ABURI ACCORD: IT’S IMPLICATION ON THE NIGERIAN CIVIL WAR
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Many scholars believe the Aburi question and its implication on the Nigerian Civil War has its origin in the creation of the Nigerian state. That is, the debate over the implementation of the Aburi agreement was the problem of how the origin of the Nigerian state became tied to the issue of the future association of the constituent units within the nation. In the views of Adebayo Oluoshi and Osita Agbu (1996), “the attempt by the military officers to prevent the nation from experiencing a bloody conflict merely fudged the question of Aburi and complicated it further with the consequences of civil war”.
Precisely, on January 1, 1914, Britain, a former colonial power gave birth to the nation, Nigeria through series of diplomatic initiatives and conquests that led to the amalgamation of the ethnically and cultural incongruent Northern and Southern Protectorates. This, unquestionably, according to Eleazu, explains that Nigeria became a British colony as a result of the diplomacy of imperialism than a matter of choice for any of the peoples that were to be enclosed within this grid that came to be recognized and administered as one territorial unit called Nigeria (Eleazu, 195:61-71). From the time of its amalgamation in 1914, to independence in 1960 and beyond, the nation’s stuttering part to survival was marred by a quantum of serious conflict issues that climaxed into the civil war that took place between 1967-1970. Obviously, this history of crises was a result of the decision to merge the various incompatible entities as one.
Incompatibility among the various groups was further aggravated by political disturbances that engulfed the Nigerian especially the early post-independence years. Threatened by a state of total collapse after a period of bloody military coups the Nigerian Army went to Aburi in search of peace. Aburi, Ghana and the failure to implement Aburi ratifications regarding the country’s unity, resulted in the 30 months civil war. Many years after the war the present leaders of the nation ought to have learnt a great lesson of history. But religion politics and the economy have remained virtually unchanged and in almost the same guise as in the pre-civil war years, the country seem also to be on the part of disintegration The obvious pointers to these assumption are the general state of insecurity and political instability characterized by regular abrogation of the rule of law, official corruption and incompetence, kidnapping, armed robbery, militancy, vandalizing of crude oil flow stations and pipeline that almost crippled the economic mainstay of Nigerian economy, the unabated religious/ethnic conflicts in Jos. More recently, a new form of crisis reminiscent of the 1966 pogrom is engulfing other states in the north including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja (Amamkpa:2012:6). A Muslim fundamentalist sect going by the name Jama’atahl al-sunna li-da’wawa-l-quital, popularly known as Boko Haram (Western Education is forbidden), has gained a stranglehold on the region unleashing terror most especially on non-Muslim indigenes of the North. Very unfortunately, 46 years after Aburi and the civil war, the current trend of insecurity still cast shadows of doubts on national unity prompting plethora of demands for national conference, sovereign national confab, true federalism, political autonomy, restructuring Nigeria into six geo-political zones, financial autonomy to local government and a resistance to any change of status quo.
In a build-up to Aburi and the Civil war, 1967-1970, scholars and experts have reeled out a number of factors responsible for crises of those ominous years. These factors which include: political, social, economic, religious, etc are interwoven and could not be considered as terra incognita as far as the geo-political developments in Nigeria are concerned. Amidst the myriad of political sub-factors, the role of Aburi Accord in starting the war was, more often than not, considered the last straw. One of the oft-quoted statements of this period was reflected in Obasanjo’s My Command: [Aburi]…was the last ditch of effort to save Nigeria from collapse (Obasanjo, 1980:145). This statement was corroborated by several other scholars who pointed to the Aburi Accord as the last gap in that circle of conflict.
In a build-up to the Aburi conference, Nigeria was dragged to the brink of the abyss by two military coups in 1966. One of the far-reaching implications was a stalemate between two military leaders (Gowon and Ojukwu). The reason for the face-off, which invariably dominated the agenda of the Aburi conference, was predicated on the following:
The leadership and restructuring of the Nigerian Army
The compensation and relocation of victims of the 1966 Pogrom
After several unfruitful attempts to bring (Gowon and Ojukwu) to the negotiating table, Aburi, a more secured venue, in Ghana, was mutually agreed.