France had more interest in the reserves of petroleum deposited in the swamps of the Niger Delta than the Igbo secessionism during the Nigerian civil war, declassified documents by the United states Central Intelligence Agency has revealed.
In a report that was exclusively produced by Premium Times Newspapers, French support had underlaying interest in the ‘black gold’ or ‘jewel of the Niger Delta’ –crude oil.
Excerpts from the documents read; “France supported Biafra because of the oil and ERAP, but not the Ibo revolution,” said Jean Mauricheau-Beaupre, French secretary general for African and Malagasy Affairs, referring to Emergency Response Action Plan, ERAP.
The February 10, 1969 memo also quotes Mr. Mauricheau-Beaupre, the equivalent of a minister at the time, as saying French support was merely given to a “handful of Biafra bourgeoisie in return for oil”.
However, as the reality of Biafra breakaway seemed dim, the French minister ruled out the possibility of a guerilla war in the region, saying there was no popular support in the region.
“The real Ibo mentality is much farther to the left than that of Ojukwu and even if we had won, there would have been the problem of keeping him in power in the face of leftist infiltration,” he said, referring to the Biafran warlord, Chukwuemeka Ojukwu.
The document also indicated that external factors had played an important role in the shaping of the events that caused the civil war and the consequent development of events over its duration. It was also duly mentioned that only France, Gabon, Tanzania and Ivory Coast openly backed Biafra.
It was also duly mentioned that only France, Gabon, Tanzania and Ivory Coast openly backed Biafra.
The CIA report also revealed that support for a Biafran guerilla resistance by the French would be futile.
“The rationale for this position as expressed by Mauricheau-Beaupre to individuals concerned with executing Biafran operations was as follows: ‘France supported Biafra because of the oil and ERAP, but not the Ibo revolution,” the cable said.
Further revelation indicated that U.S. played a more neutral and diplomatic role, as it regarded the civil war as primarily a Nigerian and African problem, but continued to recognise the FMG; imposed an arms embargo on both sides; contributed $30 million to the international relief effort; voiced political support for a negotiated settlement in the context of one Nigeria with workable safeguards for Ibo protection, Premium Times report exclusively.
The document also revealed that Libreville, Gabon was Mr Ojukwu first point of call when the stronghold of Enugu fell under the control of the federal forces. There he stayed in a private villa told French agents he departed Nigeria according to the wishes of his chief of general staff, Phillip Effiong, and to spare his people from extermination.