Seven Principles of the Biafranist Revolution
Excerpted from the Ahiara Declaration presented by Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu (Ikemba Nnewi), Head of State of the Republic of Biafra, on June 1, 1969 .
I stand before you tonight not to launch the Biafran Revolution, because it is already in existence. It came into being two years ago when we proclaimed to all the world that we had finally extricated ourselves from the sea of mud that was, and is, Nigeria. I stand before you to proclaim formally the commitment of the Biafran State to the Principles of the Revolution and to enunciate those Principles.
Some people are frightened when they hear the word Revolution. They say: Revolution? Heaven help us! It is too dangerous. It means mobs rushing around destroying property, killing people and upsetting everything.
But these people do not understand the real meaning of revolution. For us, a revolution is a change – a quick change, a change for the better. Every society is changing all the time. It is changing for the better or for the worse; it is either moving forward or moving backwards; it cannot stand absolutely still. A revolution is a forward movement. It is a rapid, forward movement which improves a people’s standard of living and their material circumstance and purifies and raises their moral tone. It transforms for the better those institutions which are still relevant, and discards those which stand in the way of progress.
- The Biafran Revolution believes in the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the human person. The Biafran sees the willful and wanton destruction of human life not only as a grave crime but as an abominable sin. In our society every human life is holy, every individual person counts. No Biafran wants to be taken for granted or ignored, neither does he ignore or take others for granted. This explains why such degrading practices as begging for alms were unknown in Biafran society. Therefore, all forms of disabilities and inequalities which reduce the dignity of the individual or destroy his sense of person have no place in the New Biafran Social Order. The Biafran Revolution upholds the dignity of man.
- The Biafran Revolution stands firmly against Genocide – against any attempt to destroy a people, its security, its right to life, property and progress. Any attempt to deprive a community of its identity is abhorrent to the Biafran people. Having ourselves suffered genocide, we are all the more determined to take a clear stand now and at all times against this crime.
- The new Biafran Social Order places a high premium on Patriotism – Love and Devotion to the Fatherland. Every true Biafran must love Biafra; must have faith in Biafra and its people, and must strive for its greater unity. He must find his salvation here in Biafra. He must be prepared to work for Biafra, to stand up for Biafra and, if necessary, to die for Biafra. He must be prepared to defend the sovereignty of Biafra wherever and by whomsoever it is challenged. Biafran patriots do all this already, and Biafra expects all her sons and daughters of today and tomorrow, to emulate their noble example. Diplomats who treat insults to the Fatherland and the Leadership of our struggle with levity are not patriotic. That young man who sneaks about the village, avoiding service in his country’s Armed Forces is unpatriotic; that young, able-bodied school teacher who prefers to distribute relief when he should be fighting his country’s war, is not only unpatriotic but is doing a woman’s work. Those who help these loafers to dodge their civic duties should henceforth re-examine themselves.
- All Biafrans are brothers and sisters bound together by ties of geography, trade, inter-marriage and culture and their common misfortune in Nigeria and their present experience of the armed struggle. Biafrans are even more united by the desire to create a new and better order of society which will satisfy their needs and aspirations. Therefore, there is no justification for anyone to introduce into the Biafran Fatherland divisions based on ethnic origin, sex or religion. To do so would be unpatriotic.
- Every true Biafran must know and demand his civic rights. Furthermore, he must recognize the rights of other Biafrans and be prepared to defend them when necessary. So often people complain that they have been ill-treated by the Police or some other public servant. But the truth very often is that we allow ourselves to be bullied because we are not man enough to demand and stand up for our rights, and that fellow citizens around do not assist us when we demand our rights.
- In the New Biafran Social Order, sovereignty and power belong to the People. Those who exercise power do so on behalf of the people. Those who govern must not tyrannize over the people. They carry a sacred trust of the people and must use their authority strictly in accordance with the will of the people. The true test of success in public life is that the People – who are the real masters – are contented and happy. The rulers must satisfy the People at all times. But it is no use saying that power belongs to the People unless we are prepared to make it work in practice. Even in the old political days, the oppressors of the People were among those who shouted loudest that power belonged to the People. The Biafran Revolution will constantly and honestly seek methods of making this concept a fact rather than a pious fiction.
- Arising out of the Biafran’s belief that power belongs to the People is the principle of public accountability. Those who exercise power are accountable to the people for the way they use that power. The People retain the right to renew or terminate their mandate. Every individual servant of the People, whether in the Legislature, the Civil Service, the Judiciary, the Police, the Armed Forces, in business or in any other walks of life, is accountable at all times for his work or the work of those under his charge. Where, therefore, a ministry of department runs inefficiently or improperly, its head must accept personal responsibility for such a situation and, depending on the gravity of the failure, must resign or be removed. And where he is proved to have misused his position or trust to enrich himself, the principle of public accountability requires that he be punished severely, and his ill-gotten gains taken from him.