This is a draft of the letter written by Lt.Col. Ojukwu to Lt.Col. Banjo on the August 22, 1967. The letter stated in clear terms Ojukwu’s intentions for Western Nigeria (Yorubaland);
My Dear Victor,
- For some time now, you and I have been discussing the circumstances that have led to the current and inevitable disintegration of what was the Federation of Nigeria. We have been fully convinced that the aim of the Hausa/Fulani complex has ever been, and will ever remain, the total domination of every other part of what was known as the Federation of Nigeria. It is impossible to forget that the crisis which led to the army take over in January 1966, the coup of the Northern soldiers led by Gowon in July 1966, the wholesale and indiscriminate massacre of the people of what is now Biafra- and, to a less degree, the people of the Mid-West and West, including the Yorubas, were all the direct result of Hausa/Fulani attempt to subjugate and use as tools, the gallant people of Western Nigeria namely the Yorubas. We do not need to remind ourselves of the heavy losses in life and property suffered by the Yoruba people in their fight for justice and freedom during 1965.
- Sharing our belief that the people of Yorubaland have a right to live a life of equality and self-respect and justice free of domination and dictatorship from any quarter, you have both identified with the cause of the Biafra struggle for survival and expressed your determination to see the people of Yorubaland freed from Hausa/Fulani domination. We, the people of Biafra, for our part are willing and have decided to give you and the people of Yorubaland every assistance to achieve your aim.
- After clearing the whole question with my Executive Council, I, as the Commander in Chief of the Biafran Armed Forces, have decided to place at your disposal Biafran forces, for the liberation of Yorubaland on the following clear conditions: – (i) You will have nothing to do with the Military Administrator in the Mid-West Territory during your sojourn there prior to your move to the West. (ii) The willingness and preparedness of Biafra to assist any part of the former Federation of Nigeria wishing and willing to liberate itself from the Hausa/Fulani domination, does not in any way whatever imply any inclination on her part to compromise her sovereignty or preserve what remains of the defunct Federation of Nigeria. In other words, our sovereignty and break with Nigeria is irrevocable. Nothing must, therefore be said or done by you or any member of the Liberation Army to give a contrary impression. (iii) Biafra is determined to maintain and safeguard her sovereignty and ensure that her integrity and safety are never again threatened. (iv) Biafran troops will, after the liberation of the Yorubaland, remain in that territory only for as long as we in Biafra consider it necessary for the Yorubas to consolidate their position and sovereignty against any external threat. (v) On the liberation of the Yorubaland, you will be appointed as the Military Governor of that territory. (vi) The liberation of Western Nigeria will be a prelude to the liberation of all Yorubas up to the River Niger and the severance of all connections between the West and the North at Jebba. (vii) During the period of Biafran troops’ presence in your territory, all political measures, statements or decrees shall be subject to the approval, in writing by myself or on my authority. (viii) Should our troops arrive and liberate Lagos, the government of the Republic of Biafra reserves the right to appoint a Military administrator for the territory. Such an Administrator will remain in office until a merger of that territory with Yorubaland is effected by Biafran troops. (ix) As soon as possible after your appointment as the Military Governor of Western Nigeria and separation of that territory from Nigeria, you and I must meet to discuss: (a) the duration of stay of Biafran troops in your territory; (b) the areas and subjects of cooperation between the liberated sovereign states of Western Nigeria, or by what name it may call itself, and Biafra.
- I do not need to remind you that Biafra regards all Yoruba as friends. As such everything should be done, to ensure the minimum force and loss of life are involved in achieving the objective of liberation.
- It is essential, in order to avoid misunderstanding or confusion that all subsequent requests for support be formally made to me by you in writing.
- Will you please signify in writing, your acceptance of the above conditions so that you may leave for Western Nigeria and lead the army of liberation.
Yours very sincerely,
Lt. Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu,
Military Governor and Commander in Chief of Biafran Armed Forces.
Culled from ” A Break in the Silence : Lt. Col. Victor Adebukunola Banjo, pp.66-68, by F. Adetowun Ogunsheye, Spectrum Books, Ibadan, 2001″. Provided by Prof. Olufemi Ojo.
Where the plans for Western Nigeria sincere? What would have happened if Lt.Col. Banjo had agreed to these? Does it not seem like Ojukwu was interested in making Western Nigeria a subordinate of Biafra?
These and many more questions arise from this letter.