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Independence Day 'Biafra' goes black for Nigeria's 57th anniversary

It doesn't appear like everyone is in the best mood for the country's 57th independence anniversary.

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Police urge Imo residents to disregard IPOB’s sit at home order play

An IPOB supporter holding a Biafran flag


There's nothing that tells you it's Nigeria's independence anniversary quite like a sea of the famous green white green flags flying everywhere you turn.

This year's anniversary has been no different as miniature flag sellers cashed in on the remembrance of the country's independence day all the way back in 1960.

One of the easiest ways for Nigerians in a jubilant mood to display their sense of nationalism is to keep the flag of the country flying in whatever capacity.

This is a mood that has penetrated a huge chunk of the population except for a certain part of it that has witnessed unrest over the past few weeks.

Celebration of the nation's 57th independence anniversary appears to be mostly muted in the southeast as they continue to deal with the proscription of separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

It's safe to say that if the Federal Government had not proscribed the activities of the group in the lead-up to today's activities, there would probably have been marches in several streets of the southeast with dissenters waving the Biafran flag to register their discontent with the establishment.

However, the mood there is a little subdued compared to the camaraderie that the other regions are excitedly wallowing in.

According to Onyinye, a business owner in Aba, Abia state, "There's nothing really. People are not celebrating Nigeria, or protesting."

Some of the dampened mood in the southeast can be considered a silent protest in its ongoing agitation for an independent Biafran republic, as leaders of IPOB asked members to wear black to mark the day's 'celebrations'.

According to a report by The Punch, the Coordinator of IPOB in Ebonyi state, Ugochukwu Nweke, decried the celebration of the country's anniversary as a sham.

He said, "Which country’s independence are we celebrating? God never created us and called us Nigeria. God created countries and gave them their own separate names. We are Biafrans and we are not participating in anything called Nigeria’s independence.

"On October 1, we are not gathering anywhere. People have been advised to go about their normal business or stay in their homes. Everybody should wear black."

If events of the past few weeks have revealed anything, it is that President Muhammadu Buhari is the leader of a nation that still stinks of inherited disunity.

In his Independence Day speech today, President Buhari stressed the importance of the country staying together by reminding Nigerians about the horrors of the civil war years.

"As a young Army Officer, I took part from the beginning to the end in our tragic civil war costing about 2 million lives, resulting in fearful destruction and untold suffering.

"Those who are agitating for a re-run were not born by 1967 and have no idea of the horrendous consequences of the civil conflict which we went through.

"I am very disappointed that responsible leaders of these communities do not warn their hot-headed youths what the country went through.

"Those who were there should tell those who were not there, the consequences of such folly," he said.

While it's obvious that the president has been able to beat back on the agitation for Biafra at the moment, it doesn't mean it will go away, or that the country's cracked landscape will glue itself back without careful deliberate design.

What his victory represents is a suspension of a problem that will continue to surface every few months until it's properly addressed by all concerned.

By action or by thought, the 'Biafran' lands don't feel completely Nigerian just yet.

It is up to the Federal Government, led by the president down to state governments and grassroots administrators to genuinely work towards taking steps that ease the sense of marginalisation that hangs over the region.

There's a whole year between now and the country's next anniversary for another shot at having a less fractured nation.

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