Now that the ashes of the Biafra talk is still smouldering, with few sparks here and there, I think it is important to address this once again.
If Biafra becomes a sovereign state today, it will be a landlocked country. Yes.
If Biafra becomes a sovereign state today, it will have one of the highest population densities in the world because of its smaller landmass. Yes.
Are these obstacles to economic growth and development? Yes.
Are they insurmountable? No.
The need to address this arose out of the myriads of assumptions on what may likely be the fate of a sovereign Biafran state should Nigeria continue to refuse our call to restructure and save itself from imminent implosion.
Many have said that a sovereign Biafra will face the huddles of geography due mainly to its small land mass and landlocked state.
Being landlocked is an impediment to economic growth no doubt,The World Bank said its negative impact equals about 1.5% of GDP. But access to the sea is not in itself a guarantee to economic growth either.
With developments in technology, logistics and huge improvements in air transportation, committed countries have cut down on this impediment to a negligible level. I think you know about the Antonov An 225 Mriya cargo aircraft which has the capacity to carry over 450,000 kg of weight?
Moreso, the world is moving into a full knowledge economy where the internet of things has erased physical borders.
Still on the issue of landlocked?
Of Africa’s top 10 fastest growing economies, four are landlocked among them are Rwanda, Botswana, and Ethiopia. Zambia which has remained Africa’s shining example of democracy and stability is equally landlocked.
And of Africa’s poorest and economic laggards, many have access to the sea; among them are Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Mozambique, Congo DRC, Togo, Sao Tome and Somalia of all countries.
Having access to the sea with irresponsible leadership equals mental and psychological lock, and that is the worst kind. Nigeria is a clear example.
In an age of jumbo cargo planes, and international trade corridors, being landlocked is an archaic excuse against development.
Ethiopia has taken the lead in linking up east African countries by fast electric train with connection to the Port of Djibouti. This has cut to a day, the time it takes for a container to get to Addis Ababa from Djibouti Port. Yet it takes three to four days from a container to get to Aba from Lagos.
Djibouti is building one of the world’s largest integrated seaports with a cargo airport to service over 25 African countries and 400 million people. It has become so competitive they are cutting costs.
During the last economic crisis that hit Europe, it is interesting to note that all the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Spain) countries all have access to the sea. Yet Switzerland, Luxembourg and Austria that are landlocked were economically more buoyant.
Every student of development is aware that geography does not hold the influence it used to have as a determinant of development. In its place, culture has taken precedent. That is why some of the most magnificent cities today are rising up from places that were ordinary deserts four decades ago. Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar among others.
Have we wondered how Haiti and Dominican Republic share same weather and climatic conditions with unimpeded access to drown in the sea …yet they are complete opposites?
Biafra has land poverty…
Yes. The South East is one of the most densely populated regions in Africa. In places like enclave (Mbaise) driving through the communities, you might think there is a festivity going on.
But how is that a disadvantage?
Greater Tokyo Metropolitan Area houses over 30 million people comfortably.
To what extent has landmass stopped Hong Kong from growing?
Monaco has 25,718 people per square km.
Bangladesh, North Korea, Rwanda, Netherlands and India all have high densities, yet people are not marching on the heads of others.
And who said if Biafra becomes a sovereign state, every Biafran must live in Biafra?
What makes you think that if Biafra becomes a sovereign state that Niger Delta Republic will refuse to enter an agreement with it granting it access to either the ports at Onne, or Calabar, especially as there will be money to be made from it?
Don’t be surprised that Oduduwa Republic and Niger Delta Republic will be competing to woo Biafra importers to use their ports. And mark my word, Arewa Republic will become Biafra’s major food exporter. Nation states are guided by political and economic interests, not mundane sentiments.
I do not believe in territorial Biafra or secession. And I have made that known severally. I know that a restructured Nigeria will offer Igbo a great deal and that much needed space to be who they were created to be. This belief has nothing to do with the thinking, or fear that a sovereign Biafran nation will be unworkable. It will work. It takes only commitments and sacrifices to make nations work.
There is a thing called human resources…human resources recognises no such barriers as landlocked.
Development and underdevelopment are states of mind.
If Biafra becomes independent and allow the quality of unthinking leadership that has been the lot Nigeria to captain its ship. It will be worse than South Sudan and before long Biafrans will start looking back to Egypt.
Nigeria is not working, and as long as it continues in this trajectory, it will never work.
If you so love Nigeria, instead of wasting your mental energy fighting over Biafra this and Biafra that, join hands in calling for Nigeria’s urgent restructuring so that it will release its children from the Frankenstein state of ignorance, poverty, lack, and oppression.
Nigeria has failed Africa.
This piece was written by Kelechi Deca