By Vincent Ujumadu
Since the struggle for the actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra began, one personality that had been synonymous with it was Chief Ralph Uwazurike, leader of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB.
However, another group known as the Biafra Zionist Movement, BZM, led by Mr. Ben Onwuka appears to have taken the front seat in the struggle with his recent application to the United Nations, UN, and the African Union, AU, for the recognition the Republic.
In the application dated August 6, 2012, reference: BZM/OS/Rep of Biafra and addressed to the UN Security Council through the Secretary General, Dr. Ban Ki Moon, Onwuka sounded very optimistic that what he had done would lead to the actualization of his dream Republic. The application read:
“We the people of the Republic of Biafra do hereby humbly submit our Application for Membership of the United Nations as an observer member. Our application is based on the following two grounds / factors namely:
“It is now abundantly clear that the security of life and property of the Biafran people are no longer guaranteed in the entity called Nigeria.
Therefore, the People of Biafra have resolved that on 5th November 2012, we shall be re-declaring our independence and opt out of Nigeria in order that we the Biafran people can protect and guarantee the life and property of our citizens as required by International Law.
“It is now also very clear that the right of the Biafran people to peacefully practice their religion and freedom of association under the United Nations Charter of Freedom of Association, is no longer safe and guaranteed in the entity called Nigeria. Therefore the people of Biafra have resolved to opt out of Nigeria on 5th November 2012, in order to guarantee and protect the Biafran people’s right to practice their religion without being killed or bombed.
“Your Excellencies, it is on the above grounds/ factors that the Biafran people seek to regain their freedom and Independence from Nigeria on 5th November 2012.
“On behalf of the Biafran people, we thank you in advance for the consideration of our application and we look forward to hearing from you.”
Onwuka told Saturday Vanguard that with the application, the Biafra Republic would receive the recognition it had lacked since the Republic was declared in May, 1967. According to him, the UN would henceforth have the mandate and power to intervene, investigate and issue arrest warrant against anyone who uses violence or force to kill Biafrans in their quest for self determination as guaranteed under the UN.
He further claimed that with the development, it is against international law for Nigerian state through the president, governors, security operatives to use force to kill any Biafran either as an individual or as a group as the offender could face the UN tribunal on war crimes based at the Hague, The Netherlands.
He said further that UN would send observers to the Biafra re-declaration of independence on November 5, 2012, just as another application had been made for Biafra to be accorded the same observer status at the African Union, AU, through its secretariat at Addis Ababa.
Asked if he was doing it in collaboration with MASSOB which had been in the forefront for the struggle since the end of the Nigerian civil war, Onwuka answered in the negative, arguing that the Republic would never be realized if the approach adopted by MASSOB is to be followed.
According to him, the issue is not something to be achieved through sensationalism, adding that the best approach would be to be in constant contact with the international body and convince them to see the need for the emergence of Biafra. He said: “We are making contact with our allies namely, USA, Israel, Canada and EU countries and their favourable disposition towards our cause is what gives us encouragement.
As it stands, Onwuka appears to be capitalizing on the fact that the MASSOB leader, Uwazurike, appears to have soft pedaled as some people feel that he is presently more comfortable with the idea of being named the successor to the late Ezeigbo Gburugburu, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu.
In fact, Saturday Vanguard gathered that Onwuka decided to come to the forefront in the struggle following reports that Uwazurike appears to have become comfortable with playing Nigerian politics. For instance, his stand that Biafrans would not oppose President Goodluck Jonathan in any way because he is from the Southern part of Nigeria was seen as relegating the issue of Biafra to the background.