some reservations; the Igbo thought the census overestimated the number of Hausa-Fulani in order to give the Northern region more representation in the federal parliament • The Tiv, one of the majortribesin the Middle Belt, openly rioted for almost three years (1962 - 1965)

  17. Political Crisis • Electoral Fraud • The general election of  1964: “the election was alleged to be neither free nor fair; all devices imaginable were said to have been used by the ruling parties in the regions to eliminate opponents” • The rigged results made President, Dr NnamdiAzikiwe refuse to appoint a Prime Minister though many expect him to appoint the incumbent Prime Minister, Sir AbubakarTafawaBalewa • Law and order broke down completely leading to an almost complete state of anarchy.  Arson and indiscriminate killings were committed by a private army of thugs of political parties.  Law abiding citizens lived in constant fear of their lives and properties.

  18. Political Crisis • Military Coup • January 15, 1966 • Main goal: to establish a strong, unified and prosperous nation, free from corruption and internal strife • “Major Nzeogwu's(the leader of the coup) aims for the coup was not borne out of its method, style and results.  All the politicians and senior military officers killed were from the North and Western Region except a political leader and a senior Army officer from the Mid – West and the East respectively.” • Lead to: North disliking coup due to Eastern roots; Major Gen. J.T.U. AguiyiIronsi’s lack of action and decisiveness, the North’s “wait and see” attitude changed into resentment culminating in the May 1966 riots throughout the North (many Easterners residing in the North were attacked and killed)

  19. Political Crisis • Counter Coup • Staged by the Northern military officers on July 29 1966 • Two goals: Revenge on the East; the break up of the country • The Head of State, Maj. Gen. AguiyiIronsiand many other senior officers of Eastern origin  were killed • After three days of anarchy, Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon, at the time the most senior officer of the North and then the Chief of Staff, Nigerian Army, emerged as the new Nigerian political leader • Effect: Chaos, confusion and unnecessary killings of Easterners throughout the country

  20. Political Crisis • Secession of Biafra • May 30, 1967 the Igbo-majority province declared its independence as the Republic of Biafra • Cause: Gowon moved to split the 4 existing regions into 12 states in 1967 • Nigeria then blocked food and supplies from entering Biafra, which resulted in a humanitarian crisis of huge proportion; images of the suffering reached the global community via the media, attracting a large relief effort • Some founders of Doctors Without Borders took part; brought about the establishment of this NGO • Biafra surrendered on January 13, 1970 • One of the first post-World War II tragedies that the media took “into living rooms across the globe and it gave momentum to the development of humanitarian responses to complex emergencies, whether caused by natural calamity or by human hand.”

  21. Strategies/PRACTICES of the Nigerian Civil War

  22. Mobilization • The breakaway of the southeastern region as the Republic of Biafra- May 30, 1967 • Nigerian side had already been mobilizing since May- around 4 battalions were formed, consisting of about 7,000 men • The Nigerian people were organized in civil defense duties • “To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done”

  23. Nigerian Mind Set • Nigerian Army Headquarters (NAHQ) • Four phases of operation 1. Capture Nsukka 2. Capture Ogaja 3. Capture Abakaliki 4. Capture Enugu (Biafran capital)

  24. Assessing the Rebels • Nigeria suspected the rebels would have a difficult time mobilizing • They knew the importance of the sea to the Biafrans • They planned to halt the supply of arms and food coming into the region through a blockade by the Nigerian Navy on the southern Atlantic ocean region • Would use the Air Force to stop supplies coming into the air - Two Pronged Attack

  25. Diplomatic strategy • Federal government talking to the major superpowers • Making other nations believe their cause was to re-unite the nation of Nigeria • Discredit the Biafrans • Continue in peace talks with other nations • Dropped propaganda leaflets on the eastern side- discrediting the Biafran leader and promises of peaceful, non prosecuting resolves

  26. Biafra Military • The Nigerians were wrong in their assessment of the Biafra • Mobilizing since Nigerians left Enugu- August 1966 • No sufficient arms and only about 240 Nigerian soldiers • Spain, Portugal, and France aid ammunitions- May 1967 - Formation of the 9th and 14th battalions

  27. Strengthening Biafra • Nigerian Air Force members of Eastern origin formed the Biafra Air Force (BAF) • Old B25 and B26; Minicon aircrafts • Small Navy formed in Calabar • Biafra Militia - Educate the population - Provide immediate assistance to the army • The Administration Support – Food Directorate, Transport Directorate, Petroleum Management Board

  28. Looking for Aid • Biafra knew that they would need heavy aid and services from other nations • Began an international propaganda campaign in search of support • Open support- Gabon, Tanzania, Zambia, Ivory Coast, and Haiti • Secret support- France, West Germany, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, and Sweden

  29. Comparing Abilities • The Nigerian Army was much larger than the Biafra Army – 4:1 • Yet, both nations were very aware of the other nations fighting style, since they both originated from the same army • Biafran army defensive - Major High ways - “Exercise Checkmate” - Strategic bombing (fuel Nigerian nationalism)

  30. Nigerian Offensive • Began their attack in the North- led by Colonel Shuwa - Two fronts, two brigades, three battalions - Ogugu, Ogunga, Nsukka, and Gakem, Obudu, Ogaja roads • Nigerian intelligence operations • July 10, 1967- Biafrans flee to protect the capital; weakening point early on • July 12, 1967- Obudu, Gakem, and Ogaja captured

  31. Nigerian Offensive (cont.) • July 26, 1967- opening of a second front in the south; division formed from the Lagos Garrison Organization (LGO) - Established a beach head and exploited the North - Unexpectedly high numbers of casualties

  32. Biafran Initiative • August 8, 1967- Biafra moves into the Mid-western region of Nigeria - Pressure the north - Edge closer to the capital of Lagos - Stopped at Ore (130 miles east of Lagos) • Nigerian offensive suspended in the north, and moves to Escravos with two battalions • Another division formed to support the clearing of the rebels out of the Mid-western region

  33. Biafran Initiative (cont.) • Led by Lietenant Colonel Banjo • Still, the Biafran were met with little opposition and the Mid- Western region was easily overtaken - Due to Mid-West Igbo reluctant to return to their division of the region - Thus, a second infantry division had to be formed by the Nigerians • The Biafra declared the Republic of Benin (in the former Benin City) on September 19 - It was easily taken back by Nigerians on September 22

  34. Tougher than Anticipated • Although the Republic collapsed, the Biafran had met their goal of occupying enough of the Nigerian military as possible • With a third infantry division formed, the Nigerian army tried three times to cross the Niger River in October, losing a great deal of soldiers • October 12- 5,000 soldiers killed or wounded during the first attempt to cross

  35. Long Stalemate • In 1968 began the stalemate that would last until the end of the war - Nigerian forces couldn’t make significant advances into key Biafran areas • A second Nigerian offensive plan - Two northern fronts - Capture Port Harcourt on May 19, 1968 • Humanitarian crisis- overplayed

  36. Skepticism and More Stalemate • Volunteer bodies organize blockade relief flights- food, medicine, and arms? - Extending the war and causing 180,000 deaths - Arms carrying aircrafts shadowing aid aircrafts • Biafran use of mercenaries? • Nigerians using Egyptian mercenaries- attacking civilians and the Red Cross - Red Cross order of neutrality

  37. Biafrans Fight Back • Thousands of civilians and volunteers killed- looking the other way • June 1969- desperate offensive against Nigerians • Aid of foreign mercenary pilots - Swedish Count Carl Gustav von Rusen: military airfields in Port Harcourt, Benin City, Enugu, and Ughelli • Surprised but Nigerians had a fast recovery • Only threw off the Nigerian Air Offensive for a few months

  38. Coming to a Close • December 23, 1969- Final Nigerian offensive (Operation Tail Wind) - Large push by the 3rd Marine Commando Division - Split the Biafran forces in two by December 31st • January 7, 1970- 3rd Marine along with 1st infantry in the North and 2nd infantry in the South

  39. How It All Ends • Biafran towns begin to fall - Owerri: January 9th - Uli: January 11th - Amachi (last Biafran town): January 13th • Biafran leader Ojukuwu goes into exile in Cote d’Ivoire

  40. Lessons Learned from the Nigerian Civil War

  41. Population Outcome • It has been estimated that up to three million people • May have died due to the conflict, most from hunger and disease • Actual number of casualties are unknown

  42. Reconstruction • Reconstruction was quick • Helped by oil companies – Shell Oil Company is still making the headlines in Nigeria • Old ethnic and religious conflicts were/are still present

  43. The Government • Military government continued in power in Nigeria for many years, and people in the oil-producing areas claimed they were being denied a fair share of oil revenues.

  44. The Political Process • Laws were passed saying that political parties couldn't be ethnically based • This is too hard to monitor thus is not followed thoroughly

  45. The Igbos • Igbos returned to find that their jobs had been taken over. • The government didn't care to give them back their positions. • This went with their houses and property too; people from other regions took them over quickly. • Nigeria government said that the property was abandoned. • Led to a feeling of an injustice

  46. The Igbos (cont.) • Further feelings of injustice were caused by Nigeria: changing its currency so that Biafran supplies of pre-war Nigerian currency were no longer honored • This was seen as a deliberate policy to hold back the Igbo middle class, leaving them with little wealth to expand their business interests.

  47. Worldwide Effects • The NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) was created in 1971 • The creation of many NGOs that worked in the Biafra relief program, such as INTERTECT • Humanitarian awareness • Brought about the view that people deserve to lie in the graves they dig for themselves influenced some policymakers; while donor- and disaster-fatigue makes others wary of giving as generously when they think that the wound being treated is somehow self-inflicted