“The Eastern Region was one, after the killings in the North and parts of the West. And long before the July 1966 coup, there was one strong and economically viable East. In politics everywhere, there is bound to be opposition. Yes, not all Easterners belonged to the NCNC and not all of them were politicians.
Drs. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Akanu Ibiam, Ozumba Mbadiwe and Eni Njoku, were at the Hope Waddell Institute, Calabar. Martin Elechi attended Mary Knoll Secondary School, Ogoja. Clement Isong and Egbert Udo Udoma passed out from Methodist College, Uzuakoli. Ken Saro-Wiwa, George Tamunoiyowunam Kurubo, Okoi Arikpo and Bassy Ukpong attended Government College Umuahia. The first black Principal of that great institution that produced Chinua Achebe and Vincent Ike was Chief Erekosima .
Today in Government Collage Umuahia and Government Secondary School, Owerri, you have Erekosima Houses. Alfred Diette-Spiff’s Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Kombo Igbeta, from Ogbolomabiri, Nembe was Principal of Government College Owerri.
Secretary to Spiff’s Government, Wenike Tienabeso was a product of Dennis Memorial Grammar School, Onitsha. Senator Obi Wali was a student of St. Augustine’s Grammar School, Nkwerre. Edet Inyang and Thompson Wakama enjoyed their job as lecturers at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
As Head of State, three of General Aguiyi-Ironsi’s Service Chiefs were from the so called “Eastern minorities”. Kurubo became the first Nigerian Head of the Air Force. Captain Edet Wey led the Navy. Louis Edet was Police Chief. Ironsi’s Navy ADC was an Ijaw subaltern, Dennis Okujagu.
Adaka Boro had no problem with the Igbo, his grouse was with Nigeria. President of Biafra Students Union, Prof. Emeka Enejere, made this clear at the Boro Colloqium, in Yenogoa, four years ago. Boro actually took the Tafawa Balewa government to court over the Federal elections, in 1965.
Not many know that as a chemistry student, Boro became President of the UNN Students Union after defeating two Igbo candidates in the 1964/65 session. His closest rival, Jude Emezie, was backed by the outgoing President, Onyemanze Ejiogu. The other candidate was Francis Okolie, a sophomore. When Boro took the country to court as first plaintiff, the second plaintiff was Emezie.
The creation of 12 States in 1967 was to sow a seed of discord in the East. During the 1967 Pogrom, both Igbo and non-Igbo Easterners were murdered in cold blood.
The political issue between Dr. Azikiwe & Prof Eyo Ita as well as Dr. Michael Okpara’s political issues with the Ibibio and Annang were all resolved before the declaration of Biafra.
It is on record that Gen. Emeka Ojukwu contacted the Eastern Regional Consultative Assembly before he declared Biafra. Of the 335 members, 165 were non-Igbo. One member, Dr. Okoi Arikpo an Ekoi, from Ugep, defected to Nigeria allegedly because he was not appointed minister by Ojukwu. Gowon welcomed him with the job of Nigeria’s External Affairs minister but later. His Biafran counterpart was fellow COR man, Mathew Mbu.
The non-Igbos in Biafra were well recognized. Gen. Philip Effiong was next to Ojukwu. Ntiyong Akpan was Secretary to the Government, Ignatius Kogbara, High Commissioner to the UK. Ekukinam Bassey, Frank Opigo, Emmanuel Aguma,Samuel Cookey and Okokon Ndem, all held enviable positions.
In the military, there were Lt. Col Nsudoh, Maj. Akpan Utuk, Maj. Archibong, Capts. Willie Murray-Bruce and Ibi Brown, Victor Masi and Clement Ebri.”