1.1 Background to the Study
The federation of Nigeria, as it is known today, has never really been one homogeneous country, for its widely differing people and tribes. This obvious facts notwithstanding, enforced the former colonial master, who decided to keep the country one in order to effectively control her vital resources for their economic interest. Thus, for administration convenience, the Northern and Southern Nigeria was 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 amalgamation ought to have brought the various people together, and also provide a firm basis for the arduous work 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 sentiments rather than national interest and therefore, had no unifying effect on the people against the colonial masters. 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 Nigerian 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 6th July, 1967. The war was the culmination of an uneasy peace and instability that had plagued the Nation, 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 maybe identified as the coup and counter coup of 1966, which altered the political equation and destroyed the fragile trust existing among the major ethnic groups.
From the aforementioned, the research work seeks to expose the effects and negativities of war, as seen in Isidore Okpewoh’s The Last Duty, and Chimanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun.
The work brings to bear the societal disorder, conflict and psychological damage done to the Nigerian citizens (Igbos), during the three-year Nigerian Civil War of 1967.
1.2 Statement of the Problem:
The Nigerian Civil war, also known as the Nigeria-Biafra War, was a three-year bloody conflict with a death toll numbering more than one million people.
Having commenced seven years after Nigeria gained independence from Britain, the war began with the secession of the southeastern region of the nation on May 30th, 1967, when it declared itself the independent Republic of Biafra. The ensuing battles and well-publicized human suffering prompted international outrage and intervention.
Carved out of the West of Africa by Britain without regard for pre-existing ethnic, cultural and linguistic divisions, Nigeria has often experienced an uncertain peace. Following decades of ethnic tension in colonial Nigeria, political instability reached a critical mass among independent Nigeria’s three dominant ethnic groups: the Hausa-Fulani in the North, Yoruba in the Southwest and Igbo in the Southeast.
On January 15th, 1966, the Igbo launched a coup –d’état under the command of major – General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi Ironsi, in an attempt to save the country from what Igbo leaders feared would be political disintegration.
Shortly after the successful coup, widespread suspicion of Igbo domination was aroused in the north among the Hausa-Fulani Muslims, many of whom opposed independence from Britain.
Similar suspicion of the Igbo Junta grew in the Yoruba west, prompting a joint Yoruba and Hausa-Fulani countercoup against the Igbo six months later. Counter coup leader General – Yakubu Gowon took punitive measures against the Igbo. Further anger over the murder of prominent Hausa politicians led to the massacre of scattered Igbo populations in Northern Hausa-Fulani regions. This persecution triggered the move by Igbo separatists to form their own nation of Biafra the following year.
Less than two months after Biafra declared its independence, diplomatic efforts to resolve the crises fell apart. On July 6th, 1967, the federal government in Lagos launched a full- scale invasion into Biafra.