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To What Extent Did The Failure of the January 1966 Coup Lead to the Outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War?

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Sean Okundaye HISTORICAL INVESTIGATION To What Extent Did The Failure of the January 1966 Coup Lead to the Outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War? Word Count: 1,986 (Excluding title page, headings, footnotes, contents page and bibliography) 14/05/2010 CONTENTS * A. PLAN OF INVESTIGATION ........... PAGE 3 * B. SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE........... PAGE 3 * C. EVALUATION OF SOURCES........... PAGE 6 * D. ANALYSIS........... PAGE 8 * E. CONCLUSION........... PAGE 10 * F. BIBLIOGRAPHY........... PAGE 11 A. PLAN OF INVESTIGATION This is an investigation in order to answer the question: To what extent did the failure of the January 1966 coup lead to the outbreak of the civil war? I will evaluate the extent to which the failed coup of January 1966 made war inevitable. I will also evaluate the extent to which ethnic tensions between the mainly Hausa-Fulani Northerners and the Igbo Easterners of Nigeria and the 1966 anti-Igbo pogrom in Northern Nigeria, caused primarily by the failed coup, led to the secession of Biafra from Nigeria thus making war inevitable. I will also look at the state of the economy before the war. Two of the sources used in this investigation-Nigeria 1966: The Turning Point by Chukwudum Ikeazor and Africa: A Modern History by Guy Arnold will be evaluated with respect to their origin, purpose, value and limitations. ...read more.


EVALUATION OF SOURCES Nigeria 1966: the Turning Point by Chukwudum Ikeazor (1997, New Millennium) The purpose of this source is to offer in-depth analysis of the first coup of January 15th 1966 as well as the politics, bloodshed and the subsequent counter coup in July. Ikeazor addresses the fact that the failure of Nigerians to reconcile and recover from 1966 led to the outbreak of war on July 6th 1967. The value of the source lies in the evaluation of the mentality of the Nigerian people at the time which affected the way in which the coups were received. Ikeazor made enquiries of living witnesses, victims and participants of the events of 1966-1967 and spoke to various military and civilian participants from both sides, meaning that there is an element of fairness. The origin of the source lies in the author's Igbo ethnicity and therefore the limitation is that the author may have, construed the events in a way which would be more sympathetic to one side than another. Ikeazor himself addresses this with his admission that "I fully recognise that our different environments and backgrounds shape our perceptions to a great degree and therefore, certain things are often seen differently by different people."26 Africa: A Modern History by Guy Arnold (2005, Atlantic Books) ...read more.


Therefore, it was only natural that a sympathetic group of military officials would want to take matters in to their own hands so as to bring stability to the country. This however, only served to cause further conflict. E. CONCLUSION The failure of the first coup can only be held partly accountable for the outbreak of war when one looks at the evidence. The failure of the coup acted as a catalyst to the problems which were brewing in Nigeria. Though there was a recession and corruption was rife, this could not have single-handedly led to war. Indeed, had ethnic and religious tensions not been so engrained in the political psyche of the Nigerian people then the coup would not have been interpreted in the way that it was. These tensions were the largest factor in the outbreak of war because these were the reasons why all the pogroms were carried out. Ethnic tensions are what led to the Igbo fleeing to the Eastern Region and forming Biafra. This meant that war was inevitable since it would have been crippling to the Nigerian economy if such an oil-rich region was lost. Therefore, in answer to this essays question, I say that the coup was only partially to blame; it was ethnic tensions which ultimately made war inevitable. F. ...read more.

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