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Perhaps, no other Nigerian has been perceived by Ndigbo to be personally responsible for crafting the policies that compounded the misery of ex-Biafrans as the Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Serving his jail term for treason at the Calabar Prison by time the Civil War was imminent, Awolowo was set free by General Ojukwu with an understanding that the Yoruba leader was bent on using the opportunity of ongoing national crisis to pull his people out of the Nigerian federation and declare the Oduduwa Republic in the West.

But the master tactician had something else in mind as he paid lip service to an accord with Biafran leadership before his release from jail. As soon as he made it safely out of Biafra, he pitched his tent with General Gowon who rewarded him with appointment to the highest civilian post in the military junta in Lagos. Awolowo also was the Minister of Finance where he had full rein on the national coffers.

His elevated position instantaneously made tens of thousands of Yoruba recruits to join the Nigerian armed forces. The command structure and bulk of foot soldiers that spearheaded the maritime invasion from the southern front were mostly Yorubas. As the Yoruba chieftain acquired more control of the federal bureaucracy, he became more aggressive and vocal in defense of federal war policies in Biafra, which included deprivation of food and medical supplies to the civilian victims of the Civil War. He was reported to have told foreign media correspondents, who expressed global outrage at the level of misery inside Biafra, that starvation was a legitimate instrument of warfare.

It was the post-war policies of Awolowo-led Ministry of Finance that inflicted the most lasting pain on those who managed to survive his starvation policy. The Biafran currency, which was the only legal tender of the survivors of the Biafran siege, was overnight declared worthless and everyone with a bank account was issued a measly N40 (40 cents US), in lieu of their deposit, to start life anew on their own. A few years afterwards, the same Ministry embarked on the process of selling off foreign-owned businesses to Nigerians who were able to pay. In that indigenization process, penury did not allow Ndigbo to participate as the collective wealth of Nigeria was handed out only to those who had the cash in hand. It could be said that Chief Awolowo was not only a proven bedfellow of the Nigerian military establishment, but he also sanctioned the tacit gang-up by the North and West to use authoritarian military rule to keep Ndigbo marginalized for the next 30 years.
 
"All is fair in war, and starvation is one of the weapons of war. I don't see why we should feed our enemies fat in order for them to fight harder." - Awolowo
 
Osondu
The Survival Struggle for Ndiigbo

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