Rotimi Olajide Opeyeoluwa
Department of International Relations and Diplomacy
Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti-State.


Ariyo Sunday Aboyade
Department of Conflict, Peace and Strategic Studies,
Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti-State.

The Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Nigeria-Biafra War, from 1967 to 1970 has been extensively studied. While numerous works have highlighted different aspects of the conflict, from various perspectives, this study delves into previously unexplored aspects of the civil war by examining the influence of resolve and capability on the outcome of the war. While it acknowledged that many factors contributed to the eventual outcome of the war, the resolve and capability of the belligerents were considered critical. Drawing on Conflict Theory and Zeev Maoz’s capability and resolve models, the study contextualised and analysed how these concepts influenced the trajectory of the war and its eventual outcome. Through thorough historical and content analysis of qualitative data obtained from historical accounts, the study assessed how these concepts shaped the outcome of the Nigerian Civil War, providing extensive implications for understanding historical events and informing strategies for conflict resolution and peacebuilding.
Keywords: Armed Conflict, Nigerian Civil War, resolve, capability, military effectiveness, war outcome.

“The only thing as important for a nation as its revolution is its last major war.”
…Robert Jervis, Perception and Misrepresentation in International Politics.

The subject matter of the Nigerian Civil War, 1967 – 1970 continues to attract the attention of scholars and experts as well as witnesses, observers and participants on different aspects of the war. The issues engendered by the war have already yielded enormous publications of diverse perspectives on its causes, course, strategies, outcome, consequences, and more. Why We Struck by Adewale Ademoyega shed light on the January 15, 1966 coup as a participant; The Tragedy of Victory by Godwin Alabi-Isama provided an account of the Nigeria-Biafra War in the Atlantic Theatre from the perspective of the federal troop, the Third Marine Commandos; The International Politics of the Nigerian Civil War, 1967-1970 by John J. Stremlau covered how the international community reacted to the conflict; Biafra’s War 1967 – 1970 by Al J. Venter and Frederick Forsyth’s The Biafra Story covered the war as observers; Modern African Wars (5): The Nigerian-Biafran War 1967–70 by Philip S. Jowett offered strategic information on the Nigerian and Biafran armed forces and their weapons and equipment, to mention but a few. While these accounts and other works on the Nigerian Civil War highlighted the capabilities of the belligerent forces as well as their will to fight in defence of their strategic objectives, there has been no noticeable effort that deliberately examines as a subject matter how the resolve and capability of the military impacted the outcome of the war. In this study, effort is made to deploy the concepts of resolve and capability in understanding the outcome of the Nigerian Civil War.
While it would be erroneous to attribute the eventual outcome of the Nigerian Civil War entirely to the influence of resolve and capability of the belligerents, as the ultimate end of the conflict was a consequence of a multiplicity of factors, the impact of the concepts on the war outcome cannot, however, be overemphasized. For instance, some scholars have advanced the viewpoint that the Federal Government’s armed forces’ victory in the civil war was not a result of its preponderant capability nor a fervent drive of patriotism but largely because of Biafra’s wrong choice of military strategy. Other factors such as international involvement, diplomatic efforts, and the socio-political context also played a crucial role in shaping the war’s outcome.

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