LETTER: Nigeria: failure to learn from the Biafran war

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The Independent Online
From Mr Peter Cadogan

Sir: Nigeria is glutted with arms and has no war on its hands. The arms embargo, therefore, has to be a political joke. Had that embargo been imposed 27 years ago in defence of Biafra, it would have made sense; but the craven Commonwealth of those days just stood by and let a million die. Today's military dictatorship is the logical outcome of the failure of 1967-70.

Military government is the only way to hold Nigeria together. Without it the country would immediately split up. And so it should, if there is to be any justice and any democracy. "One Nigeria" is an alien imposition, designed by Lord Lugard before 1914 as a military device to defend a territory sandwiched between competing French and German territories. It has no African political identity.

If the Commonwealth means business, it should declare an open conspiracy to help the democratic opposition in Nigeria to remove a tyrannical government guilty of judicial murder.

I remember in 1969, at the Commonwealth Conference in London, the Prime Minister Harold Wilson saying that Biafra would not figure on the agenda but that he might discuss it over coffee. It is from that kind of horror that today's Commonwealth has to redeem itself if it is to have a future.

Yours truly,

Peter Cadogan

London, NW6

14 November

The writer was secretary of the "Save Biafra Campaign" 1968-70.