GARLANDS for Gen. Madiebo:
Alexander Madiebo was the Chief of Staff of The Biafran Army during the genocidal war of 1967- 1970. Yesterday he CLOCKED 90 years and he is being celebrated today at a Party in his Home-town Awka in Anambra State. The occasion will also witness a relaunch of His war Memoirs
Madiebo was trained in the Finest British military academy at Sandhurst in England and was the most senior Artillery officer in the Nigerian Army at the outbreak of the war before he switched to be with his Biafran people. He is a product of Government College Umuahia. The same school that gave the world fine writers like Chinua Achebe , Vincent Ike and Ken Saro-Wiwa.
Madiebo was out-manned and outgunned from the outset and many are still studying how he was able to hold on for 3 years with virtually no significant military help from outside. He faced a far better equipped enemy Army with his hungry and ill-clad troops.
His soldiers were made to share assault rifles and Bullets were rationed. It was rare for a single soldier to have more than 4 bullets in his magazine and at a time 'One man one bullet' became a policy. A Biafran soldier was NOT to pull his trigger if he was not sure of hitting a target and NOT more than a bullet was to be expended on an enemy soldier. Soldiers without rifles waited so that in the event their comrade fell, they picked up their rifles to continue the fight. Sharp contrast with the enemy that had endless belts of ammunition.
Many times the single Recoilless anti-tank gun in Biafra was dismantled and switched from one sector of the war to another where it is more urgently needed and recoupled. The sole Saladin Armoured car captured from the enemy at Onitsha and refitted was frequently moved aboard a truck overnight to engage the enemy the next morning in another sector.
This situation inspired the letter one Brigade commander Col. Ogbugo Kalu wrote to Madiebo at Army Headquarters during the war. Kalu's men were under immense pressure by elements of the enemy 3rd Marine Commando Div and he was short of weapons to engage the enemy. Kalu had asked HQ for more weapons for his men and painted a very grim picture. He ended his letter to Madiebo with words that have continued to echo and re-echo in my mind since I first read it while in Medical school. He ended the letter with:
Sir! We who are about to DIE SALUTE you"
Madiebo read the letter and brought out a handkerchief to mop his eyes.
Alex Madiebo knew that to show frustration was treasonable and suicide was NOT only an abomination, it was also viewed by igbos as an act of cowardice. He looked inwards and relied on what the Biafran's could produce.
He gave his best to protect his people under the most arduous circumstances. His name has NEVER been mentioned in any coup de'tat either in Nigeria or Biafra. He was a thorough-bred PROFESSIONAL soldier of the finest quality. I wish him many more healthy years.