Okonkwo declares State of Benin


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Major Okonkwo Announces Establishment of the Republic of Benin

This was Okonkwo's last broadcast made 24 hours before Benin City fell on
September 20, 1967. As you can see he made a last minute effort
(with plenty of propaganda) to rally non-Igbo groups but it was far too late.
The die was cast.

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My dear fellow Mid-Westerners, on 9th August 1967 we were born anew.
On 18th August I spoke to you in my maiden broadcast outlining what
this Government stood for, what the problems were, and what we
intended to do about them. On 9th September I recounted a few of our
achievements and our hopes. Since then your Government has taken
further steps, despite the activities of the godless enemy, to ensure
the safety of every citizen of this territory while bitter and hard
fighting against the enemy by your soldiers continues. During the
past few weeks I have been holding a series of discussions with
prominent leaders of the Mid-West, including Obas, Obis and chiefs,
about our future.

Pressures have been mounting from organizations and youths, mandating
me to lead them to the promised land. Only a few days ago I had
discussion with His Highness, the Oba of Benin, about these matters
and he gave me his unequivocal support. Now I must not hold out any
longer. You have expressed your implicit confidence in and support
for the policies which this Government stands for. More than that,
you are a great people and capable of being even greater. You had a
great history in this territory ranging from the Niger river to our
boundary with Western Nigeria and from our Northern border to the
Bight of Benin. But what happened to that greatness? What happened
to that fighting spirit? The Northern vandals, consisting of Gowon's
clique of Hausa-Fulani oligarchy, have been allowed to slowly,
greedily, viciously and brutally leech on our very existence, sapping
us of that vital element of life and of greatness. We will not
tolerate any of that, even while the war goes on. We must tell the -
and tell them in plain, simple language - of our will to survive and
our absolute belief in self determination. Whereas the people of the
Mid-West have exhausted all reasonable proposals in the past for the
preservation of Nigeria as one political entity; whereas the
representative Assembly of the people of the Mid-West have voted for
a loose type of association for the various former Regions of
Nigeria; whereas over 10,000 Mid-Westerners were slaughtered or
maimed or made orphans by the people of Northern Nigeria; whereas no
apology or compensation were forthcoming from the perpetrators of
this heinous misdeed; whereas the accords reached at Aburi in Ghana
by the then leaders were not honored by the Lagos and Northern
Nigerian Governments; whereas the Lagos and Northern Nigerian
Governments forcibly tried to impose an unacceptable type of
government on our people; whereas these same Governments then
declared war on the Republic of Biafra and the people of the
Mid-West; whereas it is common knowledge that weapons of war and
destruction have been unleashed on our innocent citizens: I, Maj.
Albert Nwazu Okonkwo, Military Administrator of the territory known
as Mid-Western Nigeria including the air space, territorial waters
and continental shelf, mindful of the powers vested in me under
Decree No. 2/1967 of Mid-Western Nigeria and other subsequent
decrees, do hereby declare the said territory of Mid-Western Nigeria
as the Republic of Benin, autonomous and completely sovereign. The
Republic of Benin will perform all functions of a sovereign state,
make any laws, enter into any treaty with any other sovereign state,
prosecute war against the enemy, make peace and agree to enter into
association for common services with any Region of the former
Federation of Nigeria. The Republic of Benin shall collaborate with
the Republic of Biafra in all military matters. We shall honor all
international treaties and obligations, support the OAU, and as soon
as possible apply for membership of the UN. We would like to retain
our association with the British Commonwealth of Nations and support
any other organizations dedicated to peace, the concept of
self-determination, freedom of the press, speech, movement and
worship. God bless you and long live the Republic of Benin.




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This page was last updated on 04/08/15.