Contrary to the far-sightedness of Darius and the forethought of the Americans, the Nigerian civil war leaders unfolded a scorched earth programme in post-war Biafra
King Darius I (522 – 486 BC) was the fourth in line and the greatest of the kings of ancient Persia, today’s Iran. During his reign, the empire covered the entire Middle East, modern Turkey and parts of the Balkans, India and Asia. His ambitious plan to overrun and annex the city states of Greece, however, met its end at the battle of Marathon, where the highly spirited Athenians inflicted a debilitating defeat on the Persians in BC 490.
But that did not detract substantially from Darius’s greatness. His outstanding leadership distinguished itself in his state attitude to the conquered territories. He wisely avoided being a destroyer of territories that came under his flaming sword. Through proper integration, rather, he preserved and copied good developments from these nations, building the unique strength of his kingdom on the discoveries and scientific strides of former enemy territories. This could be seen from these instances.
When Egypt came under his conquest in BC 489, he moved in with Persian scientists to understudy the renowned Egyptian artistry in science and medicine. He also copied the Egyptian 12 months in a year calendar. In Lydia, whose king, Croesus, Darius put in chains, he adopted the Lydian coinage. And after defeating Sumerians in long-drawn battles, he borrowed the cuneiform system of writing.
Kindly fast-forward to over 2,000 years later when the Allied Powers emerged victorious at the Second World War. Even though Hiroshima and Nagasaki were completely razed, the United States carefully spirited some of the best Japanese scientists into the USA.
Fast-forward a bit to a little above 20 years later. Biafra was an African wonder. A people forced into war to save self from well-planned genocide turned the most difficult of circumstances into attainments never before witnessed anywhere in Africa. The “black” Biafran scientists proved to the entire world that technological invention was not exclusive to the grey matters of white Caucasians, the yellow Mongolians or the brown Asians. In Biafra, a land under land, seas and air blockade in a vicious surveillance supervised by Britain, Russia and the Arab world, grenade launcher was locally built. In Biafra, armoured personnel carrier as well as four different types of armoured cars (Red Devils) serving different purposes were also invented. The Biafrans also manufactured armoured tanks, mobile artillery machine, and the mother of all, Ogbunigwe! Do you know what? The Biafran scientist turned and modernised a private jet into a bomber. They also efficiently refined its crude and masterfully built its airport. In the same national space about 50 years later, a Nigerian Minister of Science and Technology talks about the nation being self-sufficient in manufacturing pencils by 2019! The same man whose brothers in Biafra literally went to the “moon.” There is something wrong with Nigeria!
Let’s attempt an explanation with this contrast. Contrary to the far-sightedness of Darius and the fore-thought of the Americans, the Nigerian civil war leaders unfolded a scorched earth programme in post-war Biafra. Being hegemonically incensed, ethnically challenged, blindly suspicious and impishly jealous of the Biafran scientific revolution, the poorly educated, backward-looking Nigerian military rulers, in connivance with their brilliantly satanic civilian collaborators, squandered the opportunity to launch Nigeria into a world power. They destroyed the gains of the Biafran war, hoping the Igbo alone would suffer it.
Nonetheless, do a fast-track to 2015’s Buhari administration. He appeared to have learnt from the mistakes of the post-war Nigeria.
Where many had thought that with the frenetic condemnation of the PDP and its leaders, the current government would banish not only persons but projects associated with them, Buhari has done otherwise. Like Darius I, he chose to adopt and copy the good in the party he defeated in 2015. His determined policy of completing all inherited projects has been to the immense benefit of all Nigerians.
The PDP started the Abuja metro line as well as the Abuja-Kaduna rail line; today, Buhari, however, has pulled them to completion. The PDP started the Port Harcourt Airport but Buhari completed it. The Treasury Single Account, the completion of many power projects as well as many other successes of the Buhari government are linked to the efforts of the previous administration. He has, therefore, proven that government is a continuum and no matter how bad a situation could be, something good could be salvaged. In summary, while the Buhari regime takes the credit for completing these projects, tributes should not be denied those who initiated and in some cases did over half of the work. Diminishing such efforts is to move forward with heads backwards, unable to see the future. This can shrink excellence and blur foresight. After all, Darius did not disfigure the Lydian coinage just to steal its originality nor did he destroy the Sumerian scripts to turn the cuneiform into his invention.
READ ALSO: Buhari: Still the alternative
Ngige, a journalist, lives in Abuja