As Nnamdi Kanu’s close associate speaks from London, unveils new phase of struggle
Magnus Eze, Enugu
A close associate of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, who is based in London, Dr Chukwuma Egemba, has revealed the next phase of action plans being worked upon by a coalition of pro-Biafra groups to actualize a sovereign state.
According to him, the next phase of the struggle for self-determination would not expose their people to dangerous risks by way of street protests.
Egemba, who noted that such method and tactics were previously deployed by Kanu to create awareness revealed that the coalition of Biafra organizations which met recently at Rojenny, Oba in Anambra State, deliberated on ways to collectively drive the next phase.
He also observed that Kanu’s approach to actualising Biafra has created enmity for the movement globally.
The co-founder of Radio Biafra, who worked closely with Kanu for over 17 years, also said that members of the Biafra coalition are supporting the
Ohanaeze Ndigbo call for the restructuring of Nigeria.
In this interview with Sunday Sun after the sit-at-home order by IPOB recently, Egemba said that the era of sit-at-home with people recording economic losses and losing their lives because of Biafra was over.
He stated that many Biafra groups, including a faction of IPOB not loyal to Kanu, the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Biafra Government in Exile, among others, have embraced the coalition since it first met in Accra, Ghana two years ago.
His words: “We have all been working in our separate ways in different groups and people now know that these groups will not help us in achieving our ultimate goal of realising Biafra.
“So, the best thing is for us to come together and every group will bring its strengths; then we pool resources and ideas together; and have a common cause of action. Let me bring your mind to what happened during the period of anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, there were hundreds of groups and incidentally, in one of my academic pursuits; I worked on the role of Nigeria and other African countries in the anti-apartheid struggle.
“In fact, a Biafra activist living in South Africa told me that there were more than 500 anti-apartheid groups at some point then. But, at the end of the day, they came together to form a coalition; and it was that coalition that drove the struggle to a successful end. And that’s what we are doing now. Different groups have found out no one group can do it; no individual can do it, the best way is to come together, form a coalition.
“We’re still at the elementary stage; the foundation was laid exactly two years ago in Accra, Ghana; that was in 2016. That are meeting at home and abroad, consulting one another, which culminated in the celebrations that took place in Oba, Idemili South of Anambra State. All the pro-Biafra groups are involved even some factions of IPOB; those who broke away from Nnamdi Kanu because of his style of leadership are part of this coalition. The faction led by their Directorate of State; one Uchenna Asiegbu who is based in Spain is part of the coalition, MASSOB is there, name them; only the faction still loyal to Nnamdi Kanu that was not there.
“Uwazuruike is in support, I’ve spoken with him and he said that anything that would lead to our realising Biafra, including this coalition, that he’s in support.
The Biafran Government in Exile; a shadow government, I don’t know whether you’ve heard of it; is in support of the coalition too; Eastern Peoples’ Congress, just name any of the groups. The coalition is the best way forward for us to achieve our objective and our intelligentsia are coming in; I understand that the Alaigbo Development Foundation has pledged their support because you can’t achieve Biafra by alienating your own people, creating enmity, castigating your own people. You have to bring everybody on board and give everybody a role.” He spoke more on other efforts. Excerpts:
What would be the role of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in all of these?
Incidentally, Ohanaeze is in support of this coalition. This coalition has had series of meetings with Ohanaeze; although they do send mixed messages, but Ohanaeze is in support of what is happening.
If you’re on the same page with Ohanaeze, how come some Biafra campaigners staged a walk out at the South-East summit on restructuring?
Those people you saw at Awka were the same faction of IPOB loyal to Nnamdi Kanu; I will not take it from him that there’re still people who are loyal to him, but the majority of Biafra activists at home and abroad are not in support of Nnamdi’s style of actualising Biafra, style of castigating; creating enmity not only among Igbo people, but enmity between Biafran people and other nationalities within Nigeria; even creating enmity for Biafra in the eyes of the world. That’s what people are not happy with and can’t continue to associate with.
Yes, those elements managed to express themselves in Awka, which is normal in any democratic setting. So, that does not mean that Biafran people are against restructuring or whatever. But there are issues and we will have our position on these issues; though the coalition does not support 100 per cent what Ohanaeze is doing. The truth is that when Ohanaeze makes the right noise, Biafra activists will support them, but when they say what we can’t support, we can’t hesitate to say no. For instance, no Biafra activist will support the current state structure as basis for federating Nigeria; no, these 36 states can’t remain as federating units.
Does it mean that you don’t have strategy yet?
Remember that I said that the coalition is still in the process of formation. We started this, two years ago, and since then, we’ve been consulting. In May 2016, there were only 17 pro-Biafra groups that attended the conference in Ghana and since then, it has grown to more than 25. They’re still consulting; meeting, forming different committees and producing reports; after which, there will be a final decision and even name for the coalition will be decided. Nothing is agreed yet; so the activities organised in Rojenny Oba, Anambra State were under the auspices of coalition of pro-Biafra groups, but I can’t tell for now whether that’s the name we are going to eventually adopt. It’s after the celebrations of this year’s May 30 anniversary that we are going to meet and agree on a name; national council and other leadership structure. It’s then that we’ll come out with a plan of action that would be made public.
If these mistakes were made; how come that people didn’t call Kanu to order all these years?
No, it wasn’t that he didn’t get wise counsel; he received counsel from different sources till the last second, but he chose to be adamant. There’s a saying that he who the gods want to kill, they will first make deaf; may be something in him closed his ears to the voice of reason, hence, the result of what we are having today. There were advice; I was with him and had been with him for more than 17 years. I can tell you with authority that I was the closest person Nnamdi ever had for the longest period of time. We discussed things, but at times he will tell you ‘yes, yes’ and yet he’ll go and do what he liked. The problem was not that nobody advised him, no; it was that he just wanted to do things his own way.
Was there anything special about this year’s commemoration of Biafra?
Absolutely yes! Two years ago, we gathered in Accra, Ghana in search of ways and means of fashioning out a sort of united action to advance our struggle for freedom and sovereignty for Biafia. Thanks to the Organisation of Emerging African States (OEAS) and 17 Biafra groups represented, the foundation for a Coalition of pro-Biafra groups was laid. Today, and for the first time, more than 25 groups will met in one location and celebrated Biafra.
Celebrating our successes at the early days of our Republic and continuous existence to the disappointment of those who wished our total extermination as a people and as a nation; reflecting on our pains and sufferings under international blockade and genocidal conquest of Nigerian arm-aided and abetted by hostile world powers; assessing the progress of our rejuvenated and reinvigorated struggle in the 21st Century under hostile and difficult domestic conditions and careless and unfriendly international environments.
So, the struggle to restore Biafra sovereignty is at a cross road; hence, it is only a concerted, united action that will give it PHD (proper honest direction) to the right turn to success. I maintain that no one individual or group can achieve victory for Biafra. There is nothing wrong in having groups, but my conviction is that like in South Africa under apartheid, success will come our way with the coming of this coalition.
We can, must and are doing the same now; so all well-meaning Biafrans should support and embrace the emerging coalition of pro-Biafra groups. Therefore, what is special about this year’s anniversary is we are coming together and together we will achieve more.
Cc: The Sun