Sunday, June 4, 2017 4:28 pm
During the civil war in Nigeria, Biafra, under the command of Lt. Col Odumegwu Ojukwu operated an effective propaganda campaign at the international level. One of the public relations consultants engaged by Ojukwu was Robert S. Goldstein of the United States.
However, as published in the Morning Post, Lagos, on 17 August, 1968, Goldstein threw in the towel, walking away from the contract. He stated seven reasons one of which was:
”It is inconceivable to me that you would stop the feeding of thousands of your countrymen (under auspicies of world organizations such as the International Red Cross, World Council of Churches and many more) via a land corridor which is the only practical way to bring in food to help at this time. It is inconceivable to me that men of good faith would try to twist world opinion in such a manner as to deceive people into believing that the starvation and hunger that is consuming ‘Biafra’ is a plot of Britain, Nigeria and others to commit genocide.
“I cannot in all conscience serve you any longer. Nor can I be a party to suppressing the fact that your starving thousands have the food, medicine and milk available to them…..it can and is ready to be delivered through international organizations to you. Only your constant refusal has stopped its delivery.”
Below is his letter:
OPEN LETTER OF RESIGNATION TO ODUMEGWU OJUKWU
FROM Robert S. Goldstein
Public Relations Representative of Biafra in the United States
(Published in the Morning Post, Lagos, August 17, 1968)
As your Public Relation’s Representative in the United States, it is my distasteful duty to tender my resignation based on the following points:
POINT 1 – In November of 1967 when we met in Umuahia, you and your Cabinet were very impressive. You told me of the woes of your little Republic, that thousands of people had died, were dying and more were prepared to die for freedom’s sake.
You and your Cabinet told me you believed world opinion would help your cause if you could get your story across.
You expressed the opinion that very few if any people in the United States knew of the plight of the Biafrans.
You asked me to tell the world that Britain had teamed up with Russia in a conspiracy with the Federal Government of Nigeria to murder every Ibo in Biafra. You suggested I use my talents to induce the Press to write about the Biafran side of the war, as at that time all news came out of Lagos.
You will recall I did not take the assignment that day but stayed on several days before deciding to take that job.
To help win the peace
At that time I stated to you and your cabinet that I was taking the assignment making it crystal clear I would try my best to help win the peace not the war.
POINT TWO – I immediately arranged the first world Press conference in Biafra inviting the US Press as well as journalists and television people from England, France, Switzerland, Africa and other parts of the Globe. This was the first news break through. I arranged regular trips into Biafra for the world Press, helped set up stringers, etc., so that your statements and the statements of your Cabinet would be heard.
At that time, I was absolutely positive you were right and your cause was a just one in the best interests of the free world and your countrymen.
POINT THREE – Finally the Republic of Biafra was recognized first by Tanzania, then quickly followed by Gabon, the Ivory Coast and Zambia. Our public relations work was paying off, world opinion was starting to side with us.
Peace talks were arranged at Kampala. I thought that if anyone walked away from the table it would be the Federal Government. But to my dismay it was Biafra that left the Conference. After all the fighting and killing, I knew that peace would not come easy but I could not understand leaving the Peace Conference until the last point was negotiated and the avenue explored.
POINT FOUR – Then urgent telex messages were received from ‘Biafra’ telling of tens of thousands of people starving in the refugee camps, the villages, the bush country – stating if something weren’t done in the next few months over a million women, children and aged would be starved to death. I immediately contacted the Press, urgently petitioned the State Department for action on their part. Food, medicine and milk were sent to the only available ports open for immediate shipment to ‘Biafra’ via land routes through Federal and Biafra territory, under the auspices of world organizations such as the International Red Cross among others.
Then came the incredible answer from ‘Biafra’ that land corridors could not be acceptable until there was a complete ceasefire, and that an airlift was the only solution to feed the starving.
You then appeared before the various Heads of State and representatives of the OAU at Niamey in Niger. I fully expected you to at least accept the world help that was offered your starving throngs. However, you delayed, hoping to use these unfortunates with world sympathy on their side as a tool to further your ambition to achieve war concessions at the upcoming peace talks in Addis Ababa. Thus innocent victims continue to perish needlessly of starvation, the most agonising death that can befall any living creature.
POINT FIVE – This was incredible to me. I am now convinced that I have been used by you and your cabinet to help in military adventures of your origin….using your starving hordes as hostages to negotiate a victory.
If at some later date, following the issuance of this letter, you do concede to allow a mercy land corridor…would you expect me to agree to espouse before the world Press the incredible delay of your decision. What explanation could I honestly give for the needless prolongation of this horror.
I pray this communication may in some small way influence you to move affirmatively, allowing the mercy land corridor to be born.
It is inconceivable to me that you would stop the feeding of thousands of your countrymen (under auspicies of world organizations such as the International Red Cross, World Council of Churches and many more) via a land corridor which is the only practical way to bring in food to help at this time. It is inconceivable to me that men of good faith would try to twist world opinion in such a manner as to deceive people into believing that the starvation and hunger that is consuming ‘Biafra’ is a plot of Britain, Nigeria and others to commit genocide.
POINT SIX – I cannot in all conscience serve you any longer. Nor can I be a party to suppressing the fact that your starving thousands have the food, medicine and milk available to them…..it can and is ready to be delivered through international organizations to you. Only your constant refusal has stopped its delivery.
I am this date, tendering my resignation and am returning to Mr. Collins Obih of the African Continental Bank all the fees you have given me (Letter of Credit No. 354 $400,000 US.)
I have sent your representative in New York a Bond in the amount of 800.000 pounds that I was holding in your behalf. I have also this date, sent the Bond of 200,000 pounds issues by the Central Bankl of Nigeria back to them for disposal.
POINT SEVEN – I am now convinced that one Nigeria is the only solution to peace. I also call upon you Mr. Ojukwu to allow your starving people to be fed. Their well-being is of deep concern to me as well as other right thinking people of the world.
Your acting in the utmost haste in this matter is in my opinion the first step toward any lasting peace in your country.”
Robert S. Goldstein.