The Biafra Story: Part Four
"The Biafra Story: Part Four"
At the time of the mass-influx of Igbos back to the East in the mid months of 1966, the military general of the Eastern Region was a young 33-year-old, Oxford-educated Lt. Colonel by the name of Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the son of Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu, the first Nigerian billionaire. Not only was Ojukwu troubled by the manner in which the Igbos and other Easterners were being massacred throughout the country, he was particularly disturbed by the lack of interest which Gowon's government showed towards these heinous crimes.
Ojukwu's Eastern Region had refused to recognize Yakubu Gowon as the Head of State of the Nigerian federation because of the illegitimacy of the Northern-led coup which had deposed the former Head of State, Aguiyi-Ironsi. Because of this, there was a high level of distrust and tension between these two leaders. However, Ojukwu made it a point to negotiate with Gowon regarding his government's ineptitude at protecting its Igbo citizens. As more and more atrocities were committed against Igbos, Ojukwu threatened to take desperate measures in order to protect Igbos and called for a mobilization of all Easterners in preparation for the inevitable.
His threats finally brought Gowon to the negotiating table. In 1967, Ojukwu, Gowon and several other leaders met in Aburi Ghana in what would be called "The Aburi Conference", in search of a peaceful resolution to Nigeria's problems. At the conference Gowon had agreed to take measures that would end the persecution of Igbos in addition to many other political and legislative agreements. However, upon returning to Nigeria, there were disagreements between the two parties and Gowon failed to fulfill his promises. It then became glaringly clear to Ojukwu that Nigeria would not work for the Igbos.