By Omeiza Ajayi, Nwabueze Okonkwo & Chimaobi Nwaiwu
NNEWI—The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, yesterday, said it was not surprised by the display of shallow understanding of what referendum is and its processes, as displayed by the present administration of All Progressives Congress, APC in Nigeria.
In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Mr. Emma Nmezu, a lawyer and Dr. Clifford Iroanya, IPOB said: “In a presidential system like the one practised in Nigeria, Referendum process is not subject to the dictates of the Presidency or Executive Arm of Government. In other words, the President of a country has no business, legal right or claimed superiority to determine if there will be Referendum or not.”
The IPOB statement read in part: “It is therefore, not surprising that APC government led by Buhari displayed shallow understanding of a Referendum process through Mr President’s utterances during a media event in New York City, USA, on September 24, 2016.
“The Nigerian President was reported to have asserted that there will not be Referendum for Biafra Independence. If we assume that the various media reporting of this assertion from President Buhari is true, then there is no better way to exhibit ignorance on the typology and application of the concept of Referendum.
“We will like to use this opportunity to educate and enlighten Mr. President and his likes on Referendum. We want to let them know that Referendum is a method of expression of the will of the people in matters concerning their welfare, existence, and association.
“A Referendum is created normatively by an act of Parliament (Legislature) and is not dependent on the aversions or preferences of the President or Executive arm of government. For instance, the Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013 which led to the Referendum vote of September 18, 2014 was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 14th of November 2013.
“Even the Scottish Parliament itself was brought into existence through the Scottish Devolution (pre-legislative) Referendum of 11 September 1997. In France, the Jacobin Constitution was adopted in 1793 through a Referendum and Article-3 of the French Constitution of 1958 internalized Referendum as a bulwark to engender any change of policy and philosophy of the Fifth Republic and for the benefits of her citizens.”
According to IPOB, “even the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, UNDRIP, is unequivocal on the inalienable rights of Indigenous People to decide on how they want to govern themselves. Affirmatively, Nigeria is a signatory to the UNDRIP.”
Uwazuruike charges newly promoted MASSOB
Meantime, leader of the Movement for Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB and Biafra Independence Movement, BIM, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, has charged the newly promoted 25 MASSOB members and three others who were elevated to the status of Biafra elders-in-council to maintain non-violent posture until Biafra is actualized.
A press statement signed by BIM’s Director of Information, Mazi Chris Mocha,disclosed that Uwazuruike made the charge while announcing the promotion of 25 Zonal Administrators to the position of leaders of MASSOB in various senatorial districts in southeast and Niger Delta areas at an enlarged executive officers meeting at Ojukwu Memorial Library (auditorium), in New Owerri, Imo state capital.
According to the statement, Uwazuruike who mentioned the beneficiaries as Chief Solomon O. Chukwu, now the Chief MASSOB leader; while Samuel Okah will take charge of Cross River state, just as Emeka Okafor will take charge of Delta North, said MASSOB is synomymous with non-violence.
Biafra no longer feasible — Okechukwu, VON DG
Also yesterday, the Director General, Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu said the agitation for the sovereign State of Biafra is no longer feasible, taking into cognisance the current political calculations in the country.
Okechukwu spoke Wednesday in Abuja at a gathering of the Abuja chapter of the pan Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohaneze Ndigbo
According to him, the decision to vote against the return to regional government at the last national conference and the fact that the Igbo nation were not united in the agitation makes the Biafran agitation difficult to realize.”
He said, “If we must tell ourselves the truth, the greatest obstacle to the actualization of Biafra, was glaringly demonstrated by successive national conferences; the Abacha Conference and Jonathan Conference. In each of the two conferences, the issue of region was voted against by Enugu and Ebonyi states.
“The Jonathan Conference of 2014, for instance, was made up of pro-Biafra elements whom a lot had assumed will support regionalism as a prelude to secession. Other states like Ogun, Lagos, Bayelsa, Cross River and majority of Northern states rejected regionalism. To cap it all, the Jonathan Conference recommended the creation of over 50 states.”
Okechukwu said with an “Igbo Presidency” likely in 2023 when the north would have served out its eight years, there was the need for the Igbo nation to tread with caution, pointing out that at present, the Igbo nation is not united in actualizing the Biafra dream.
“The agitation for Biafra sounds as a good music, much fun and furry as if it is the only route to Eldorado. This is false as some of us who lived in the defunct Biafra enclave can narrate. The question one had always posed is, can Biafra be achieved via democracy or by force? Most people one had discussed with had always told me it will be achieved via peaceful means, which in other words means democracy”, he said.
He explained that in 2004, papers were presented at the World Igbo day to the effect that the United Nations (UN) is processing the application of Ndigbo for an independent Biafra, saying “this is over a decade and the germane question remains at what stage is our application?