The problem of energy harmonization within an operatively closed system, has been at the center of human confrontations since the beginning of civilization. The scientific and philosophical articulations of energy within systems are derived from the knowledge of polarity inherent in all cosmic manifestation. Such a knowledge, indicates that all polarity is a relationship between two elements: Meaning that polarity is never absolute, but relative, even to a particular pair of opposites.
On the human level, this insight correlate with the fact that one is not only in relationship with the things that one orchestrates, but also with the things one does not: one is not only in relationship with the present, but also with the past, and both relationships (Conscious and Unconscious, Past and Present)exert equal energies on the subject to shape the future.From the very moment any human, people or nation emerges on earth, the duality of these poles of energy begins to exert its influence, and the success of such a human, people or Nation will be measured on how well this polarity is harmonized- the harmonization effort informed on the nature of the polarity, the non-excludability and inherency that confines it beyond the reaches of legality: for legality in the realm of functional existence can be articulated only after energy is expressed. And here, dependent on how relational or non-relational such argument is made, reactions to it can also face the question of legality or illegality; thoughtful or unthinking; sustainable or unsustainable etc.
In analyzing the energy that is Biafra, its past and current reverberations on the foundational structures of Nigerian existence, insight is lent on the nature of this sort of energy, its historical and symbolical inherency,and the need for sustainable perspectives that takes this knowledge into policy considerations.Bearing the nature of this energy in mind,clarity is lent to the observation that in national and policy discourses in Nigeria,the history and symbolical energy that is Biafra has never been appreciated, discussed or accepted on the knowledge of its natureas energy; its dynamic and lifelong contributions to the complexity of the present. Contrary to these facts,discussions of this energy are closed on the subject of legality.Expressions of this energy are perceived to exhibit a non-relational and local authorship,and therefore construed as a reconstructive illegality- a reductionist perspective that trivializes the relational forms through which tensional energies are released.
This mindset protracted,practically slipped into a closed vision of a system managed on no interactive openness with the constituent paradigms that make its whole.Thus, to the various policy orientations that informed governance in Nigeria prior to and after the civil war, expressions of energy like Biafra- like the theologically popularized conception of the sexual drive in pre twentieth century Europe-is conceived as illegal and therefore merit nothing but suppression: a quality of thinking that come short of the existential fact that humans are, by their nature, autonomous creatures with free-will and an inherent desire and need for social environments that facilitate and protect the expression of that free-will.
This mentality informed the prosecution of the Nigerian-Biafran war between 1967 and 1970: one that notoriously maintains its record as one of Africa’s bloodiest since the official end of colonialism. To those who inherited the responsibility of stifling the Biafran secession energy, Biafra represents an illegal outburst of a people to put asunder in a constructed reality that was Nigeria. The dedication of the effort made to extinguish this spirit appealed beyond Nigeria, and attracted military inputs from established world powers in their bid to maintain the structure and legality of a State founded on the imperial ingenuity of the Westphalian peace treaty.
For thirty six months, this presumed illegality defended itself on the freudian vehemence of its precondition as an entity and people.Existentially resolute and resilient in the face of a struggle that questioned its legitimacy;it valued extermination to life, and technologically improvised on the necessity of its survival. For long dry months of economic blockade, it suicidally expressed its energy to break away from the system. At exhaustion, more than one million people lost their lives, and the word “genocide” registered its first etymological variation in Africa.
Stigmatized by the stark belligerency of this history, and poised to wipe off its possible imaginative consequences in the psyche of the future generation, post-civil war policy orientations in Nigeria thought it wise to never make this experience a part of Nigerian historical curriculum, as learned in her centers of knowledge transfer. The material reflection of this effort is evident in the fact that majority of young people born after the Nigeria-Biafra conflict, rarely can account for the meaning or the question that is Biafra or Nigeria-Biafra war.
Broadening this gap is the undiagnosed traumatic effects of the conflict on the side of older generations of Biafra, and the lack of participant information-as a result of the war’s one-sided prosecution on the side of Nigeria-accounting for the seeming reluctance and inability respectively in passing over this history to the younger generation. Insight on younger people’s knowledge of the conflict reveals a population ignorant of the sociological, political and historical interstices that explains the foundations of current Nigerian existential strives. This has created weak collectivism, as there isno sustainable symbolism on which a holistic sense of Nationhood and Citizenship is realized. Nothing comes from nowhere.
As been witnessed recently, the shortsightedness of this thinking has come into sharp focus. Like an inhibited drive, its psycho-pathological consequences are coming into effect. The choice of suppression, instead of transmutation of the history and symbol that is Biafra has become more of an advertisement for the energy that is Biafra-such energy as currently expressed by the present generation of Biafran agitators, and which enjoys no formal policy synthesis and harmonization, as a result of its pathological non-appreciation in policy processes in Nigeria.The new agitation lends credence to the intuition that society is a hall of mirrors, reflecting the past from the subconscious, and proactively calling for a conscious attention to direct such past towards the part of sustainability.
This new wave of agitation holistically appraised, feeds on the fact that while the slogan of “No Victor and No Vanquished” on which the Nigeria-Biafran conflict was ended, never lived up to its meaning, post-civil war structural policies in Nigeria have attempted by sheer authority to reflect this perceived illegality in her policy choices in the Eastern part of Nigeria. Condemnations and prohibitions based on those misconstrued notion of the Biafran questionstill inform commentaries andpolicy intelligence applied to this challenge.Posing a stark danger is the fact that this fresh wave of energy is expressed by a generation unconscious of the memory that was Biafra, and prone to tensional releases that attract the same quality of response from an operatively closed system- managed on no interactive basis, and which patterns the administrative dysfunction on the same level of intelligence that created it.
In the physical reality of Nigerian natural experience, it should be brought home that humans live within a continuum that undergoes a continual relational transformation, and is therefore acontinuum -in-opposition (Heraclitus). It is undeniable that energy can be repressed, and even denied. However, these solutions have been investigated to be full of unsustainabilities. Acknowledgmentof how things are related offer a better stance in the management of polarities within a whole. Such knowledge in policy making calls for understanding of the indispensability of polarities within a system, and aims at transmutation instead of suppression. The ability to sustainably suppress or arrest a natural energy comes from the introduction of a higher reason that cooperatively transmutes the expression of the energy. Such knowledge recognizes the constituting energy as a precondition that is beyond legality, and aims through policy reflections that is open to interactions with these preconditions, to persuade and transmute the expression of this energy for the need of the whole.
Post-civil war administrative policies in Nigeria fail to provide the ideological revolution needed to bring about a Nigerian State or Nigerian mind,required to combat its developmental and existential challenges. The nation’s historical arsenal is bereaved of “causes” that inevitably points to remedies.It comes short of Wally Olin’s observation in Corporate Identity (1989) “that people need to belong, they need to know where they stand, they need their loyalties underlined and emphasized, and they desperately need- we all desperately need the magic of symbolism”
Between the events of 1967till date, that symbolism(Energy) for the Eastern people of Nigeria is supplied by Biafra. This symbolism, when sustainably transmuted through policy reflections that lives up to the slogan of “No Victor and No Vanquished” can provide the pedestal on which Nigeria will key into the demands of Nation building. At the end, it remains to be noticed that the remedies and solutions that each post-civil war regime had come up with in resolving the challenges facing Nigeria, were remedies unconsciously informed on the history and symbols represented by Biafra. By implication,the energy that is Biafra as expressed now and in the past, is part of the history of Nigeria and one of the unacknowledged motto on the banner of her development:one that policy fails to recognize and therefore unable transmute.
Kenneth Uchenna Obiakor is a Social Critic, A Policy and Education Activist. He is the Founder of the Center for Education and Citizenship registered as Leadership Development Foundation for Civic Literacy (Ldfcl.org) – a non-profit organization committed to enriching citizenship through formal and informal education in Nigeria.