Renewed Biafra Secessionist Agitation in South East, Nigeria: The Implications on Economic Developments and National Integration

Yetunde Sadiq-Bamgbopa S., Elisa Ehinmilorin, Oluwasegun Popoola


DOI: 10.7176/DCS/12-3-01

Publication date:March 31st 2022



The Nigerian state, given its heterogeneity, has the potential to drive national cohesion and by extension sustainable development within its polity. Notably, the ethnic and religious makeup of the Nigerian state which amounts to about three hundred and fifty ethnic groups and about five hundred languages make the country a unique one among the comity of nations in the world. While the religious and ethnic diversity in a state has the potential to advance the intercourse of values and belief system; the failure to manage its dynamics has the potential to enmesh such state in varying levels of chaos as presently being witnessed in Nigeria (Terngu & Terngu, 2017).

Over the years, the ethnic and religious diversity of the Nigerian rather than advanced national integration continues to set the country on the pathway of division. While some of these challenges are borne out of the limited or scarce resources as is the case of the crisis between herders and farmers in most communities in Nigeria especially the south-east, south-west and the north-central that have over the years witnessed varying violent clashes between farmers and herders; other factors that threatens the cohesion of the country manifest in the marginalization of one ethnic group over the other politically or economically.  For instance, the rise of militancy in the Niger Delta region of the country as advanced (Ayogu, 2020), which arguably came up in protest against environmental degradation, lack of basic social amenities, and control over crude oil replete in the region is one obvious case of agitations that arose as a result of economic marginalization plaguing the Nigerian state.

Over the years, the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria-Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba, two of the group – the Yoruba and the Igbos’ have on several fronts under the aegis of different pan-cultural cum sociopolitical groups such as the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Biafran Zionist Movement (BZM),  O’odua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) and in recent time, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) protested the marginalization of the regions economically and politically.  In recent times, it is noteworthy, especially in the light of recent happenings in the country that these groups now see secession as the solution to the crisis of marginalization affecting the regions; a course that has witnessed proscription and declaration as a terrorist group, the activities of IPOB (Sahara Reporters, 2018). According to Osaretin (2019), the politics of imbalance and a large extent, the leadership crisis in Nigeria at various levels of governance and administration has failed to address naggings in the socio-political, and economic inequality in the nation’s polity. The politics of imbalance in the nation’s social, economic, political and co-operate governance in the management, sharing, and allocation of the nation’s commonwealth, constitute a large rampant state of insecurity, rancor, fear, suspicion, and feelings of agitation, exclusion, and isolation within and among the various ethnic nationalities in Nigerian state (Osaretin, 2019).

As it concerns Biafra, Olomojobi (2015) notes that the agitations from the group stemmed from leadership failure on the part of the government, amounting to years of social neglect, the economic and political isolation of the people in Nigeria and particularly people from the South East of the Nation in general. Again, the monumental underdevelopment, lingering unemployment for the youth skewed political structure and composition and snarled speed economic growth of the Nigerian state resulting in increased poverty, hunger, insecurity are other factors driving the clamor for secession for the South-Eastern part of the country through the establishment of the sovereign state of Biafra.

Although previous administrations have attempted to address the challenge of minority groups in the country such as the granting of amnesty to Niger-delta militants by President Umaru Musa Y’Adua; the 2014 National Conference during the administration of  President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan whose reports advanced political restructuring as a medium through which federalism will thrive in the country, these mechanisms have failed to address the agitations of most aggrieved groups in the country partly due to the lack of implementation of the resolutions advanced by the previous government and/or lack of continuity in that regards especially as it concerns militancy in the Niger-Delta (Ayogu, 2020).

Renewed agitations for the independence of Biafra under the platform of IPOB led by Nnamdi Kanu, a British Nigerian political activist have witnessed violent clashes between the secessionist group and security agencies in different parts of the South-Eastern parts of the country (Daily Post, 2021).  It is noteworthy that while different security personnel has been killed due to clashes between security agencies and members of IPOB, retaliatory attacks have been carried out by IPOB in different states in the South-East such as Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo, Anambra, and Abia targeted at police stations and security personnel. The establishment of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) on the 12th of December, 2020 by Nnamdi Kanu has further aimed at protecting the people of Eastern Nigeria against violent herdsmen in the country and from attacks by security personnel have escalated the security situation in the region by the way of the invasion of the camps of ESN located in different parts of the region by security personnel (Daily Post, 2021).

It is against this background that the study examines the possible causes and impact of renewed Biafra secessionist agitation in the South-East, Nigeria, and its implication on national integration.


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