After the civil war in Nigeria (from 1967-1970), in order to keep the fragile peace of the nation then, General Yakubu Jack Gowon, the Nigerian Head of State (President), instituted the 3Rs—Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Reintegration; and also pronounced to the world’s acclaim that the war has ended with a: “No Victor No Vanquished” stand. All these were done so that the wounds of the war will heal fast, the horrors of war forgotten fast, and reintegration rapidly achieved. But was the 3Rs after that gruesome war—where supposed brothers/sisters (fellow country people) killed themselves massively in order to stay together and live harmoniously, carried-out to the letter? Was the No Victor No Vanquished proclamation practically enforced/carried-out to suit frayed nerves and calm tensions, and also give succor to the aggrieved relations of worsted and wasted souls? The resounding answer to all these questions is capital NO! And in Nigeria, when one did not do what he/she promised to do, it is derogatingly said the person is a 419 person. When someone obtains something (in this case: peace and re-integration was obtained after the war from Eastern Nigerians of whom Igbos were in the majority) through a questionable process, he/she is said to have obtained it by tricks—that is 419!
What is the true meaning of 419 in Nigeria? 419 is a section in the criminal code, as found in the Nigerian Police Criminal Procedure Act (please correct me if I am wrong here—I am not a Lawyer). It is used by the Police to prosecute those who obtained things by trick. Indeed, it is emphasized when someone “criminally” obtains something from another person by trick and to the disadvantage of these other person or persons, the Police can then prosecute such “obtainees” for trickery under section 419 of its criminal procedure act—this is where the famous 419 sub equate (nick-name) originates from; and thereafter was socially stamped as so—i.e. recognized (albeit: a negative one indeed)
Flowing from this understanding, can it not be rightly posited then, or asserted that the un-implemented 3Rs promised by the Federal Government of Nigeria under Jack Gowon at the end of the civil war in 1970, to obtain peace from the (defeated) Biafrans (who had an option of going into prolonged Gorilla/Bush/Fluid warfare after the combats from 1967-1970, till the world comes-in to negotiate and emplace peace) not 419? It is indeed clear that the peace that subsisted thereafter was obtained by false promises as contained in the 3Rs, which was not implemented. Nobody, if not a liar will affirm in totality with his conscience at stake, that Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Reintegration (the 3Rs), was fully implemented (was it actually undertaken?) to the benefit of Igbos (and by extension other Eastern Nigerians that called themselves Biafra in that said unfortunate altercation/war). No Igbo of my late Father’s days (after the civil war) was Rehabilitated by anybody—to say by any Government—either at the State or Federal level. None of their devastated Communities, destroyed houses, schools, hospitals, etc. was Reconstructed. They did all that by themselves and through Community Efforts. No Government Re-integrated any Igbo, they did that by themselves too. They sold their remaining earthly belongings after that unholy and devastating war against them to the few rich ones around them who still had extra cash to purchase goods and properties. The last straw for them that broke the camel’s back (that finished them actually) was Chief Awolowo’s policy—which he formulated as the then Finance Minister, to give them only twenty (20) pounds, no matter how much they had in their savings and other accounts in Nigerian banks before the war–this is one of the worst man’s inhumanity to man that was meted-out to Igbos. Who then vanquished who here? When their properties were misappropriated as “Abandoned Properties” after the war, did that make them victors in that war?
Furthermore, for example, this writer’s Father re-integrated himself and his family after that blood-letting war. Eventhough he lost his educated, enlightened and exposed first son (Eugene Chukwuemeka Osuji, on 4th September, 1969) through a genocidal and murderous Federal-side Airforce fighter-jet’s strafing on a Civilian Congregational Compound, just three months to the end of the said wicked war, he still gathered himself, licked his wounds and forgot his losses in the that war, to find work in 1970 (no matter how menial) to fend for his family and pay his remaining children’s school fees (no free education was given by any government); without waiting for any government to re-integrate him/his family. And a whole lot of Igbos did this too. Indeed, they forgave Nigerians for killing over three (3) million of their own in their houses, churches, farms, markets (for instance see Chinua Achebe’s book: “There was a Country”, p.212, on the annihilation of over 1000 people in one episode of carpet-bombing –those who came to my Community’s Afor Umuohiagu market in 1969); and other uncountable gruesome and en masse killings in their communities and homeland. What a shameful 3Rs that was enunciated and implemented the way it was implemented after that genocidal and scotch-earth war! Its shameful implementation will surely continue to haunt the nation. Its blatant lies and trickery is very odious and un-exemplary.
Furthermore, lets highlight a little bit on the No Victor No Vanquished Proclamation after the war. Indeed, many people also agree it was a trick to obtain peace too. The mannerisms in actions and policies towards Igbos after the war (like the earlier recounted paying only 20 pounds policy) show that the winning Federal side was basking-in winning-euphoria and showmanship, and actually enforced policies that denied Igbos and Igboland Federal appointments and projects. Is this assertion not true? Why for instance, has any Igbo not been appointed the Ministers of Defense and that of The Federal Capital Territory since 46 years after the civil war? Where are the Federal projects in Igboland (Dams, Irrigation for massive Agriculture, Oil Refineries, Military Training Institutes and Installations and other huge Federal projects as sited in other zones)? Why any of the steel projects was not located anywhere in Igboland when other zones in Nigeria got one or two each? (See: they are all moribund now!). Where are the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) projects in Igboland, as sited in other zones? How many of the Federal projects (Industries, Huge Hotels and other wealth-creating investments) were privatized in Igboland when the privatization policy was been undertaken? (There was none there and therefore none was privatized). Did Imo State not build its own Airport many years before now (which they handed-over to the Federal Government without a surcharge)? The few Federal roads (which can be counted among the few Federal projects in Igboland) are most times allowed to become un-motorable and death-traps. Indeed, regular maintenance of them is denied when compared to similar ones in other parts of the country; and it seems a “Vanquished-area policy” is being clearly enforced? And we claim to be one country where love reigns. Believe you me, Igbos are forced to swallow the “swagger of Governmental nonsense” and “half-loaf policies” heretofore—which was continuously directed towards them, and they have indeed been able to restrain themselves from other sundry but constant provocations in policies and actions also, of the Federal Governments—that is why peace subsists. But how long will this last? How long will the seeming grave yard peace as we have had it since the end of the civil war give-way to real peace for human beings in their own habitat? Injustice in whatever form or guise does not last forever!! Victory or no victory, vanquished or not, Igbos have shown enormous resilience and resolve to build “One Nigeria”, but others and the Federal Governments still reminds them that they are “conquered people”; and that they should live with that reality forever.
Injustice like we said earlier is not forever. Indeed, it is not sustainable. Either we have “one Nigeria” where justice for all reigns and where Federalism in its truest form and practice is enforced at all times, or we sit down again in a conference and fashion-out the best way our Federalism will be made utmostly workable. Who is afraid of jaw-jawing which is superior to war-warring? The so-called “3Rs and No Victor No Vanquished” which was geared towards assuaging the ruptured feelings of the Igbos after the civil war in 1970, was nothing but tricks, indeed shams and shameful policies that were never implemented in honesty. The Igbos have endured, and nobody or Government should continue to punish them for a war that ended 46 years ago! The spilling of the blood of one’s supposed relation (even in a combat) does not make one a hero but a villain. Please cross-check this fact as it concerns Africa’s tradition, culture, philosophy and totality in understanding what life and living entails. What is round goes around and comes around—the world is round and must go around and come around. Throw not a stone in a market for the person it may hit may be your relation. Let us reason deeply always because deep only calls to the deep and only reveals deep answers to the deep too. Truth is bitter, Justice is hard to emplace, but they remain the only two constants to excellent life: here on earth and in eternity. Surely, God love both of them dearly. Do you? Please let us all do! They are most helpful in National Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Reintegration: where no one will be vanquished or be defeated (won-over)!! This is the truth and nothing but the whole truth; whether we like it or not!!! What do you think? What do you say? It is truth and justice that can set free. Methinks so wholesomely. If you do so also, that means we are all already on that cherished highway to personal and national salvation and development.
Written by Ejike Kingsley Osuji.