PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF BIAFRA: A HYPOTHETICAL – Professor Vitus Ozoke

Fellow countrymen and women:

After due and extensive consultations with the National Executive Council, the National Assembly, world leaders, national and international organizations, and a wide range of Nigerian civil society, and in view of the clamorous and consistent agitation for self-determination and self-governance by a discernibly substantial segment of the southeast Igbo population, my administration has come to the painful conclusion that it is in the best interest of all parties concerned that the aspirations of our dear brothers in the southeast be granted. This may be the most consequential, certainly most difficult and painful, decision I will ever have to make as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

I am acutely aware that one of the cardinal mandates of a president under our Constitution is to defend and preserve intact the territorial integrity of the nation, not preside over its balkanization. Yet, as one who played active role in the past episode of keeping the country together, I cannot, in good conscience, embrace the horror of a repeat, if an alternative exists that makes late 1960s Nigerian experience avoidable. Thankfully, but most painfully, that alternative exists.

Therefore,

1. Effective immediately, the southeast geopolitical zone of Nigeria, comprising Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo states, are no longer part of Nigeria.

2. The said region is hereby granted, not just geographic and governmental autonomy, it is no longer part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

3. The new country shall be known and addressed as the Republic of Biafra, subject, of course, to whatever more fitting name the people of the new country may later decide for themselves.

4. In the weeks and months ahead, necessary disengagement modalities will be worked out. Not only will assets and other infrastructural logistics be negotiated, immigration and border protocols will be harmonized.

5. As part of this immigration and border harmonization, all citizens of the new Republic of Biafra who are currently resident in any part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria must, starting immediately and lasting for the next sixty (60) days, apply for and obtain necessary visa and/or other adjustment documentations to continue to legally reside in any part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

6. Upon the expiry of sixty (60) days, movements between the two countries shall be by visa and regulated according to national and international laws.

7. Upon the expiry of sixty (60) days, any citizen of the new Republic of Biafra who has not obtained necessary visa and/or other adjustment documentations shall have become an illegal alien and shall be immediately subject to removal through deportation.

8. All current and future business activities by citizens of the new Republic of Biafra in the Federal Republic of Nigeria must seek proper approvals and permits and must conform to laws that regulate expatriate businesses.

9. No doubt, we expect reciprocal protocols for citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria either currently resident in, or traveling to, the new Republic of Biafra.

10. To assist the new country get on its feet, and up and running, the Federal Republic of Nigeria will continue to give monthly subventions to the five states of the Republic of Biafra from the Consolidated Revenue Account for the next twelve (12) months.

Fellow Nigerians, let me reiterate how difficult this decision has been. To wake up one morning to declare your brother a neighbor, and a fellow citizen a foreigner, should be recognized as one of the most surreal existential experiences of all times. It is one experience I do not wish any peoples. If there were other peaceful ways to avoid this outcome, I would have embraced them in a heartbeat. I would have traded this moment for anything.

However, given that the alternative to this moment would have been vastly destructive and less peaceful, I was left not much of a choice. Even as I am heavily weighed down by the pain and sadness of watching our Igbo brothers go, I am consoled and strengthened by the hope that this new Republic of Biafra will finally bring joy and satisfaction to the tens of millions of a people who have for long longed for a nation of their own.

Again, and finally, the pain is immeasurable for me, and I am sure it is so for our Igbo brothers, even as they celebrate their new Republic. On behalf of the great citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I want to extend our most fraternal best wishes to our new neighboring country and the youngest country in the world.

Long live the Republic of Biafra!
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR)
President, Federal Republic of Nigeria
26th October, 2015
Aso Rock, Abuja, Nigeria.

POST SCRIPT: THE MORNING AFTER

So, there you have it. Biafra is born! Now what?

Questions:

1. How long before the new Republic is dubbed a zoo by those whose sense of seriousness is pitifully nonexistent?

2. How many millions of Igbo nationals, citizens of the new Republic, are resident in the now neighboring Federal Republic of Nigeria?

3. How much of Igbo business investments are in Igbo land, the new Republic of Biafra?

4. How many Igbo men and women are willing to move back to Igbo land to help build the new Republic?

5. How many Igbo business men and women are eager to leave Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and other major Nigerian cities for investment in Igbo land?

6. Given that massive Igbo investments across Nigeria are now considered foreign (expatriate) businesses, and subject to certain regulatory requirements, are the Igbo comfortable in their new status of foreigners and foreign business operators?

7. Given that every country regulates its immigration, including the decision over who comes in or stays in, are the Igbo prepared to risk adverse immigration status in Nigeria, including potential deportation?

8. Among the Igbo, in their new Republic, who leads, the same Igbo political class that have over the decades cornered collective Igbo resources for personal gains?

9. In the new Republic, from where will leadership come?

10. When did the underground beef between the Waawas (Onoh’s Enugu) and the Agbaenus (Anambra) get squashed?

11. Will Anambra state allow the capital of the new Republic to be in Enugu, or will it be over their dead body?

12. How soon before there is another civil war in the West African coast, this time in the new State of Biafra?

Of late, I have read some pretty disturbing writings and comments and even more disturbing reactions to those writings and comments. When an avowed Igbo hater like Femi Fani-Kayode suggests his support for Biafran agitations, well-meaning and deep-thinking Igbo must be apprehensive, not excited. When Yakubu Gowon, the ring and cheerleader of the Biafran pogrom of the late 1960s, is making comments that suggest his support for Biafran secession, the Igbo must feel unease. Did it have to take millions of Igbo lives in the pogrom, forty-five years of post-war massive Igbo investment in everywhere in Nigeria but Igbo land for Gowon to finally come to terms with Biafra? Who is fooling whom? Why are the Igbo not seeing a plan to exclude them from the Nigerian project they labored more than anybody to build?

I have said it before, and I will say it again. The Igbo problem is not primarily Nigeria; it is the Igbo. Until the Igbo realize that their political elite class are totally self-centered, they will continue to look for the problem everywhere but where it actually is. They will continue to dump complete blame on where just a portion of it belongs. The Igbo will continue to view Biafra and self-governance as the silver bullet panacea to the Igbo problem. It is the wrong approach.

The Igbo must go back to the drawing board and re-strategize its rules of engagement with Nigeria. We must break free from our ideological purity that blinds us to flexible political and regional alliances. Opportunities in Democracies, especially in multiethnic societies, are negotiated through alignments and realignments, not rigid ideological commitments. This quick and handy resort to secessionist blackmail must stop. It is grossly ill-advised and misguided. Populism and populists are not what the Igbo need at this moment. The Igbo need pragmatists who understand the politics and dynamics of divided multiethnic societies. Living martyrs who have no compunction in inciting a restive youth population to poorly conceived protest and violence must be closely watched and denounced.

Also, the Buhari government must engage the professional counsel of those knowledgeable in crisis management. Some things and some people are better left alone, especially if they are not causing anybody any harm. Nigerians and groups must be allowed freedom of expression without the fear of arrest and detention. When such needless arrests are made, the government plays into the stardom and martyrdom delusion of narcissistic ego trippers. Such arrests must stop and those arrested must be immediately released. Of course, the government will be failing in its statutory responsibility if it fails to arrest those engaged in public disorder. But it must wait until such situation exists. Right now, it doesn’t; but, the arrest may bring it about.

So, shut down this Biafran shenanigan; we ain’t going nowhere! President Buhari, thanks, but no thanks. Ndi Igbo have invested so much into Nigeria, they are not going to become foreigners to the game they helped kill. For the many Biafran protesters out there, open your eyes and quit being fooled! If you must protest, then protest against Igbo political elites who have become billionaires at your collective expense. Protest against your own governors who have refused to pay years of workers’ salary arears even as they are building schools in other parts of the country. Open your eyes. Better still, shine your eyes.

/Odenigbo

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