Biography of the Major Actors of the Biafra War
The Major Actors of the Nigeria Civil war are majorly two :
1. General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu
2. General Yakubu Gowon
General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu
General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu: General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was born on the 9th of November 1933 in Zungeru, Northern Nigeria, This Zungeru is now in Niger State today. Chuckwuemeka (Emeka) Ojukwu came from a highly privileged family of Sir Loius Odumegwu Ojukwu and Grace Oyiboanu. His father Louis Ojukwu was an influential figure known far and wide for his extraordinary success in business within and outside the shores of West Africa. Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu sometimes sat with the brands of a number of the largest corporations of the time, shell BP, United Africa Company UAC, Nigeria Coal Corporation, and Africa continental bank for his service to the Empire, Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II during her official visit to Enugu in 1956
General Emeka Ojukwu was raised among other privileged children, he attended King’s College Lagos and Epsom College in England before going to Lincoln College, the University of Oxford after Which he returned to Nigeria after his studies. Even though his father wanted him to study law and join the family business. In some capacity, the young Ojukwu decided to first work in the eastern Nigeria Civil Service as an Assistant district officer (ADO). Then in a more likely designed way to enrage his father even further, the young Ojukwu Joined the Colonial Armed forces known as the Queens Own Nigeria Regiment. Emeka Ojukwu’s decision carried quite a sensation at that time because most educated Nigerians particularly those of privileged birth like him sought jobs in their parent’s businesses or other people’s businesses, academic or civil sectors but not in the army. The Nigeria army did have educated officers but they were few in numbers.
Ojukwu went back to England to attend Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and returned shortly after to Nigeria where he joined the Officer corps and rapidly rose through the military ranks, he was accorded a great deal of respect by his military colleagues who admired his pedigree and education. A close friend of him Frederick Forsyth, Ojukwu’s close friend, who would become a close Biafran ally during the war reports of his days in England, he developed a private philosophy of total self-reliance, an unyielding internal sufficiency that requires no external support from others. This brought Ojukwu in direct collision with some senior Biafrans such as Nnamdi Azikiwe, Micheal Okpara, Dr. Okechukwu ikejiani and a few others who were concerned about Ojukwu’s tendency towards introversion and independent decision making.
Most expatriates commonly British only admired him for background, his oratory skills and the fact that he has been educated in England, the rest see him as a spoiled rich kid. This impassions made it more difficult for him to be cast as a sympathetic figure in the western media when the war broke out. Complicating this image was the reason why most foreign observers, wartime actors, and western media find it difficult to see and project him as a sympathetic figure and most key people of the British media believed Ojukwu looked down on Gowon.
Ojukwu’s background and temperament for good or ill influenced the decision and choices he made throughout the crisis and during much of what many believed was ”A personal war and collision of Egos” with Gowon.