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USAfrica: Buhari’s policies, actions fuel latest agitation for Biafra. By Femi Aribisala

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Buhari’s policies, actions fuel latest agitation for Biafra.

By Femi Aribisala

Special to USAfrica multimedia networks (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com  @USAfricaLive

 

In the eight years of Obasanjo’s presidency (1999-2007), there was no headline-grabbing demand for Biafra.  Ditto for the eight years of the Yar’adua/Jonathan presidency.  However, within months of Buhari’s presidency, the Igbo demand for Biafra has become deafening.  Without a doubt, the blame for this new impetus must be laid firmly at the doorstep of President Buhari.  Moreover, rather than attenuate it, the president and the APC have exacerbated separatist tendencies in the country.

This was part of the reason why people like me did not support Buhari’s election as president of Nigeria.  I have written severally in Vanguard that Nigeria must remain a united nation.  In my column of 4th March, 2014 entitled: “Re-inventing Igbo Politics in Nigeria,” I maintained that: “Nigeria cannot survive without the Igbo.”  The following week on 11th March 2014, I wrote another article entitled: “Nigeria Cannot Do without the North.”

I remain persuaded by both positions.  But if Nigeria is indeed to remain united, there are certain things that must be said and done.  The problem with the Buhari administration is that it seems totally impervious to these imperatives.

Second-class treatment

There is no question that, as one of the major ethnic groups in Nigeria, the Igbo have been hard done by.  Since the civil war 45 years ago, they have been treated as if they were a minority ethnic group in Nigeria when in fact they are one of the majorities.  No Igbo has been considered worthy of being head-of-state.  The South East of Ndigbo is the only one of the six geopolitical zones of the country with five states.  All other zones have six or more.

Indeed, the number of local governments in the North-East is virtually double that of the South-East.  As a result, the Ndigbo receive the smallest amount of revenue allocation among all the zones, in spite of the fact that some of the South-eastern states are among the oil-producing states.

The roads in the South-east are notoriously bad.  Government after government have simply ignored them.  Inconsequential ministerial positions are usually zone to Ndigbo.  Time was when it seemed the lackluster Ministry of Information was their menial preserve.  It is also a known fact that every so often the Igbo are slaughtered in the North under one guise or the other.  Many are forced to abandon their homes and businesses and run for dear life.  The people who perpetrate these acts never seem to be arrested or prosecuted.

When a major tribe is treated procedurally as second-class in their own country, there will be a demand for self-determination sooner rather than later.  When a group of people feel unsafe in their own country, they cannot but be expected to decide to opt out.  It is not the responsibility of the government to imprison the Igbo in Nigeria.  It is the responsibility of the government to ensure and guarantee that they feel safe and are treated with respect.

Discrimination against the South

While these issues have been brewing under the surface for some time, the lop-sided tendencies of President Buhari have brought them all out to boiling-point.  In his first-coming as head-of-state in 1984, Buhari antagonized Ndigbo by locking up Vice-President Alex Ekwueme, an Igbo man, in jail in Kirikiri; while President Shehu Shagari, a Fulani man was only placed under house arrest.  In addition, Buhari arrested and jailed Ojukwu, another Igbo icon for no just cause.

As Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund, Buhari discriminated blatantly against the South and especially the South-east.  For example, his PTF built only 4,440 kilometres of roads in Southern Nigeria representing a paltry 24%; while 13,870 kilometres were built in the North representing 76%.  Of these figures, the Southeast and South-south combined only received 13.5%.

Under the PTF’s National Health and Rehabilitation Program (NHERP), the entire South got 0% allocation, while the North got 100% in the tertiary program. In the vocational program, the entire South had only 3% while the North had 97%. The same was for the primary side where the South had only 12% but the north was allocated 88%. The secondary area was no different. While the North had 86% percent, the South had just 14%.

Disenfranchisement of Ndigbo

These anomalies have been duplicated to date in the seven months of Buhari’s presidency.  In the first place, Buhari won virtually without Igbo votes.  In order to diminish Jonathan’s votes, a major assault was made against them; recognising that they are some of the staunchest Jonathan supporters.  INEC ensured that, far more disproportionately relative to other geopolitical zones, millions of South-East voters disappeared between 2011 and 2015.

Only 7.6 million voters were registered for the 2015 election in the South-east, and only 5.6 million PVCs collected.  Compare this with Buhari’s North-west, there were 17.6 million registrations and 15.1 million collections.  While in the South-west, there were 4.2 million votes in 2015, relative to 4.6 million in 2011: in the South-east, there were only 2.6 million votes in 2015, relative to 5 million in 2011; a drastic drop of 2.4 million.

While Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Jigawa and Bauchi posted their traditional humongous figures; Imo, Anambra and Abia posted relatively disappointing figures.  While the internally displaced Northerners in the North-East could vote; internally displaced Igbos from the North could not.  While the card-readers failed in many parts of the South-east, suggestive they were programmed to fail; they worked in most parts of the North.  In places like Lagos and Kano, many non-indigenes, including the Igbo, were not even given their PVCs.

Making of a hero

President Buhari then added insult to injury by stating on his visit to the United States that he could not be expected to treat those who voted for him in the same way as those who did not.

He said: “(Going by election results), constituencies that gave me 97% cannot in all honesty be treated, on some issues, with constituencies that gave me 5%. I think these are political realities. While, certainly there will be justice for everybody but the people who voted, and made their votes count, they must feel the government has appreciated the effort they put in putting the government in place.”

While his media assistants later tried to water down this disturbing statement, the reality was that, apart from the constitutionally-stipulated requirement that every state must be represented in the presidential Cabinet, Buhari has virtually ignored the Igbo in his appointments.

Two moves showed the level of insensitivity of the Buhari administration to these anomalies.  The first was the decision to move Boko Haram prisoners down from the North to the South-east; a move firmly resisted by the Igbo as it would have made them a target of suicide-bombers.  The other was the blunder of placing Nnamdi Kanu, the director of Radio Biafra, under arrest; charging him with treason and terrorism.

All the government has achieved by this is inflame passions in the South-east.  It has also made a hero out of Kanu.  Those who did not know about Kanu before now know him.  Those who were not disposed to Biafra before are now shouting Biafra.  For weeks on end, Biafra has become the biggest news item nationwide, with agitations, demonstrations, threats and arrests.

Agenda for action

The government needs to apply more wisdom here.  At the moment, it has become the biggest promoter of Biafra by the way it has gone about things.  The idea of Biafra cannot be killed with a sledge hammer, if at all.  What is required is to address the root causes that impelled Biafra.  Unfortunately, it would appear the Buhari administration is unwilling to do this.

As a matter of urgency, Nnamdi Kanu must be released unconditionally.  If the government persists in labeling him a terrorist, his supporters might decide to become terrorists.  Nigeria already has enough problem of Boko Haram conflagration in the North-east.  We cannot afford to light another fire in the South-east.

Kanu was living in England.  If he were a terrorist, he would have been arrested there.  The fact that he lived there without constraints or restraints shows he was not considered a threat, either to Britain or to Nigeria.

It is not a crime to fight for self-determination; it is a right.  The government must not give the impression that Nigeria is a prison where we must all live, irrespective of the living conditions.  The government needs to address the grievances of the Igbo.  Their roads and bridges must be built.  Their waterways must be opened up to the Atlantic Ocean.

Eastern sea-ports must be developed.  Railways must link their mercantile cities to the North.  Their coal resources must be profitably exploited for the benefit of their unemployed youth and citizenry.  An additional state must be created in the South-east to bring it up to par with other geopolitical zones.

National question

Moreover, we need to revisit again a critical issue addressed during the truncated National Conference: the issue of resource allocation.  This is a major gripe of the Igbo and it is a legitimate gripe.  It is not in the interest of Nigeria to continue in this age-old practice where all the states gather every month in Abuja for handouts, whether they are productive or not.  This gives the wrong impression that some states are insisting on being piggy-backed by others.  We need to develop a system that rewards and encourages productivity.

Those who produce should be allowed to keep disproportionately what they produce, instead of the current situation where they are required to share it disproportionately with those relatively less productive.  The truth of the matter is that every part of Nigeria is resource rich.  Every part of Nigeria has the requisite manpower.  Unfortunately, our current over-concentration on oil militates against the development of other indigenous resources.

A situation where national resources are distributed according to the number of local government councils, and where there is now supposedly only 96 local government councils in the South-East, relative to 186 in the North-west does not suggest equity and justice.

The disgruntlement in the South-east about the Nigeria project will not disappear by ignoring it.  It will not disappear by arresting Kanu.  It will not disappear by issuing threats.  Neither will it disappear by denying the youth of the South-east their freedom of speech and assembly.

Today, the demand for Biafra remains the demand of a minority of the Igbo.  If the root causes of their anger are not addressed, the minority will soon become the majority.  If that happens, Nigeria might unravel.  I repeat what I have stated before: the Nigeria of our manifest destiny cannot be realized without the Igbo.

 

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AFRICA

USAfrica: Mandelas say Winnie sacrificed her life for the freedom of South Africa

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WINNIE MANDELA, the anti-apartheid activist and former wife of Nelson Mandela, died a few hours ago, today April 2, 2018 — following a long illness especially an infection of her kidney. She was 81 years old.

The following is the full text of the statement by the Mandela family on the death on Monday April 2, 2018 of Winnie Mandela.

 

Special to USAfrica [Houston] • USAfricaonline.com • @Chido247 •  @USAfricaLive

It is with profound sadness that we inform the public that Mrs Winnie Madikizela-Mandela passed away at the Netcare Milpark Hospital‚ Johannesburg‚ South Africa, on Monday April 2 2018.

She died after a long illness‚ for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year. She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones.

Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela was one of the greatest icons of the struggle against apartheid. She fought valiantly against the apartheid state and sacrificed her life for the freedom of the country. Her activism and resistance to apartheid landed her in jail on numerous occasions‚ eventually causing her banishment to the small town of Brandfort in the then Orange Free State.

She kept the memory of her imprisoned husband Nelson Mandela alive during his years on Robben Island and helped give the struggle for justice in South Africa one its most recognisable faces. She dedicated most of her adult life to the cause of the people and for this was known far and wide as the Mother of the Nation.

The Mandela family are deeply grateful for the gift of her life and even as our hearts break at her passing‚ we urge all those who loved her to celebrate this most remarkable woman.

The family will release details of the memorial and funeral services once these have been finalised.

 

WHY I CELEBRATE THE LIFE AND WORKS OF NELSON MANDELA. By Chido Nwangwu  http://usafricaonline.com/2010/07/15/mandela-why-i-celebrate-his-life-works-by-chido-nwangwu/

—  2018 book: In this engaging, uniquely insightful and first person reportage book, MANDELA & ACHEBE: Footprints of Greatness, about two global icons and towering persons of African descent whose exemplary lives

Mandela-n-Achebe-by-Chido-book-frontcover-Lrsand friendship hold lessons for humanity and Africans, the author Chido Nwangwu takes a measure of their works and consequence to write that Mandela and Achebe have left “footprints of greatness.”

He chronicles, movingly, his 1998 reporting from the Robben Island jail room in South Africa where Mandela was held for decades through his 20 years of being close to Achebe. He moderated the 2012 Achebe Colloquium at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.”I’ll forever remember having walked inside and peeped through that historic Mandela jail cell (where he was held for most of his 27 years in unjust imprisonment) at the dreaded Robben Island, on March 27, 1998, alongside then Editor-in-chief of TIME magazine and later news chief executive of the CNN, Walter Isaacson (and others) when President Bill Clinton made his first official trip to South Africa and came to Robben Island. Come to this island of scourge and you will understand, in part, the simple greatness and towering grace of Nelson Mandela”, notes  Chido Nwangwu, award-winning writer, multimedia specialist and founder of USAfricaonline.com, the first African-owned U.S-based newspaper published on the internet, in his first book; he writes movingly from his 1998 reporting from South Africa on Mandela. http://www.mandelaachebechido.com/

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RESIGN: Anglican Church tells Buhari over ill-health

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RESIGN: Anglican Church tells Buhari over ill-health

Special to USAfrica (Houston).  USAfricaonline.com  @USAfricaLive  @Chido247          

As tension and separatist groups increase, the health-challenged Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (who has been in London for additional medical treatment) has been advised to resign if he can no longer perform the duties of his office, due to ill health. 

“The synod thereby prays God to grant him divine healing. The synod, however, observes that in the event where the President is unable to discharge his duties and or perform the functions of his office owing to ill health, he is enjoined to resign from the office.”

This position was part of the decisions made by the Nigerian Anglican Church during its 3rd session of the 16th Synod, held at the Christ Redemption Church, Enugu.

In a communiqué issued and signed by the Archbishop of the Enugu Province and Bishop of the Diocese, Most Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, Ven. Augustine Orah, the Synod Secretary and the Registrar, attorney H.B.C Ogboko, the Church underlined its point that “President Muhammadu Buhari’s ill health, which has kept him out of office for long, [has been] impeding the growth of the nation.”

Regarding the controversial and illegal pronouncements by a handful of northern Nigeria “youths” who said the Igbo resident in the North should go back to their south east homeland by October 1, 2017, the Anglican Church called those “hate speeches”; warning the “northern youths and their sponsors” against their history of violence against the Igbo. Hence, the Anglican Church and communities warned against “the repetition of the pogrom of 1967 whereof the Igbos were massively and brutally massacred in the Northern Nigeria and calls on the Federal Government to ensure adequate protection of the lives and properties of Ndi Igbo residing in the Northern part of Nigeria.” 

Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was affirmed by Buhari to serve as “Acting President.”

 

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Following May 30 successes, will Biafra agitators compel restructuring Nigeria? By Olu Ojewale

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biafra-protests-ipob-led-onitsha-2015

By Olu Ojewale

Special to USAfricaonline.com  • @USAfricaLIVE

[quote font=”georgia” bgcolor=”#eded9c”]

IT was a day that would be remembered for a long time to come. On Tuesday, May 30, the Ndigbo from different walks of life chose to commemorate the day the agitation for a Biafran state was declared 50 years by the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, a soldier, politician and statesman.

As it happened, Odumegwu-Ojukwu and fellow agitators after fighting in a civil war that lasted for about 31 months, eventually decided to keep Nigeria as one. Although Ojukwu and probably majority of those who shared his Biafran dreams have all passed away, the younger generation of agitators appear unwilling to let them die.

Hence, all the pressure groups that have been formed over the years came together to declare that all the South East indigenes should participate in the stay home protest to commemorate the day. The protest turned out to be a resounding success as many as 75 countries all over the world participated in the protest. It is now common knowledge that activities, business, social and all others were paralysed in the whole of South East that day. Mercifully, there were no reports of bad incidents throughout the period the protest lasted.

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That notwithstanding, the message to the federal government, albeit the political class, was unambiguous: Nigeria needs to change it attitudes to the Igbo nation or give it a country of its own. But it appears that the Ndigbo would need more than such agitation to change the current configuration of the country to suit every segment of the country.

In the past 50 years there appears to be an unending agitation for the realisation of Biafra dream as envisioned by Odumegwu-Ojukwu when he led the region in a civil war in which more than three million people were killed. Since then, the same old issue of marginalisation of the Ndigbo has almost been turned into a sing-song, no matter which government was or in power.

Articulating those issues recently, many Igbo extractions said when the civil war ended in 1970, the then military government had declared a no-victor-no-vanquish situation but the reality on ground have always showed the opposite

President-Buhari-of-Nigeria-contemplative-pix

as Ndigbo were regarded as a conquered people.

Not only that, the apostles of Biafra State have also said that the Ndigbo have been marginalised in all aspects of the Nigerian polity including the economy and politics. They have similarly pointed that despite the pogrom that they suffered, the promise of the Gowon government of reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction were never applied to the people of the South East. Besides, instead of the federal government to harness the industry of the Ndigbo people they are being treated like second class citizens in a country where they should have equal rights.

That, perhaps, gave Uchenna Madu, leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, to say that: “the existence and sojourn of the people of Biafra can be likened to the affirmation of Jesus Christ himself when he compared the Hebrew children to the salt of the earth noting that the earth, would be worthless without its salt.

“Just as the children of light is the salt of the earth, so are the Igbos the salt of Nigeria. Political scene without the Igbo, Nigeria will lose its taste and Nigeria will be no more. In all ramifications, men of goodwill and uprightness know that this assertion is true.”


Madu said trouble appeared to have started for the Ndigbo as far back as before and after the war. He said: “This attempt at establishing an independent state of Biafra was dependent upon the premeditated genocidal pogrom against the Igbo and other people of eastern region of Nigeria then outside of their homeland. This choreographed genocide was followed by the coup of July 29, 1966, during which Nigerian troops of Northern origin systematically killed many southern officers and men, of whom at least three quarters were easterners.

“It is apt to say that the involvement of military officers of Northern extraction in these massacres effectively destroyed the Nigerian army as an effective agent of Nigerian unity.

“The subsequent massacre of citizens of the Eastern region in the north, starting again in September 1966 and the mass migration back to the east that ensued widened the rupture in national unity. It was at this point that issues such as problems of refugees, economic support of displaced persons and intensified fears of citizens of the Eastern region for their personal safety combined to escalate the tension between the Eastern region and central government.

“Nobody could have blamed Ojukwu for declaring Biafra, which was brutally resisted by the Nigerian state but today the situation has not changed. What Ndigbo suffer today seems to be more. Harsh economic policies aimed at reducing the capacity of the Igbo.”

Madu argued that the policies of marginalisation were efficiently and effectively carried out throughout the military era which dominated Nigerian politics at the time from 1970 to 1999. “Interestingly, the current democratic dispensation has also coincided with the emergence of a post-war Igbo generation who do not accept the obvious marginalisation of the Igbos in Nigeria. The manifestation of this resentment is seen in the number of Biafran groups and movements that have emerged to demand for the re-establishment of an independent Biafran state as a panacea to the alienation of the Igbos in the Nigerian polity,” MASSOB boss said.

According to him, the new Igbo nationalism is anchored on a shared vision that the Ndigbo are better off as an independent state than being an integral part of the Nigeria state.

He vowed: “We the people of Biafra will never relent in promoting, projecting and upholding all the legacies of General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, the supreme leader and Commander of Biafra Nation.”

Supporting the separatist idea, Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, the founder of Igbo Youth Movement, IYM, said that there was not much for him to say because of the grim situation in the country, especially among the youths. He said: “You need no other barometer to  feel the pulse of the people judging from their feelings of despair. The youths are so despondent that they are now asking to be allowed to opt out of the country. I do not need to say anything further.

“We are a country and but not a nation. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Biafra, we remember the time we were invaded; we remember the killing of over three million Igbo and we also remember how we managed to survive. We are asking for self- determination
Kanu

Similarly, Chilos Godsent, president of the Igbo National Council, INC, said in an interview that the economic policies of Nigeria had made things for the Igbo difficult. Godsent expressed the fear the Igbo would continue to find it difficult until the Nigerian  state is liberalised to accommodate every ethnic nationalities in the country. He said he was convinced that the marginalisation of the Igbo people was deliberate.

The INC president said: “I can tell you authoritatively that those issues before and after the Nigeria/Biafra civil war have not been addressed. The issue of lopsidedness of political structure of the Nigerian state is still there. The deliberate marginalisation of the Igbo, the conspiracy of the Arewa and Oduduwa bloc against the Igbo nation is still very strong. Let me tell you that these issues led to the fear of uncertainty and made the Igbo feel so unwanted in the Nigeria federation.

“That was what started self determination, which they eventually called the Biafra Republic. The struggle is ongoing but what we are concerned about is the tactical approach and the existing frame work on the modus operandi of all the organisations that are struggling for the sovereign state of Biafra.”

That notwithstanding, Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, was pleased with the success of the sit-at-home protest, saying the realisation of a Biafra republic was near.

Speaking through Emma Powerful, the IPOB’S media and publicity secretary, Kanu said he was encouraged by the outing, vowing that he would stop at nothing in ensuring that the people of the area were liberated from the stranglehold of their oppressors.

He used the medium to thank “friends of Biafra and lovers of freedom all over the world for their tenacious efforts that made our Heroes Day Sit-At-Home Order a resounding success.”

The IPOB leader said the fact that people obeyed the order to sit at home “is confirmation that IPOB which I lead has the mandate of all Biafrans to spearhead the ongoing Biafra restoration effort.”

He added: “With near total compliance with this sit-at-home order I issued when I was still in Kuje Prison Abuja, it has proven to me beyond every conceivable doubt that Biafra restoration is a priority to all and sundry and I promise never to let Biafra down even upon the pain of death because you never let me down.

“We must join hands together, with all genuine and sincere individuals and groups, to restore Biafra with truth and honesty.”

However, rather than join hands with the IPOB leader, the South East Peoples Assembly, SEPA, has asked the federal high court, Abuja, to revoke the bail granted Kanu.

The IPOB in collaboration with other groups, on Tuesday, May 30, organised a successful sit-at-home in South East, an action SEPA regarded as a breach of the bail conditions granted Kanu.

Indeed, the IPOB leader has been facing trial for treason and terrorism, being a major sponsor for the secession of South East from Nigeria on the platform of his group.

He was arrested on October 15, 2015, in Lagos, and eventually granted bail in May this year on health grounds with some conditions.

Justice Binta Nyako said that she was convinced that Kanu was ill and needed more medical attention than the Nigerian Prisons was giving him and therefore, granted him bail on conditions that he must not hold any rally, grant any interview or be in a crowd of more than 10 people.


Nyako gave other bail conditions to include three sureties in the sum of N100 million each and ordered that Kanu to deposit both his Nigerian and British passports with the court and that a report on the progress of his health must be made available to her on a monthly basis.

She adjourned the matter till July 11 and 12, for definite commencement of trial.

However, based on the sit-at-home order, the SEPA has accused Kanu of infringing on the bail conditions.

In a letter to Justice Ibrahim Auta, the chief judge of the high court, Chukwuemeka Okorie, president of the SEPA, asked the court, as a matter of urgency, to revoke Kanu’s bail.

He said that Kanu had continued to conduct himself in a manner that was totally at variance with terms and conditions of his bail.

He listed the infractions to include holding rallies, grant of interviews or be in a crowd of more than 10 people.

“Obviously, the recklessness with which he made media statements and even organised the ‘Sit at Home and Stay Indoor’ protest to mark the so called Biafra heroes day on Tuesday, 30th May, 2017, is a threat to the unity, security and peace of Nigeria as a sovereign nation.

“We have no iota of doubt that he is trying to push our dear country Nigeria into an unnecessary precarious situation for his personal agenda and those of his paymasters.

“Sir, our decision to write this demand letter to your good office at this time is to forestall another civil unrest in Nigeria, particularly around the Igbo speaking region.

“As you well know, the struggle by Kanu to be relevant under the guise of actualisation of Biafra does not enjoy the support of right thinking Igbo people both at home and in diaspora.

“That he suddenly addresses himself as the Supreme Leader of Biafra points to how arrogant and disrespectful he is to legitimately constituted authority in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“The pertinent question on our minds as stakeholders is: Has Kanu been consistent in providing the court with reports on the progress of his health and treatment on a monthly basis since he was granted bail?

“We fear that if Kanu is not tamed by Your Lordship as a matter of urgency, the IPOB may create a situation where it becomes difficult if not impossible for genuine development to take place in the South East under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“History has taught us that the Civil War of 1967-1970 started gradually and later turned out to be something that caused our people unimaginable losses.

“We cannot afford to fold our arms this time and allow a stooge imported from the United Kingdom by stark enemies of Nigeria to maintain a state of belligerence against the nation and keep the name of Igbo people in the news for the wrong reasons.”

In any case, the SERAP’s opposition has, no doubt, shown that not everyone is in support of the separatist movement of Kanu and his co-travellers.

Monday Ubani, a human rights lawyer and second national vice president of the Nigerian Bar Association, similarly disagreed with the agitation for Biafran state. Rather, he said that the Igbo cause could be better realised within the context of one Nigeria instead of plunging the whole South East into another avoidable crisis.


He admitted that there had been elements of marginalisation against the Ndigbo in the structure of Nigeria, but it was now left for the Ndigbo to build confidence with other ethnic groups in order to get whatever they want.

Ubani said: “If you say you want Biafra, in asking for Biafra what are the plans in place. Have you consulted your political office holders who are holding offices everywhere? Who is going to be the President and then where is the capital to be located? I don’t have any problem with Biafra but I want to see what the plans are. Let’s agree before you pull out.”

He also said Biafra would be difficult to actualise by being hostile and rebellious to other ethnic groups in the country. According to him, the last Biafran war was a waste of lives and opportunities. “I will not at this level of my education now support the Igbo man to go to that level again, war, because I have kids. I will rather like us to get a larger chunk of our right in a more legitimate way in this country God has blessed.

“If you say Igbo should return home because of war, where are the industries to work. Please you don’t sit down and create problems for others and generations yet unborn because you are frustrated. I will advise if we love our land let’s begin to carry our investment home and attract foreign investors,” he said.

Besides, he said that Odumegwu-Ojukwu who started Biafra, before his death said that Biafra was now a thing of the heart. Hence, Ubani said that if Ndigbo want to achieve Biafra “all of us must sit down and work out the modalities of a Biafra state.”

For Nnia Nwodo, president general of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the marginalisation of the South East by successive administrations necessitated agitation by the youths for a sovereign state of Biafra. At the forum of leaders of the South-South and South-East geo-political zones earlier in May, Nwodo noted that he aspired for a country where every part would be fully involved and the future generation would have a better country than the current generation.

“Our children are agitating. Our children do not want to be part of this country anymore because they feel that we are second-class citizens and because they feel that their parents are incapable of standing out for them.

“They want the Republic of Biafra because most of them feel they are discriminated against and are not equal with others,” he said. He, however, argued that the country would be better as one, as the impact of war on any country could never be over-emphasised.

“We think that in the African continent, our size is our asset. We have built a brotherhood over the years since 1960 and we cannot break. Consequently, we have to put our heads together and find a better federal structure, a constitutional structure, which gives every part of this country satisfaction. In weeks and few months to come, the socio-cultural organisations will come together to seek an end to this impending catastrophe,” Nwodo said.

On his part, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said engaging in dialogue with those agitating for an independent state of Biafra would be a sure way to resolving the issue.

At the Biafra conference in Abuja, on Thursday, May 25, the former president said Nigerians must treat the country with care. He recalled what happened during the Biafran war and why such should be avoided.

“I have maintained that the young officers who struck in 1966 were naive but there were some element of nationalism in some of them. Be that as it may, it set us back. The language used in the war did not help matters, the people on the Biafra side called us vandals and we called them rebels…


“We thought we would end the war in three months, but it took us 30 months, and the federal side nearly lost it. Civil war is more difficult than fighting in a foreign land because we are fighting to unite… Some of the people agitating for Biafra today were not even born then. They don’t know what it entails,” he said.

“But I think, we should even appeal to those saying they want to go, we should not tell them to go. We should make them understand that there is enough cake to share. We should massage Nigeria just like in a love relationship.”

Similarly, Balarabe Musa, a veteran politician and a former of Kaduna State, in a newspaper interview, agreed that the Ndigbo have not had their fair share in the scheme of things in Nigeria since the time of the civil war. Musa, however, disagreed that majority of the Igbo are in support of Biafra.

He said: “Sincerely speaking, the South-East has not had a fair-share since the civil war. Their marginalisation is quite obvious. But if the policy of reconstruction, reintegration and reconciliation of General (Yakubu) Gowon and the late General (Murtala Mohammed) Murtala’s administrations had continued, the agitation by the few Igbo for Biafra state would have been a thing of the past. It is the marginalisation that is making a small section of the Igbo to agitate for Biafra.

“If the reconstruction and reconciliation had been sustained, there wouldn’t have been any need for Biafra because the number of those Igbo asking for Biafra is not more than 10 percent. The majority of the Igbo crave for a better Nigeria particularly because of their experience and they are prepared to fight for the unity of Nigeria. Majority of Igbo leaders have said in clear terms that they want a better Nigeria where they can expand because they are enterprising in nature.

“As you are aware, people who are enterprising would prefer a big community as against a small one. Some of them desire a better Nigeria because they don’t want the previous experience of war to repeat itself. But the agitation for Biafra is a ticking time-bomb just as the level of poverty in Nigeria.

“Like I said earlier, the system of development in Nigeria tends to divide the people. There were times in history when the Igbo were targeted and isolated because they were enterprising and because of the system that operates in Nigeria. And probably the system could marginalise everybody until there is a brutal revolution.”

Perhaps, fearing the untold damages that may result from another civil war in Nigeria, the only popular agitation in the country today is restructuring, which appears to be unpopular among some Northerners. But that has not diminished the debate for the need to restructure Nigeria to speed up its development.

Lending a voice to the argument, Olusegun Adeniyi in his newspaper column of May 25, said: “All said, as we reflect on 50 years after the declaration of Biafra and what might have been, I agree with the proponents of restructuring that there are sufficient grounds to question some of the assumptions on which the unity of Nigeria is predicated, especially in the light of our serial failings. But to beat war drums at the least provocation or to continue to marginalise (in critical appointments and projects) a significant section of our country are signposts that we have not come to terms with our past and that we have not learnt enough lessons from that tragic episode in our history to say NEVER AGAIN!”

Indeed, that was the view of the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who declared Eastern Nigeria a sovereign state on May 30, 1967, known as Biafra, when he gave his candid opinion on the same agitation in a video that had gone viral on social media.

He said in the video: “I led the first one and I can say I led ‘proudly’ the first one  I don’t think a second one is necessary. We should have learnt from the first one, otherwise, they would all have been in vain.”

But whether the agitators for a Biafran state are going to heed to the advice is another matter. That notwithstanding, the fear of Biafra state, may after all be the necessary harbinger to reconfigure the country and give everyone a sense of belonging.

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