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“In the circumstance, Your Majesty, I no longer wish to wear the garb of the British Knighthood. British fair play, British justice, and the Englishman's word of honor which Biafra loved so much and cherished have become meaningless to Biafrans in general and to me in particular. Christian Britain has shamelessly let down Christian Biafra.” - Dr. Ibiam
General C. Odumegwu Ojukwu may have been the Biafran Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Biafran Armed Forces but it was Dr. Akanu Ibiam who provided the ultimate moral anchor for the Biafran nation. At Independence in 1960, Dr. Ibiam was appointed the Governor of former Eastern Region, the position which he held until the 1966 bloody coup d’etat that swept the military into power. During the ensuing crisis that quickly degenerated into the 30-month Civil War, Dr. Ibiam pretty much stayed out of public view and played an advisory role to the military administration in Enugu.

Like any other Easterner, Dr. Ibiam was incensed by the horrors of the pogroms that Ndiigbo were subjected to in Nigeria, especially the North. When it became clear that General Gowon and the junta in Lagos were not interested in seeking a peaceful solution to the crisis that gripped Nigeria at the time, all Eastern political leaders, including Dr. Ibiam, came out and threw their weight behind the founding of the Republic of Biafra. Apart from a stellar medical career since he became a doctor in 1936, Dr. Ibiam was a devout Christian who held many leadership positions in international church organizations, even after he became Governor of Eastern Nigeria. In the colonial era, he received international recognitions, including British knighthoods and honors like (K.C.M.G., O.B.E. and K.B.E.).


But Dr. Ibiam’s conscience was not bought. He remained fiercely devoted to the service of his God and people throughout the dark days of Biafran struggle. He was particularly irked by the fact that ex-colonial master, Britain, the founder of the Christian order which Dr. Ibiam served faithfully as a missionary doctor for more than 30 years, was the major backer of the Moslem-dominated military junta in Lagos in its genocidal war to subdue Biafra.

Bewildered by the callousness of the British government’s calculated abandonment of Christian Biafra in the heat of a survival struggle to resist a Moslem-inspired invasion for conquest, an enraged Dr. Ibiam snapped and repudiated Her Majesty’s government as he returned all his British imperial awards to Queen Elizabeth II of England with these words: “For these great honors and special recognitions, I am humbly grateful to Your Majesty and Your Majesty's Britannic Government. They are a happy reflection of the importance of Africa and her people before God and man. Howbeit, I must renounce all of them at this time. I do so to register the strongest protest at my command against Your Majesty's Government of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for supplying military equipment and arms to Nigeria which has waged a senseless and futile war of aggression against my country, the Republic of Biafra. My objection and protest are directed solely and entirely to the British Government because I believe that the staunch British friends of Africa, particularly the CHURCH, and informed British public opinion will deplore this unkindly act of the British Government to the Republic of Biafra. With the highest sense of responsibility, therefore, and bearing clearly in my own mind the moral issues which are at stake, and my own stand thereat, I return the Insignia and paraphernalia of my title to Your Majesty's Britannic Government through the British Deputy High Commissioner who is resident here in Enugu - the capital city of the Republic of Biafra.”

The angry and defiant Ibiam concluded his missive to the Queen thus: “In the circumstance, Your Majesty, I no longer wish to wear the garb of the British Knighthood. British fair play, British justice, and the Englishman's word of honor which Biafra loved so much and cherished have become meaningless to Biafrans in general and to me in particular. Christian Britain has shamelessly let down Christian Biafra.”

In these immortal words from one of the great sons of Africa, Dr. Akanu Ibiam has forever established and entrenched a moral yardstick which present and future generations of Ndiigbo must inculcate and utilize to defend our honor and dignity in face of overwhelming odds.

Osondu
The Survival Struggle for Ndiigbo

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