Essay on The Nigerian Civil War

1344 Words Sep 1st, 2010 6 Pages
Introduction
The Nigerian Civil War, 1967 – 1970, was an ethnic and political conflict caused by the attempted secession of the South-eastern provinces of Nigeria as the self-proclaimed republic of Biafra. The war became notorious for the starvation in some of the besieged war-bound regions, and the consequent claims of genocide made by the largely Igbo people of those regions.

Causes of the Conflict
The conflict was the result of serious tensions, both ethnic and religious, between the different peoples of Nigeria. Like most modern African nations, Nigeria was an artificial construct, put together by agreement between European powers, paying little regard to historical African boundaries or population groups. The Nigeria which
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The Alliance of North and West won a crushing victory under Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, amid claims of widespread electoral fraud.

Military Coup
The claims of fraud led to a military coup on January 15, 1966 by left-leaning junior Army officers mostly majors and captains. This coup led to the accession of General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, the head of the Nigerian Army, as head of state of Nigeria. This coup benefited mostly the Igbos because most of the coup plotters were Igbos and Ironsi, an Igbo, promoted many Igbos in the Army at the expense of Yoruba and Hausa officers. On the 29th of July 1966, the Northerners executed a counter-coup. This coup was led by Lt. Col. Murtala Muhammed. It placed Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon into power. Ethnic tensions due to the coup and counter-coup increased and led to the large-scale massacres of Christian Igbos living in the Muslim north.
The discovery of large quantities of oil in the south-east of the country had led to the prospect of the south-east becoming self-sufficient and increasingly prosperous. However the exclusion of easterners from power made many fear that the oil revenues would be used to benefit areas in the north and west rather than their own.
All these factors led to a growing pressure in the Igbo east for secession.

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