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PROJECT TOPIC: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE ROLE OF FOREIGN ACTORS IN THE NIGERIAN CIVIL WAR 1967-1970

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CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION1.1 Background to the StudyThe Nigerian civil war took place from 2ndJuly, 1967 to 15th January, 1970.The war was fought between the then Eastern region of Nigeria and the rest of the Country. The unfortunate war erupted as a result of bad leadership which was compounded by a coup led by Igbo military officers on January 15, 19661. The immediate cause of the civil war itself can be identified as the coup and the counter coup of 1966, which altered the political equation and destroyed the fragile trust existing among the major ethnic groups. There were retributive and sporadic-massacre of the people of Eastern region, especially the Igbo and the pogrom on them was indiscriminate. As a means of holding the country together, the Federal military government created twelve states from the original four regions in May 19672.The former Eastern Region under Lt. Col. Ojukwu saw the state creations by a decree without consultation and the massacre of the Igbo as the last straw, and therefore declared the Region an independent state of Biafra. The federal government saw this as an act of secession. Several meetings were held to resolve the issue peacefully without success. To avoid disintegration of the country, the federal government had no other option of bringing the Region back to the main fold other than the application of force. The war could therefore be said to have been fought to reunify the country. According to Njuko, while the federal government forces expected a quick win, the Biafra forces saw the war as that of survival and were prepared to fight to the last man3. By August 1967, Biafra extended the war to the Mid-western region with the aim to relieve pressure on the northern front and to threaten the federal capital, Lagos. Both sides employed political, diplomatic and psychological strategies to prosecute the war. By the end of April 1969, after almost two years of bloody and destructive war, the envisioned quick recovery had eluded the federal side but the rebel enclave had been drastically reduced in number though Biafra still exist.Peace conferences were held but non achieved a ceasefire and an end to the war. By end of 1969, it was obvious that the end of civil war was near4. Lt. Col. Ojukwu realizing the helplessness of the situation fled the enclave with his immediate family members and officials on the 10thJanuary, 1970. The Commander of the Biafra armed forces who took over the administration of the remaining enclave, Major Gen. Philip Effiong surrendered to the federal government on the 14th January, 19705, thus bringing an end to the war6.In the war, the Soviet Union had no significant presence in the region prior to 1966 but progressively took greater interest in Nigerian affairs after the Aguiyi-Ironsi coup d’état and the emergence of Nigeria as an important oil exporter7. The initial neutrality of the USSR’s western rivals, including Britain and the United States, provided an opening for the Soviets to send Mikoyan-Gurevich (MIG) fighters and technical assistance to the Nigerians, thereby including the region in cold war theatre8. This study is an investigation of the role of foreign actors in the Nigerian civil war. To this end, the project is divided into five chapters. Chapter one discussed the background of the study, statement of the problem, aims and objectives of the study, significance of the study, scope and limitations of the study, methodology and review of related literature. Chapter two discussed the brief history of Nigeria, the cold war era, Nigeria’s foreign policy before the war, the causes of the war and the nature of the war. Chapter three discussed the internationalization of the war, the role of state and non-state actors in the war. Chapter four discussed the economic effect, social effect, psychological effect of the war while chapter five discussed the summary and conclusion.1.2 Statement of the ProblemAfter Nigeria got her independence in 1960, Nigerians were living in peace and harmony until 30thMay, 1967 when Lt. Col. Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the then military governor of the East declared the East independent from the rest of Nigeria. He called his new state “Republic of Biafra”.This declaration created tension which led to the civil war in Nigeria. During the civil war, the federal government of Nigeria faced a lot of casualties which made them ask for help from her traditional allies which included Britain and United States and they bluntly rejected her request. The rejection from her traditional allies made the Nigerian federal government to go seeking help elsewhere and this brought in the Union of Socialist Soviet Republic (USSR) in the Nigerian war.Soviet Union is said to have played a prominent role to the success of Nigeria in the civil war as they offered much help, such as giving out MIG fighters and technical backing to support the war while Egypt provided best pilots to fly the warships for the execution of the war. So if the success of Nigerian government in the war should be mentioned we will not fail to recognize the role of Soviet Union in the execution of the war.



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