Debe Ojukwu, first son of the late Biafran secessionist leader and Ikemba of Nnewi, Dim Chukuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, has finally addressed the issues connecting Biafra agitations, Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB leadership.
The Office interview was granted to the Sun News Online, and it is as follows:
On Grazing Reserve Bill For Fulani Herdsmen
Debe Ojukwu: Personally, I don’t think the grazing reserves bill on the floor of the National Assembly is the solution, because the reserves should be in the places where the herdsmen originate from, because we have different cultures, and different means of sustenance.
People in the South-east and South-south are mainly farmers. You don’t graze on their farms, because the farms are their means of sustenance, just like the herdsmen see the cattle as their own means of sustenance. You don’t sacrifice one means of sustenance for another. If they feel, for instance, that their means of livelihood in Sokoto or Kano states is cattle rearing, they can set up grazing reserves there, which I think is okay.
In France and Britain, they have ranches where they shepherd their cows. And they go out and get their feeds. They don’t allow the cows to start roaming the streets of London because they need to eat grasses. I believe that grazing reserves should be done with the basic law in the siting of industries, which is closeness to the source of raw materials.
They should restrict the grazing reserves to the North, and they can come down to the South to buy the things they need to feed their cows, instead of trampling on yam and cassava farms.
On The President’s Different Reactions To The Carnage In Enugu And To IPOB
Debe Ojukwu: The most important thing is to first identify the people. There are various ways of committing crime, and the intelligence of these criminals varies from one person to another. You can say that the intelligence of the herdsmen and the collusion with the security agents are more sophisticated than that of the Biafra agitators.
There are many Biafra agitators of which I am one. I am one, but I subscribe to the legal and diplomatic agitation; not the violent agitation.
On IPOB Agitation
Debe Ojukwu: IPOB? We own IPOB . IPOB belongs to us. We formed IPOB. IPOB is not a group. IPOB means Indigenous People of Biafra, of which every Biafran is a member. So it is wrong for one person to arrogate to himself who is IPOB, and who is not.
What happened was that most of them were misinformed. If you are agitating, you don’t block the roads. You must give unimpeded access for free flow of the economy. It is when you start stalling the economy that you incur the wrath of the security agencies. The law of riots and unlawful assembly is very elastic. It gives very wide powers to peace officers. And by peace officers, we have magistrates, police officers and military officers of the rank of 2nd lieutenants, and ASP (Assistant Superintendent of Police) upwards. It says when you perceive that an assembly is likely to be riotous, you read the proclamation.
When he has made the proclamation, he gives them 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, they can use tear gas first, and after that, if it persists, they can use arms. That is why we are suing for referendum, because we want to know those people that are interested to be Biafrans.
On Pacifist Approach By Debe Ojukwu
Debe Ojukwu: The problem there is that as far as we are concerned, Nigeria is a child of peaceful negotiation. Nigeria was under colonial masters, and you cannot tell me that it was a stroll in the park for the independence agitators to wrest freedom from Britain. They did a lot of constitutional conferences; they went to London, argued, joked, used wits to get independence.
I never read in history that Zik bore arms against the British government. It was a diplomatic warfare. We had a civil war which cost us about four million people. We don’t have to be myopic. Our group has succeeded in being given observer status at the UN and AU.
On Nnamdi Kanu As Biafra’s Leader
Debe Ojukwu: Nnamdi Kanu is not our leader. It is a misconception. The leader of IPOB is Chief Justice Eze Ozobu, the former chief judge of Enugu State. The next in command to him is Dr Dozie Ikedife. Then we have Col Achuzia. We have many people involved in that. It was that body that set up Radio Biafra. Radio Biafra is part and parcel of what we are doing.
Kanu is the director of Radio Biafra, but not the head of IPOB. The thing is that media has its potency. And because of his visibility; people were talking to him and he was talking to them. That was why he became very popular. And he used that to assume leadership.
On Why IPOB Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, Always Addresses Kanu As Leader
Debe Ojukwu: He is not the Publicity Secretary. All those people were just given positions to make them relevant. The main IPOB under Eze Ozobu has a media department. They were just on the verge of creating those positions.
They were very careful in creating those bodies because they were wary of this kind of thing. It is exactly those fears that have finally manifested?
On Factionalization Of IPOB
Debe Ojukwu: You can say IPOB is factionalized. MASSOB is also part of IPOB. IPOB is for everybody that subscribes to the idea of Biafra. That does not mean we don’t have that leadership role.
On Actions To Secure Nnamdi Kanu’s Release
Debe Ojukwu: He came to Nigeria. He was very insulting on air to the Nigerian people. If he had submitted himself to the elders, the elders would have advised caution.
The issue is whether he has committed an offence. And the government is insisting he has committed an offence. So you cannot go and tell the government, ok you must release him because he is our son. What we should be asking for is speedy and proper trial. After the trial, if it is proven that he committed an offence; well, there is nothing we can do. He could have stayed in England to lambaste the administration, and nothing will happen to him. He didn’t take the advice of the elders.
On How Best He Remembers His Father, Odimegwu Ojukwu
Debe Ojukwu: I remember him, especially for the few private moments we shared. Very few and far in between, but then, very rich. And it was those things he taught me that have today become an Armour. Those things that were thought to be very innocuous, very simple, are the things that are helping me, and have really helped me to put my head high and survive many of the travails.
On Whether His Father Might Be Restless About The Renewed Clamour On Biafra
Debe Ojukwu: No; he won’t be turning in his grave because the best thing was his intendment on Biafra. He said his people would be better protected in Biafra, and I share the same sentiments. That’s why any where you see me, I will always tell you I am for Biafra. But I am not for violent Biafra, because what I will not subscribe to is the further decimation of our people.
On How Odumegwu Ojukwu Could Have Handled The Situation
Debe Ojukwu: It is the same legal and diplomatic way. And that was why, if you remember vividly, he said the Biafra now is that of the mind.
On Whether Late Ojukwu Made A Mistake By Staging The Biafra War
Debe Ojukwu: He didn’t make a mistake. It was what was the fad then. But with the benefit of hindsight, if we had adopted guerrilla warfare we wouldn’t have lost any war. Even now, it is easy to get Biafra in one week, if we want.
On How Possible It Is To Get Biafra In A Week
Debe Ojukwu: It is for every Igbo man in every part of Nigeria to come back home, and stay at home. If you have a bag of rice you share it with your neighbour, and we manage. We won’t stay up to one week; there will be negotiations for Biafra. But the problem that happened which is what being out of Biafra caused, was that immediately after the war; people started going back to other places.
Remember that for three years we had survived on our own; but when you go out to other places you start digging in, and the more you dig in, the weaker you become. For instance, it is easier for the Hausa man to take actions because when he comes to your place, he doesn’t come with big beds and all that. He comes with a mat, so when he feels threatened; he rolls up the mat and goes away. At times, he abandons it.
The greatest problem we have is the acquisitiveness in our people. We acquire a lot. You don’t come to somebody’s land and start building mansions and acquiring land and other things. It doesn’t make it easy for us to go home. That’s why when you go to some places as an Igbo man, they offer you land free of charge.