Gowon, Jos Crisis And The Nemesis of Biafran Blood
-Masterweb Reports (Submission By Obinna Akukwe)
Biafra was the name given by a people on the verge of extermination, to the newly seceding republic. A peoples aspiration to be left alone to renegotiate how they want to exist away from a structure which wanted to swallow them. A dream that would have turned an African nation into an African Japan in terms of technological advancement. A people whose republican nature would have made models of federalism all over Africa. A nation that probably would have been the true giant of Africa.
All these were stillborn because the British establishment with their Russian and Egyptian conspirators provided covert and overt military support while the middle belt region especially the Benue Plateau axis provided the gallant, brave and daring foot soldiers who executed on the behalf of the entire north the killings of 3million Biafrans to keep Nigeria one.
History is a reminder of past events which has the prospects of a future repeat. A Biafran proverb says that "a fowl that gloated over the butcher of the guinea fowl knew not that the fate that befell the guinea fowl will soon befall it" The Middle Belt Region especially the Benue Plateau axis , predominantly Christians, were the people who fought the actual war. Over seventy five percent of soldiers who executed the war came from this axis. The officers were spread round the rest of Nigeria but the file came from the plateau. The Benue-Plateau people gloated over the destruction of the Biafran dream.
Their first shocker was when General Murtala Muhammed led a coup that ousted General Yakubu Gowon as Head of the Nigerian State. The Dimka counter coup was repelled by forces loyal to the northern oligarchy and officers of Middle-Belt minority extraction were killed and since then the ethnic cleansing of the minority Middle Belt especially Benue –Plateau axis begun.
Despite the Dimka failed coup, the middle belt region continued to enjoy a commanding place in the Nigerian military establishments until General Ibrahim Babangida used the excuse of Mamman Vatsa coup to clear a lot of them from the military circles. Babangida then moved to dismantle the Langtang Mafia. Langtang is a town in Plateau State that has produced brave soldiers in the Nigerian Army. Generals Domkat Bali, Joshua Dogonyaro, Jerry Useni and John Shagaya among others are officers from Langtang town who at one point or the other held positions of trust and importance in the military-political environment of the Nigerian State. Other nearby towns equally boasts of senior military officers whose records in bravery and loyalty is solid.
Babangida, from Niger State, comes from a middle belt area that identifies more with the northern oligarchy than the northern minorities, found it difficult to stomach the presence of Benue-Plateau people around his political space and he started the gradual decimation of their people. The first casualty was Mamman Vatsa, from minority Nupe in Niger state. Having checkmated the Nupe threat, he moved to checkmate the Benue-Plateau threat. The first casualty was General Domkat Bali. Bali was the Minister of Defence, Chief of Defence Staff and Chairman Joint chiefs of Staff. He was the second most powerful man during Babangida regime and the third most powerful under Buhari. By the time Babangida finished with Bali, he ran to his village to recover from the shock. Babangida removed Bali as Minister for Defence, Chief of Defence Staff and Chairman Joint Chief of Staff on the 29th of December, 1989 and handed him the Ministry of Interior, then occupied by fellow Langtang kinsman, General John Shagaya. This demotion was meant to spite and humiliate Bali and whatsoever he represents. He was promptly replaced by General Sanni Abacha who later became Nigeria’s military ruler. The shoving aside of Bali was to remove the last vestiges of Gowon’s influence from the Nigerian Army and to pave way for the northern oligarchy to completely control the military establishment. At that time other officers of Benue Plateau extraction were retired without reason.
The Langtang Mafia was the most powerful caucus in the Nigerian Army. It was an informal kindred gathering of officers of plateau extraction where matters of interest were discussed covertly. They exerted lots of influence in the military and political settings. Another mafia known as Kaduna Mafia was there to serve the interests of the northern oligarchy. Babangida, with the humiliation of Bali, started the process of dismantling the Langtang Mafia. The creation of Jos North Local Government in 1991 by Babangida, without consultations with the indigenes of Jos was to cannibalize the influence of the Langtang Mafia.
What Nigerian students and activists of southern extraction saw especially the South East in the early nineties was the return to bondage of minority north and yet the chicken had come to roast. In the order of marginalization in Nigeria now, Middle Belt geopolitical zone comes is the number two, after the South East. This is what the Benue-Plateau had as reward for fighting the Biafran war and killing their Christian brothers.
Jos was the capital of Middle Belt or Benue Plateau region. Jos was home to all Nigerians, Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Efik, Ijaw, Kanuri until the sectarian violence started in 1991. Since then Jos had known no peace. The indigenes have been waylaid in the dead of the night and slaughtered like guinea fowl. All the presence of the entire armed forces of Nigeria has not stemmed the serial killings. All the prayers and fasting have not helped either. A police commissioner who gave support to their exterminators in the hey days of the conflict, against all opposition and indictment, is now their Inspector General of Police. This is just an indication that their enemies will lord it over them.
What is happening in Plateau albeit Jos is curse in operation. In 2 samuel chapter 21, The Bible illustrates about David the King of Israel who suffered serious famine for three years under his anointed leadership .When the famine failed to stop he inquired of the Lord and was told that his predecessor Saul broke covenant by killing the Gibeonites in his zeal to please God. Therefore the Israelites are suffering as a result of the misdeeds of King Saul who was long dead. The constant urination and defecation on the socio-political space of the Plateau people is as a result of their complicity in the Biafrfan genocide. General Gowon, the military ruler who led the war on Biafra, have since the past ten years led a prayer group called ‘Nigeria Prays’’ This prayer though laudable and commendable has not worked. The reason is the same mistake of King David. David’s prayers failed to work for three years of austerity measures, structural adjustment, subsidy removal and power sector reforms until he made prayers of enquiry and was told the source of the problem. Gowon and his prayer group should change their prayer topic and ask for forgiveness for the extermination of innocent blood. They should equally send an appropriate delegation to the Biafran Headquarters to interact with the representatives of the people and the clergy and extract a covenant of forgiveness and the curse will be lifted. Failure to do so, the Benue Plateau and the rest of the minority middlebelt will soon be relegated again into the most marginalized zone in Nigeria.