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Former President General of Ohanaeze, Dr. Dozie Ikedife has said that no one including the British Government can stop the actualisation of the Republic of Biafra.
Dr. Ikedife was reacting to the statement made by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright last week, that the British Government stands for one and indivisible Nigeria, and will not watch to see Nigeria divided.
In an interview with VINCENT KALU, the former boss of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, said the position of the British will heighten the actualization of Biafra, instead of deterring it.
According to him, Britain had watched and encouraged the break up of many countries, and wondered why it should take a different stand on Nigeria, just to protect of its economic interest.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright last week said that the British government stands for one and indivisible Nigeria, and will not watch to see Nigeria divided. What is your view vis-a-vis the activities of MASSOB and IPOB, agitating for Biafra?
Such a statement or position is not a surprise because when people from the Southeast were being killed in some parts of Nigeria, and were virtually pushed out of Nigeria, and when they declared Republic of Biafra, as their own and home, the British government helped to suppress that by supporting Nigeria along with one or two European countries.
Those were the days, and things have changed.
Granting that the United Kingdom is reputed to be a conservative country, they have on their own demonstrated acceptance of changes.
For example, they allowed Scotland to do a referendum on whether they will continue to stay in the United Kingdom or not, even more significantly, they were standing by and encouraging the break up of former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR); they were standing by to see the break up of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Sudan. These countries went their various ways.
They were standing by when the sub continent of India gave birth to Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Even more recently, they decided to pull out of European Union.
When such a statement comes from somebody representing Her Majesty in Government, one wonders whether he was speaking for himself, expressing his personal opinion or expressing the opinion of Her Majesty in Government.
United Kingdom is also a member of United Nations Organisation, which has enacted and emphasised the rights of ethnic nationalities for self-determination; now this man speaking probably represents 18th Century view, and not the 21st Century view, where Scotland is also preparing another referendum to pull out of Great Britain and remain with European Union.
Nigeria remains the last experiment of the British, all other federations that they tried putting together have all broken down. Example, Federation of East Africa dissolved into Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. They created the West Indies Federation, which also failed and you now have Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago; they created Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, it failed. The only federation they created then that has not failed is Nigeria, do you think they will ever allow this to go?
Britain will of course like to see Nigeria remain together so that the areas they are exploiting either by buying or selling will remain like that, undisturbed.
They are speaking from the point of view of their own economic interest, and not with any altruistic point of view. One should not be deterred by such expressions; the Ambassador has the right to express his personal opinion.
Britain wields much influence in the comity of nations, will it not discourage others that would have had sympathy for Biafra agitators?
No, it will only heighten our resolve to achieve what we set out to achieve, knowing that they are people or nations that oppose it for selfish reasons.
How do you go about achieving this?
We are not talking only of referendum, which is one of the ways. The other way, is the legal process, which is going on; Another is diplomatic process, which is also very much on, and also engaging in dialogue, which is also in the process. These are the ways and means of achieving it.
Some say that the position of Britain was to protect the North?
I don’t want to go into that, as I don’t have evidence. It is speculative, and I have covered it by saying that they want to protect their market; their economic interest, especially in the oil and gas, and so, they don’t know how Biafra will react with regards to their oil, if the Eastern Region or most of it is declared Republic of Biafra.
Let me say that the people of Biafra will not be hostile to anybody; or deny anybody trading opportunity. They should not be afraid of hostility in any form, and that is where their fears are hinged on.
Based on the Amnesty International report on how the Nigerian Army killed over 100 unarmed Biafra agitators, the Chief of Army Staff set up a panel to look into it, what is your view on this?
Anybody can set up any committee he wants, and he can skew the committee membership to give him the results he wants.
Such an investigation should be by an independent neutral body, what you call independent arbitrator or assessor, which is not set up by one side alone.
If it should be set up, membership must be made up of nominations from the two sides, and they will find neutral people and inject into it, and whatever they produce will suffer less bias.
Before, you were the lone voice talking about the release of Kanu, but recently, other prominent Igbo, Igbo groups and even governors have joined the fray, asking for Kanu’s release, what does this mean?
It means that they are now seeing what we saw many months ago, and it is gratifying.
I’m glad more people are seeing what we saw, which means they are buying into the project.