May 30, 1967, the then Military Governor of former Eastern Nigeria,
Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, declared the sovereign state
of Biafra in consonance with the mandate of the Eastern Nigeria
Consultative Assembly. This declaration on that fateful evening
marked the point of no return for the embattled citizens of former
Eastern Region who felt betrayed by fellow Nigerians for the past
one year. With the preemptive move by Lt. Colonel Yakubu Gowon,
who had earlier decreed the dissolution of former regions and the
division of Nigeria into 12 new states, the East was practically
left with no other option than to secede from Nigeria.
The proclamation of Biafra was marked by wild ecstasy amongst the
generality of Easterners who, for the first time in the past 12
months, felt that they have found something concrete
to hang their future hopes on. Overall morale was sky high and the
new nation was predicted to become the showcase of Black African
ingenuity in all aspects of human endeavour.
There were spontaneous demonstrations in many population
centers of the East during which hundreds of thousands of youths
pledged to rise up to defend their newfound freedom if called upon
to do so. This feeling of exhilaration was, however, short-lived
because the Nigerian military junta in Lagos soon declared a national
state of emergency and began amassing troops to invade the newborn
Republic of Biafra.