Freedom fighter Major Isaac Jasper Adaka 1938 – 1968
Before Ojukwu, there was Boro. Before Biafra, there was the Niger Delta Republic.
Boro was an undergraduate student of Chemistry and student union president at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, but he left school to lead an armed protest against the exploitation of oil and gas resources in the Niger Delta areas which benefited mainly the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Eastern region with capital at Enugu.
Boro believed that the people of the area deserved a larger share of the proceeds of the oil wealth because nothing was given to the Niger Delta people. He formed the Niger Delta Volunteer Force, an armed militia with members consisting mainly of his fellow Ijaw ethnic group, declared the Niger Delta Republic on February 23, 1966, and fought Nigeria’s federal forces for 12 days but were eventually defeated.
Boro and his comrades were then jailed by the Aguiyi-Ironsi Federal Military Government for treason.
Before he declared the Niger Delta Republic, Boro’s father, a learned educationist, had offered his son sponsorship abroad to further his education rather than take up arms against the government. The senior Boro feared that the action would ruin the family but Boro rejected his father’s offer.
He explained that: “The Ijaws were going into perpetual bondage; if we do not strike now, not only our families but also the entire Ijaws would be infernally chained.”
On his declaration of the secession of the Niger Delta Republic on February 23, 1966, Boro exclaimed:
“Today is a great day, not only in your lives but also in the history of the Niger Delta. Perhaps, it will be the greatest day for a very long time. This is not because we are going to bring the heavens down, but because we are going to demonstrate to the world what and how we feel about oppression.
“Remember your 70-year-old grandmother who still farms before she eats; remember also your poverty-stricken people; remember, too, your petroleum which is being pumped out daily from your veins; and then fight for your freedom.
“Before today, we were branded robbers, bandits, terrorists, or gangsters, but after today, we shall be heroes of our land.”
However, Boro went on to fight for Nigeria against Biafra during the Civil War but was killed under mysterious circumstances in active service on May 9, 1968, at Ogu (near Okrika) in Rivers State. He was 29.