Monday, July 10, 2017

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series -

My dear Bolaji sir, I wish there was something in your rebuttal that disproves the original proposition that MAJORITY of Biafra returnees began life after Biafra with NOTHING or were forced to make do with 20-pound ex-gratia. 

That is the point.

The efforts that you and Kadiri are exerting on the subject only EXPLAIN why it has to be that way, not whether it was that way.

Best regards.


On 10-Jul-2017 8:14 am, "Mobolaji Aluko" <> wrote:


Thanks for your response, but you err in a few issues.

Please come with me...I write in red:

On Mon, Jul 10, 2017 at 2:59 AM, Ogbuagu Anikwe <> wrote:

Thank you, Mobolaji and Salimonu, for clearly establishing even when you didn't set out to do so

  • that returnee Biafrans who came forward with old Nigerian currency from the enclave were denied the opportunity to have those exchanged for new Nigerian notes because they failed to exchange them within the window allowed by the CBN – and in spite of the fact that there was a law that could not have allowed them to do so even if they wanted to at that time; and

Yes there was a law - a decree - but you read the motive and timing very wrong.  

Biafra was declared May 30, 1967, consisting of the old Eastern Region,  and the decree of changing old Nigerian notes for new Nigerian ones was issued at the end of 1967, for old notes to stop being legal tender anywhere in the world in January 1968.  Yes, the decree explicitly EXCLUDED the exchange of such old notes to new ones WITHIN the OLD EASTERN REGION, which at that point was Biafra.  

But what did you expect:  for an enterprising individual or  bank sef to be trading old notes for new ones WITHIN Biafra?  Was that not the whole purpose of the decree:  to deny Biafra the use of new Nigerian notes, which was legal tender all over the world, while the Biafran notes were not?  Now if, within the window for exchange, some enterprising Biafrans went OUTSIDE the old Eastern Nigerian region to trade for new Nigerian notes and bring them to WITHIN Biafra - no problem; I am certain that some must have done that, some kind of currency smuggling  - but that could not have been done openly.  

So there is nothing sinister in EXCLUDING the old Eastern Region occupants from exchanging old notes for new ones.  That region was BIAFRA at the time the decree was issued.  The decree was issued by "vandals" to deny "rebels" use of their ("vandals") money.

  • that returnee Biafrans whose monies were in Nigerian banks during the war (and who therefore would not have had any need to exchange them since this was not cash and the banks would do the conversion automatically) also were not able to get back their deposits as long as they were unable to come up with their passbooks or cheques – since their account records with the banks were (conveniently?) destroyed during the war.

This issue has come up so many times, that I just shake my head many times.  

First, I do not know how many banks in the world can vouch for ALL, or MOST of its depositors by PERSONAL RECOGNIZANCE, just by looking at your face, and saying, "Ah yes, you used to be a depositor in this bank!"  I raise this point because I have read somewhere that even where bank managers knew that someone was a depositor, they were still denied their money in the absence of certain proving documents.

Secondly, imagine Ogbuagu coming to Barclays Bank after the war and saying,    I guess, the following conversation might ensue:

    Bank Manager:  Can I help you?
    Ogbuagu:  Yes. I am a Biafra returnee.   I have an account in this bank, and I want to start operating it again.
    BM:  Thank God you are safe.  What is your full name, Sir?
    BM:  Where did you open the account?
    O:  In this very branch Sir
    BM:  When?  What date?
    O:     About January or March 1963.  I am not too sure.
    BM:  Okay.....What is your full name?
    O:    Ogbuagu Anikwe
    BM:   Can you show any identification to verify who you are?
    O:  No; they were all lost during the war
    BM:  No old Nigerian passport?
    O:  None, but I have a Biafran one
    BM:  That is not acceptable;  but let me see it all the same.   What about your old bank passbook?
    O:   That was burnt too, but I have my Biafran bank passbook
    BM:  That is not acceptable, but let me see it anyway.  How much do you estimate you have left in the account?
    O:  I am not sure, but I took some money out when I fled to Njikoka in July 1966.
    BM:  How much?
    O: I don't quite remember
    BM:  So that was the last time you operated the account?
    O:  Yes sir.
    BM:     You don't have ANY deposit slips or withdrawal slips?
    O:  I have none - they were all burnt -  but I remember that I started with 25,322 pounds in 1963...but you must have bank records, Bank Manager!
    BM:  You have no ID to prove who you are; you have no bank identification to prove you are a depositor; no documents that you deposited or withdrew money from this bank;  no document to show your last balance here..etcheram, ad nauseum.....and you want me to start searching all over the place for your records?

Of course, we could come up with other kinds of sequences of conversations, but until we come up with an example of someone who had his or all her documents complete AND was then denied his money, the policy followed cannot be denounced.

For me, the facts have now been clearly established with your testimonies.

I agree that it is a master stroke to have asked returnees to come forward with both Biafran and Nigerian currencies and, having captured them all, then determine that there was no way Nigerian could accommodate the exchange of the old (Nigerian) and the illegitimate (Biafran) currencies, thus paving the way for a kind and considerate £20 "dash," aka ex-gratia.

It was not a "master stroke" - I presume that is a tongue-in-cheek backhand compliment? - but a genuine effort to see how much money it was that we were talking about, so that whatever concerns about certain legal niceties could be waived.  But when the quantum of amount became known, it was clear that the Government of the day could not come up with any realistic and accommodating exchange not only for the Biafran notes, but even the old Nigerian notes.  (One can conceive that ALL of those who could even have exchanged their old notes would be coming out of the woodworks - "We are all Biafra returnees now...!")

Since Kadiri continues to insist that only a handful of Igbos patronized banks prior to the war, is it then unreasonable to conclude that MAJORITY of Igbos began life after the Civil War with either NOTHING at all (since Biafran notes were rightly not considered legal tender) or made do with the £20 ex-gratia?

Ogbuagu, there is this post-Biafran narrative that the returnee Biafrans were so supermenschen that they roared back to prosperity without ANY government help, and even without the help of other Nigerians.  That cannot be true, and it isn't true.   The narrative to deny ANY effectiveness of the the Rs - Reconciliation, Rehabiltation, Reconstruction - including under Administrator Ukpabi Asika, is not true and most unfair.

Who wants to disagree?

Really, you shouldn't.

I suspect that Bolaji probably would as I notice that he has introduced another idea that may be deployed in the future to show that returnee Biafrans were paid other monies, in addition to the ex-gratia. We await full details of that one.

Don't suspect - know for sure.  I have been writing on Biafra for almost TWO DECADES now, and I am not just introducing any new idea.  Wait for "full details" no more....they are all over the place in the archives.

At the end of what would appear to be mockery of amateurish attempts by a desperate people to pick up their lives after surviving a horrendous war and their bumbling efforts to reap where they once sowed, we appear to have come full circle to the original proposition – which is that there was a deliberate, well thought-out strategy to ensure that those who misplaced or lost evidence of account ownership with banks were systematically dispossessed of their deposits because the banks, acting alone or under instructions, claimed that their account records no longer existed.

Honestly, there is no mockery here.  Why all of this is coming up is that those "desperate people" which you eloquently wrote about seem forgotten, as a new set of people want to create a new set of future "desperate people" in their clamor for secession in the same region.  That is why we are having all of this discussion again.


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And there you have it.

Bolaji Aluko 

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