Nigeria at War

February 28, 1968

Report Outline
Progress of War to Save Nigerian Unity
Regional and Tribal Rivalry in Nigeria
Foreign Countries and the Nigerian War

Progress of War to Save Nigerian Unity

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, is torn by a civil war that rivals the Viet Nam conflict in bloodshed and bitterness. Gen. Yakubu Gowon, 32-year-old head of the Nigerian federal government, has proclaimed March 31 the deadline for bringing hostilities to an end and instituting a plan to subdivide the country's present four regions into 12 states. It is by no means certain that the deadline will be met. The Ibo people of the secessionist Eastern Region, which has declared itself the independent nation of Biafra, have fought on stubbornly despite a series of defeats at the hands of the federal forces. Unless Gowon's troops soon force Biafra to surrender, many observers feel that the Nigerian conflict may degenerate into a guerrilla war of indeterminate length.

Arnold Smith, Secretary General of the British Commonwealth, of which Nigeria has been a member since it became independent in 1960, visited the country for two days early in February to assess the chances of a negotiated settlement of the war. Smith, a Canadian, apparently found both sides unwilling to parley at present. He returned to Lagos on Feb. 26 to attend a Commonwealth educational conference.

Cost and Significance of Nigerian Civil War

The fighting in Nigeria, estimated to be costing that country nearly $3 million a day and to have destroyed as much as one-fourth of the federation's basic installations, affects a total population tallied in December 1967 at 62.5 million. Agence France-Presse, the only wire service offering regular coverage of both sides of the present conflict, calculated in November 1967 that the total death toll for both sides had reached 1,000 a day. At that rate, the struggle dwarfed such earlier African disturbances as the Boer War and the invasion of Ethiopia by Italy. Most of the victims are civilians.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Africa
Jul. 10, 2015  Terrorism in Africa
Nov. 20, 2012  Booming Africa
Apr. 05, 2011  Conflict in Congo
Aug. 2009  Attacking Piracy
Jun. 2009  The Troubled Horn of Africa
Sep. 2008  Crisis in Darfur
Jan. 2008  China in Africa
Sep. 09, 2005  Ending Poverty
Aug. 27, 2004  Stopping Genocide
Aug. 29, 2003  Aiding Africa
Nov. 08, 2002  Famine in Africa
Mar. 24, 1995  Democracy in Africa
Jan. 14, 1994  South Africa's Future
Mar. 23, 1990  U.S. Role in South Africa's Future
Nov. 07, 1986  Economic Turnabout In Africa
Jan. 17, 1986  Angola and the Reagan Doctrine
Sep. 09, 1983  South Africa's ‘Total Strategy’
Jul. 14, 1978  African Policy Reversal
Sep. 03, 1976  Africa and the Big Powers
Apr. 04, 1975  Southern Africa in Transition
Dec. 06, 1974  Ethiopia in Turmoil
May 09, 1973  African Nation Building
Feb. 28, 1968  Nigeria at War
Nov. 02, 1966  White Outposts in Southern Africa
Feb. 03, 1965  Congo Dilemma
Aug. 12, 1964  Red Rivalry in Africa
May 22, 1963  Political Turmoil in Southern Africa
Nov. 02, 1960  Tribalism and Nationalism in Africa
Sep. 28, 1960  Education for Africans
Apr. 10, 1959  Power Struggles in Colonial Africa
Aug. 20, 1958  Algerian Conflicts
Apr. 09, 1958  White Supremacy in South Africa
Sep. 11, 1957  Future of Algeria
Apr. 03, 1957  Political Awakening of Black Africa
Sep. 17, 1952  Africa and the West
Feb. 20, 1952  Nationalism in North Africa
Dec. 04, 1942  War Resources in Africa
May 29, 1935  Pre-War and Post-War Imperialism in Africa
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Conflicts in Africa
Regional Political Affairs: Africa
War and Conflict