Book Review: The Politics of Biafra and the Future of Nigeria

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Biafra and the Nigerian Civil War are perhaps the most fascinating subjects in Nigeria’s history – a fact that is evidenced by the unprecedented number of literary works dedicated to them. Having read most of the accounts of this tragic chapter in our history, I believe I am in a position to offer a meaningful review of yet another book on the topic.

Chudi Offodile’s The Politics of Biafra and the Future of Nigeria is a refreshingly new perspective on the emergence of Biafra, its defeat and the post-war dilemma that continues to haunt Nigeria. Written at a time when Nigeria faces, yet again, a resurgence of the Biafran problem, it examines the relationship between the Biafran challenge and the future of the Nigerian state.

Although Offodile’s book reads like it is written primarily for an audience with Igbo origins, this is a book about Nigeria. It explores the Biafran war and the events that led to it in order to provide sufficient context for the recommendations it makes about resolving the future of Nigeria. In many ways, the book attempts to “Nigerianize” the Biafran struggle by illustrating how the problems of the Igbo people are in fact similar to and interlinked with those of other ethnic groups in Nigeria.

Those who read The Politics of Biafra and the Future of Nigeria expecting a rehash of the pro-Igbo post Biafran narrative will be disappointed. This is a book that questions existing narratives about Biafra and perceptions about Igbo politics, particularly those promoted by renowned Igbo intellectuals such as Chinua Achebe and Arthur Nwankwo, while inviting the reader to consider alternative interpretations of factual occurrences.

The author offers an appraisal of Igbo politics and politicians since independence and comes to the conclusion that the problems imposed on the South East by the Nigerian arrangement are compounded by a declining quality of leadership.

By ignoring orthodox positions and subjecting the ideological and political narrative of the people of South Eastern Nigeria to objective analysis, The Politics of Biafra and the Future of Nigeria succeeds in reframing the Biafran struggle as one with which other ethnic groups in Nigeria can identify – making it an invaluable contribution to Nigeria’s current sociopolitical discourse.