Historicising Foreign Powers’ Intervention in the Nigeria–Biafra War (1967-1970)

Author: Uwomano Okpevra, Delta State University, Nigeria
Email: ubokpevra@gmail.com
Published: August 16, 2023

Citation: Okpevra, U. (2023). Historicising Foreign Powers’ Intervention in the Nigeria–Biafra War (1967-1970). IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijah.10.1.05


The fratricidal war between Nigeria and Biafra ended some over five decades ago. But the lessons learned are not yet forgotten. This article attempts to historicise the role of foreign powers in the Nigeria–Biafra war of 1967-1970. Most scholars erroneously refer to the war as the Nigerian civil war, but historically it was a war fought by two “independent” countries – The Republic of Nigeria and Republic of Biafra, for There was a Country, as Achebe puts it (2012). Over the years the raison d’etre of foreign powers’ intervention in the war has not been properly contextualized. This work, then, sets out to historicise and deconstruct the determinant factors and the role played by foreign intervention in the war. The article employs both primary and secondary data to achieve its objective and reveal the national interests and foreign policy objectives – as expressed in economic, strategic and political objectives – that were factors in the foreign powers’ intervention. The fallout from the 1963 and 1964 general elections is a relevant initial cause of the Nigeria-Biafra war. The article intends to analyse and interpret the political thought processes that generated foreign intervention, and suggests that, should there be another implosion that leads to a repeat of 1967-1970, the foreign powers that politicians usually rely on for aid and assistance can be expected to respond in line with certain patterns of economic, strategic or political interest, to the detriment, needless to say, of the Nigerian people.


Biafra, civil war, foreign powers, historicising, intervention, Nigeria