Biafra War: Igbo Leaders Deceived Their People →Ofeimun

Poet, literary and social critic Mr Odia Ofeimun has said Biafran war leaders should be sent to the Nuremberg Trial for crime against humanity.

He said those leaders are supposed to be tried for deceiving the Igbos to fight a war they were not prepared for.

Ofeimun said this yesterday at Freedom Park, Lagos while reacting to the controversy stirred by Chinua's Achebe's latest war memoir, There Was A Country.

Ofeimun was a guest at the Book Party organised by The Committee For Relevant Art, CORA.

According to him, "the Igbo leaders who deceived their people to fight the civil war without arms and ammunition should be tried for crimes against humanity. They were not prepared for the war, yet they made use of their propaganda machine to deceive the igbos to fight the war.
They didn't tell their people the true situation of things. Chief Obafemi Awolowo met Odumegwu Ojukwu and told him, 'My friend you are not prepared for the war."
Odia also said Achebe is too serious a writer to be involved in such a controversy., adding that the author of the popular novel, Things Fall Apart, left so many things unsaid in the book.

In his latest book, Achebe claims that former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, retd., and the then Federal Commissioner for Finance, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, used starvation as a weapon of war which caused the death of over two million Igbo people.

Heres an excerpt from the book that has stirred the heated debate:

"It is my impression that Awolowo was driven by an overriding ambition for power, for himself and for his Yoruba people. There is, on the surface at least, nothing wrong with those aspirations. However, Awolowo saw the dominant Igbo at the time as the obstacles to that goal, and when the opportunity arose - the Nigeria-Biafra War - his ambition drove him into a frenzy to go to every length to achieve his dreams. In the Biafran case, it meant hatching up a diabolical policy to reduce the number of his enemies significantly through starvation - eliminating over two million people, mainly members of future generations."

The book has sparked reactions from former Aviation Minister, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, who said though the issue of starvation which led to the death of millions of children was true, there is more to it.

"It is wrong for him (Achebe) to blame only Gowon and Awolowo for the starvation of innocent civilians. Achebe should have recorded that Ojukwu contributed to that because the Federal Government then made a proposal to open a food window so as to save civilians, but Ojukwu rejected it," Fani- Kayode said.

The Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, through its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, also described Achebe's statement as not just unfortunate but also capable of triggering war.

The National Publicity Secretary of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Sani said though Achebe is entitled to his opinion, it is conventional in a war situation to do everything possible to enable you win such a war.

Former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, said anybody who doesn't like what Achebe has written could go to court and file an action for libel.

An avowed Awoist and Commissioner for Information in Ekiti State, Mr. Funminiyi Afuye, in his reaction said Achebe hasn't been able to come out of the deep frustration of the fact that a Yoruba man emerged as the first Nigerian winner of the Nobel Prize In Literature.

One time governor of Enugu State and former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Okwesilieze Nwodo, said what Achebe wrote in his new book was a fact.

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