McKenna, Joseph C.
July 1969
Foreign Affairs;Jul1969, Vol. 47 Issue 4, p668
This article enumerates the factors that should be considered in negotiating a peace settlement in Nigeria. Of all the upheavals that have marked Africa's transition from colonialism to political independence, none has been more tragic than Nigeria's civil war. The specific issues of the war which must be resolved fall into several clusters of related problems. The strict legitimacy of both the Gowon and the Ojukwu régimes and of their official acts is one such central question. The second fundamental set of issues relates to the bitter inter-ethnic hostilities that escalated into war. A third group of issues is constitutional then the issues concerning the security forces. A fifth general problem is the validity of fiscal acts and financial commitments made by the Biafran government during secession. A sixth grouping comprises the issues connected with relief and rehabilitation after the war. The final cluster of issues concerns the actual cessation of hostilities. In planning an agenda on which negotiations could proceed, the most urgent immediate problem is to end hostilities. For the cease-fire to hold the confidence of both sides, a large force of military observers will be needed. Among the legal issues, the most direct clash is over sovereignty. Although one party must yield, its concession must be rendered as easy as possible by an earnest respect for its sensitivities. Besides the protection provided through the observer force, additional measures to mitigate ethnic bitterness could be incorporated in the settlement. Other important issues involve an interweaving of political and technical considerations too complex for immediate adjustment. For the permanent return from military to civil government, a new national constitution will be necessary.


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