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Biafra Agitation, Born In Error, Ignorance – Obasanjo

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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday declared that the agitation for a Biafra State by the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), is born in error, ignorance and frustration, describing it as a hopeless and futile exercise.

The former president disclosed that this was the first time he is baring his mind and speaking in-depth about the Biafra agitation, apart from “a few vague words of warning he mustered” regarding the matter at the burial of a friend’s mother some weeks ago.

Speaking at the Nextier Development Discourse titled “Nigeria and the Biafra Agitation,” at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua centre in Abuja, Obasanjo said he has always been cautious about getting himself into any debate relating to MASSOB because the agitation was born out of the personal frustration of the frontline campaigners.

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Other panelists at the session which was moderated by Principal Partner, Nextier Advisory, Patrick Okigbo III, include Chief Simon Okeke, former Chairman, Police Service Commission, Kadaria Ahmed, former Editor, NEXT, Chido Onuma, Veteran journalist and Tolu Ogunlesi, West Africa Editor, The Africa Report.

Presenting a paper titled, “Resurgent Biafra Agitation: Born in Error, Ignorance and Frustration,” Obasanjo who stressed that he would never be a party to any debate about disintegrating Nigeria said: “I am very cautious getting myself into any debate or conversation concerning MASSOB, its many hydra-formed iterations and its resurgent Biafra agitation.

“I had taken this position because I suspected that the agitation was born in error and ignorance and out of the personal frustration of many of the frontline demagogues of this new nightmare and their supporters and sympathizers. I also believed that at best, the agitation was at regional level and that no inadvertent helping hand should be lent to it to make it national.”

Emphsising that ignorance was the cause of agitations for Biafra, Obasanjo said as a participant of the Nigerian Civil War which ended forty-six years ago, and as one used by God to bring the war to a humane end in the field, he has fought one civil war too many adding that no right person who has ever experienced war will ever agitate for more war.

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Making reference to the 2015 edition of his book, “My Command,” he said if the elders abdicate their responsibility to the immaturity, inexperience and unrealistic idealism and frustration of the young, it will no doubt lead to disaster.

He maintained that errors mixed with ignorance will lead to wrong decisions and actions which will exacerbate an already uncertain and unsteady situation. He noted that this is true for youths, who with or without education, no employment and look on the future with despair to become desperate.

He said, “That to me, substantially explains the misfortune of most of the resurgent Biafra agitators. They need to be understood because lack of understanding with its appropriate remedy will drive them further into the hands of opportunists who will thrive on their desperation and frustration, turning it into criminality and extremism.”

The former president added that without local and national solution to their bruised sense, they may in anger carry their menace beyond their homes, communities and region and nationalize or even internationalize the crisis, thereby putting a different twist to it as there will always sympathetic “do-gooders out there who will feed and fuel their agitation, baseless as it may be.”

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Therefore, he said, the solution which must be at the family, community, local and national levels, must be embarked upon separately and collectively, even as he expressed happiness that responsible Igbo leaders saw no sense in the agitation judging from their meeting held on December 17, 2015.

The solution, he said, is first for the leaders and elders in the South-East to caution realism and sanity among the youths and for the president to prove that Nigeria is his constituency. He said the president should “act like God who gives rain to good and bad, the just and unjust, in the world equally.”

Obasanjo who insisted that Biafra as a succession issue is dead and that nobody should follow that way as it can only lead to disaster, stated that he sees the resurgent Biafra agitation not for succession or creation of an independent entity from Nigeria, but as a cry for attention and improvement of socio-economic conditions especially of the Nigerian youth in general and South East in particular.

According to him, the solution lie in education, awareness raising, acquisition of skills, youth empowerment and employment, adding that Nigeria is what is it is because each group is vital and dynamic part of the indissoluble whole as prescribed by the Constitution.

Above all, Obasanjo said, good governance at all levels is key solution, noting that the welfare and well-being of the citizenry with equity, justice and fairness must be the main pre-occupation of government at all levels as well as family and community leaders.

He further reiterated that Nigeria cannot afford to go from Boko Haram insurgency to any other insurgency under any guise, adding that “On no account should we wittingly or unwittingly allow this to happen again.”

He emphasised that youths have no right in their expression of desperation and frustration to embark on wanton destruction of properties and wares of ordinary citizens and make situation worse for the helpless citizens. “We should learn to hold on to an indissolvable Nigeria and together through dialogue, correct what is wrong and make Nigeria great,” Obasanjo added.

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