During a political discussion, Chief Ukaegbu E. Ukaegbu was asked series of questions about Biafra to get his perspective on the issue. Ukaegbu supports creating as much awareness about Biafra as possible. Here is what he has got to say:
Question: You have got my attention on your assertion that you are creating awareness. Tell me more.What is the message? Who are the target audience? What do you realistically expect to happen?
(1). The message is: Seeking to enforce the “right to self-determination” by those who identified themselves as Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is legal.
This is pursuant to the relevant Articles on African Union Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and also the United Nations Resolution 1514. Nigeria is a signatory to both AU and UN and so is bound to respect those laws.
(2). The target audience are primarily millions of Nigerians who have access to Internet via computers and cell phones. Once they are sufficiently informed then they may spread the news to those who do not. So, it is kind of a chain.
(3). Realistic Expectation: Once the people fully understand that the “Right to Seek Self Determination” is legal, and it could be achieved peacefully via REFERENDUM, then they would be able to be open on demanding what they want.
For example, someone who sees Biafra as a route to another war will most likely NOT agree to any discussion on whether they want to be part of Biafra.
RESULT ACHIEVED SO FAR:
(a). Nigerians are now talking about Biafra one way or the other.
(b). Various groups are declaring for or against Biafra.
(c). Nigerian government is now thinking about how to handle the situation because they equally know that the right of self determination is legal. Even President Buhari acknowledged this right during his last speech at the United Nations General Assembly.
(d). The Governors Forum of Southeast States is making Biafra issue part of their agenda now.
(e). Rivers State Governor Wike recently made public announcement on Biafra including banning of street protest concerning Biafra.
(f). Arewa Consultative Forum Youths and Elders are making the issue their agenda and now raising some alerts on what they would like to happen. etc.
Question: Has anybody in authority said that any group of people in Nigeria do not have the right to self-determination under the law? What was all the push for Sovereign National Conference about?
(1). I do not think anybody in government authority has come out to publicly deny the right of self-determination. However, any time the word Biafra is mentioned, then they launch a propaganda warfare by projecting Biafra to mean another civil war. They usually do that using Gowon (former Nigeria Head of State). So, the awareness we are trying to create is not targeted at government authorities but at those regular folks out there who may not know that such right exist. The target is on those who do not know that it could be obtained peacefully via REFERENDUM.
(2). Even though Sovereign National Conference (SNC) was a welcome development to me and one of the reasons why I supported former President Jonathan, it did not address the right of self-determination. In fact it was even out of the point of reference on the agenda. Also, true federalism was equally never addressed.
Guess what? The incumbent President (Buhari) has basically thrown the report of the SNC to the trash. In other words, he has no intention of implementing the report of the SNC conducted by his predecessor.
To some extent, I agree that the method of pursuing a cause matters and that is why I have elected to emphasize on REFERENDUM. However, I do know with certainty that Biafra and Scotland are not the same. I know that Nigeria and United Kingdom (UK) are not the same. I’m mindful of the fact that UK has real democracy and as such cannot do what Nigerian government does. We all know that Nigeria has been violating human rights all the time. So, the bottom line is that the political climes of both places are not the same thing.
Secondly, our people naturally respond to things differently from the Scottish folks.
We all know that quieter method of creating the said awareness has been tried for at least 45 years and it is not working, and so another method has to be tried.
Thirdly, I believe that some other folks are still doing some consultations among the ethnic groups that made up the former Eastern Nigeria. Consultations are also going on among Igbos.
By the way, I do not expect that all Igbos will sign up for Biafra, and that is why I usually say that we just need a referendum. Once that is set up, then everybody will have the opportunity to campaign and state why they wish to remain in Nigeria or why Biafra should be created. Even the Nigerian government will have the opportunity to campaign for us to remain together. That is the beauty of REFERENDUM.
Therefore, I think that we should all call for REFERENDUM and set a time line when it must be held. Thereafter, everybody will have the right and opportunity to convince the other on the best way forward and thereafter we put it to a vote.
I believe that once the voting is completed and votes counted then everybody will stop complaining because they would have had the opportunity to decide where to be.
Question: Here's one you did not address. Why Biafra? Why now?
I’m sorry for the omission. Here is my answer to Why Biafra? and Why Now?
(1). Biafra had a historical claim to independence which everyone know about. That implies that it did not start now.
(2). There were gross human rights violations against Biafrans; and
(3). The Nigerian government discriminated against and still marginalizes Biafrans and therefore have failed to represent the Biafrans.
Also, various pro-Biafra movements have existed after the 1970 when the civil war ended. For example, MASSOB was founded sometime around 1995 if I’m not mistaken, Radio Biafra started around 2009 and the movements have been trying to get one recognition or the other locally and internationally.
Moreover, the latest boost which Biafra has gained is because of Buhari’s attitude towards the movement and his blatant marginalization against the Igbos especially.
As you watch and listen to those protesters you would hear them saying “release Nnamdi Kanu”. That means they are somehow motivated by the arrest and detention of Nnamdi Kanu whom the protester recognized as their leader.
In terms of the whether the new approach will work or not, well, we can see that it is working because everyone seems to be talking about Biafra. Nigerian government is running up and down looking for those to bribe and the best way to calm down the situation and then continue with their old ways.
Therefore, I join millions of other people to call for a REFERENDUM on Biafra. It is not only legal, it is also democratic as much as it is well justified. Therefore, join me in calling on all people concerned to set-up a REFERENDUM on Biafra. That would be the only solution to the mess which we are all in the so called Nigeria.