ABSTRACT: The former East Region of Nigeria has since May 30, 1967, called itself Biafra & has seceded. Nigeria planned a “quick, surgical police action” that would last 48 hours. It has lasted more than two years and cost more than two million lives. Nigeria was armed for the war with highly sophisticated equipment by the British, who wanted, as did nearly everyone else at the time, a strong and unified Nigeria. Reporters like Frederic Forsyth in his book “The Biafra Story” attribute the subsequent disaster to the Labour Government of Harold Wilson, who took the advice of civil servants that it would all be over quickly, that it was all a question of Ibo intransigence. Most of Nigeria’s oil fields are in the Biafran region, & the oil companies had their doubts. They had personnel in the field who had witnessed the events of the preceding years. But the civil servants prevailed, and when it was not all over quickly, the Labour Govt. vastly increased its shipments of arms to Nigeria, & covered up at home. When in Aug., 1968, after 13 months of war, the extent of the British commitment became clear, there were expressions of outrage in Parliament & in the press. The Govt. argued it was more merciful in the long run to let Biafrans starve & be bombed into submission than to remain neutral, that the alternative was a tribal “Balkanization” of all Africa, & that the Ibo leaders were exaggerating & prolonging the misery of their people in order to nationalize & abscond wit the oil & consolidate their own leadership.
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