Col Emma Nworah Nwobosi, the chief of staff to Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, who led soldiers to fight in different battlefields in defence of the then young republic called Biafra has throws his weight behind the Biafra agitation led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu of IPOB.
In this interview with TheSun, Col. Nwobosi, revealed what caused the Biafran war and why Biafra still the only hope for the people of the East.
Col. Nwobosi said what led to the 1966 coup was the happenings then and they could not bear it anymore, hence they decided to seceded.
“It happened because, things were going haywire in Nigeria. So, we, the young officers in the army were not happy that things were not going well. The then civilian government in Nigeria led by Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, as Prime Minister, was not in control of the affairs of the country because, he had a bigger boss called Sir Ahmadu Bello, who was at the time, the Premier of Northern Nigeria.
“About 95% of problems of Nigeria as at that time, did not emanate from the Prime Minister, who was supposed to be in charge of the country but from a regional premier, who had all the powers, and these powers he had were not constitutional; he arrogated them to himself, because, he was the leader of the Northern Peoples Congress, NPC, where Tafawa Balewa belonged.
“We were the middle cadre in the military then, and we saw the unpleasant way things were going in the country, and we couldn’t stomach them anymore.
Speaking on how he joined the war, Col. Nwobosi said he was called by Lt. Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu, the then Biafra Head of State, to command an artillery which he oblidged.
“I was called upon by our Head of State, Lt. Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu, to command an artillery. Though, the most senior officer then that should have done that was Alexander Madueboh. He was my boss at the Nigerian army; but in Biafra, he was assigned to a brigade. So, I was given the mandate to set up artillery, so, I moved to Okigwe, where I assembled old artillery officers and we started training. We were issued combat weapons. We were, however, disappointed not getting the kind of weapon we expected for the war, but Ojukwu encouraged us to move on with what we had”.
Reminiscing on his deadliest battle, the Ojukwu’s Chief of Staff said he lost soldiers during the war and recorded many casualties.
“The deadliest battle I fought was in Obolo-Afo in Enugu state. We lost men and had a lot of casualties. It was in that battle that I sustained a life-threatening injury. I never knew I would survive the wound. Shell bomb struck me, broke my ribs and my spinal cord. When it hit me, I had a blackout. I thought I was gone.
“Biafra soldiers carried me shoulder high to our Brigade headquarters in Ukehe, Enugu state, and later to Enugu township, where I received emergency treatment in our hospital. My partner, a young soldier, who used to sit around me and run errands for me, was killed by the shell. It was when I became conscious in the hospital that I was told that the shelling that hit me also shattered him”.
Speaking on major challenges Biafran soldiers encountered fighting the war, Col. Nwobosi pointed that lack of weapons and lack of food.
“Biafra soldiers were very dedicated towards defending the young republic, and our propaganda worked very well for us, but then, we had the disadvantage of not having sophisticated weapons.
“We had no mortars, we had no anti-tank weapons. The Nigerian soldiers had all these. Whenever they started raining their weapons, we were nowhere to reply them. The Nigerian army was using AK47, but Biafran soldiers were using close combat”.
On the Nnamdi Kanu led IPOB and Uwazuruike’s MASSOB, Col. Nwobosi said the movement of the those pro-Biafrans are steps in the right direction. According to him, he support the movement and believe that Biafra is the only hope.
He said; “From the way people of the south east are being treated in the present day Nigeria, it becomes evident that we are rejected, and, as Igbo adage would say, a rejected man does not reject himself. We cannot reject ourselves. We should rather work hard to achieve our own independence.
“I did the coup, I fought the war; I also want to see Biafra realised. This agitation led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is a step in the right direction. He needs to be supported. I just wish our people would be focused enough to speak with one voice; not this person saying this today; and tomorrow, another person will start saying a different thing.
“As far as I am concerned, and considering how things are moving presently, there is no hope for Nigeria having a president of Igbo extraction in a foreseeable future. Anybody promising president of Igbo extraction in 2023 is making jest of the people of the South East. You must count one before you count two.
“How could a people, who hate you so passionately today that they find it difficult giving you post of a messenger will come out the next day to give you presidency. How could that happen? My 82-year-old gray hair cannot deceive me. If at my age, I will still discuss or believe that kind of talk, I must be a foolish man.
“An average Fulani Muslim will only tell you what you will like to hear at any point in time in order to deceive you and hold firm to power; and it is left for people with shallow mentality to believe. I am not being pessimistic; but as far as 2023 is concerned, Igbo presidency is elusive.
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