President of Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), Prof Uzodinma Nwala has has said that it is in the interest of Ndigbo to have Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) de-proscribed and declassified as a terrorist organisation.
According to him, Ndigbo will be able to integrate IPOB and other pro-Biafra organisations as instruments of development and freedom, adding that the Yoruba nation has been able to do this successfully with the OPC.
In an interview with VINCENT KALU, Prof. Nwala expressed regrets that the federation is driven by a particular ideological mould, which treats aberrations as normal in the conduct of the affairs of the society.
Nigeria is on edge; it has turned to killing field; kidnapping and other violent crimes everywhere. Why?
The Nigerian Federation is driven by a particular ideological mould, which treats these aberrations as normal in the conduct of the affairs of the society.
How do we come out of these problems?
We must alter the power configuration in the Nigerian Federation. First, we must return power to the original nationalities that were brought together by the British outside their consent. Second, we must ensure that the decision as to whether Nigeria remains a political entity is made according to the principle of self-determination, without any compulsion.
How can IPOB be de-proscribed?
Ndigbo should apply all possible political pressures to get IPOB de-proscribed. The state governments in the Igbo-speaking areas should take action and demand the de-proscription of IPOB; the Federal legislators from Alaigbo should lobby their colleagues to get the National Assembly to pass a resolution de-proscribing IPOB (we are aware that they have publicly condemned the de-proscription of IPOB); the
churches, the women and youth should demand for IPOB de-proscription. ADF has already made this call and has further challenged the Operation Python Dance in court as an illegal invasion of Alaigbo.
Igbo have been clamouring to produce the president in 2023. What direction should the Igbo follow in 2019?
The issue of the Presidency of Nigeria, should be part of the total package of the process of laying a new foundation for the future of Nigeria. The Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), based on proven general view of Ndigbo, our people are no longer interested in the continuation of a political union in which they are treated like conquered people, daily slaughtered as animals, without political rights and with the foundation of their economic life virtually destroyed, in which there is no equality and justice in the system.
This is why ADF has proposed for the Nigerian Federation to be turned into a Federal Union of Autonomous Regions in which Alaigbo is recognised as an autonomous region, enjoying the fundamental right of self-determination, with full control of their domestic affairs, their security, their land and its resources, and contributing to the maintenance of a Federal Union with powers ceded to it by the various autonomous regions that make up the Federal Union. Anything less than this, Ndigbo shall regard it as enslavement against their will and shall continue to fight for their freedom and total liberation, which we have no doubt shall come in the nick of time. Our God has not created us to be slaves to other people.
President Buhari recently said that Nigerian soldiers during the war were soft on Biafra, even in the face of bombing of markets, IDPs and othe atrocities committed against the Igbo. What is your reaction to this?
I am aware that some Igbo leaders and organisations have reacted to this show of arrogance and mindless insult by President Buhari on Ndigbo based on the loss of a war that could justifiably be defined as the Third World War. Yes, the Nigeria-Biafra war was a world war involving a coalition of major powers against Biafra. Indeed, that defeat was made possible by several world powers against Ndigbo. The soldiers who fought on the Nigerian side were aware of this fact.
What Buhari is actually saying is that Ndigbo were lucky that they were not completely wiped out by the Nigerian troops and their allies. One would ask, Odi Ofele. I do not think it is the mark of a self-confident soldier to revel on a victory won for his side by a foreign army.
I had on another occasion responded to a claim that appears similar to Buhari’s statement; this one by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a frontline commander during the war. According to him, they (the Federal military leaders) conducted the war without any hate or vengeance because it was a quarrel between brothers.
To that statement, I asked a few pertinent questions, which I now pose to General Buhari, namely: How did the world come to describe the conduct of the war as pogrom? Secondly, what about bombing of refugee camps, market places, churches, etc? Thirdly, when you allowed massacre of unarmed soldiers and leaders even when they had declared their return to Nigeria, what did you expect? I mean when you murdered Prof. Kalu Ezera or when you killed unarmed Col Onwuatuegwu in cold blood, what did you expect? Fourthly, when you killed and also buried alive thousands of innocent civilians in Asaba, was that a circus show? Fifthly, let us not get into the punitive measures meted to Ndigbo immediately after that war and until this day.
What is your fear for the country?
I answer this by quoting from the recent memorandum of the Alaigbo Development
Foundation (ADF) on the future of Alaigbo and the future of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, popularly addressed by many as the Green Book: Today in Nigeria. The monstrous forces of hegemony are on rampage in fulfilment of the founders behest. The chickens have come home to roost, things have fallen apart and the artificial centre can no longer hold.
The forces of ethnic and religious cleansing have been let loose-blood is flowing in the land! All the victims of this hegemony are now astir, and the songs of freedom are now raging all over the artificial federation!
The only way out is for the autonomy of the various nations trapped in the Nigerian Federation to be restored.
Once this is done, they shall be free to decide if they want to live together and in what form of a union they wish to live together as free people, but not as conquered people or as annexed territories.
You talked about what to do to de-proscribe IPOB, why do you want it de-proscribed?
When I address certain sensitive issues, such as the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), MASSOB or any other pro-determination organisations, I try not to project my personal views. I endeavour as much as possible to state the position of the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), a civil society organisation to which I belong along with several eminent statesmen in Alaigbo. As their chief spokesperson, I owe them the duty not to mix my personal views with the views of the ADF.
The issue of IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu was first raised at the ADF Elders Consultative Forum held in Enugu on March 29, 2016. We chose that organ of ADF because it includes mainly the distinguished elders in ADF – Archbishops, bishops, chairmen of Sate Council of Traditional Rulers and other notable traditional rulers, ex-governors, ex- ministers, past president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, retired generals and high level military officers, ex- and serving vice chancellors, distinguished professors, top level academicians, top level business leaders, respected women leaders, media chiefs, youth leaders, etc. we felt that such a sensitive issue, required the guidance of such Igbo leaders.
At that meeting, we extensively discussed the on-going global agitations for Biafra under the aegis particularly of the IPOB at the time.
At the end, a communiqué was issued followed later by a press statement signed by the Publicity Secretary of ADF, Col Justino Ezeoke (Retd). In the communiqué, ADF condemned the reaction of the Federal Government of President Muhammadu Buhari to the renewed agitation for Biafra as discriminatory when compared to the attitude of the government to Boko Haram armed separatist insurgency. ADF noted that the Federal Government was known to have sought and indeed negotiated with the Boko Haram insurgency, which has claimed and continued to claim thousands of lives of civilians and security forces and destroyed millions of private and state property.
However, in the case of non-violent pro-Biafra IPOB, MASSOB and other Biafra agitators in Alaigbo, which employ peaceful and non-violent methods of agitation, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is unwilling to negotiate or even to dialogue with them. ADF also had expressed grave disappointment over the discriminatory way the federal government
was handling the case of the detention of Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the IPOB and his colleagues, despite calls for his release by local and foreign governments and organisations and despite the fact that several courts in Nigeria had ordered for his release from detention. We also
noted that in Nigeria, governments and leadership of various zones including political leaders, business men, intellectuals, traditional rulers, human rights groups, lawyers, pan-national organizations from within and outside the Southern parts of Nigeria have appealed to the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to
release Mr. Kanu, whom, everyone know as an unarmed, non-violent prisoner of conscience.
The unrelenting spread of national and global sympathy for the renewed agitation for Biafra is premised on the fact that the campaign of the Pro-Biafra agitators has been both non-violent and does not violate any known national or international laws, but rather is protected by the fundamental constitutional rights of freedom of
speech and political agitation, guaranteed even by the Nigerian Constitution.
As I have stated earlier, ADF maintains that
IPOB and other Prof-Biafra organisations are
legitimate non-violent agitators for political
equality and freedom. ADF likens the Pro-Biafra agitators in Alaigbo as comparable to the OPC within the Yoruba nation, the Niger Delta militants within the Niger Delta region and the Boko Haram and the murderous movement in Arewa land called Fulani Herdsmen. All those are instruments for political struggle by the various
zones. But there is a big difference between those and the IPOB and its sister Pro-Biafra organisations in Alaigbo. That big difference lies in the non-violent character of the Pro-Biafra groups.
It also lies in the fact that the Federal Government of Nigeria has negotiated with the others, but has arrogantly refused to listen to or negotiate with the Pro-Biafra agitators. Rather the Federal Government, under President Muhammadu Buhati has treated them with disdain and continues
to have them slaughtered like fowls with such mind-boggling self-abandon.
De-platforming of IPOB, is it in the interest of the Igbo, or is it that Ndigbo wants it?
ADF believes that it is in the interest of
Ndigbo to have IPOB de-proscribed and declassified as a terrorist organisation. One, it is not terrorist organisation. Two, it is non-violent in its agitations. Three, Ndigbo needs IPOB and other self-determination organisations for their own political struggles for survival and relevance in
the scheme of things in the country.
Employing the methods the Igbo society employs in the handling of the activism of their youth, Ndigbo will be able to integrate IPOB and other pro-Biafra organisations as instruments of development and freedom.
The Yoruba nation has been able to do this successfully with the OPC. Ndigbo can
do so with the youths in search of freedom and equality.